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Top Ten Web Tools of 2015

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This is the eighth time I have compiled a list of the top ten web tools I have used during the year. I am finding it interesting looking back over 2008, 2009, 2010201120122013 and 2014 which tools I still use and which have fallen by the wayside.

Out of the top ten are Chrome, Safari and Google+. I still like the positive aspects of Chrome and Safari, I like the fact that I can move between devices and take up where I left off and having a common history regardless of device. Though using a Dell has meant Safari integration is less useful. Google+ probably would have made the top ten, but the community I am part of is using it less and less, so there is less engagement and less conversation.

Instagram is number ten for 2015, I have found that the community I engaged with has shrunk over the last twelve months. I still like it as a tool and as a community.

Dropbox was my number one technology in 2014 and I used it in a similar way for some of 2015. However when I started using a Dell as my main workhorse, the benefits of working on a single Pages document across multiple Macs disappeared and though I still like Dropbox, I now use it more for remote online storage than as a synced cloud solution for working on files across multiple machines. As a result it drops to ninth place in the top ten.

Evernote in a similar vein to Dropbox was well used in the earlier part of 2015, but less so in the latter half, so drops to number eight. I mainly use Evernote to make notes and planning. One feature I started using extensively in November and December was to use the Evernote app on the iPhone to capture post-its and flipcharts from meetings and workshops. The auto-capture feature was a chance discovery and I found it perfect for quickly capturing hand-written information and sharing it with others.

At number seven is Flickr. I use Flickr to both store and find photographs. I used it a lot to find images for presentations.

At number six is Google Docs (and Google Drive), from a collaboration perspective it is one of the best tools I have used. I like the fact that a team can work on a document all at the same time.

The fifth tool in the top ten is Tweetdeck. Using a consistent hashtag for projects means that Tweetdeck is a faster way to find out who is talking about the project and what they are talking about on the Twitter. I like how I can use it to schedule tweets in advance, this proved particularly useful for a Tweetchat I did for the ALT Winter Conference.

At number four is Yammer, this Enterprise “social network” has allowed me to internally update Jisc on the project work and keep people across the organisation informed on what we are doing and where we are at.

Third place is Skype and Skype for Business. I used Skype for many years for external online conversations, but when I moved jobs in 2013, I stopped using it. Now at Jisc I use it on a daily basis for online meetings, conferences and instant messaging.

Climbing up to number two for 2015 is WordPress. Having not used it much in 2014, it became much more integral to the way I worked. As well as my personal blogs such as this one, I also use it for my work blog and have also been using it to prototype an online delivery platform, as a kind of dynamic connectivist VLE.

Twitter is my number one technology for 2015, after limited use in the first part of 2015, it really became an indispensable tool for me for the rest of 2015. I use it much more for broadcasting, conversations and engagement.

So that’s my top ten web tools for 2015, what were yours?

Emerged Technologies

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Four years is a long time in technology, but how much has happened since 2011?

Back in November 2011 I was asked by the AoC to present at a conference with Donald Taylor on emerging technologies and how FE Colleges should be preparing for them.

My slides and Donald’s are in this slidedeck.

My notes from that presentation are here, but how much has changed since then and had education really embraced and started to embed these emerging technologies.

Continue reading Emerged Technologies

Top Ten Technologies of 2014

These are technologies that I actually use, they exclude web tools and services which I do a separate top ten for. They are generally tools that make my life easier, more efficient and more productive.

Here are my previous top tens from 2008, 2009, 2010, 20112012 and 2013.

In at number ten is the Lenovo 20” Tablet, this is one huge tablet, but should be considered less a tablet and more of a flat surface computer. Another way to look at it is as a all-in-one. It’s got issues, but I do like the cleverness of the design.

Number nine is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, a product that really shows off the potential of Windows 8. I do like the pen input and the keyboard. It’s heavier than other tablets (not as heavy as the Lenovo.

At number eight is the iPhone 5S, which I used for most of 2014 as my main mobile phone. It was powerful, fast and had a great camera. It was replaced with the iPhone 6 Plus.

At number seven is the iMac, I really like the design and power of the Apple iMac. I have the 27” model which has a beautiful screen and lots of real estate to do lots of different things.

At number six is the Sharp 4K Monitor which is connected to my work Mac, I really do appreciate the clarity and sharpness of the 4K monitor, makes reading full page PDFs much more easily, spreadsheets are easier to use and multi-tasking means windows side by side rather than ALT-TABbing between applications.

The fifth technology of 2014 is the Apple TV, this is great for streaming video and showing photographs from my iMac on the family TV. I have the second generation 720p model, but that’s fine.

Still in there at number four is my old 2008 Google Nexus One, this is used everyday for 3G tethering. It still has a reliable battery and is great for calls. It needs a lot more on-board storage, as too many applications are unable to use the micro-SD card.

Pad Air is the third technology of 2014 and is probably the best iPad so far, it’s smaller and lighter than previous models. Certainly much more powerful and has a better camera.

My number two technology is the iPhone 6 Plus, this is one big phone, but has replaced much of the functionality of my iPad. Best feature for me is the camera, which is incredible for a phone camera.

