Thursday, October 13, 2011

Technology I use on a Daily Basis - updated for this year

In the past, I've written about the technology I use on a daily basis at school. I just saw that Richard Byrne did the same thing on his blog this week, so I decided to update my list with what I'm using these days.

All of them are free, except for PowerTeacher (paid for by the district) and my smartphone.

1. Smartphone - I just purchased an HTC Droid Incredible 2 from Verizon. I had been using a Palm/HP Pre+ (and loved it, but HP decided not to release anymore hardware). I check email, Twitter, RSS feeds, my schedule, and lesson plans for the day in the morning and then use it throughout the day as a mobile computer. I can access all the Google services I use and even edit Office documents on it.

2. Google Chrome browser - I use Chrome at home and at school. When I open it up, it automatically opens certain web pages that I use everyday (and are listed below). I do 90% of my work online, and Chrome makes it fast and easy. There are also some great add-on extensions like Aviary to clip and edit graphics, Evernote to clip websites to your Evernote account, and much more.

3. Email - I use email for communication. All of my students have my school email address, and I give it out to parents also. I can send messages to my students, communicate with parents, and communicate with other educators. You can get a free email account from Google. I use Gmail as my personal email, and our school system uses Exchange.

4. Evernote - I use Evernote as a note taking system. I have my notes organized by topic. I have reference notes, lesson plans, tech tips, and much more on here. What I really love, is that I can access my notes from any internet enabled computer or smartphone. I also like the ability to "clip" web sites into a note in Evernote. What's great, is that hyperlinks on the web page are kept when clipped into Evernote. You can also attach files to your notes. Free accounts can only attach images (JPEG/PNG/GIF), audio (MP3, WAV, AMR), PDF, and digital ink files. I try to convert most of my files to PDF anyway for cross-platform support. (Here is some info on how to create PDF files for free on your computer, or online. ) You can also share notes and notebooks with others.

5. iGoogle - I use iGoogle as my start page to keep myself organized. With one glance, I can see my task list, schedule (Google calendar), bookmarks, time/date, Gmail, RSS feeds and more. I can also access my Google Docs from this page. For more on iGoogle, go HERE.

6. PowerSchool - our district uses PowerSchool for attendance, gradebook, and other student information. Students and parents can access it and see their grades and attendance any time they want. It is accessable from any web enabled computer and you can generate multiple reports and export the data if needed.

7a. Sugarsync - Sugarsync is an online system that backs up your files and allows you to access them from any web enabled computer or smart phone. There is a free, 5GB capacity account available. What is really great is that it keeps your files in sync among multiple computers. Make a change to a file on computer A, and it is automatically uploaded and sync'd with their servers and any other computers you have specified. You can even open/edit a file directly from their server and it will automatically sync the changes you make. I keep my school files on here so that I can work on them and access them at home and on any computer at school.

7b. Dropbox is a service that allows you to sync your files on your computer with their system as a backup. This also allows you to access the files anywhere. The free account is 5GB. You can also sync the files across multiple computers. This means that you have automatic backup of your files and 24/7 access to your files. I have it set up to sync a folder on my home computer and school computer so I don't have to worry about having multiple versions or forgetting a flash drive.

There are also Dropbox apps for iPhone, Android, iPad and Blackberry. There is an independent app for Palm webOS, but you can also access the mobile site from any web-enabled phone. Imagine being able to access all of your files on your smartphone!

8. Blogger - Blogger is a free blogging tool from Google. I use it for this blog, as well as for a blog for each of my classes. These class blogs are a great resource for my students. I have important links on the side and then I post what we are doing in class, links for extra help, and more on there. My students have all subscribed to the blogs via email, so they get an email whenever I make a new post on the blog. Students can also hold discussions on the blog.

9. Google Sites - I use Google sites to create a free website for my classes. I have one website that I use for all of my clases - On the site I have class rules, reference information, links, and files from class (presentations, handouts, etc.). I also have sections for new teachers and about educational technology.

10. Hardware: I have a teacher station computer in my classroom, along with 8 student desktop computers. I have a printer for the student computers and a printer for my computer. I also have an LCD projector connected to my computer, and a VCR and DVD player connected to the projector. I also use a Keyspan remote to wirelessly control my computer from anywhere in the room. Auxillary speakers are also a must. I also now use SplashTop Remote on my smartphone or HP TouchPad to control and access my computer from anywhere in the room. 

11. Aviary's clipping extension for Chrome to clip graphics from the internet and edit or modify them for both my edtech blog and lesson plans and resources.

12. TweetDeck - I use TweetDeck to connect to Twitter and my PLN. I share resources, have conversations, and much more that helps me as an educator.

13. Students - students use the computers to access the internet for research, do virtual labs and investigations on PhET (great resource for math and science), get help on my site, get help on PhysicsClassroom, access software and services to explore and create and do their work using Blogger, Sites, Glogster, Google Docs and more.

14. DropItToMe - students submit their work to me using this site and the files go right to my Dropbox account. 

So, you now know what I use for educational technology on a daily basis. There is much more that I use from time to time and I have a huge number of web sites that I use for information, reference, or with my students.

Please share your resources too.


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