With the start of a new year coming soon, an inventory of sorts seems apropos. For the online learner, having certain items (and a particular service), while not necessarily mandatory, can optimize several aspects of their web-based experience. Here are 5 things that I would highly recommend investing in for 2012. The caveat being of course that there are alternatives, but this is my list, so it has my particular bent to it.
Apple makes lovely / reliable computers
I was not always a Mac user. In fact, most of my time spent on a computer has been with a Windows-based machine. In 2006, seemingly on a whim, I went in to a Mac Store and purchased a 15 inch MacBook Pro (MBP). I have been using that same laptop ever since. The hardware is aesthetically appealing and the operating system is almost flawless. I will never go back to using anything that is Windows-based. If you are looking for a workhorse of a computer, then I would recommend a MacBook Pro. The 15 inch version gives you a large screen and the processing power is magnificent. If you are looking for an almost lighter than "air" machine, look no further than the MacBook Air. The Air is ridiculously thin and it is fantastically portable. For the online learner, I highly recommend a laptop. Being portable, a laptop will allow you to move your learning location from place to place. All you need is a power outlet and a stable wifi connection. Add a Mac laptop to the equation and you can practically guarantee that your hardware will be ready when and wherever you need it!
Timbuk2 backpacks are indestructible
My Timbuk2 backpack is 5 years old. It looks like it is brand new. Having served as my laptop bag since the aforementioned purchase of my MBP, my Timbuk2 backup shows no signs of deterioration. Made from the same materials as their classic messenger bags, Timbuk2 backpacks combine amazing reliability with superior comfort. Carrying around a 15 inch laptop can be a little tedious without the right type of bag. A backpack is a great option for laptop-carrying online learners. My bag even features a corduroy liner for my computer. My MBP rides in style while the larger interior of the backpack provides ample space for a myriad of items. A great backpack is a necessity.
Dropbox saves your work
Having a backup copy of your work is crucial. A fantastic service for file backup, syncing and access is Dropbox. A free account on Dropbox lets you save, sync, and backup 2 GBs of information. Use Dropbox as a digital security blanket or as storage for accessing files on any web-enabled device. Digital assets are the lifeblood of the online learner. Your digital documents represent your hard work and higher education journey. It is better to save them via Dropbox then to lose critical file information.
Moleskines are great creative companions
While I have carried a laptop with me for several years, one item that has always accompanied my laptop is a Moleskine notebook. Advertised as the notebooks that Hemingway used, Moleskines are durable, well-made, and offered in a variety of sizes. My Moleskines serve as creation spaces when I need to write, doodle, brainstorm, sketch, or take notes. When I fill one up, I place it on my bookshelves as a record of my work. They serve as a collection of creative moments. Even online learners need to write things down on paper. Moleskines provide the perfect canvas for pencils and pens.
Signo 207s make your writing flow
Speaking of pens, I have found the Uni-Ball Signo Gel 207 Retractable Roller Ball Medium Point pen to be one of the most reliable and easiest to use writing instruments on the planet. While the Signo 207 may have a long name, the quality is fantastic. In fact, when I was an academic advisor, I used the Signo 207 exclusively. Combine a Signo 207 with a Moleskine (something that I do frequently!) and you will have an amazing paper and pen combination. Creativity, organization, peace of mind, efficiency, storage – attributes that assist and propel…these 5 items that I have listed can greatly assist you in your journey as online learners. **Stay tuned for my 2011 recap post where I shared items from my favorite posts of the year and look ahead to 2012.** [image credit]