Student Affairs professionals spend around 70% of their office time staring at a computer screen. Or at least that’s what it feels like. However, we all know that you are sending email blasts, setting up meetings, processing conduct cases, reserving rooms for events, etc. the list just never seems to end. Well here are 5 free online services that you can utilize right now to make your life a little bit easier day-to-day.
Plain and simple. Google offers a whole host of services that you can use for collaborative work. You can begin a Google Doc that you can share between colleagues that provides real-time edits as you all work in one common space. Perhaps you want to collect information? Create a google form that will auto-populate a neat little spreadsheet with all of your information. Don’t forget Google hangout for all your daily chatting and video conferencing needs. If you are feeling ambitious, you can even use Google Sites to create an intranet-like website where you can post documents, schedules, calendars, etc. and only give access to those who you choose to see it. Seriously, play around a bit.
2. Remind 101
Have you been finding that flyers and posters just don’t cut it for advertising events? How about that study proving students don’t read email? Well, fret not! There is a simple and free service called “Remind 101” that allows 1-way SMS communication to students who subscribe to your account. Although it is mainly used in the K-12 field to communicate between teachers and parents/students, I’ve found that it is surprisingly effective with college students. Basically, this service allows you to schedule text messages to be sent at certain dates and times that you choose. What’s even more neat is that Remind 101 provides you with flyers for how to sign up, so it takes the grunt-work off of you. Welcome to the future of event advertising.
By now you have probably heard of Doodle. “Let’s send out a Doodle to figure out when people can meet” is probably a phrase you hear at least once per week in your work. While popular already, it is still a very useful tool for gathering information to establish common meeting times, especially with larger staffs that may prove to be difficult. You can also utilize an appointment feature in Doodle that allows people to elect one or two meeting times with you individually. 1:1 meeting scheduling? You betcha. Y’all should really take a deeper look into the features it offers.
I am by no means a Photoshop pro. In fact, up until the discovery of PicMonkey, I was using PowerPoint to create event flyers and other publications. Good news folks, PicMonkey is a free service that allows you to create stunning, photo-based, flyers. It offers a wide variety of effects, fonts, and other elegant editing tools. No longer shall you feel restricted to boring flyers! Also, here is a link for some simple design tips to making beautiful flyers.
Like Doodle, Dropbox has gained immense popularity lately. If your department does not have a common share drive, I would recomend setting up a Dropbox! This tool allows you to save files to a “cloud” that can be accessed by anyone you grant permission to. What’s even better is that you can upgrade the storage capacity for fairly reasonable prices. I’ve used Dropbox to coordinate programs from across the country with others and even use it in place of clunky transition binders. There are so many more ways to use it to, so I would recommend checking it out.
These services barely cover the tip of the iceberg of what’s out there. If you are in need of a productivity boost or are looking to be innovative, check these out. I’m curious though, are there others that I missed? Let me know what other free online tools you have used in the comments below.
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Podcast With Josie & Lloyd Ahlquist on YouTube & College Students