As the academic year begins, I want to invite you to examine three tools that should prove to be quite useful. These tools, while not necessarily linked in function, provide instructional designers with the tools to create amazing quality content. Understand that although my aim is to introduce free tools, this is not always possible.
iClone 1.5 - http://www.reallusion.com/iclone/
I was a Poser fan from my first introduction, and then Reallusion improved a product called It's Me and called iClone. This product allows anyone, with little experience, to create 3D talking avitars inside a completely 3D environment. You can add clothing, backgrounds, motion, and character interactions. While the more sophisticated productions may take more time, just remember to view the free tutorials so you can learn these skills quickly.
Samson C01U - http://www.samsontech.com/
If you ever have to record audio, then please get this microphone. I realize that it costs more than what you might want to pay by picking up that headset at Wal-Mart. You will find that this product, which I recently saw listed for $69 is a far better investment than almost any other hardware you are going to purchase. The mic is a studio quality condensor microphone and produces remarkable quality. It is a must have in my toolchest.
Windows Live Writer (beta) - http://windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com/
Although I am still a fan of BlogJet, I must admit that the this new product is going to make collaborative blogging much easier. I am using this free tool to create this version of the toolchest and giving it a run for the money. What I really like is the ease with which it recognizes the settings for my blog (blogger.com) and allows me to easily edit past posts. I can even quickly insert links, pictures and maps ... now that is pretty cool for a free tool.
[ this is an example of the map feature ]