Monday, March 25, 2013

Lorena’s List: Five Great Technology Tools for Academics (and everyone else...)

Back in February I did a talk for the WSU Writing Program's Multimodal Composition Across the Curriculum series. My topic was Information Literacy and Technology-Assisted Research (I talked about metaliteracy), and I'll post my slides in my next ID post, but in the Q&A I had a bunch of questions about technology. So the convener of the series, Jennifer Lin O'Brian,  asked me to write up a list of my favorite five tools. It was hard to limit myself, and you will see I cheated! The original version of this post can be found here, and I recommend taking a look at the other posts in the Composing the new Classroom (#CtNC) blog. I've been to every session so far, and it has been an excellent series!

1. A reference management program: Zotero [Or EndNote, Mendeley, CiteULike, etc – see this ]
Reference management software helps you keep track of material – books, articles, webpages, documents, multimedia, etc.  You can keep an electronic copy of an item (if available), bibliographic data, and your notes on the item together in a searchable database.
For information on Zotero classes at WSU, see ; for  information on EndNote classes see ; for information on other reference managers, contact Lorena O’English ( ; wsulorena on Twitter, Skype, GTalk, Yahoo IM)
2. A Notes program: Evernote [Or Google Drive, OneNoteSpringPadSimpleNote, etc.]
The advantage of something like Evernote is that you can access information on multiple devices (desk/laptop, smartphone, tablet). Depending on what device, you can also add in voice notes, images, photographs, etc.  I love the IPad and Android versions! Most of these have freemium options – some functionality for free, more for fee.
3. A screencasting program: Screencast-o-Matic [Or ScreenrJing, etc.]
Screencast-o-Matic lets you make videos of what is going on your computer monitor, then save the video and/or upload it to YouTube, etc. SoM has a browser version and a desktop version (the desktop version requires a paid subscription, but its not very expensive). Screencasting is great for quick how-tos/demonstrations, reading a student’s paper and providing comments orally, and so much more! You’ll find it’s as valuable for personal purposes as it is for academic uses (I use it to show my Mom how to manage her Kindle via the Amazon website, for example.
4. A Read it Later/Read it Nice application: InstaPaper [and/or ReadabilityEvernote ClearlyPocket, etc.]
I love these! I use InstaPaper to save articles that I want to read, but that I don’t think I need to save in my Zotero library – I can read them online,  or I can send them to my Kindle and wirelessly download them (I also use it to read/send scholarly articles if they are available in HTML format, but it does not always work).  Instapaper keeps an archive of all the articles I have saved on it online.  Although IP offers a “read it nice” option, I mix up my products and use Readability – it strips out ads and increases the font and the whitespace, making on-screen reading much nicer.
5. An easy on your eyes application: F.lux
This is so useful! A free program that “warms up” your monitor as its gets darker, so it’s easier to read on screen at night. Not good if you need exact colors, but you can turn it off temporarily.

1 comment:

Ron Starc said...

Monthly subscriptions can get expensive over the course of a few months. Instead of a online subscription service, try making a one time purchase for less than the cost of 2 months of service. My Screen Recorder Pro is an excellent screencasting tool. Records your screen and audio from the speakers or your voice from the microphone - or both simultaneously. The recordings are clear and look great when played back on your PC or uploaded to YouTube. It will record directly to AVI, WMV, MP4, or FLV. Just perfect for creating tutorials, demos, and presentations.