Today’s post is a quick overview of some of the edtech tools I use on an almost daily basis. I also want this to be more than a purely aggregated list of tools à la the “10 must have xzy”, therefore I’ll include as many authentic samples of my work as possible so that you can see the tools in use.
Audacity is an audio editor for Mac, Linux and Windows. The program is free, easy to use which mean you can get started with almost no preparation and comes in different languages which might be handy for all international educators. Audacity allows you to record, slice and mix audio. With its new version Audacity has become much more stable which is definitely a plus as nobody enjoys a program that freezes numerous times.
I’ve been using it for at least three years now for both my philanthropic project to teach German online as well as on EDUKWEST. Let’s take this episode of Crossref:ed as an example as you can actually hear the difference in the audio quality.
I first recorded the audio with Audacity and then added the graphics I wanted to use to illustrate my audio as I personally like the visual component.
To get the best audio experience for your listeners I suggest you invest in either a good headset or a separate microphone if you plan to record audio tracks. There are great podcasting microphones out there that start around $80 USD. For example I am currently using the Samson C01U.
Get Audacity at http://audacity.sourceforge.net (free)
Skype is a video (or audio only) calling service for Windows and Mac (VoIP). You can call any other Skype user for free and also make cheap international calls with Skype credits.
Skype also offers premium features such as multiple video calls when you subscribe to their premium plan. I have been using Skype for almost five years now for both my live classes and most of the interviews we do on EDUKWEST.
Certainly, there are other VoIP service but Skype is probably the most used one internationally, and today it is rather rare that I have to request an interviewee to install it. In a majority of cases they already have an account and know how to use the program which is quite comfortable for both sides.
Get Skype at http://skype.com (free & premium features)
I dedicated Evernote a full article in which I describe the various advantages of “outsourcing your brain to the service”.
Evernote and its different apps and features offers a great way to stay on top of all the content you either find on the Internet or you create on your own. Using very robust search capabilities along with tagging options, all your content is easy to find.
You can read the full post I wrote for Fractus Learning two weeks ago.
Get Evernote at http://evernote.com (free & premium features)
For every blogger, may he/she be an education journalist or a blogging teacher, choosing the right platform is essential. If you’re blogging to make a living like I do, the efficient use of the tools is your bread and butter. We want to concentrate on writing and not fighting with the tools or features.
My publishing platform of choice is WordPress. WordPress is free and open source. Users can choose from great design templates and the WordPress platform offers lots of features such as plug-ins, widgets and mobile versions.
To show you how versatile the platform is, compare FractusLearning’s article section with my personal blog http://kirstenwinkler.com. Both are powered by WordPress, still look completely different.
Edublogs is a WordPress hosting service dedicated to, you guessed it, teachers and/or students.
Besides offering an easy way to setup a WordPress blog, the service also offers specific features for schools and educators.
The bufferapp helps me to schedule my tweets during the day. Every morning when I go through the relevant stories of the day I buffer some of them so that they’ll be sent out at the times I had set earlier. This way I don’t always have to tweet out myself, but let the program do it for me. I can also see which of my stories were most popular and how many clicks and retweets I’ve got.
Buffer also allows me to thank people right out of the app without signing into twitter itself and to follow new people. I use Buffer for twitter but they also offer the service for facebook. There is a free version that you should definitely try out. If you want more service or add multiple accounts there are also paid plans available.
Get Buffer at http://bufferapp.com (free & premium features)
StumbleUpon is a discovery engine, similar to a search engine that provides its users with recommended web content. StumbleUpon allows its users to discover and rate web pages, photos and videos. The content is personalized to the user’s preferences, and SU adds principles from social networking to the content.
It is also a great way to get your content out to new readers. StumbleUpon’s own link shortener su.pr let’s you easily connect your social media profiles like Twitter and Facebook and then directly enter your new post in the StumbleUpon depository.
StumbleUpon works with all main browsers and has native mobile apps iOS, Android and Amazon Webstore.
Get StumbleUpon at http://stumbleupon.com (free)
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, I_Believe_