Sunday, July 6, 2008

Creating a toolkit for teaching, learning and management.

I've spent a lot of time researching and testing a range of software and web technologies in an effort to develop a functional suite of tools for my varied work life. I recently purchased an Asus EeePC (7") as my portable computing device. I already utilise my Nokia 6210 also, so connection between the Nokia and the Asus will be implemented.

However, the Asus is not my main work computer and not my preference for working when at home. Therefore consistency across devices is important, as is synchronisation of data. The lack of onboard storage on the Asus predetermines the need for removable memory. So ultimately what I have done is develop a set of offline tools and a set of online tools. What they are and the purpose they serve are outlined below.

Offline:

I have two (2) usb flash drives that I have set up with all the software I require. One is a 1GB drive set for media consumption and creation. The other is a 4GB drive with all other software needed and all my working data. Having experienced flash drive destruction previously, I have two (2) backups for each stick. Both drives have the Portable Apps auto-menu and a range of portable applications on board.

The Media Stick - applications include Audacity - for recording podcasts and other voice material, GIMP - for image manipulation, and VLC player - for playing video and audio files. The only problem I've had is that VLC player can't play movies built in Windows MovieMaker. However all windows computers have Windows Media Player installed that can handle this.

The Work Stick - applications are many, so I will provide info in a list to enable greater understanding of why I have chosen them.

Mozilla Thunderbird - email client. This allows me to email on any computer with a live internet connection whilst providing ability to work within emails when offline.

Lightning extension (for Mozilla Thunderbird) - calendar.

Mozilla Firefox - web browser. I've used this for a while so am more comfortable in this program than Internet Explorer.

Add-ons for Mozilla Firefox - Evernote web clipper, Fireshot, Shareaholic

7zip - compression and archiving of files.

Foxit Reader - PDF reader (smaller alternative to adobe reader)

KeePass - password management program

SyncToy - synchronisation software

Evernote - information management software. Allows you to store anything, I use it to keep notes on active projects and teaching ideas.

OpenOffice - a free alternative to Microsoft Office.

Online:

I am a heavy user of del.icio.us for storage of bookmarks. My collection is here. I direct my students to use my existing web research to assist theirs.

In combination, these tools are all I require on a regular basis. There are a range of other programs I use less regularly that I choose not to occupy space on these two important drives.

If you want to know anything further about the technologies mentioned, click on the links or email me here.

3 comments:

3GK blog said...

Thanks for tweeting this post Shane. I had just asked about the asus eee on plurk and wondered what its capabilities are. I hadn't thought of running the software I'd need from a thumb drive - great idea.
Grace Kat (http://3gkblogs.edublogs.org/

jnxyz said...

What a great set up Shane - nicely organised - and by going the portable option (both the Eee and the flash drives) I believe you're moving into - mLearning! When you say 'teaching files' are on your Eee, does this mean .. ? Also, are you using WinXP on it, or the linux build?

Ok, take it easy,

Jonathan
mLearnxyz.net

shane.tech.teach said...

jnxyz, Sorry for the delay in reply. When I say teaching files, I mean everything I use daily. If its a slideshow I plan to show in class, to calendars etc. I began with Linux but due to my lack of knowledge could not get the portable apps to run, so chopped it to Win XP.