Using technology to make your life easier!
Last American Thanksgiving (end of November 2008) the folks at Lifehacker put together an ad-hoc survey to determine what free software their subscribers were most thankful for. Lifehacker is a site that provides tips and links to downloads that help people get things done and is one of the blogs that I monitor on a daily basis.
One of the most interesting aspects of this list is the fact that so many of the best software tools are not only free but are based on Web 2.0 technologies and incorporate some aspect of collaboration or social networking. Another interesting fact is that out of the 46 software tools listed there are only 3 that I have not used and another three that I have tested but do not prefer. Chances are Tyler has used the three that I haven’t, and his preferences are different than mine so between the both of us we currently use almost all of the software in this list on a daily basis and yes these tools save us time, make us more efficient and more productive. Over the next few months we will be working through this list and will be highlighting many of the tools.
The first 20 applications are listed in the following list:
How many of these applications are you currently using?
It doesn’t get any easier than this to upload and send a file. Select the file (just click on the File box and a window will open), add their email address and click on “Send it Out”.
RSS (Real Simple Sindication) is the best way to keep up to date with websites, blogs or other sources of information. The CommonCraft video RSS in Plain English offers one of the best explanations for how RSS works and what you need to use it.
We highly recommend using the Google Reader to manage and view your RSS feeds because it is the simplest and most effective tool that we have found to date. It is fully web based and so you can access your RSS feeds from anywhere that you have internet access and a browser. If you already have a gmail account then you have access to google reader and just need to click on Reader from the top left menu when you log into your gmail account.
While above video is humorous it is also sad commentary on the how many people view technology.
The idea for the easierway.ca blog/website came from the realization that unless we (Academics, Educational Technology Experts, Instructional Designers, Information Technology Experts etc.) find ways to encourage faculty, administration and staff to use technology on a daily basis for routine tasks our chances of getting these people to effectively use technology in an academic setting, in the classroom or online are limited.
Much of the technology that we do use or deploy in the academic setting is much too difficult to use so many faculty, administrators and staff do not view technology as something that can actually save them time and make them more efficient but as something that can easily consume vast amounts of time, requires extensive training and is just too bothersome to learn to use.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Through the easierway.ca blog we hope to change the way that many people view technology and show our subscribers that there always and easier way and if USED APPROPRIATELY technology can make ones life easier, more efficient and can even save valuable time.
All the tools, software, or hardware (herein referred to as tools) that we will review and recommend will only be included in this site based on the following criteria:
* They do not required any training or instruction to be used – if one has to crack a training manual or enroll in a course to use the tool then there must be a better or easier tool.
* The tools must actually make one’s life easier, provide levels of efficiency and actually save time.
* The tools must be free/open source or if they aren’t free, they must provide exceptional value and be of a minimal cost.
* We actually use them.
Finally, the notion of always looking for an easier way or perhaps the better way should be at the heart of learning and at the heart of academia. Education or more specifically learning should be an empowering experience and the tools, systems and methodologies that we use in this process should always provide a way for us to improve and enrich our lives.