What equipment do you want / need to do your job?

Jun 14, 2013

Currently, i'm working in a temp position for a state agency developing eLearning courses for them.  The hope is that at the end of my temp, we will have shown a true need for the position, and they will hire me perminantly.  My boss is already behind the idea, and is starting to move forward with proposals.  She asked me to compile a list of equipment that I think I would need to assist with this job.

Now, the agency has already been ameniable, and bought me some nice toys - Snowball Mic, nice headphones, etc.  With those and a computer to work on, I think i'm set.

But I got to wondering - what  other toys / tools are out that that you use regularly in your development?  What are the tools that you absolutely can't live without? 

15 Replies
Joe Womble

Good list, Phil.  I have a video production background, so to that I would add Adobe Premiere (since you already have some of the rest of the Creative Suite), or in my case, Avid Media Composer.

If you are creating your own media, then add audio recording and video recording equipment.  The list for these two areas can get lengthy, so for this thread I'll leave it at that.

Regardless, audio is a key element used in eLearning, so a good set of speakers for recording/adjusting bought or created or sourced media, and a good pair of headphones for the same reason.  A crappy set of speakers or laptop playback setup is a great way of determining if the sound you are crafting translates well to the worst case scenarios as well. 

Bruce Graham

SnagIt - for screenshots and recording screens sometimes.

A good optician - I have found that my eyesight has suffered more and more the more time I spend working with screens and scripts.

Books - that will teach you how to use the "toys". If you have a microphone than you should probably learn how to "speak" rather than "talk" - there are several good books on v/o technique.

A dog - forces you to get away from "doing", and allows you to do some "being" while giving it walks - also allowing the subconscious ideas and plans to bubble to the surface.

Jasmine tea - flasks full of the stuff, to keep voice fluid (excuse the pun...) when recording long sessions. Vocalzone lozenges.

A Pop Filter - will enhance your voice quality immensely.

Somewhere to record - find somewhere, anywhere that does not have noise. There's only so much you can do with a Noise Reduction filter.

A great personal network - to help you out when you just do not understand, or have the skills needed to do some part of the contract. Even people to test things out for you, or logic check your problems are essential.

A willingness to work with the unknown - you need to walk into any eLearning scoping situation and be confident that you can be "an expert", and talk about or around the subject with your client. You can be asked to produce courses for anything.

There will be days when "the toys" break, are being serviced, or corrupt. All these other things will help you be successful, and continue to be successful in those circumstances.


Troy Broas

Here is my list:

  • Adobe Fireworks for design of graphics and UI elements (Too bad Adobe will no longer be updating it)
  • Yeti Mic with Pop Filter
  • Big whiteboard and/or Sketchbook for when I am brainstorming or story boarding
  • SnagIt (Agree with Bruce!)
  • Dual Monitors, I find this to be extremely useful
  • External Portable HD since my multimedia files can be large and I like to have a place to back them up
  • Microsoft Word/PowerPoint, I don't use them daily, but I used them a lot
  • Articulate Forum, I don't think I need to explain why this one is a valuable tool
Anne Pead

@Phil, I just love the way you casually throw in an iPad...for testing! (I am currently working this angle with my hubby but he's not buying it...yet!)

@Joe - Camtasia is a great tool for screen recordings. You can put a lot of bling into your screen recordings with Camtasia and they import nicely to Storyline. It's easy to use, not too pricey and you can bundle it with SnagIt (also good to have!)

@Bruce - your list is just awesome! I'm definitely going to try the Jasmine tea for the vocals

Alexandros Anoyatis

Adobe Photoshop (with tons of Actions) for touch ups and some graphics work,

Adobe Proto (discontinued) app for quick wireframing and storyboarding,

Various other iPad apps for applying quick filters to images, mind mapping etc.,


Adobe After Effects for Chomakeying,

Chroma key backdrop (and an ironing board to take care of the wrinkles),

Xilisoft Video Converter for well...video conversion,

Editors Keys SL300 USB condenser microphone,

Notepad++ for cleaning up messy PowerPoint text formatting,

GarageBand to create catchy tunes,

SONY Soundforge to post produce audio,

Firebug for Firefox, to turn Storyline debug on if/when needed,

Rackspace cloud files for safekeeping and client downloads,

and a really comfy chair (can't stress how important that is).


Loads of iced Espresso and a gym membership to take care of any signs of flabbiness caused by sitting in the aforementioned chair day and night...


Jerson  Campos

Currently, Adobe is going to a subscription based service for its service. So you can sign up and get access to all their software at a relatively cheap price. But it also means you will have to make sure your hardware can handle it because some of the software is pretty intensive, especially premiere and after effects.

Adam Mac

Jerson campos said:

Currently, Adobe is going to a subscription based service for its service. So you can sign up and get access to all their software at a relatively cheap price. But it also means you will have to make sure your hardware can handle it because some of the software is pretty intensive, especially premiere and after effects.

Adding to Jerson's point - be sure your system doesn't simply meed the minimum requirements for these programs. At any given time, I have photoshop, camtasia, snagit, an instance or 2 of Storyline and several browsers active. 

Recently placed an order for a new system that could handle these tasks better, as there are times when my current system simply can't cut it. 

Michael Harris

You need to think about the operating system as well as the hardware. No matter how much RAM you have, 32-bit Windows can use only three gigabytes. The 64-bit version can use as much memory as you can afford. Would anyone care to comment on 32- versus 64-bit performance comparisons?

Regarding toys (oops! - tools), I'm an audio geek. I like Cakewalk Sonar X2, which I use for recording and producing music and found equally capable for voice over work. I like the Shure SM7B mic, which requires a preamp capable of 60 db of clean gain. My choice for that job is a rack-mounted dual-channel tube preamp made by ART. That said, what matters is what you do with whatever tools you have. You can do great work with relatively inexpensive tools and create junk with high-end tools. Great design and flawless execution always win.

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