15 April 2010

Tech Note: Alt-Tabbing Alternatives

"Alt-tab" is the keyboard shortcut that permits shifting from one window to another. Accessing multiple windows permits use of multiple programs at the same time, trimming time that would otherwise be spent opening and closing applications and files. Adding screen real estate (in the form of a 2nd or 3rd computer monitor) is the expensive alternative to Alt-tabbing but doesn't necessarily make you more productive, according to a blog review of the research. But the conventional wisdom is that an extra monitor is the single most effective way to improve computer work conditions (not claiming a percentage gain in productivity). A common example of that improvement is the dedication of one screen to your email inbox.

Email is the famous interrupter and so ignoring it (closing the program entirely) is one answer for controlling its impact on work time. But as email is increasingly used as an alert system, both officially and unofficially, the dedication of a monitor is the more pragmatic choice. With a 2nd monitor in place, you can keep an eye on incoming messages but also position the monitor off to the side.

On campuses today, the appropriate video card is typically in place today for an extra monitor.
An alternative configuration is one monitor and one projector.

© 2010 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (http://www.marybold.com/, http://www.boldproductions.com/, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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