Tuesday, 30 September 2008

What Web 2.0 tools are available to help me?

What Web 2.0 tools are available to help me, (a teacher) or my students stay organized online?

The heading for Topic 2 was Getting (and staying) Organized in an Electronic, Web 2.0 Environment. Since we have been feverishly immersing ourselves in the WEB 2.0 environment already, I decide to delve deeper and take a look at “what Web 2.0 tools were available that could help me (a teacher) or my students stay organized online”. I found a number of different categories of organizational tools. The first I am going to call “online note-taking and note-assisting tools”, the second are “online to-do lists”, the third are “online goal-setting tools” and the last is the “social book marking tools” that we are all probably playing with this week. I decided to focus on the first three categories and leave the social book-marking to our blog posts.
When I investigated each of these sites I looked at the following criteria:
· Was the site an online tool or was it promoting a downloadable program
· Was the tool easy to use and understand
· Did the tool have a cost associated with it
· Did it work with my current computer configuration, and what configurations would it work with.
· Did the tool seem to be useful and helpful rather than just more work!

I began my investigation with a simple Google search for “Web 2.0 tools for organizing myself” and that led me to two sites this one called Organize 2.0, and this one called 13 Great Tools For Organizing The Web. From there the possibilities were endless!

I found many “online note-taking and note-assisting tools”, but I will focus on two I thought might be useful. I was excited to find MyStickies as its format fits with the way I tend to organize myself offline (I go through about a thousand post its every time a take a class!). It allows you the ability to place digital “sticky notes” on any web page, annotate them and then it keeps track of them all for you in a central location. This is a downloadable program that is free of charge (although they do ask for donations to help keep the tool free). It seemed like it would be easy to use, so I signed up only to find out that it was only formatted to work with Firefox and not Internet Explorer, which is what I am currently using.

(Maybe those of you that use FireFox can check it out and let me know if you think its any good. It might be worth switching from Internet Explorer.)

The second tool I found was iLighter, which is a similar, free downloadable program that allows you to add a function button to your browser’s tool bar. Whenever you find something useful, you click on the button and highlight it. You can then store these highlights in a central location, which can be accessed from any computer with online access. So in a way it is both a downloadable program and a Web based application. It is formatted to work with both Internet Explorer and Foxfire, so it provides more flexibility in that sense as well. Another thing I liked about iLighter is the ability to blog, tag for delicious or dig, email, or twitter each of the highlights with the click of a button. (Please note I am not that familiar with twitter, delicious or dig, but I hope to be eventually!)

I eagerly downloaded the program and attempted to use it. Unfortunately, something happened during the download, which I must get my husband to help me fix (I definitely know more about Web 2.0 than him now, but I still can’t figure out how to operate the rotten computer! RRR!), and so I am unable to actually highlight anything. Therefore, I cannot tell you with 100% certainty that the tool is easy to use or if is in fact helpful.

There are a plethora of on-line to-do list tools available for use. I looked at Remember the Milk, Gootodo (see more info on Gootodo here), and e2doList. All three are web-based tools, but Gootodo does have a cost associated with it. The site does provide a 30-day free trail though. All three are very easy to use, but Gootodo is not at all visually pleasing and does not offer as many perks as Remember the Milk and e2doList. I liked e2doLists because they allowed you to set up email reminders for each of the tasks on your to do list, reminders that could be sent on a date of your choosing. I was impressed with e2toList, until I discovered Remember the Milk. Remember the Milk allows you to set the priority level for each item and the items on your list can be annotated (this goes for e2doList as well). It allows you to send email reminders, it has an online calendar, and you can monitor your progress as you complete items. You can also set tasks to repeat themselves regularly (i.e. work out every 2 days), set time limits, tag items and add different locations for each item on your list. This particular feature would be handy for people who travel for work or commute long distances. You can even subscribe to an Atom feed of your to do list with Remember the Milk. Over all I believe that Remember to Milk is the superior site for my purposes.

One last thing I found was an online goal -setting tool. It was quite interesting and might be something you could try with that really disorganized student you have. Joe’s Goals is free, available online and very easy to use and understand. It allows you to set a number of goals, both positive and negative, check them off as completed or not completed and it even keeps track and provides a score for your goal achievement. It will also provide you with charts and graphs to keep track of your progress. It even allows you to have a logbook (or a few logbooks) to keep track of any notes or thoughts you might have on your goals. This could potentially be a very useful tool in my opinion.

There you have it. A very short list of what’s available online to help us, and our students, stay organized in this Web 2.0 world. I will personally be using the iLighter (as soon as I can get it to work!) and the Remember the Milk site. I may even use Joe’s Goals to track my work out and weight loss goals! Check them out and let me know what you think.

I forget to mention that I also found this book called Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload by Mark Hurst if anyone is really intent on studying this whole issue further! If you click on the link, you can read a sample chapter online.


Olga said...

Hi, Christine!
You've made a great observation of on-line tools. There are so many tools on-line that it is very easy to be confused with the great choice.
I would recommend to try http://task2gather.com. It is quite new on the market yet it is very poerful collaborative tool. It already has iPhone client and Windows Mobile client will be released soon.
For more information you may also read our blog http://blog.task2gather.com.

dannielo said...

If you'd like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:


You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
A mobile version and iCal are available too.

Selena Jensen said...

Hi Christine,

Thanks for the link to the article "13 Great Tools for Organizing the Web". On it I found 'HYPERiGO', the social bookmarking site. I am already signed up with delcious, but am finding it difficult to use (not visual enough). HYPERiGO just might do the trick. I see you use Diigo. What do you like about it?