Online Media Students: 2013 starter kit

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POSTED: September 3, 2013

Every year we advise our new students about how to approach studying online, and about using Arcada’s computer facilities. Slowly we have been consolidating our advice and now we have an official list.

Last week all first year students were shown the computers, passed their computer driving test and received their login credentials. Now, in the second week, there are seven additional steps you need to take to equip yourself to study online media at Arcada.

Here they are.

The Online Media Facebook group on September 3, 2013

1. Facebook group

There is an Online Media Facebook group that you can find at You do not have to join this, just as you do not have to join Facebook. However, if you have a Facebook account, you should consider joining the group because a lot of informal comminication happens there.

2. Evernote

You will need to keep notes. You will benefit from being able to keep notes at the moment it occurs to you that you need them. Evernote enables you to grab web pages and store them for later use offline. It has a range of lugins for different browsers to make this easy, and a range of third party apps that extend its functionality. It also allows you to photograph objects, timetables, notices with your mobile phone and save them for use later, as well as write notes yourself.

There are other applications that offer something similar: Microsoft’s OneNote and Springpad, for example. Jutta and I use Evernote, which is free unless you want to use it a lot in which case it costs $45 a year. I will also be using it for one of the projects in the XML Foundations course in Periods 3 and 4, so being familiar with it will help you there too.

3. Skype

Jutta and I both use Skype. You don’t have to. If you want to contact us at random times from random places, though, you might find it useful if you do. Skype is free, owned by Microsoft and about to be incorporated directly into the new version of Windows.

4. Cloud storage

You will create lots of files. You will need to share some of them. Arcada provides you with limited storage space. We recommend joining a cloud storage service. I use Dropbox. On the other hand Microsoft’s SkyDrive looks like a good, free bet. Some people love SugarSync. Some people love Google’s GDrive. All of these have been round for long enough to sugest that they will not suddenly disappear.

There are some compelling reasons for choosing Dropbox, in my opinion. The most important is that it has become a kind of de facto standard. It is available as an app for Andriod and iOS and, on iPhones and iPads a lot of other apps use it as a way of loading and backing up data. The other is that you can very easily export photographs or documents you have created on one device to Dropbox and download them to another, in a way that is easy and seamless.

5. Portable Apps

This one is compulsory!

We will give you a USB stick and you will install the Portable Apps system on it. This will enable you to have complete control over some important applications that you will be using over the next four years. The ones that you will definitely need to learn and make your own are Filezilla and Notepad++ You might want to install the major browsers for testing purposes. You might also want to install Sumatra PDF as it is much much better than Adobe Reader.

6. Passwords

You might want to install KeePass on your USB stick, or you might want to register with LastPass. (KeePass is available from the Portable Apps store inside the app.) You will certainly want to have some system that enables you to remember all the passwords you will need to remember, without having to use the same password again and again.

7. Plan for a new YouTube channel

This year we will be planning an Online Media YouTube channel. You will want to keep this in the back of your mind, because at some point soon we will want ideas, content, designs and action.

We are using YouTube in a generic way here. We are open to being persuaded that we should use Vimeo, Vine, or something else to achieve what we want in a way that is easier or better. Part of the process will involve asking whether YouTube is the platform that we really want.