As millions of college students return to their respective campuses, they come armed with a backpack of technological tools, ready to learn and interact with us. For them, they have their cell phone or smart phone; laptop; Ipod, and their Facebook accounts in their backpack. As Student Affairs professionals, who work and live with these students, what's in our "Techno Backpack?" SA folks need to stay ahead of the technological curve if they want to balance work and personal lives, build their respective SA communities, and connect with their student populations. Here are the top 4 pieces of "technology" I recommend that all of my colleagues in Higher Education get acquainted with, and put in their backpacks:
1. Online Group Meeting Manager
We all know that scheduling "group meetings" take up valuable time and energy, so how can you make this process more efficient? Use an Online Group Meeting Manager like Schedule Once! This is a Google product that allows you to send your available times out to as many people as you want, track their responses and even gives you the best time and day for your meeting!
2. Event Invitations
While I still like using Faceook Events to advertise, Anyvite is a relatively new online tool, that simply rocks. The interface is easy to use and not a bad addition to whatever your office or organization uses right now to send out event or program invitations. Plus, if you use Twitter, it integrates very well with it. Try it with a few of your Fall programs, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!
3. Google Voice
This, by far, is one of my favorite new things in the Technology world. It is a internet phone service that allows you to pick ONE phone number that you can choose to ring your mobile, and/or work, and/or home phones all at the same time! This way, you're not giving out multiple phone numbers, just one! If you are already a Gmail user (which I also recommend for email!), you can import all your contacts into it from Outlook or any other "address book", set up "call" groups, individualized voice mail prompts, etc. For example, if you gave your Google Voice number to your colleagues at work, you can set it up to ring your mobile and work phone so you don't miss their calls. You could also set up a family group so that when any of them called you, it would ring your home and mobile phone. It was released this past June and you need to "sign up" to get an invite at the Google Voice website. Check out this video for more information:
4. Miscellaneous Tech:
Internet Browsers: Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome
If you still happen to use any version of Internet Explorer, please stop using them right now, and download one or both of the above browsers and see what you have been missing! Don't use IE unless you absolutely have to!
Anti-Virus / Malware Program: AVG Anti-Virus (free version, but it worked so well, I bought the full version!)
While I believe that software programs like Norton, Microsoft Forefront, and McAfee are good, the best all around software I've come across is AVG Anti-Virus and AVG Internet Security. Give the free version a try at home and see how it works for you.
PC Optimization Software: PC Pitstop (free version, but it worked so well, I bought the full version!)
Why wait for your IT Support folks to come by to "speed" up your computer? This software will do it for you for free and it works great. The full version gives you a complete tune up, while the free version just does some of the basics.
What do you use that isn't on this list? I'm always interested in finding new pieces of fun technology so please share here! Best wishes to all for a great opening to the Fall Semester!