• Nicole Soer

6 Low Cost and No Cost Technology Tools You Need for Training

Arthur Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and other books, once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." And while "advanced" is somewhat subjective, technology tools provide magic's behind the scenes glance into communication, clarity, process, documentation, followup, and training staff, volunteers, and populations you serve.


I recently gave this presentation at a Non-Profit Training Day. These tools are so good and applicable even if they are low-cost and no-cost, I had to share them!




Tool 1: Asana

Any training project should start with a plan. Asana is a tool that allows you to create a project plan and allows you to share your plan with others and to assign out tasks. You can create your own categories. There is a free version, a paid upgrade version, and a mobile app. Visit https://asana.com/ to learn more.


Some other tools to consider: Trello, monday.com, and Drop Task.


Tool 2: Canva

Canva is my new love! It is an online-graphic design based software that allows you to create beautiful job aids, social media posts, logos, documents, postcards, images, business cards, and more. There is a free version, a paid upgrade version, and a mobile app. I created the graphic on this page with Canva. Visit https://www.canva.com/ to find out more.


Tool 3: Audacity

Audacity helps create audio files that you can use on a website, for a podcast, in a presentation, or as a downloadable file. You can record your voice or other sounds or insert background music tracks under your voice. This is an open source, free software. Visit sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/ for more information.


Tool 4: SnagIt

SnagIt creates a screenshot and allows you to crop, annotate, blur, and more! You can create a short screen capture video (although there are better tools for this). This is especially great if you need to share how to do something on your website or in software or apps. You can also create graphics such as check marks or fancy numbers that you can use on job aids or in slides. I find it helps clarify and simplify instructions. This software costs around the $50 mark, has a free trial, and will save a significant amount of time! Visit www.techsmith.com/screen-capture.html


Other tools: PowerPoint and the Snipping Tool in Windows can also do some of this, but are more cumbersome and time consuming.


Tool 5: Camtasia

Camtasia helps you create and edit videos and has multiple tracks so you can annotate, add background music, voice-overs, images, and special effects. You can create animated .gifs. If you are using a learning Management System (typically in a corporate environment), you can add in quizzes and other checkpoints. Many YouTubers use Camtasia to edit their videos. Camtasia can do a lot, ywt I find that the learning curve is pretty quick. There is a free trial and the software costs around $250. While this is more expensive than all of the others, I think the cost is relative because it saves so much time and yields impressive results. Visit https://www.techsmith.com/video-editor.html


Other tools: PowerPoint. Use the Insert tab | Screen Recording. When you have finished, go to File | Save As and choose one of the video formats.


Tool 6: Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is a live polling software that allows you to create multiple choice, word clouds or free form text polls. It can encourage user interaction, gather questions, or gauge participant understanding. You can embed this directly into a PowerPoint when you have the software installed on the computer you present with. I tend to open the web page and show the results instead. There is a free version, an upgraded version, and a mobile app for participants. Visit https://www.polleverywhere.com/


Other resources: This website has a comprehensive look at other ways to gather feedback. i have not tried all of these tools. https://www.presentation-guru.com/how-to-get-instant-feedback-from-your-audience/


Low-tech version: Post-It notes, index cards with A B C D, thumbs up/thumbs down


These are some of my favorite tools for creating "magic". I'd love to know what you think of these. More importantly, what other tools should I check out?


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