Sharing my gratitude for some great online software applications.
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving Holiday, I'm taking a break from my series on Interactive Whiteboards, to post this list of internet and instructional technology products that I am grateful for. Some of these tools are purely education focused, and some are much more general. They have each played a role at the school where I oversee technology, or for me personally in my pursuit of education technology knowledge and awareness.
- SurveyMonkey: This low cost online survey tool is easy, flexible, and really delivers. We are able to create electronic surveys quickly, with a wide range of question formats available, and then hand off the administration of the surveys to the users who requested them. Survey administrators can have complete, secure access to results, browsing them in summary or full detail on line, and downloading them in a variety of useful formats for further analysis if desired. I was particularly thankful as I put up some new surveys recently and discovered that SurveyMonkey now provides much shorter URL's for accessing surveys.
- The Timecruiser integrated suite of products: We licensed and implemented the Campus Cruiser portal and the Cruiser Alert emergency notification and messaging systems this year. I am thoroughly appreciative that we now have a robust Portal tool for the entire college community, and comforted by the knowledge that we have an easy and effective mechanism to message everyone quickly in the event of an emergency or other important notification situation. I am also quite grateful for the SaaS delivery model that eliminates the need for server procurement, implementation, maintenance/management, upgrade oversight, etc. I'm looking forward to the next step with this product suite, the migration from our current LMS/CMS (Blackboard) to the Course Cruiser LMS that is integrated into the Timecruiser suite.
- Google Sites: A was delighted to learn recently that this free application positions students to easily create an ad-free, uncluttered web site where they can host an electronic portfolio of representational academic work, which can facilitate further academic pursuits and their career searches.
- Doodle: This simple, free “polling” tool is a real time saver when trying to offer and coordinate multiple training sessions. In about 10 minutes, I can create multiple offerings of a training session, and send the link to the resulting poll to as many user as I want. Those users can then see and self-select from the available offerings. This has reduced the time required to administer the scheduling of training offerings from hours to minutes!
- Blogger: I am grateful for Blogger because it helped get me started with blogging about education technologies. Of course, Blogger also facilitates blogging for lots students, teachers, and administrators (as well as vast numbers of users outside of the educational field).
- Wetpaint: Wetpaint's free Wiki's are utilized in various courses at my college, and having the option to have ads turned off (for educational users) is very much appreciated! A Wetpaint Wiki can be a great, fun introduction to hosting your own web site, but it is also functional enough to serve as a pretty robust web-based community site.
- Microsoft Office: Yup, good old Office made the list (while this isn't typically used as as online app, there are now online versions available). How many of us would be willing to give up Word or Excel? Up-and-comers like Google Docs offer interesting alternatives, but few of us could go without this gold standard productivity suite. We teach it in our classrooms, students use it regularly to complete assignments, and it plays a daily role in administrative processes.
- Goodsearch: While Google Search is the search engine of choice for the masses, we are grateful for Goodsearch here at our college because it allows organizations to earn some income for charitable purposes. By indicating the charity of your choosing when configuring Goodsearch, searches you conduct can result in small donations to that charity. For us, this helps to grow our scholarship funds for students in need.
- WordPress: This free, powerful Content Management System is the main tool that allows me to produce a professional looking blog. It positioned me to blog about education technology in a professional manner, and I could hardly be more thankful for it (and for the recently purchased outstanding Thesis theme add-on). This blogging effort has helped me learn so much, which benefits my institution and myself. I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with lots of knowledgable people online through this blog, and WordPress is an essential element in making that possible. Of course, WordPress.com also hosts blogs, and like Blogger, hosts many student, teacher, etc., blogs.
- YouTube: YouTube undeniably popularized the use of Internet based video clips, and with the vast potential for this technology in instructional applications, one has to appreciate the impact that YouTube has had.
There are plenty more Internet and instructional technologies I am thankful for, but the above ten products quickly rose to the top of the list as I thought about the many tools we use. Hopefully this listing provides a couple insights for you (or at least reminds you of what you have to be grateful for!).
Speaking of you, and of gratitude, I am so very, very thankful for my subscribers and readers! Your feedback, comments, and suggestions bring so much value to the process. Without you, this blog just wouldn't exist. I hope you had a great weekend, and I want to wish everyone a healthy and happy upcoming holiday season!