Check out Asana if you’re looking for a tool to help manage your online workflow

(Asana Press Kit Image)

Looking for a new platform for organization that is simple and calendar based? Check out this one that my online EiC found this year and is using to organize her online team, it’s called Asana.

According to their website, Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work.

Because it is calendar-based, it has easy to manage functions, and offers a number of functions that would work well in a scholastic newsroom setting. 

Once you create your account, you can easily create multiple calendars, we are currently using one to organize our social media schedules to remind students who is responsible for posting that day. We also have a second calendar for breaking news.

The Dispatch is a SNO site, and we subscribe to FLOW which we love for our print edition, but we found that when I hand emails, flyers, or other paper information to my online EiC for potential publication, it was taking too long for that story to get onto FLOW, be assigned, for the reporter to get the assignment and actual finish the story within 24 hours. Now, the paperwork gets passed to the reporter immediately for them to get started, a few quick keystrokes and the story is assigned, and scheduled in Asana.

The other issue that caused my EiC to look at Asana, was the massive overhaul in FLOW this year. We are still learning its functionality and while we are going through these growing pains, we needed another platform.

Because Asana is mobile, it is easy for students to check on their phones.

Obviously, many schools are also not SNO sites, and either cannot afford to purchase FLOW, or have already established a working website outside of SNO, and are looking for organizational platforms outside the SNO offerings.

Below you will find screen shots of the various interfaces. I have done my best to describe what is happening in each.

This is the main screen – the control panel to the right is pretty self-explanatory, but you can see it does show the staff involved and the two calendars we have created so far.

Here is a close-up view of our information – users are identified with their initials and are linked to their google accounts.

Here is an individual calendar view – for our socials. We are on a block schedule so we have the days labeled so we know what day of the week, under are the assignments in blue. These are also expandable to see additional items, as you can see below.

Below you will see our story assignments:

A simple click on any assignments opens up a dialog box with additional information.

You can see the editor who created the assignment, the name of the assignment, and the writer who will complete the task. We divide our staff into three sections. We have a dedicated print team, composed of mainly page editors. A dedicated online team, with both editors and a small group of online only writers and photographers. And we have a group of writers and photographers who create content for both parts of the program, online and print.

Creating tasks is simple using the new task button.

So far, the online team has utilized Asana to help us get rolling this year. As a SNO Distinguished Site, we are still very SNO driven and we are fighting for Best-of-SNO awards, badges and I am pushing my team hard to continue our growth from last year. Whatever the online editors can utilize to make their lives easier, as cheap as possible, I am all for.

So far, Asana has been a good addition to our program. I can easily go into Asana and see what my online specific team is working on without having to dig through the FLOW assignments. Using FLOW and clicking to our website to verify who had been published so I could give grades was time consuming and tedious. Now it is as simple as going into Asana to see what was scheduled and what was completed and comparing it to what pops up on my Student Media Source App from SNO makes it a breeze. Grading my online team is so much simpler and effective. I can immediately check any story for its progress and cross-check what has been published. My EiC does all of the work behind the scenes and I can quickly and easily keep up.

Perhaps once we get a better grasp of FLOW and some updates start coming in from the new version that simplifies some steps, we might not need Asana, but for now, it is working for the Dispatch.

Michael Reeves

Michael Reeves, MJE, is the newspaper adviser at James Bowie H.S. in Austin, Texas. After almost a decade as a professional journalist, he joined the teaching ranks and has never looked back. The staff of The Dispatch and have won numerous state and national awards, but more importantly are an active part of the New Voices movement in Texas. Today journalism is more important than ever before and Reeves' goal is to help students find their role in the media through high school and beyond. Reeves is also a member of the JEA Curriculum Committee.

Michael Reeves has 6 posts and counting. See all posts by Michael Reeves

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