New tools for scholarship, new modes of communication, new forms of organization, same old humanity.
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March 26, 2014 at 9:46 am #314
Despite having the artistic talent of a rock (and that’s being generous), I wheedled my parents into buying me a Bamboo Fun tablet when I was in ninth grade, young, naive, and full of the belief that I was actually capable of drawing a straight line across a canvas. My delusions of artistic grandeur ended pretty quickly, but as I progressed through high school, I found other uses for my tablet as I became more and more involved in the school’s literary and arts magazine, which was put together entirely in Photoshop and InDesign. For those unfamiliar with tablets, or for those who are thinking of the even more modern versions that are essentially mini touchscreen computers, I’m talking about a device that, when hooked up to your computer, transmits what you draw on the “canvas” to the screen. Though it takes some time to get used to, it essentially lets you control your entire computer as if you were using a pen on a piece of paper. Given that I obviously can’t draw worth beans, this kind of tool hardly seems up my alley, but even after having left graphic design, I’ve found that tablets allow for a more interactive approach to laptop computing, allowing me to do things like handwrite notes on a blank Photoshop page or even just bypass having to scroll around with a mouse when I can instead use the pen to drag the screen around. When I was working on the litmag, I found myself bringing my personal tablet to school most days so that I could have a more tactile, precise experience with everything from formatting artwork to tricky text alignments. Obviously, the tablet’s real audience is still digital artists, but it’s still something I enjoy using.March 26, 2014 at 9:47 am #315
Although I am aware of many wonderful apps designed for students and the education field, I do not use most of them. You could call me an old-fashioned type of girl, considering I often still right-click to copy or paste something. I have found one thing in particular, on my Macbook Air, that helps me save a lot of time doing homework, writing papers, or online shopping. On the trackpad, if one moves three fingers upwards, the laptop gives you a birds-eye view of all the separate windows in each desktop. This is much easier than having to have each window minimized when you aren’t using it. This saves me a lot of time when I have to read PDF files and incorporate them into a paper, or when taking notes. It also helps me when I have to write an email to my advisor, for example, and have to reference my Degree Evaluation. All in all, I think Apple has created this shortcut that is helpful in any way you wish to use it.March 26, 2014 at 9:48 am #316
To follow the trend of blocking apps, to help me work and be productive, I use an extension on Google Chrome called strict workflow. What this does is it actually blocks access to the internet. So if I’m doing work I can allow access to work websites only but block facebook and other distractors. When I’ve used it, it has be helpful and it allows for breaks. The default setting is 25 minutes of blocked access and 5 minutes of free access.March 26, 2014 at 9:49 am #317
Google Drive, my productivity tool of choice, is almost painfully simple, but I find that is extremely effective. We all know how it works, but for my particular academic style, I think the platform fits perfectly.
I much prefer to bring my iPad to class; something about having the vertical screen of a laptop creating a “wall” between me and the professor just begs me to wander off. Having the iPad lay flat on the desk, as close to a paper notebook as possible, forces me to stay focused (because now everyone can see what I’m doing, professor included), and the interface just feels more natural.
That’s where Drive comes in. Drive lets me have all my documents, images, essays, or whatever I need in one place with a simple system of organization by class, semester, and year. Beyond that, it lets me have these things anywhere. So I can access something in class on the iPad, work on it, and when I go home to continue working with it on my laptop, it’s right there. No emailing myself, no thumb drives (are those even a thing anymore?), no wasted time or missing documents. Likewise, if I do an assignment on my laptop at home, I can access it on my iPad in the same quick, convenient manner.
Super simple stuff.March 26, 2014 at 9:49 am #319
I have to admit that I don’t use very many tools on my computer other than the basic Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, and the like. My iPhone is also pretty basic however I have recently discovered the Blackboard app. For a while I would try to access MyCourses from Safari on my phone. If anyone else has tried this, you probably have found that any file you open (note, syllabus, etc.) will only show the top part of the screen. In other words, the document won’t scroll down, so the only information accessible is what is at the top of the document. I don’t remember how, but I heard about the app for Blackboard, which is the provider for MyCourses. After downloading the app to my phone, I found that I could access full documents on my phone.March 26, 2014 at 9:49 am #320
If you’re anything like me, one of the reasons you might enjoy reading on paper, rather than on a screen, is the ability to easily highlight or annotate a text. Some platforms do allow users to make notes on the computer, such as documents that can be opened in Microsoft Word and some PDFs using Preview – both Word and Preview have built-in highlighters, even if their functions are minimal. And yet, what if I wanted to interact with other digital content, like information found on a website? Before I discovered scrible Toolbar, I was out of luck. I would find myself copy/pasting text into Word and losing formatting, context clues, design, and other embedded materials in the transfer. Worse was finding a site I wanted to annotate, and feeling the need to waste 20 or 30 pages of paper just to print it out, read it over, and recycle it shortly after.
