My 5 favourite websites/tools

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Quite a few of my colleagues keep asking me a) ‘how do you find out about all these things’ (A: mainly through Twitter) and b) ‘can you give me a list of these tools and what they do’? So, to keep it short and sweet (as these lists can get ridiculously long) here are some of my favourite websites and what you can use them for:

1. Twitter Times

People often ask me how I can keep up with the information flow on Twitter. The Twitter Times is a really nifty little site which creates an online ‘newspaper’ of all the links that are currently being shared by the people you follow. The beauty of this site is that you don’t even need to be a member of Twitter to use it – you can read someone else’s newspaper instead.

To view mine visit: http://twittertim.es/vahva

You can also use their media feature which enables you to see the most tweeted news stories on different news sites. For example, here’s The Guardian on Twitter Times: http://twittertim.es/media/guardian

And yet another great feature is the ability to view news based on Twitter lists. On the site, click on the tab ‘based on Twitter lists’.

2. Issuu

Issuu is a site that enables you to publish pdf documents in a really attractive format. It will automatically create a library of your documents as if you’re looking at them on a bookshelf. Gone are the days when your website had to be a list of boring links to pdf downloads. This site also enables you to ’embed’ your uploaded pdfs in Issuu-format on your own website. See how I did this with the Learning 3.0 report on Lifelong Learning UK’s website: http://www.lluk.org/learning3.htm

I still can’t believe it’s a free application, it makes pdfs look amazing!

3. Slideshare

Best described simply as ‘youtube’ for powerpoint presentations this website is a great place to put your presentations. What’s more, if you are giving a presentation at an event, upload it to slideshare before the event and then you can give the delegates the link to it actually at the event. No more need to arrange for it to be emailed to people! You can also ’embed’ your presentations into your website/blog or even put them on your Linkedin profile. Also, it’s a great place to find presentations on any topic at all.

4. Screencast-o-matic – alternative to Screentoaster

Update 1 July 2010 – Screentoaster now not available 😦

My thanks have to go to Phil Bradley for pointing me to Screencasting tools. Screentoaster sadly has fallen by the wayside. I have found, however, thanks to Phil again, this alternative which does the same thing: http://www.screencast-o-matic.com.

This site is free, you don’t need to download anything and yet it enables you to basically video yourself doing stuff on your computer, essentially capturing in video the moves you are making on screen. To do audio as well you do need one of those Britney Spears headsets with a mic to plug into your PC (I got one in a pound shop for, you’ve guessed it, a pound!) You might wonder what use you could have for such a thing but imagine this: you have a new form you need colleagues to complete in Excel in a particular way. You could use Screentoaster to talk the form through step by step, videoing yourself clicking on the different boxes and then simply send the link round to colleagues – wherever they are based they’ll be able to watch it! No more showing people over and over how to do something.

5. Delicious

I can remember how ridiculously excited I was when I first discovered Delicious (a bit sad but there you go!) Delicious is a bookmarking service.  Traditionally you have probably used the ‘save bookmark’ feature on your browser in order to save websites. This website enables you to do that but also to tag websites with key words (so you can easily find them again) and find other people’s tagged websites too. If you use the search bar on Delicious it is like a really intelligent version of Google – it will throw up websites that people have deliberately tagged with your search term, rather than sites that just contain that word (which is what Google does). It’s just a great place to keep all your favourite bookmarks, share them with other people and find new sites by looking at other people’s bookmarks. A social form of Google really. the great thing about it is that your bookmarks live on the Delicious website rather than on the PC you’re working on, so you can access them anywhere. You can look at my bookmarks here: http://delicious.com/vahva

I could add a lot more here but these sites are what I’ve chosen for now as my top 5. If you don’t understand anything I’ve mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to contact me, just add a comment below or send me a tweet at http://twitter.com/vahva.

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