By the end of this module you should be able to understand:
- What a digital tool is
- What digital tools are suitable for different tasks
- How to use digital tools in your everyday work
What are digital tools?
Digital tools are programs, websites or online resources that can make tasks easier to complete. A lot of these can be accessed in web browsers without needing to be downloaded, and you can access them both at home and in work.
It is important to use online tools safely – see the Security module for more info.
Digital tools and DH tools
Information Workspace and DH eXchange are the main departmental tools for records management. You can access knowledge and information management training on the intranet. The tools listed below are a complement to these and should help you to make quicker, better informed decisions.
Most of the tools below have free tutorials on their website, with very clear instructions. If you still get stuck, try Youtube, or ask your digital champion.
Collaborating on projects and documents
- Google Drive: You can upload spreadsheets, presentations and documents, or create them from scratch using Google’s own software. They can be shared with colleagues and edited by multiple people on multiple computers at the same time. You just need to sign up with a Google account, and make sure you have set appropriate security settings (see the Security module for more information). Google have helpfully put together a website dedicated to helping you learn how to use the tools.
- Dropbox: an alternative to Google Drive for sharing files, especially those that are too big to send by email.
- Trello: a user-friendly way to make and share to-do-lists and manage projects. It’s intuitive, allowing users to organise activities and tasks into cards, assign them a due date and category, create checklists and assign to the person responsible.
- Lync: a quick and easy way of keeping in touch with internal colleagues and sending links or files. You can also call people or video chat with them and share your screen. It’s a great way to drop someone a line or ask a quick question, without clogging up their email inbox.
- Tricider: a collaborative space for pooling ideas and commenting on different options when trying to make a decision. This is great for setting agendas for meetings, planning an away day, or even deciding where to take your policy.
- Surveymonkey: an easy tool for designing quick surveys and quizzes, for example if you want a quick way of getting some feedback on a workshop or event you held, you can design a feedback quiz and share with colleagues.
- Google forms: Like surveymonkey, but you don’t need to pay for add-ons.
Organising meetings, people, and calendars
- Doodle polls: create a list of potential dates and times for an event, and ask your attendees to select the dates they’re free. You can also sync appointments with your Outlook calendar.
- Eventbrite: create events and manage attendees. You can set up a personal account, or if you’re looking to link up to the DH intranet, the intranet team will create an event on the corporate Eventbrite account for you. You can dip into the event as and when you need to, to check who’s attending.
- Join.me: for organising web conferences and holding meetings online, which is especially useful when meeting with external colleagues and where there’s a need to save travel time, or for staff who work remotely. You can also use google hangouts for this, or talky
Keep on top of all your work and ‘to do’ list, and present ideas
- Evernote: an online ‘workspace’ that you can access on your phone as well as your desktop. This is great if you like jotting down notes on the go.
- Pocket: a place to store all those articles that you mean to read but never quite had time for. The software integrates all of them into one place, and allows you to read them offline on the bus or tube home. Just open it in your internet browser, or install the app on your phone, and you can sign up through your Google account or with any email address.
- Mindmeister: for drawing up mind maps of your ideas. You can sign up to a free version for your first 3, and use it to visualise your thought processes.
- Mindmup: a less sophisticated (and not collaborative) mind mapping tool – but it’s free!
Interact with others
- Yammer: a workplace version of Facebook. It has an online chat function, you tag colleagues in posts, or group colleagues together and interact with networks.
- Twitter: an effective tool for reaching the right audience online and for further engagement work. Read the Department of Health Twitter guidance.
- Storify: the easiest way of turning social media activity into a story, i.e. collecting and sharing what people are saying online about a particular topic in an accessible and attractive way.
This video by Google demonstrates some of the ways that you can use their tools to be more efficient in the workplace.
Naturally we all need to be sensible about how we use third party tools. If you have any concerns, the Security tab has more information, as does the Department of Health policy on use of third party tools.
The digital team is always on the lookout for new tools to make us more productive at work. Keep your ears and eyes open- we’ll be telling your champions about them as we find them too!