All of that being said, scrible Toolbar has completely changed the way I am able to do research online. It’s a bookmarklet, which means it lives in the bookmarks section of your browser, and can be easily accessed after installation with a single click. This tool is completely free, and allows users to highlight, leave “post-it” notes on specific sections, change the color of text within a page, underline text, make an annotation legend, etc. It is also possible to save annotations for later by adding them to a user’s library, which gives the option of labeling, describing, and tagging entries for easy future retrieval. Additionally, it’s possible to easily share one’s annotations via Twitter, Facebook, or email, or, one can download the page directly to her hard drive. This also makes it possible to access webpages whether or not a user is connected to the Internet. The basic plan is free and allows users 125 MB of space; the student edition, which is also free, upgrades users to 250 MB; then of course there are paid plans for users who wish to scribble more excessively.
I highly recommend scribble Toolbar, especially for students who are sifting through large amounts of web-based data. Your transferring/copy-and-pasting/killing-many-trees days have quite possibly come to an end!March 26, 2014 at 9:53 am #323
The tool I use the most for productivity purposes would have to be Microsoft Word. I use it to make lists (and leave it on my desktop if it is important enough) or plan projects, make flyers for groups I’m in and of course to write papers. Or really I use it to write anything before I transfer it over to some website (Tumblr for instance). However, what I really use to stay organized is this big calendar I have on my wall. But we’re talking about computers.March 26, 2014 at 9:55 am #324
The tools that I tend to use most are Dropbox and Google Docs. Google Docs is great for note taking in class since the documents can be accessed from any device. I have also used it for collaborative work in class, as well as in extra curricular activities. Dropbox is somewhat similar to Google Docs, and is similarly useful. I have used Dropbox on several occasions to share particularly large files that are too big to be sent as an email or text message attachement.
I also have very recently started using Google Calendar. It is a highly customizable calendar that I can access on all of my devices. You can set events to repeat every week, you can have your phone alarm go off a certain amount of time before each event, and you can share your calendar with others.
Doodle.com is a very basic scheduler that I also frequently use. Each person enters their name, and checks off what times they are available (the timeslots are set by the poll creator). I have found Doodle to be incredibly useful when scheduling meetings with a larger group of people.March 26, 2014 at 9:56 am #325
Kevin P. FeeleyParticipant
I have found that the most integral tool to my day-to-day existence happens to be one of the more basic functions in my phone; I am referring to the calendar function which comes standard on all iPhones. Of course, calendars have existed for literally thousands of years, with ancient and modern civilizations alike relying on them to track the passage of time and to mark dates of special importance or significance. However, it seems that the dawn of modern computer technology has given rise to a new and innovative form of calendars: those which can interact with its user. I can put important information about an upcoming meeting and set my iPhone to communicate to me when the event is coming up.March 26, 2014 at 9:59 am #326
Afloat is a nifty app that allows you to change [most application] windows to become variably transparent, allowing out to see through windows at the background, windows behind, etc. It also allows you to make certain windows remain “afloat,” in that that selected window remains “on top” of all other windows. Here’s an example of what it looks like. It’s useful in a number of situation, like if you’re watching a video and want to use iMessage at the same time or take notes and not block most of the video with an opaque window block.
March 29, 2014 at 3:12 pm #353
- This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by Matt Spitzer.
Aspect Ratio Calculator is a simple online tool I first started using for picture/video editing to get proportions right. Now, I use it for figuring out percentages and grades for teachers who have unusual point systems. I have a professor who grades out of 12.5 points for some assignments, and this tool is helpful for figuring out what letter grade that translates to. There could be a tool specifically designed for grade calculations (a calculator can give me the same answer with a few extra buttons pushed), but I stuck with a tool I was familiar with and gave it a new purpose.March 31, 2014 at 10:22 am #358
One tool that I use often is Google Calendar. I am in a sorority on campus and there are many different events we have to be at, organized by different people. Google Calendar allows all of us to go in and post new events that we are in charge of that people need to be at. It also helps us organize things like tabling – who has to be there and at what times.
Another tool that I use often is Doodle. It is a scheduling tool that allows people to respond when they are available, days and times. In my family we plan a reunion every summer, and the Doodle is sent out to every individual where they can respond what days they are available, and then we pick the day that works for most people. This is a helpful scheduling tool, especially if you are planning something with a large number of people, or if you are planning something with people and you are not together to discuss.March 31, 2014 at 10:30 am #359
I always go back to Microsoft Word for everything. It’s a universal tool that almost everyone is aware of. I use it to organize my class notes, keep my schedule on track, brainstorm ideas and keep track of music/pictures/websites i’m interested in. Microsoft word is an application i’m comfortable with and i think that’s why i gravitate towards this tool more frequently than anything else.May 12, 2014 at 5:19 pm #439
I use strict workflow, which is an extension you can download on chrome. It blocks or only allows certain websites for a period of time that you say. It also allows for breaks where you can go on those websites. It really does seem to make me more productive because I know I get to reward myself with free time while I’m working.
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