First, it's important to note that whatever approach to folder organization you settle on, it's not going to really matter at the end of the day. Folders can be merged, deleted, edited, so you can always restructure if you need to. Similarly, with the Smart Search feature, articles are returned irrespective of which folders they are filed in. So you'll still be able to quickly access articles, even if your folder structure is less than optimal.
Second, your team should your team should start by establishing folder categories. We created the folder categories so you can group folders together. When you create a new folder - either through Extemp or through the Fast Catch - you'll have to categorize that folder as well.
The categories are especially useful if you'd like to group folders by Extemp topic area (e.g., Asia, Europe, Americas, Global Issues, International Economy, etc.) or by debate event (e.g., USX, IX, PF, Congress, etc.). we would recommend creating folders for each Extemp topic area (although there's no harm in creating a second batch of folders for the other debate events your team competes in). This is because:
- the folder categories keep all the folders nicely organized around a common theme; and
- this system makes it really easy to browse through all the files in a given topic area.
So if you are waiting in Extemp draw, and you know this upcoming round is on Europe, just filter out all the folders that aren't part of the Europe folder category, and then open Europe folders/articles to read before you are called to draw.
By default, Prepd allows you to choose which category structure you want to start with when creating your team: Simple (Domestic, Foreign, Misc) or Advanced (14 default categories, chosen to fit most Extemporaneous Speaking events's topics). However, if this system doesn't work for your team, you can create and edit folder categories from the Category Management tool in Extemp (3rd orange button above the folder list).
To use Manage Categories: Hover over a specific category name, select the pencil/edit button, and then change the name, the color of the box, and the label of the category (e.g., "Domestic" can just be labelled as "D", which is what is displayed as the icon of the folder category). You can also create new categories or edit the default ones, and re-categorize folders into a different category.
We would suggest the following 14 Folder Categories:
- For IX: Americas, Europe, Africa & Middle East, Asia, International Economy, and Global Issues (for folders like United Nations, Climate Change, Refugees, Catholic Church, FIFA, etc.)
- For USX: American Foreign Policy, US Economy, Social, Legal & Judicial, Elections, Congress, White House
- Misc (as a catch-all folder category for any topics that don't neatly fit into any of the above folder categories, like "sports" or "intros")
Third, your team can create new folders either through Extemp (select the second orange button above the folder list and select "Create new folders and subfolders") or, more commonly, through the Fast Catch.
The Fast Catch shows you a list of existing folders when saving to Extemp. So if you are filing an article into "China" and you enter "Ch" the Article catcher will display "China" if it exists. If not, the user can just continue typing "China", hit the '+' and a new folder will be created.
Tip: The problem here is that often-times students don't use great judgement (and/or they're not familiar with the other folders that already exist) so they end up creating redundant folders that makes the system disorganized. Typically it's novices who end up cluttering the folders most often. What some coaches have done is they create a folder called "Novice" and they ask all novice extempers to file all their articles to the "Novice" folder. Then a varsity member can periodically check the novice folder and move those articles to other folders, so that the existing folder system isn't affected by novice filing activity.
But aside from this, we think it's generally best to just instruct students to file articles create folders naturally through the Fast Catch. You'll see that an organic folder system - one that truly reflects their research - will emerge rather quickly. If you have a good system of folder categories, like the one described above, then the folders will be created under a categorization system that makes sense, and stays organized.
Fourth, please keep in mind the role of subfolders. You can create a second layer of folders beneath the primary folder. So you can have a China folder and then create subfolders nested beneath "China" for Economy, Politics, Military, Environment, Social, etc. You can create subfolders through the Fast Catch, as you file articles, or from the Extemp's Folder Creation tool. You first hit the downwards arrow next to the parent folder, enter the name of the subfolder and then click the '+' icon.
Subfolders aren't required. You can just file everything in "China." But if you want to be really organized with the folders, the subfolders will help break down a large folder and provides another layer of organization.
So, to summarize:
- Go ahead and create Folder Categories right from the beginning. You can do so through the Category Management tool within Extemp
- Decide on whether or not you want novices to create folders. If not, create the "Novice" folder and ask them to file all the articles there; instruct varsity students to periodically check the "Novice" folder and move those articles elsewhere.
- Either way, just trust that your students will create the necessary folders through the Fast Catch as they file.
- Make sure you take full advantage of the 3 levels of organizing your articles: categories - folders - subfolders.