Tuesday, July 19, 2011

4 FREE DIGITAL TOOLS

** Last week, I attended the Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas. This week, I will be sharing what I learned from the conference. Although the conference is for educators, the ideas that I will share can be applied to your life. **

next-generation technology by Joseph Robertson

Another session that I attended at the Differentiated Instruction conference last week was led by Dr. Frank Buck. Dr. Buck has served as a teacher, principal, and administrator throughout his career. Now, he consults and presents workshops on productivity and digital tools for administrators. He also has a great blog entitled "Get Organized!"

During his session, Dr. Buck talked about 4 productivity tools that I will highlight below.

iGoogle
If you do not currently have a Google account, you should click here to sign up for one. This will enable you to access a whole host of productivity tools that Google offers. 

iGoogle is an interactive webpage that you design. Once you have added all of the features that you would like (i.e. weather, calendar, Google Docs, stock quotes, movies, and many other items you choose from) you can set it as your homepage. Then, anytime you open your web browser, you will be directed to iGoogle and all of the information that you most need at your fingertips.

One very cool feature of iGoogle is being able to save bookmarked web pages. Using this feature, you never have to worry about saving your favorite bookmarks on all the devices that you use throughout the day. Google even makes this easy by providing a bookmarklet that you can add to your toolbar to automatically add bookmarks. Click here to learn more about bookmarks with Google.

You should definitely check out iGoogle. You can learn more by clicking here.

Google Docs Forms
After you set up your Google account (see above), you can begin using Google Documents. Google Docs is a great place to save your documents in the "cloud." 

A great feature that you might not know about is the ability to create forms through Google Docs. Once you create a form, you can send the url to the people who you wish to complete the survey. Then, as respondents complete the survey, Google Docs compiles all of the answers into a spreadsheet. 

This is a great tool. For specifics on how to create forms, click here to watch a video. 

Dropbox
Dropbox is an online "cloud" storage website that gives you 2GB of free storage space. If you download Dropbox to your desktop, you can use it just as you would a regular drive on your computer. The advantage is that when you open a document and work on it from Dropbox (no matter where you are) and save it, the saved document will be updated. You no longer have to download your document, work on it, then upload it to your account.

Additionally, you can share your Dropbox files with others. There are lots of uses for this feature that you can explore on their website.
You can click on the link above to set up a free account or you can click on this link, set up your free account and you and I will both receive an additional 250 MB of storage. Once you click the link, you can view a short video that explains the whole Dropbox concept.

You should have a Dropbox account. It integrates wonderfully with your Mac or Windows machine and is very simple to use. Dropbox also has applications for iPhone, iPad, Droid, and BlackBerry.

reQall
reQall is a very cool productivity tool. Have you ever been driving down the road and think of something that you need to remember? Or have a great idea and a pen is nowhere in sight? reQall will solve these problems in a snap.

Basically, once you set up a free account, you can dial a toll-free 888 number and leave a message for yourself. The beauty of this product is that it will then transcribe the message and email it to your designated email address. Additionally, you can record a message and designate who to send it to (from contacts) and it will email the message to that person as well. Very cool tool.

You can also email items to reQall or directly type in text to reQall.

You can create an account by clicking here.

Thanks to Dr. Frank Buck for providing such great information at the Administrator's Summit at the Differentiated Instruction conference last week.

QUESTION: What is your favorite digital productivity tool?

Previous posts recapping the DI conference:
Shift the Monkey

3 comments:

Dr. Frank Buck said...

Jason, thanks for coming to the session and for posting. I guess iGoogle wold be my favorite since it's what I see every time I open the browser and houses all of the other tools.

jonstolpe said...

Jason,
Honestly, I use Microsoft Outlook quite a bit for productivity at the office. I have also found that the Google applications are quite helpful. Thanks for the information!

Jason said...

@Frank - iGoogle is very cool! You are a wealth of great info. Thanks for the comment.

@Jon - I loved Outlook at my previous job. Now, we use GroupWise, which is not nearly as interactive as Outlook. Thanks for the comment.