My top technology for 2014 is the 11” MacBook Air. It’s the perfect travelling computer for me and spending four hours a day commuting means I can get so much more done.

Top Ten Web Tools of 2014

This is the seventh time I have compiled a list of the top ten web tools I have used during the year. I am finding it interesting looking back over 2008, 2009, 201020112012 and 2013 which tools I still use and which have fallen by the wayside.

Out of the top ten are speakerdeck and slideshare, as well as Flipboard. Flipboard really died for me when Google Reader was shut down.

At number ten in the top ten is Instagram. I still like Instagram and use it quite a bit to share photographs.

The ninth web tool for 2014 was WordPress, it’s a great piece of blogging software, and however I have not made as much use of it this year as in previous years.

At number eight is Flickr. I use Flickr to both store and find photographs. I used it a lot to find images for presentations.

Chrome and Safari are joint seventh, I like the fact that I can move between devices and take up where I left off and having a common history regardless of device.

Evernote is number six, I started again to make more use of Evernote to make notes and planning.

Google Docs (and Google Drive) is fifth in the top ten. From a collaboration perspective it is one of the best tools I have used. I like the fact that a team can work on a document all at the same time.

Twitter is at number four. I have found Twitter less useful this year and have used it a lot less than in previous years.

The third technology is Google Hangouts, which has proved very useful for meetings and discussions both internally and externally.

Second in the top ten is Google+. I find it more useful and powerful than Twitter. I like the conversations, the communities and adding photographs

My top web tool for 2014 is Dropbox though I use Google Drive for collaboration, from an individual perspective I like Dropbox, as it means I can work on files anywhere on my work Mac, my home iMac or my Macbook Air. What I like about it more than anything else, it just works. I like how I can use the Dropbox app on the iPad and iPhone to upload images and screengrabs to be used on my desktop machines.

Top Ten Web Tools of 2013

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This is the sixth time I have compiled a list of the top ten web tools I have used during the year. I am finding it interesting looking back over 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and 2012 which tools I still use and which have fallen by the wayside. My 11th tool would be Delicious, which I have started using more, but certainly not as much as the other tools listed below.

10. Dropping one place to number ten is Speakerdeck. I replaced my usage of Slideshare with Speakerdeck in 2012, and in 2013 I continued to use Speakerdeck as a platform for sharing my presentations. It drops a place, mainly as I did fewer presentations in 2013, so as a result used the service less than I did in 2012

9. Dropping one place from 2012 is WordPress which is number nine. I still use the blogging software for my blogs. I like the flexibility it offers and it certainly works for me. However as I did less blogging in 2013 than in did in 2012, though still a useful tool, I was using it less. I still think the only thing that is missing for me is a decent mobile client or iPad app.

8. Flipboard falls a couple of places to number eight. The main reason it falls is more down to Google than Flipboard. Google retired Google Reader and I was using that service to feed Flipboard. Though I did manage to import my Google Reader subscription into Flipboard, I am finding it slow to refresh and of course much more difficult to add new sites to the feed. I do need to spend some time working out how to maximise my use of Flipboard as a news reading tool, as when it works well, it works really well.

7. Climbing three places to number seven is Evernote, the online note taking tool. Since changing jobs in the Autumn, I am using Evernote more than ever. A really useful tool for making notes and syncing them across devices.

6. Instagram drops three places back to number six and I know that part of the reason was that in 2012 I used Instagram everyday as the main way of posting a photograph a day. I didn’t do that in 2013, so used Instagram less. I did try though and improve the quality of my images in 2013. I have decided to return to the photo a day thing in 2014, so will now be using Instagram much more than I did last year.

5. Dropping three places to number five is Flickr. Whereas in 2012 I added 1300 photographs to Flickr, in 2013 it was a measly 635. I also used Flickr extensively for finding photographs for the blog and for many of the presentations I gave this year.

4. Climbing three places is Chrome, which is now my default browser on my main computers. Even though I use it a lot, I do use it alongside other browsers such as Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. What I do like is that I can now sync my browsers across different computers and different devices. Using the Google Nexus 7 I can now see and open the tabs I was using on the iMac or the laptop. I also like how I can do the same with Chrome on the iPad. Great when you want to refer to a site, but either can’t remember the URL or how you got there.

3. Climbing one place to number three is the Twitter. I use Twitter almost every day for checking out news, links, travel reports and interesting stuff. I certainly don’t have the conversations on there that I have on Google+, but when they do happen they are useful and interesting.

2. Dropping one place to number two is Dropbox. It isn’t social, but I use it every day and in some cases all day. Dropbox is a fantastic tool, in the main because it works! It was interesting switching to a Windows PC for a few months in the new job how my usage of Dropbox stopped and I was using an USB stick of all things! In the previous nine months though I did use Dropbox extensively and it was a really useful tool. It just works, to the point it is transparent and it never gets in the way of me doing my stuff, which is as it should be.

1. In the top spot for 2013 is Google+ climbing four places from number five. There are two core reasons for the rise of Google+, mainly more people used in in 2013 than they did in 2012, but in my new job it’s an integral communication tool for sharing links, news and views across the group.

So that’s my top ten web tools for 2013, what were yours?