9 Tech Tips to Supercharge Your Productivity

As a Penn State World Campus student, you rely on technology in many ways to complete your courses. If you are comfortable with Web basics such as online shopping, sending email, or posting to social media, you may already consider yourself fairly tech-savvy. But you likely are overlooking some ways to take advantage of technology that can boost your productivity and help you become a more successful online learner. Some tips that might be especially helpful to you:

1. Know the shortcut keys for your operating system. These keyboard shortcuts can save you time and effort in completing tasks that might otherwise require a mouse or other device.

Windows Shortcut Keys

Mac OS X Shortcut Keys

2. Keep current with software updates. Don’t miss a critical change to your computer’s software that might cause glitches with your course work.

  • If you use a PC, make a point of routinely running and installing Windows Updates. For Windows 10, open the “Start” menu, click on “Settings,” then go to Update & Security Settings and choose Windows Updates. In Windows 8, in Apps View, search for “windows update” and then select “check for updates” to run the process manually. In Windows 7, open the “Start” menu and then search for “windows update” and select “check for updates.” Windows 10 installs updates automatically.
  • If you use a Mac, select the Apple icon and then select “software update.” To ensure that updates are made automatically, go to “System Preferences” and then “App Store” and make sure that “Automatically check for updates” is selected, as well as each of the three options below that selection.

3. Create a separate user profile just for your course work. Windows and Mac systems both allow you to set up multiple user profiles. This will allow you to keep your work or personal files separate from your school files, which may be especially important if you share a computer with your family or others in your household.

4. Make the most of Office 365. Your Penn State email is provided through Office 365, which also offers a variety of other productivity applications.

5. Dedicate a web browser to use only for course work if you prefer. This is another effective way to keep your school activity separate from personal or work activity.

6. Back up files regularly by copying them onto a USB flash drive or external hard drive, or to an online storage location “in the cloud.” As a Penn State student, you can save documents online using OneNote. Storing files in more than one location can prevent file loss if there is an accident or system crash.

Also, be sure to save all information related to your software activation keys in a secure location. Some companies may ask you pay a fee to recover your software activation keys. It’s recommended that all activation keys be saved as text files when uploaded to OneDrive or to external media. Move any activation keys that are emailed to you into a separate folder in your inbox. 

7. Contact the Penn State IT Service Desk immediately if you have a problem during a timed quiz or exam, or if you just need general troubleshooting help. Remember, as a Penn State World Campus student, you have 24/7 access to the IT Service Desk, a team of knowledgeable professionals eager to help you with any technology issues you may have.

8. When submitting attachments to Dropbox, try selecting your submission after it is ready. This will allow you to confirm that the correct file is attached and readable.

Applications will lock files as you are working on them, and this can prevent the file from being uploaded. It is important that you first save your work, then close the file in the application to remove the lock so the file may be uploaded.

9. Take advantage of the free technology resources that Penn State provides to students:

  • Penn State Software: Provides antivirus protection and other downloadable tools
  • Adobe Creative Cloud: Provides programs like Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and more
  • WebApps: Provides programs that can be accessed on most mobile devices
  • LinkedIn Learning: Offers online training for commonly used programs — This becomes available to students after the first week of classes.

Feel free to contact the Penn State IT Service Desk at any time with technical support questions or for help with Penn State systems.

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash