This is going to be my last waffle in the starting university series. I have looked at preparing to start the adventure and what to do during the first week. In this waffle I am going to have a look at my own personal electronic toolkit which I use for my studies in higher education.
My electronic backpack
(Original Image from pixabay.com)
Some of you might be a little puzzled now since I mentioned in the introduction my studies. Although essentially I am a tutor in higher education, I am continuing my studies, not only to gain further qualifications but also just to extend my own learning and understanding of both teaching and learning. In order to support me in doing this I have collected what I consider to be my electronic toolkit – a group of applications and programs which support me in my learning. These are of course, unique to me, but this might provide a starting point for anyone who would like to take a step into using technology to support their learning.
Evernote – There are many different note taking applications and systems around but I have not found any which suits me more than Evernote. Essentially this is a free application which works on all platforms, including directly from a web browser. It allows me to organise my notes in a variety of notebooks and even looks at my calendar to automatically title notes when I open the application in meetings/sessions. My notes are synchronised across all my devices and the web clipper extension allows me to clip straight from the internet when I am researching across the web. It also has the option to use audio notes and images. The only negative might be the lack of pretty colours…but essentially I use Evernote to support my note taking rather than as an art package. If you are looking a clean well established note taking application then definitely look at Evernote. One of my previous waffles covered how I used Evernote to record my references – something you will be doing a lot if you are embarking on your first university course.
Task Manager– I have to be careful with this one, since I actually use a few task managers and some are rather expensive. I have mentioned before the need to record your tasks and being somewhat of a work flow addict, it has always been essential that I have a place to record my tasks. Essentially I have two applications which I use – Things and Omnifocus. These are both iOS only systems which does provide me with some problems, especially when I am trying to create tasks directly from my Outlook mail system on my work PC. I’ve yet to find the one I like the best but generally it is Things that I keep coming back to. Although both of these can be quite complicated to start with, there are similar systems available, including the Task part of Outlook and a very clean and well produced task system called Clear. Again this is on my iPhone and I essentially use this for my shopping list! It does not really matter which application you are using, as long as it works for you and that it synchronises across your devices.
Twitter Collection – Something which I would consider part of my essential electronic toolkit is an application which collects my Twitter feeds. Now, you might be wondering why this is in my essential collection. Well, with the ever increasing number of conferences and tutors using twitter I use it to keep up to date with people and events as well as increasing and interacting with my own personal learning network. When I am just tweeting normally, then I just use the usual Twitter application, although when I am at my desk or using my iPad I tend to change to using TweetDeck and TweetBot. The first point I like about these applications is that they will constantly up date in the background without me having to interact with them. Secondly, TweetDeck allows you to search for hashtags and putting them into a column which then updates. This is very useful for watching conference or event feeds, whether that is an international conference or the tweets connected to the Primary Education events at university. TweetDeck also allows me to schedule my tweets so when I get a sudden rush of ideas, I can organise these to allow them to slowly be released throughout the day and/or week.
Using columns in Tweetdeck
There are other essential applications which I have on my devices, for example calendar, email, RSS reader and Facebook applications, but the three above are the ones which have the most impact on my studies and workflow. I know some of them are only available for a specific operating system and some might be out of people’s price ranges, but I wanted to show you the type of applications I use. They all have the ability to synchronise across my devices, something which I consider an essential feature of any workflow software I use. Rather than looking at the specific applications, look at their functions and then find something which works for you – use what I have waffled about here as a starting point for your new electronic workflow.
I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send me them to be via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, email.
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Have fun, engage and I’ll catch you later