It seems like every day new technology tools are being developed to make our lives easier and to get work done faster. Technology tools are a huge help to those of us in education too. Whether you are a student or a teacher, you can use technology tools to help you:
- Keep track of your schedules and scheduling group meetings
- Take notes to study for exams
- Create multimedia presentations
- Collect resources on a specific topic
- Store important files
I like things to be free (and hey, who doesn’t?) so the tools that are listed here are just that – free of charge for you to use. Here is a list of fourteen tools that you should consider trying:
Keeping track of schedules, your own or other peoples’, is not an easy task. We’re all so busy it’s hard to keep up! Here are a couple of tools you can use to do both:
- Doodle.com– This should be your go-to application when you need to schedule a meeting with several people. This is a web-based scheduler, meaning that anyone can access it from anywhere they have Internet access. You provide participants with a set of potential dates and times then send out a link via email. Everyone who is invited selects the days and times they are available. At a glance, you can easily see the day and time that everyone is available and can go ahead and schedule your meeting with the comfort of knowing your participants will be able to attend.
- Google Calendar– Of course, if you have a Google account then you should definitely be using Google Calendar for keeping track of all your scheduling needs. The nice thing about using Google’s calendar feature is that you receive reminders about upcoming appointments so you’re sure not to miss anything. You can also enter assignment due dates on this calendar so your assignments will never be late.
Of course, if you’re in class and have your phone or tablet, you should probably have at least one note taking app installed. Here are a couple that you should check out:
- Paperport Notes(for iPad) – This is a great app that gives you the ability to open PDF files and write your notes directly on the document. Another great feature of this app is that you can record voice notes that are saved with the PDF file. Once you get all of your notes on the page, you can easily share the marked-up document via email or other cloud-based storage services.
- Notion Note(for Android) – This app is similar to Paperport Notes in that you can digitally write or type annotations on documents. What is different about this app is that, once you have your notes put down, you can export notes as a PowerPoint file to be opened on other devices. This app also supports the use of audio notation.
Tools to create presentations
There are so many exceptional tools available today that will help you create stellar multimedia presentations. Here are some suggestions:
Slide show presentations:
- Animoto – this tool lets you combine photos, video clips, and music to create stunning
- Empressr – create videos using images, music, video, and other audio files.
- Sliderocket – this is a tool that lets you create, share, and manage online presentations.
- Slideshare – use this tool to upload PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, or PDF files and publically or privately share them with others.
Animated video presentations:
- Powtoon– this is the standard free tool to use to create animated video presentations. Use this tool to present bits of your content in a new and engaging way. As the name suggests, cartoon characters are the stars of your show. PowToon is very easy to use and it’s free after you sign up for an account.
- Voki– this tools is a really neat way to add a little spice to your courses or projects. You can create avatars that are animated and can speak the message you want to deliver. You can use any of the free digital voices or you can record your own voice using a computer microphone or even your cell phone.
Content curation tools
Content curation is the act of sifting through all content on a specific topic and identifying and saving only the best examples. If you are researching a specific topic, content curation is an excellent way to save your resources to use in your project. Here are a couple of the best tools to use:
- Scoop.it– this tool allows you to create newsletter-style pages on any topic you want. Through the use of keywords, Scoop.it scours the Internet and presents you with a live and constantly updated list of potential resources. It’s your job to review the list and save only the highest quality resources on your topic.
- Pinterest– Surprised to see this on the list? Pinterest isn’t just for recipes and craft ideas. You can actually use this tool to collect resources and ideas on any topic you are interested in. If you’re doing a research project for a class or an article, use Pinterest to find relevant content.
And finally, after you have gone through the work of creating your masterpieces, you need a place to store them. There are many tools that give you the ability to access your files from any computer or device that has Internet access, so you won’t need to drag your laptop around with you wherever you go. Here are a couple of good ones to try out:
- Box.com – this is a great site for personal storage purposes. What is really nice about Box is that it gives you the ability to embed documents into webpages or online courses. The documents display in a scrollable window right in your page so you don’t have to open an attachment.
- Dropbox.com– this is another excellent file storage site. The benefit of using Dropbox is that you can set it up on a computer or mobile device and save files directly to it. You can also share individual folders of information with other people. This is a great way to share folders of pictures with family and friends without posting them all over the Internet.
Linda Kaiser, Ph.D. is the Academic Program Manager for Post University’s Instructional Design and Technology program. Kaiser is an experienced instructional design professional with a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology and a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.