Back in March, I shared my work-from-home essentials. But it’s been a good while since then and I am itching to share some new items with you, specifically as they relate to advising students and teaching from home. Let’s jump right in!
Yup, that’s right. Just the regular, classic, canary yellow, legal notepads. I bought a pack of 3 several months ago and just started my 2nd legal pad this week. I typically don’t use it for extensive note taking but rather to jot down quick notes during my one-on-one meetings with students. It’s an easy way for me to not only better remember what we talked about when I put in my formal advising notes but it also allows me to show that I’m being attentive without the distraction of typing as they’re talking. Most of the time, I’ll just write down a few keywords to help jog my memory later on, hence why one legal pad has lasted me for several months.
This is a brand new find and I am already obsessed. I found it when I stumbled upon an article about how to make your syllabus look less like a contract and more engaging and overall easier for students to understand. The author showed an example and cited Pictochart as the genius platform behind its beauty. Needless to say, I spent the next 4 hours completely overhauling my syllabus. You can also use the platform to make presentations, info graphs, social media posts and more. Before getting started on my syllabus, I did a quick read-through on the Pictochart blog on how to create an infographic syllabus. Then, once complete, I downloaded my new creation and easily embedded it on Canvas.
As part of my teaching plan for this semester, I am pre-recording short presentations for my students to watch before our Zoom sessions. More on what I use to record them in a second. But accessibility is super important and so I’ve used Kaltura to caption the videos. Kaltura’s captioning machine is actually pretty accurate, around 90%. All I have to do is fix a few misspellings and I’m good to go. Kaltura also allows you to directly edit your media so, in theory, you don’t have to use another software to do this. While I haven’t utilized this feature much, I have been using the “quiz” feature to add quick quiz questions throughout the video for students to answer. That way I’ll know they watched it in its entirety. My university has a subscription that all staff and faculty can use. If you want to know if yours does, you can typically just search “Kaltura name of your university” and it should lead you to your institution’s login page.
To record my lectures, I’ve actually switched softwares a bit. I used Loom before, because it allowed me to record my voice and the screen at the same time. It also saves the video automatically to your account once you’re done, so you don’t have to worry about downloading it and saving it to your desktop manually. Zoom allows you to record yourself and the screen as well but you have to start a meeting in order to do that and you better not forget to save the video on your computer after ending the meeting or you’ll lose your progress. Now, though, I use iMovie. I just export my slides from Canva, import them into iMovie and record my voice over the slides. I found that it makes for a cleaner finished product.
I finally bit the bullet and bought a mic. Originally meant for podcasting (and I do use it for that too), it’s also been a great addition to my recording process for my class presentations. My voice no longer has an annoying echo and, because the audio is so much clearer, Kaltura has an easier time deciphering the captions. Out of all the mics on the market, this one is reasonably priced and has great reviews. And so far, I can attest to its high quality as well! I will say, I don’t use it on Zoom calls though it would work great for that too.
I wasn’t even looking for a new planner app. I was just scrolling through popular apps in the app store and stumbled upon this. You can do so much with it that I don’t even know how exactly to describe it. It’s essentially a virtual bullet journal, if you will. That means that you can lay out each page as you wish. You can add lists and split those lists into columns (not started, in progress, complete – for example). If you need a monthly calendar view, you can add that too. How about drafting a blog post with headers and sub-headers? It does that. Notion also allows you to share your page with others, so multiple people can work on it. Notion is available for all devices (phone, tablet and desktop), so you have all of your notes on all of your devices. You can even publish your page online as a website. Here is a page I made for my book club!
Since working from home can be eerily quiet without the regular hustle and bustle of the office, Spotify has been a savior for background noise (although the construction outside that’s been going on for over a year is also doing a pretty good job…). When I’m doing something that requires more attention, I’ll just put on lo-fi beats. But for monotonous work, the Swish & Flick Podcast has allowed me to nerd out while plowing through boring administrative work. And if you couldn’t tell by the title, it’s a podcast all about Harry Potter.
What are some of your favorite work-from-home essentials? Share them in the comments!