diigo

Cool tools: Diigo

One of the quiet achievers in my online working is Diigo which, in its simplest form, is an online bookmarking tool, but has powerful features including tagging and ‘lists’ and even annotations, which allow you to keep track of web pages you want to remember for later in much more powerful ways than the traditional ‘bookmarks’.

I’ve been using Diigo for a few years now, ever since I gave up on ‘Delicious’, which was an earlier entry in this style of tool. I’ve now got nearly four thousand links added to Diigo and I never use the built in bookmarking tool that comes with Chrome or IE, which means I never lose my bookmarks or favorites when I change computers either. I can log into my Diigo account from any computer and see my ‘Library’ there, all ready to go.

I’ve used Diigo lists and tags in my teaching too. As I add things to my library (with the handy little browser tool) I tag them, or add them to a list. And it’s simple to email that list to my class. For example, when I was reading up and researching prior to teaching Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway to Year 12 a couple of years ago, I tagged anything I found ‘woolf’. Then, I could just search that tag, and send the class a handy URL with them all in a list, like this: WOOLF

Now, I see that Diigo is replacing lists with an ‘outliner’ tool, which I’m looking forward to exploring. (see introduction to that feature below)

Diigo is a free tool, but has a premium model too which allows you to work more with images and PDFs. One of the essential cool tools for me.

The Tools I Use

Inspired by Darcy Moore’s round-up of tools he used this year on a regular basis, I thought it’s been a while since I wrote about the software and hardware I’ve been getting the most value from this year. Lots of similarities with his list, and some differences and lots of changes since I last did a list like this.

OneNote and Evernote

I can never really finally decide between these two great note-taking tools. Evernote is friendlier but OneNote is so tightly integrated into the Microsoft Office ecosystem that you can’t ignore it. Basically I use OneNote as my main teaching tool and meeting notes tool and Evernote as my collection of random snippets, how to guides, instructions, manual and web links etc. The nicest thing about Evernote is how beautifully it works on my iPhone, my iPad, my iMac and my notebook PC

Ulysses and Scrivener

For writing articles, blog posts, poems and just notes I’ve moved to Ulysses on the MAC and to it’s IOS counterpart Daedalus Text Editor on the iPad and iPhone. It’s one of the nicest iterations of that minimalist writing interface that is so popular these days and I’ve moved from iWriter and WriteRoom this year, which I both like. Please note, the new version of Writer (Writer Pro) is terrible and a rip-off at $20. I also like SimpleNote a lot, for putting some text somewhere and being able to work with it in multiple places.

Twitter

As for many teachers Twitter is my de-facto personal learning network. It use TweetBot on the iPad and generally check Twitter twice a day and email useful links around; to Evernote or to …

Pocket

Pocket is a fantastic off-site reading app. I save interesting articles to Pocket to read later, on any platform.

WordPress

I moved this blog from Blogger to WordPress a while ago and haven’t regretted making that change. The ads can be a bit annoying, but you get what you pay for I guess.

Diigo

I’ve been putting my bookmarks in Diigo for years. When I get a new computer, or change computers, I just login and they’re there. The tags are the things that make it work. I often use tags or specific lists to share with students. Here’s an example of a list, for my Literature class.

Feedly

Though I use Mr Reeder on the iPad mostly, all my RSS feeds are now powered by Feedly. Some folk say that Twitter has replaced RSS, but I still find the ability to subscribe to blogs and pages invaluable. For example, I can’t imagine how I’d cope with keeping up to date with my students who are blogging if I had to go in and check all those blogs individually.

Dropbox

I’ve used this for syncing my stuff between work and home for ages, but this year I set up a shared folder for my students to upload their essays and writing practice as they were mostly scanned and too big to email. It worked a treat.

Skydrive

This is Microsoft’s Dropbox, and getting better. I migrated all my PC files to Skydrive so I can access them from the Mac at home. It’s not failsafe yet, but has improved a lot.

GoogleDocs

Lots of teachers at my school are getting excited about Google Docs and I’ve used it for student and teacher surveys, for student group work annotating key passages and for collaborating with other teachers on joint presentations. It still feels a bit clunky to write in a Google Doc, but I can’t imagine where this will be in three years time.

Text Expander

This little text utility has saved me heaps of time. For example I type /lacg and out pops Learning and Curriculum Group. Multiply that saving a zillion times!

GoodReads

I keep my reading list on GoodReads and encourage my Literature students and writing students to do the same. I’ve vacillated between this and Shelfari over the years so I guess it mostly depends on where your friend are. I think they’re both owned by Amazon now.

Schoology

We don’t have an official LMS at school and use blogs and wikis extensively. Last year I had a look at Edmodo for a while but this year I’m going to try Schoology as the learning ‘hub’ for my class and see how that works. Will keep you updated.

Chrome

My favourite browser, especially with the number of great extensions like Evernote clipper, LastPass (password manager), Pocket, Readability,

Things

Things has replaced all my old to-do apps this year. It looks and works great on Macs and IOS but not on Windows. I used TaskPaper and liked it a lot but the lack of reminders finished that for me in the end.

Filemaker Pro

I’ve been using this database for years, sometimes for keeping track of student record keeping, my own writing or wine collection (!) or just a Christmas card list. It’s more powerful than any of those purposes but that’s okay; I’ve invested so much time in learning how to use it, I’m not going to stop now.

Day One

About eighteen months ago I started keeping a daily journal in Day One, available on Mac, iPad, and iPhone. It’s a great little app with photo, location and weather data built in and it’s helped me write and reflect every day.

What are your favourite tools? I wonder how different this list will look this time next year?

 

What is e-learning now?

Yesterday I got the opportunity to speak again at the Chisholm Institute ‘Ripple’ Conference at the Mt Eliza Business School, overlooking Port Phillip Bay; this time with a focus on what e-learning looks like to me  now and how can help support teachers through change.

Last year I focused on the students who were coming in to tertiary institutions from k-12 schools and what that meant for learning environments. This year my focus was more on the teachers. It was a beautiful spring day, maybe the first real spring day this year, and the conference was well run with a group of teachers who wanted to be there.

Below is a an abridged version of the slideshow with some of the key ideas. There’s also an annotated list of the resources I used on Diigo here: http://www.diigo.com/list/warrickw/ripple-2010