Karen Hellyer
Digital Arts Teacher

Executive Functioning & The Organization of Files and Folders


I teach high school video production in a Mac Lab. Many of my students are 9th graders who haven't really had to learn about hierarchical file structure yet. In fact, they don't know what a file cabinet is. Seems pretty normal. 

I try to teach them about the connection between workflow and organization, and that their Premiere Pro project needs to follow the same path to the same-named files whenever you open it. They are moving their project folders back and forth between lab Macs and their PC laptops so they can work outside of class. Here's an example of how I present the concept of folder structure, using magnetic, laminated icons on a white board: 


I'm still not seeing the results I want. Kids aren't grasping the concept. So, I'm wondering how other teachers teach this. 

To make things possibly more complicated, some kids are using their Google drive to store everything on. It's great for sharing between Mac and PC, but is there a better practice?

Thanks for considering,

  • Adobe Premiere Pro

    Edit media in its native format and create productions for film, TV, and web.

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Adobe Education

Posted on 1/20/16 2:33:28 PM Permalink

Hi Karen,

We created an activity that tries to address some of what you are facing: Web production collaboration and organizational best practices. This is more for web design but it may be somewhat helpful. We also created the Introduction to Video Production syllabus that may have some info helpful to what you're trying to teach your students. It's not exactly what you are looking for but perhaps there are bits and pieces you can use or that inspire how you teach your desired workflow.

Please do report back what you come up with! It's always great to hear what you all are doing and what's working!

The AEE Team

Karen Hellyer

Posted on 1/21/16 5:28:09 AM Permalink

Hello Team,
Thanks for this. I would love to align my curriculum with yours, at least where it's possible. I'm always wondering how others teach this stuff. If there's ever a chance to create a Bay Area meetup for teachers, I'd love to be there.

Would you ever consider co-designing a deck of flash cards for use in classrooms? I'm always looking for hands-on ways to involve kids in demonstrating their understanding of the HFS concept .

Thanks again!

Adobe Education

Posted on 2/16/16 6:23:36 PM Permalink

HI Karen,

We don't conduct meetups but I'm sure if you put it out to the community others maybe interested. We also at this time aren't able to co-create a deck of cards as resources for the year are already allocated. However you might put it out there to see if other members would like to do so. There are many talented folks here on the AEE. And if you do create them please do post and share - we'd love to see them.

The AEE Team


Posted on 1/14/16 11:30:36 PM Permalink

Hi Karen - that is a totally awesome graphic. I am going to borrow it. My very first lesson in any multimedia course or unit is file management. A main part of the lesson involves the students setting up their file structure. I work in a computer lab with my students but they also have their own tablet or PC devices. We are a GAFE school.

The first lesson for the course involves students establishing a file hierarchy. This is taught via direct instruction. It involves students downloading, installing and signing into Google Drive on the lab PCs. Then they know how to do this when they go home. Next I give them a screenshot of the folder structure for the course. Here is an example handout. It is helpful to have this on the desk in front of them. This is for Year 11 and we have to cover cloud-based storage & data backup so the questions at the bottom enable me to simultaneously cover those syllabus dot points. Its probably over-kill for Year 9.

Then when we begin a new unit of work - for example Video production, we do the same lesson at the start of the video production unit - with a focus on that sub-folder. I clearly define the file structure again (I make it, screen-shot and then give a handout) and explicitly teach this as part of lesson 1 for that unit of work. For my special needs students, I have access to their Google drive folders and simply copy the file hierarchy across to their share.

Lots of our kids are comming up from middle school where iPads are their main device. File management is hidden and so its important to explicitly teach those skills as many times as is needed.

Karen Hellyer

Posted on 1/21/16 5:14:40 AM Permalink

Hi Debra,

Thanks for all of this info. VERY helpful. I'll definitely borrow the idea of setting up a folder structure and taking a screenshot of it. I also like the idea of dropping a copy of the folders on a server for kids with executive functioning challenges. It could save a lot of time, and hopefully they would feel less frustrated as well.