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Tech Tools for Leaders

by Dr. Bruce Ellis

Being a leader, whether it is part of your title or given to you by those you support, can sometimes be challenging. With a wide variety of tasks and skills that you have to manage, you may find that it is sometimes downright daunting…unless you have some help from selected apps, websites, and gadgets. We’ve curated a few tech-related tools for leaders that are related to gathering information, sharing information, and focusing on work without distractions for you to try out.

Gathering Information

As a leader, it is important that you are up to date on so much information. Here are a few tools to help you in that endeavor.

Flipboard – This customizable e-magazine allows you to identify topics and sites you would like to follow. Unlike in the “old days” where you had to gather RSS feeds and put them in your aggregator, Flipboard allows you to easily search and identify resources in a very user-friendly way. Then, each time you open Flipboard, it will have gathered the most recent blogs, websites, videos, and news based on your identified interests. And it can even learn nuances of your interests as you like different pages.

Paper.li is a similar tool that does the gathering for you and puts it in a nicely presented newsletter format. With a paid subscription, you can upgrade the look of your paper from a newsletter to a full blown website. You may choose that you don’t want to start your own paper, so here are some that others have already been started to help you gather information on a variety of topics: edtech, students, classrooms, technology, and virtual reality.

If you are searching for information that is no longer posted on a website, then you might try your luck using the Way Back Machine. Enter the url of the site you want to review and check to see if there are any archived snapshots of it. If so, you can review the website on those specific dates and possibly find the information that you need.

Though many folks use digital tools to take notes (such as OneNote, Google Keep, etc.), you may prefer to take notes the old fashioned way with paper and pen. If this you, then check out the Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook. Write notes and draw sketches in the notebook. Afterwards, you can use their app to digitize the information and sync to your favorite tool. When your notebook is full, just pop it in the microwave for the recommended time to remove all the ink. Voila, you now have a clean notebook ready to be filled again! You can refill a notebook up to four times.

Sharing Information

Whether you are sharing information with someone now or making it available for them to access at their convenience, you are sure to find these tools a handy addition to your toolbox.

Video conferencing doesn’t get any easier than Appear.in. This tool is great if you have virtual office hours or need to have a video chat with someone on the fly. If you think you would use it often, you can reserve a room name to make it easy for everyone to remember. There’s only enough “room” for four participants so it’s not the ideal solution for larger meetings. But if you are like me, many of my meetings include only one or two other folks; I’ve reserved the room https://appear.in/tcea for such meetings. This is a great tool, especially if you are meeting with tech-challenged coworkers or stakeholders since there is no learning curve and they can access through any web browser.

For instances when you need to share how to access or do something on the computer or internet, I highly recommend Screencastify.  This go-to tool allows you to record your screen casts with or without your webcam inset. This is one tool that is worth paying the low yearly fee to remove the watermark and the 10-minute time limit. When done, you can easily share your cast via YouTube or Google Drive. If you have the paid version, you can download the video as an MP4 or animated GIF, as well as crop/trim your video.

Flipgrid allows you to create asynchronous video discussions.  Again, this is another tool that is worth the annual fee to have the premium features. If you decide to purchase several licenses at once, you can get a discount! Think of this as an easy way to share your video without putting it out on YouTube, Vimeo, or the like. Then folks can respond and keep the conversation going (by text comments with the free version; by text or video with the paid version). Not only is this a great tool in the classroom, it’s a powerful tool for busy leaders.

Focused Work

We all hit times where we need to close the door and get the job done without any distractions. These two tools will help you be more aware of how you are using your time and block out some of those annoying distractions.

Timular, mentioned in a previous blog post, is an eight-sided die that lets you easily track the time you spend on various tasks. This is great for leaders who find they have more tasks than time to complete them. Knowing exactly how you spend your time can help you make positive decisions on where to make adjustments. You can review how your time was spent within the app or on a calendar that you’ve synced to it.

Noisli is robust noise machine with 16 different sound scenes that you can combine to make the perfect background noise for you…and you can save up to five favorite combos. One of my favorites is a little pink noise, some wind, and a modest thunderstorm. You can also set a timer and, if you need to do some writing, open its distraction-free writing tool. Whatever your recipe for helping your focus, you’ll find that Noisli is a great tool to have handy.

Even More Resources…

If you would  like additional tech tools for leaders, be sure to check out our longer list (PDF or PNG). As always, we would enjoy hearing some of your favorite tech tools – whether apps, websites, or gadgets – that you find helpful. Just add them to the comments below.


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