My Favorite Tools

Day 79/365: ToolboxIf you’re looking to try out some tools to make teaching, sharing, discussing ideas, and planning easier, you might want to check out some of these tools.


I you want to ask a quick question or have a conversation, there’s nothing as efficient as Twitter. It’s also a quick way to get the word out about blog posts or other projects. Many people have it running in the background using a client such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Nambu, or Seesmic. I was skeptical about Twitter until I tried it. I think it’s one of those things you will have to try out for yourself in order to see its potential. It can be as useful as the people you follow. I have a great personal learning network on Twitter.


I first started using Delicious a few years ago because Firefox kept losing my bookmarks. I became so aggravated by this bug that I decided at least with Delicious, I could have my bookmarks with added benefit that they are available on any computer. A couple of years ago, I switched to Diigo for two reasons: 1) it has the added capabilities of annotation, groups, and easy integration with my blog; and 2) I can integrate it with my Delicious account, so there’s no need to leave any of my Delicious subscribers high and dry.


Though Firefox is perhaps not the fastest browser, its array of plugins enable me to customize my browsing.


I use WordPress to manage the content on all of my blogs. Elegant theme designs and plugins add functionality. I’ve tried Blogger and Movable Type, and I found WordPress superior to both.


As the commercials proclaim, if you can think of something you want to do, there’s an app for that. My iPhone helps me manage my to-do list, my Diigo bookmarks, and my Goodreads account. I also have the complete works of Shakespeare and a great many other books in my pocket. I can keep track of gas expenses and find the cheapest gas nearby. I can manage my grocery list or look up first aid information. I can check TV listings, listen to music, or take pictures. The two most recent apps I downloaded enable me to create packing lists and see what’s down the road at the next few exits.


I haven’t used Evernote very long, but I recently planned my entire trip to Salem using it, and I found it incredibly handy. You can clip and save websites and take notes. I am only beginning to explore Evernote’s capabilities. Be sure to check out their blog post on the Evernote trunk and see how a former student of mine uses Evernote.

Google Reader

Google Reader helps me keep up with all the blogs I read. I would never be able to keep track of my favorite blogs without it.


Despite some bad press from what I believe are some poor decisions about privacy on the part of Facebook, I still use it to stay connected to my family and friends. Most of my friends and family are not on Twitter, but they are all pretty much on Facebook. It’s an easy way to share news, photos, and videos.


I haven’t found another wiki service that’s friendlier to educators or easier to use than Wikispaces. I use it for all the wikis I create now.


I won’t use Ning for my classes anymore because of the changes to their pricing scheme, but I very much enjoy the English Companion Ning and the Making Curriculum Pop Ning as tools to help me share and learn.

What are your favorite tools?

Creative Commons License photo credit: fran.pregernik

11 thoughts on “My Favorite Tools”

  1. Have you heard anything about BuddyPress? I'm interested, because supposedly it includes possibilities for discussion board and groups, the way Ning does. Only (like you) I'm not interested in paying for something I don't really need.

          1. Aha! Sooo… theoretically I could create a ning-like site for free using BuddyPress on I think.

            Let's ask Twitter! ^.^

      1. Buddypress is a free plug-in for WordPress that adds social-networking (like Facebook) abilities to your site. I don't personally use it (yet), but I've read and heard rave reviews for its functionality and usefulness. If you're moving away from Ning, and since you're already using WordPress, check it out. đŸ™‚

  2. I love Ning, too! One of my classes runs really well on it, and I'm hoping to avoid paying for it next year—apparently Pearson is going to sponsor some educators' Nings. Thought you might like to know…

  3. Dana, what to-do list app do you use for your iPhone and does it also have a laptop component? I'm looking for something that integrates between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro.

    1. I use an app called Things that works on Mac and the iPhone. You can sync the app over the air as long as the computer and phone are on the same wireless network. I highly recommend it, but it's not free. If you are looking for something free, Evernote will do the trick.

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