This post is written by Hack Library School writers and is part of our crossover week, check out GradHacker’s advice about advisor/advisee relations on their blog here:Hack Library School

Technology permeates many aspects of life these days, including the way we live and work as students. Not only do tech tools offer convenience, but they can serve as productivity tools also. In soliciting these posts, I asked our writers for the tools they use most frequently, and I think it is telling that each of them mentioned Dropbox. So, let’s go ahead and mark Dropbox down as a necessity (much like our colleagues at Profhacker).

One quick tool I wanted to mention that isn’t on the list below — GroupMe (or other group messaging apps). GroupMe is a one-to-all SMS messaging service that is an app but non-app users can utilize it also. Prior to attending the American Library Association conference in June of this year, I started a GroupMe group, which assigns a phone number that anyone can send texts too, and it is sent to the whole group. I added several friends I was traveling with, and then shared the number on the Facebook page for a networking event. Needless to say we ended up having about 25 people in the group (mostly students at their first conference looking to connect with peers) texting back and forth the whole weekend, coordinating lunches, which sessions were good, which pub to meet at, etc. The whole conference experience was 100 times better when instead of Tweeting “Who wants to get lunch?” I could text it to 25 folks I knew or had recently met and have at least 3-4 responses that I knew would be quality time with new friends. I highly recommend hacking conferences with group messaging apps like GroupMe or Beluga.

1. Dropbox: I couldn’t live without this — I don’t like (or trust) carrying around all my documents on a flash drive.  Dropbox syncs to the cloud, so that I always have access to my documents via the web or iPad app, and also to the hard drives of my two computers.

2. Netbook and iPad: I need a lightweight alternative to my Macbook Pro for conferences, traveling, and working outside my apartment.  I love my netbook because of the keyboard — sorry iPad, you’re great for reading, just not writing.  I use my iPad mainly when attending conferences and traveling, and the netbook for working anywhere other than my apartment.

3. Twitter: Seriously, if you’re not on Twitter yet, you should be.  It’s great for connecting me with links and people I otherwise wouldn’t read/meet.  I am eternally grateful to Twitter for introducing me to HackLibSchool.

4. Google Reader: It’s my one-stop shop for all my blog reads — in the LIS field, but more importantly outside the field.

5. Kindle 4: I don’t use this for school at all — just fun reading to keep me sane!  I have a rule where I only read non-school material while commuting and traveling.  The new Kindle is so compact, I take it with me almost everywhere!

I’ve never really considered myself to be a tech person, but after forgetting my flash drive at the library several times, I’ve warmed up to the idea that technology can really help you. For me, the biggest life changing tech tools are Google Docs and Calender, getting a smart phone, and (as Rose mentioned) DropBox. Never will I have to drive back to campus to get my flash drive. Never will I email myself my work. The best part is, I have access to my calender and my documents on my phone if I ever need it. These have helped me stay on track and if I’m not sure where I am supposed to be, I can check my phone. Also, if you need to collaborate on a paper or need someone else to edit your work, Google Docs is awesome!

Lastly, using social media like Facebook has helped me keep in contact with my friends. I moved away for my grad program so it helps me creep on / communicate with my friends back home.

I’m going to start off by saying that before starting graduate school, I had never heard of Dropbox before. Now, in the short amount of time that I’ve been in school, I’ve come to appreciate its handiness and consider it an essential tech tool for graduate students.  For those of you who may be on the same boat as I was, here’s a quick rundown of the benefits of having a Dropbox. It’s a cloud based back up solution that can be downloaded and placed on your desktop, laptop, and/or phone. You can upload your photos, documents, and videos to easily access, share, or to just have your work backed up. With a FREE account you are allotted 2GB of storage.  Whatever has been saved on the desktop Dropbox is constantly being synchronized, so if you save something to your desktop you can rest assured that it’s also on your laptop, and/or phone. Best of all, you can access your documents on any computer with Internet access, simply by logging onto the Dropbox website. This beats having to e-mail yourself documents, carrying a flash drive (which I have a tendency to forget), and even Google docs. This is especially convenient when working on group project for school, it allows you to share your content with other group members simply be creating a new folder and sharing it. The only con is the limited storage space.

What tech tools do you use daily to hack grad school?

[Image by Micah Vandegrift]


6 Responses to Hack Library School: Favorite Tech

  1. Katy Meyers says:

    Agreed! Dropbox is one of the best techs out there. I think this is one place where there is a lot of overlap with Lib school and Grad school- the necessity to store large amounts of stuff and access it from anywhere.

  2. Terry Brock says:

    Couldn’t live without Dropbox. Also, we’ve started using Google Hangouts for a long distance writing group I’m currently in, which has become very helpful.

  3. rose says:

    I have to second Micah’s GroupMe recommendation! It definitely enhanced my experience 100x at ALA.

  4. Barbarajean says:

    I also have to agree with Micah – GroupMe was a helpful tool that allowed me to meet with peers and (quickly) share information. I was able to navigate through my first ALA conference with ease with the help from my newly-connected friends. One note: this app is best for those with unlimited messaging because you could easily receive 15+ messages an hour with large groups such as ours.

  5. […] what tech tools to use to make group work easier (basically use Google Docs). You can check out our post on Gradhacker for our favorite tech tools and Micah’s Web Apps postfor more info on that. A big […]

  6. […] collaboration is your friend. Our team of seven planners was never in the same room together until after the […]

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