Storage and Collaboration
Dropbox: In the ubiquitous cloud, you can store files and documents that can be accessed anywhere. You are no longer tied to your computer, and you don’t have to keep buying flash drives and then keep up with where you put your last flash drive with your critical information saved on it. You can go to meetings, make presentations, work from a remote location and your documents and files are always accessible. It gets better. You can share as much or as little as you like with colleagues or students. Students can post assignments and completely bypass the need of a dropbox on an LMS. I have been using the Basic version, which is free, and you get 2GB+. I do have a lot, I mean a lot, of photos, and I may have to move up to the Pro, which is $9.99 a month for 100+GB+. This will store over 20,000 photos. I do not have that many, but I love being able to share pictures of my family with my family. Five grandchildren make for a great deal of photography.
Google Drive (formerly Docs): This is…you know where…yes, in the cloud. Here you can not only store, but you can collaborate, edit, etc. in real time with colleagues or students. This truly puts a new slant on keeping up with the most recent copy of something you are working on. You and the others do not have to…the most recent project is right there, and you can work on it together. Google Calendar is part of the package. I have used one personally for several years and have found it very friendly to use. I am a “use color” person, so this works well for me. You can share calendars in your classroom, and everyone can keep up with events and deadlines. All you need for this, and more, is a G-Mail account.
Join Me: This is a great tool for collaboration. You can hold tutoring sessions, share with colleagues, help someone with a problem or get them to help you with your own problem. I remember the first time I experienced this type of screen-sharing. I was having a problem with my Internet, and the provider had me on my hands and knees unplugging and re-plugging the modem, the phone line and the computer until I was just about at my wit’s end. Then the tech said the magic words, “May I have permission to access your computer and your screen?” I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Now this technology is no longer hoarded in the hands of the tech companies, we can do it ourselves with one another. I have been able to help a student fix a problem logging into a website in which there was an assignment, saving so much time and frustration. It is a miracle troubleshooting tool. With a simple click you can request control of the computer, and with a click the student can respond.
Audacity: This is my personal favorite, but it does require a learning curve. The beauty of Audacity is it’s editing capabilities. You can splice at a split second of the recording. You need to read a little and make sure you save for the kind of file you need for a particular application, but again, the editing capabilities are excellent. This is free.
Audio Boo: This is new to me, and I intend to use it for recordings that do not require substantial editing. You can include your location and a description on the file. The free account has unlimited posts, easy sharing to other platforms, with a maximum duration of 10 minutes. An upgrade of £6.99 a month gives 1 hour and iTunes Podcasting.
These are tools in the toolbox that perform tasks that make working easier.
Jing: This is basically a screen-casting tool. I work on a Mac, and it has the ability to “screen shot,” but not without using more steps than I want. Jing can also capture motion and provide the ability to create a video. Jing is a free download.
Tiny URL: So often we want to share an item that has a long and unwieldy url. With Tiny URL you can input the lengthy url and have the program create a shortened one or you can put in your own ending to http://www.tinyurl.com.ZZZ. If that url has never been created, you get it. If it has been used the program will suggest alternatives, or you can keep trying your own until one works. The use of the Tiny URL’s makes emails, documents and sharing of sites much neater and simpler.
Wordle: This is more fun than mechanical. When you want to capsulize a message, this is the perfect program. You input words that speak your message, and Wordle creates a visual of words. You can control size, colors and layout. Maybe it is not “a thousand words is worth a picture,” but it is an eye and mind-catching visual to express ideas. This is free.