Over the last six months or so, I have read a number of blogs of writers from across education speaking to the question "what tech do I use everyday?" It's a topic worthy of consideration because there is such a bewildering number of applications and programs that aim to make one's life easier professionally and to make the art and craft of teaching more managable. At school today, I had the opportunity to work with colleagues at the last professional development day of the year. One colleague and I have done great work together; today he and I worked with teachers who wanted to refresh skills or who had more straightforward questions. The conversation we had was a reminder just how many offerings there are to do almost anything.
So, I start my list of everyday tech with Evernote. I use it professionally to keep track of notes, tag my notes, store photos that speak to work concerns and use it to plan both professional and personal projects. I was both surprised and a little delighted to hear such disparate opinions on Evernote from colleagues. Some, like me, really liked it but didn't use it as a classroom/learning management tool (though it's a great program for that purpose). Others did use it to manage and run their class through sharing. Still others didn't like it because it didn't really work for the way they work. That was one of the key take-aways from this seminar for me. You have to try these tools out first and, if you don't like it, don't use it. Don't go on what anyone says - at the end of the day, you have to find that it works for you. Having said that, I find Evernote and its power to sync across every possible platform a godsend.
Gmail is a first in the morning, last at night program for me, although not for work. Gmail's easy to use interface, cloud-storage, ease of use and cross-platform compatibility are crucial.
In the social networking realm, I read Twitter everyday, but don't always tweet or retweet. I don't really get how Twitter works as a social network for friends - I think Facebook serves far better in that capacity. But where I might find cat videos on FB, I find great learning on Twitter. If you don't have an account, you really should.
I am an avid user of Google's blog aggregator as well. Reader is an outstanding and intuitive aggregator that makes really good suggestions based on what you already read.
I am a To Do list enthusiast and have downloaded dozens of different apps, taken Franklin Covey courses and done my best to find the one that works for me. About six months ago, I found it. iProcrastinate (Mac and iOS only) is the best to do program ever and I use it practically hourly to keep track of what's what and what needs to be done when. It is intuitive with clear relationships between different tasks and excellent tagging.
Have you heard of Zite and Flipboard? If not, you should seek them out. Both are personalized, social magazines. Zite gets better at finding content for you the more you use it. It's content engine is very smart - it's sent me lots of articles over the last six months that I would never have found on my own (except by dumb luck). Flipboard is a beautiful social magazine that takes your content and its own and melds them into an experience that reads like a magazine. Speaking of magazines...if you've got an iPad, you can't go wrong with Zinio.
When I was teaching, I used the very powerful Schoology as my daily classroom management tool. It's user interface makes sense, is easy to use, has a dropbox feature and fantastic support. It could easily simplify a school's technology framework, largely replacing email and making it possible for students to learn asynchronously and for school communities to work together without having to use other, public social networks like Facebook when you really want Facebook's features but not it's public facing.
I'd love to hear from you what you use every day. There are so many choices - it's critical that we share with each other as we make sense of a world of ubiquitous technology.