Monday, January 4, 2010

Annual Tools and Sites I Use List

It's time for my annual "Tools and Sites I Use List'! Here's my first list from January 2008 and my second one from January 2009. I was originally inspired by a Will Richardson post, and Will was in turn inspired by Tech Crunch's Annual List. You can see this year's Tech Crunch list here.

tools mosaic by m kasahara

tools mosaic by m kasahara licensed CC attribution, non-commercial, no derivs

My List

So, in no particular order, these are the tools and sites I use. I use all of them on a weekly basis and I use the starred ones pretty much daily:

  • Twitter*

  • Seesmic Desktop*--a twitter client that allows you to organize the folks you follow, keeps track of your searches, and also keeps you up to date with your Facebook friend updates. It doesn't have quite the same strong following as Tweet Deck, but I really like it.

  • Google Chrome*--I really like this browser; it has a clean appearance with very few buttons and menus, it feels speedier than other browsers, and I love that there is just one box that allows you to both search and put in URLs. Chrome is not perfect though. Ironically it seems to have problems doing certain things in Google Docs. Chrome doesn't have quite the wonderful array of plugins/extensions that FireFox has, but I'm hoping that will change (I used to be a big FireFox user, but it was just getting too buggy.) The biggest thing I miss from FireFox is the CoComment extension. I'm finding it difficult to keep track of comments on the various blogs I visit. It's a pain, but not a big enough one to get me to switch to using FireFox again. By the way, if you have a good way to keep track of comments if you're using Chrome, please let me know. If a blog has the option of 'e-mail follow up comments' I select it, and I will subscribe to comment feeds, but often you have to subscribe to all comments from a particular blog as opposed to just the post I'm interested in.

  • GMail*--Love the way you can tag messages, the interface is great, and I can have my e-mail my way on any connected computer

  • Google Calendar* -- Keeps my personal and work life organized. My colleague and I use Google calendars for our students to help them plan their timelines. You can see an example embedded on my school website here.

  • iGoogle*--it's my home page, where all the things I need at a glance are there for me; Gmail, Google Calender, Weather Widget, Google Reader, Tasks, Top Stories...

  • CEET -- A social networking site for BC educators called Community for Expertise in Educational Technology. It was created back in the spring, but really seemed to take off this fall. There are some wonderful people facilitating and participating in the community. I've posted a number of questions and gotten fabulous feedback.

  • Moodle* -- My school district moved to Moodle this fall and I've written here about one of the features of Moodle that I really enjoy. I have a lot to learn about Moodle, and I am looking forward to further customizing my online courses to suit the needs of my students.

  • Microsoft Outlook* -- only because I have to :-p (my work e-mail all has to go through Microsoft Outlook.) Using it though makes me appreciate GMail even more ;-) I do like the calendar in Outlook and use it for all of my work related appointments. The alerts are very handy and it is easy to notify others in the organization of meetings.

  • Google Search* -- I can't imagine being on a computer and not using Google search. Every year I find out more cool things that Search can do.

  • Wikipedia

  • Delicious* -- I still haven't spent the time to figure out the social part of delicious, but I love having one place for all my bookmarks.

  • Edublogs -- my blog host

  • Skype

  • YouTube

  • Elluminate Live! -- to offer tutoring to my students and to attend meetings with colleagues

The Analysis

This year my list has shrunk from 29 to 16. Perhaps I'm being more selective? Or could it just be that I have a bad memory ;-). New this year are Google Chrome, Seesmic Desktop, and CEET. Moodle is back on my list after a one year hiatus. No wikis on here aside from Wikipedia. Last year I spent a good deal of time checking out Wikispaces, PBWiki, WetPaint, but the whole wiki thing just didn't take.

Sadly missing from my list is KnowWeeks. KnowWeeks were a series of week long Professional development sessions that were offered in the Moodle environment. They were free for BC educators and they were wonderful! Sessions on using wikis, photo editing in Gimp, Browserless blogging and on and on. The facilitators included folks like Kathy Cassidy, Grant Potter, Sharon Betts, Bernadette Rego to name but a few. Last year I got the wonderful opportunity to train to be an assistant facilitator in KnowWeeks and it was awesome PD. They didn't get funding this year and I think that CEET is meant to fill the void left by KnowWeeks.

On The Horizon

I *think* I've decided to do the 2010/365 project where you take a photo a day for a year and post them online. I tried last year but fizzled out before January was over. I hope that things will work out better this time around. If it does, I'll be using Picasa 3 to organize photos on my PC, or iPhoto if I get a chance to use our Mac ;-). Both of these programs help you to organize your photos, do simple editing, create slideshows/screensavers/wallpaper/etc, and they both have facial recognition. I'll be posting my photos to Flickr and you can check out my photos so far here).

Wrap Up

Of course it is not about the tools, it's about what you do with them. The tools on my list help me to communicate, collaborate, create, investigate and learn. If you're inspired to write your own post on the tools and sites you use, please leave a comment below so I can check it out. Are you surprised by some of the items on my list, or some that aren't? Do you have questions about any tool I've mentioned? Then leave a comment below!


  1. Great way of putting your tools and thoughts into words. I, too miss the KnowWeeks and look forward to eventually working again with my Canadian colleagues.
    I will stay tuned for your pictures in 2010.

  2. Hi Sharon,
    Thanks for your comment! The KnowWeeks courses were wonderful and I really learned a lot from the sessions I took with you. CEET is attempting to do similar sessions to KW; there was one on Twitter in early December that I was able to help facilitate and I think it went really well. All the best in 2010!

  3. I tried clicking on the 3 links which start with Google Calendar and all three have been taken over by advertising spam. Maybe you could fix them because I'd really like to see how they work for your students. Gloria in Vancouver

  4. Hi Gloria,
    Thanks for your comment. I recently revamped my school website so the link I had here was dead. I've updated the link to this. (Updated in the post above too).

    I think the advertising spam that you are seeing is the advertising that Edublogs puts on free blogs like mine. You can tell the advertising links because they are double underlined. I'm not very fond of this form of advertising and have been grappling with whether I should pay up and become an Edublogs supporter (ie get a paid blog with them) or move to new digs. Your comments have just emphasized to me that I need to make the switch sooner rather than later!


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