It’s time once again to contribute to Jane Hart’s annual survey of tools for learning. I was the first person to take part in this project some nine years ago and now it’s an annual ritual. It’s enlightening to review what’s best in the toolbox.
My top tools for learning are:
- Experience. Extracting the lessons of simply living my life.
- Friends. My colleagues in Internet Time Alliance and colleagues.
- Books. I have an extensive library and am in the midst of looking back through to refresh what I’ve learned from them.
- Journals. I buy a new black book at KaDeWe in Berlin every year to draw and write in.
These won’t be on my submission to Jane, because for purposes of the survey:
A learning tool is any software or online tool or service that you use either for your own personal or professional learning or for teaching or training.
- WordPress. My blog is where I reflect on things and share them with others. I’m still old-school on this, writing whatever I feel like. One reader complained, saying “I thought this was a blog about L&D.” Well, no, my blog covers whatever grabs my attention and that’s less and less about L&D.
- Twitter. I learn new things every day, following the links offered up by the 250 people I follow. I have 9,000 followers who provide feedback or answer my questions. (Jane has 26,000 followers.)
- Skype. I like to see the person I’m talking with. Also, Skype’s great for talking with a group of people at once.
- Google. Many times I’ll be searching my own sites. I really enjoy using Google to search images. They are very useful when I’m trying to get different perspectives on a concept. If I need to remember who someone in a photograph is, Google will tell me about 80% of the time.
- YouTube. I tap YouTube for entertainment and publishing videos. YouTube also showed me what we wrong with my fridge and taught me how to create 300 dpi imagery with Photoshop,
- Flickr. Flickr enables me to enjoy memories of times past. Since 2001, I’ve posted 32,000 photographs. I’ll admit to revisiting Monterey Car Week half a dozen times.
- Scoop.it. I curate five topics on Scoop.it (example). You really learn something when you share it with someone else. As master curator Robin Good suggests, you need to give your opinion to add value. It keeps you on your toes. Plus, searching for fresh content puts you in touch with the latest news.
- Diigo. Bookmarks are my external memory. In the course of researching two books, I’ve created nearly 3,000 bookmarks. (Here are the current bookmarks related to my book on DIY learning.) A side benefit is the ability to share your bookmarks with other.
- SurveyShare. I take surveys to find out where groups are at. One is currently collecting feedback from people who read my new book.
- The cloud. I store all my files online, in Dropbox, Google Docs, and iCloud. Since I work on three or four different computers, it’s great to have all my stuff available no matter where I’m signing in from.
VLC. This little freeware tool plays just about any video format you can throw at it.
iMovie. As movie editors go, this one’s simple as can be. It has its limitations, especially if you want to edit multiple tracks, but the output is excellent and it’s free on Macs.
PowerPoint. I’m not your conventional, bullet-pointed presenters. I use PPT for making simple diagram, for storing visuals, and keeping up with visual models. Every year I start a new PPT of general graphics.