My job at Brock as an “Educational Technologies Support Specialist” not surprisingly involves a lot of support, primarily of faculty using the web as an educational tool. I do a lot of meetings and workshops, but here is a list of the tools that I’ve found invaluable in helping people use technology remotely or asynchronously:
- The Wiki: A few year ago I created the WebCT Wiki to help document WebCT at Brock and some its idiosyncrasies. It proved to be a great resource to build an FAQ in and write up a few instructions for how to do a few things. The wiki format ensured it could be updated from anywhere by anyone.
Though it was mainly me and my colleague who contributed to it the ability to post something to address an issue immediately and later refine it was very helpful. I’ve taken the approach that if I think I’ll have to explain something again it’s worth adding to the Wiki where I can either direct others to or simply copy and paste an answer from (the latter being my preference).
Recently a I spearheaded a project to bring an academic wiki server to Brock that is just getting started: kumu.brocku.caOS: Web based, Cost: Free (open source) + web server
- Jing: Jing is the best option for quickly recording a “screen cast” or taking screen shots. It’s a stripped-down tool that fills a niche below Tech Smith’s other product Camtasia.
Screen casts (videos) of how to do something can quickly be recorded of the whole screen or just a section of it and posted to the web as a flash screen.OS: Mac & PC, Cost: Free + web server
- Textexpander, formally Textpander: A tool that monitors what you are typing and seamlessly replaces specific keystrokes with predefined content. I use this to respond to E-Mail with common questions with text I already copied out of our FAQ. It is quick and allows me to modify the response a bit and (rightly or wrongly) appears more personable to the respondent.
Here’s an example of and Jing at the same time:
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.OS: Mac, Cost: $29.95
- MouseposÃ©: A quick tool for “spotshadowing” your mouse pointer, which works well with screenshots etc.
OS: Mac, Cost: $14.95 and free for educators
- A CRM: If you’re dealing with a lot people and tracking a number of issues you need some kind of system to keep track of it all. We use Interleave because it is web based and very flexible, but there are lots of options.
OS: Web based, Cost: Free (open source) + web server
Next I’ll look at my bottom 5, the list of tools that I’ve found to be useless.