Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The best things in life are free...

If you're anything like me, you're probably counting the costs, both financial and to the waistline, of the festive season which has passed. In the spirit of giving, I thought it apt to look at some of the useful freebies I found out there last year!

I recently received an invitation to Google Wave (thanks, Donna!) and after my initial glee at being one of the supposedly select few, I have to say that I can't see what all the fuss is about. But maybe that's because I'm not the world's greatest social networker.

Subscribing to blogs is a great way to find new free stuff, usually the blogger has already done the hard work checking out new programmes and applications, and identifying the pros and cons along the way. Jane's e-learning pick of the day is a great site, if you can keep up with it, and David Hopkins (Don't waste your time) can be relied on for thoughtful consideration of e-learning tools and developments. Some suggestions for tools that I gleaned from Jane's picks last year are Screentoaster, Sliderocket and  Lovely Charts... all of which offer good quality online resources for free.

The best freebie I learned of last year though was as the result of a chance mention by Peter Vanderbeke, MD of GoVitual Medical Simulations (more about this another time) in Auckland. Dropbox is a fantastic online file-sharing service - not only can you access your files from any computer, anywhere, but you can also share folders and files with other people. This has been invaluable for a group of us at UCOL who worked over the Christmas shutdown developing resources for papers launching in February. It provided us with a single, collaborative space where everything was stored and backed-up; earlier versions of documents remained accessible; and best of all; documents which I accidentally deleted whilst having a new-year purge of my desktop were easily restored with the touch of a button! Dropbox offers 2Gb for free, more for a subscription. I'm sorely tempted!

On a more expensive note, I recently upgraded my home computer to the 'latest and greatest', and I'm revelling in the increased speed and all the bells and whistles that come with it. At last I have space to install Premier Pro, Captivate and the Adobe Design Premium without everything coming to a grinding halt. (If only these were free too!) Flicking between programmes is instant, and I find it hard to tear myself away from work. The fun I can have! Windows 7, however, underwhelms.

1 comment:

  1. I was working all over Christmas too, migrating courses from BlackBoard to Moodle. Now, all I want is a holiday :)