Happy Holidays from Teaching & Learning!

Here are 15 free productivity tools and ideas to start 2015 off right!

Good People

I work with an amazing team of instructional designers, faculty and educational media designers. These people are good. If you have worked with them before, you will know what I mean.

They know what they are doing mostly because they are constantly learning and collaboratively growing in their craft. They also know how to have fun while being ridiculously productive. It is an art.


Each week, we come together on Thursday mornings at 10:30am just to share good ideas related to instructional design, a project we are working on or even a presentation we are trying to get feedback on. Recently, we had a Mindshare on the topic of productivity tools we use to keep all of our project details organized so that we don’t go insane.

Productivity Tools

The following are some of the tools we shared together that day. Have any you would like to contribute? Please do in the comments below!

  1. Universal Media Keys

    • Media keys support for online radio and streaming music apps. Link your keyboard's native media keys to streaming radio and music apps to play, pause and skip songs like you would iTunes, even when Chrome is in the background or focused on a different tab. How does this help with productivity? How does it not? Rock on, while you write, read, plan and correspond, people.

  2. Hacker Vision

    • Tired of reading on a screen? Give your eyes a break with this amazing Chrome extension that inverts the colors of your browser while maintaining pictures within it. Brilliant.

  3. LastPass

    • LastPass, an award-winning password manager, saves your passwords and gives you secure access from every computer and mobile device.

  4. Pocket

    • Pocket Extension for Chrome – The best way to save articles, videos and more. When you find something on the web that you want to view later, put it in Pocket. It automatically syncs to your phone, tablet or computer so you can view it at any time, even without an internet connection.

  5. Lisgo

    • Lisgo reads web articles you saved in Pocket aloud to you with a natural-sounding voice. With Lisgo, You can enjoy interesting articles while you're cooking, exercising, or commuting.

  6. Google Inbox

    • Inbox keeps things organized and helps you get back to what matters. Inbox by Gmail requires an invite. Email inbox@google.com to request one. Your email inbox should help you live and work better, but instead it often buries the important stuff and creates more stress than it relieves. Inbox, built by the Gmail team, keeps things organized and helps you get back to what matters.

  7. Google Keep

    • Quickly capture what's on your mind and share those thoughts with friends and family. Quickly capture what's on your mind and share those thoughts with friends and family. Speak a voice memo on the go and have it automatically transcribed. Grab a photo of a poster, receipt or document and easily find it later in search.

  8. Block Off Calendar Time (strategy… not a tool)

    • This is a free idea shared by Jiatyan Chen and Ryan Yang at our meeting. Block off time (non-busy) for projects you want to focus on. Thanks, Jiatyan & Ryan!

  9. Meeting Time Strategy (idea)

    • Jess Knott shared a great idea she uses for scheduling her meetings. She tries to schedule meetings first thing or last thing in the day so that it gives her a good uninterrupted chunk of work time during the day. It also helps her stay focused throughout the day. She is able to prepare at the end of each day for meetings the next morning, and stays engaged all day because I have meetings at 4. Nice thinking, Jess! I gotta try that out!

  10. Shareaholic for Chrome

    • The easiest way to share & bookmark great content from anywhere on the web with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & 200+ other services.

  11. Session Buddy

    • Session Buddy is a session manager for your browser that allows you to: See all open tabs in one place, save open tabs and restore them later. Great for freeing up memory and avoiding tab clutter, recovering open tabs after a browser or system crash, organizing links by topic and find them when you need them with keyword search. Easily consolidate link sets and eliminate duplicates, export link sets in a variety of text formats for use in email messages, documents, spreadsheets, and online posts, and create sessions from a list of URLs.

  12. OneTab

    • Save up to 95% memory and reduce tab clutter in your browser. Whenever you find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.

  13. Google Drive

    • Google Drive: create, share and keep all your stuff in one place. With Google Drive, you can now access your files, even the big ones, from wherever you are. Share them with whomever you want, and edit them together in real time.

  14. Trello

    • Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in a process.

  15. Spritz

    • Spritz’s mission is to change the way people engage with content in the digital age. By making the reading experience more focused and efficient, our technology helps readers access their content faster, with less effort and across any device or screen size. Born out of scientific research, Spritz was created to solve key challenges currently faced by readers, publishers and advertisers including: efficient delivery of content on the go, cross platform compatibility and measurement.

Again, we would love to hear about your ideas and the tools you use to stay sane with all the work you juggle, especially during this time of year, eh? Merry New Year and a Happy Christmas from your friends in MSU IT Services – Teaching & Learning.