Looking for online tools
I'm sure that other online students have similar problems. So, I'm trying an experiment. With the proliferation of great online tools, I want to know if it's possible to do most research related functions online: notetaking, collaboration, writing, presentation, etc. They must be browser based, i.e. not require any downloads to use, and must be server-based, i.e. be accessible from any Internet connected computer. Ideally, they should be usable in multiple browsers, and at least editing/adding should be password protected. They should also be free or very reasonably priced (maybe $30 a year or less?) This is a Web 2.0 sort of thing.
I'm going to write this up as a "Toolkit" for online research that I am compiling, which will also include tips on searching databases and the open web, plus copyright and plagiarism information.
Here are some of the tools I've found so far:
- Writely -- an online word processor (I blogged about this one last week.)
- Num Sum -- an online spreadsheet (Haven't tried this yet, but it looks interesting.)
- eSnips -- a web note-taking tool (This does require a download and at this point only works with Internet Explorer. I also can't get the "snipping" part to work right now. However, the concept is perfect and it's an early beta, so it's still on the list for now.)
- Kiko Calendar -- online calendar with collaboration features
- WebNotes -- open notetaking (not password protected)
- OperaShow Generator -- an online generator for the Opera browser based presentation format (Specific to the Opera browser, but even in other browsers you get PowerPoint style organization, kind of like presentation notes. If you have CSS skills, you should be able to tweek this to be viewable in any browser that uses CSS, though you might lose some of the advanced functions.)
- Skype's conference calling abilities
- Jybe for co-browsing the web
- Conversate for online discussions
- Wikalong for annotating websites (Firefox extension, but usable in other browsers via Bookmarklets)
- bookmarking tools like del.icio.us and FURL for saving links and sometimes content
- blogs for notetaking and reflection (in some, you can make the entries private)
- bibliographic citation managers and formatters, like RefWorks (RefWorks requires a subscription, but it, or a similar service, is available at many colleges and universities.) Some bookmarking tools also do citation managing, like Connotea and CiteULike, which pull citation data from databases, and FURL, which exports in APA, MLA, Chicago, and CBE formats. RedLightGreen, the Research Library Group's online catalog (or, really, a book search engine) will save and format references in APA, Chicago, Harvard,MLA, and Turabian.
- Also, things that aren't meant for research use, but can be used that way. LibraryThing could keep a collection of books used for projects.
I would also be interested in hearing from developers on what you are planning, and from students (and instructors) on what you think is needed.