In the past few years, I have found that my learning has been enriched and simplified – (no not really simplified, but expanded!) through the tools I am going to describe in this post. As a global thinker, I enjoy looking widely across the landscape, but also want tools to improve my basic efficiency and productivity as well as expand my capacity. These tools may be old hat for some of you, but if you have been wanting to venture out a bit, give some of these a try over Christmas break!
Tools I use everyday include Twitter and Evernote. I have explained in an earlier post why I find Twitter so valuable so I won’t repeat that here. Evernote is a note keeping and web collection tool that operates equally well on my smartphone, iPad, or laptop and syncs between them. I can send the tweets I want to save to Evernote, or make a voice or written note on it via my smartphone. I can put them into notebooks and assign tags (descriptive terms) to them. This makes it easy for me to categorize and search them.
What works better for me than bookmarks is the LiveBinders web application. When I find a webpage that I want to save, I simply click on my toolbar icon called “Live Binder It!” and a photo is taken of the webpage. I can save the screen shot in a particular notebook. Given my work, I have notebooks for presentations, writing, and particular subjects such as engagement, essential questions, etc. I can quickly look around my notebook and see visually what I have saved.
I use Google Reader – a collector tool that sends me updates whenever blogs that I want to keep up with are updated. This allows me to scan the subject matter quickly and the short descriptions help me choose what I want to read.
I find I am using wikis and Google Docs with increasing frequency. I started using wikis to share information related to my presentations or to set up spaces for staff groups to collaborate and do their work. They are simple to use and manage. I personally like Wikispaces. If I want to share a document quickly, build a mutual agenda, share information over time, and have it all be private or shared by invitation only, then I use a Google Doc (www.google.>>>). You can get to it quickly if you are already using Gmail for your mail program. In Gmail, I am using Google Calendar, which also syncs with a free touch screen calendar in my smartphone called Touch Calendar. I finally have given up my paper calendars!
Sometimes I want to share a larger document or save a presentation and so I would use Dropbox. I can access the information from anywhere because it is cloud based storage of larger files. I can also share these files or give others access to my folder in Dropbox.
If I am going to write a longer article or make a presentation or diagram, I still find Inspiration to be very helpful. I have used other mind mapping programs, but like the basic functionality and ease of use of Inspiration.
Reflect via this article from Donald Clark how these tools might change your learning and life – and how we have experienced more changes in the past 10 years than the last 100.
If you just got a new iPad for Christmas you may benefit from essential-ipad-guide written especially for school administrators – a helpful starting spot.
Blessings on the new year ahead – may it be a productive one for you! Please feel free to share other apps that you may have found helpful via the comments below.