For the last 8 years, Jane Hart has conducted a poll to determine the top 100 tools e-learning professionals deem as most useful for them. We reported on the list last year, with both Doris and I generating our lists of tools we use to seek information, make sense of it, and share it out with others like you!
The poll closes on September 18, so you can still contribute. Hart will be announcing the 2015 list on September 22. The results from the 2014 list was a compilation of 1038 people from 61 countries. It will be interesting to see what the make-up is for this year.
I took the poll, and then compared what I chose this year and last year as my top 10 tools. I found that this comparison allowed me to reflect on my learning, see if I had expanded my personal learning network (PLP) and who I now include in my “tribe”, and identify any changes Doris and I have made in working together or in helping others learn, collaborate, cooperate, and work online.
Here’s my comparison chart:
As you can see, my list from this year is pretty much the same as last year’s list. I added 2 tools to my top 10 list to make it a top 12 list. I chose the above list because I really do use these everyday, or almost everyday. I was surprised that it was so similar, as Doris and I do try new tools out on a regular basis. I wondered if it is a matter of the familiar trumping the new, or that new tools just didn’t do what we needed them to. I will pay attention to this for next year’s list.
Even though I use the same tools, I do use some of them differently than last year. I am following tweets to be exposed to online resources and to join resource sharing and discussions if they spring up. In 2014, I basically used twitter to try and gain traction for our blog but now see that Twitter can have deeper learning uses and commentary that was not possible before. Using this tool differently has widened the circle of who I follow. This learning resource and discussion use of Twitter is why it remains at the top of Hart’s list, and that inspired me to explore its potential as a learning not just a sharing tool.
Another change is that I am using the cloud much more than I used to. An example of this is that Doris and I use Dropbox so that we don’t have to keep sending files back and forth via email. Files have been corrupted when they were being sent back and forth that way, so we switched to using cloud technology upon the advice of the computer technician who cleaned my laptop after such a corruption. We are finding that it is easer to comment and edit via dropbox than sending it via email, and we can keep track of versions of things much more easily.
Although not on my list above, I use YouTube, TEDTalks, Wikipedia, and Google search a lot for gathering information, satisfying my curiosity, being exposed to new ideas, and finding out how to do things and what they mean. I also use Spiderscribe for mind mapping and organizing my thoughts and projects. This free tool can be used collaboratively as well to map out projects, plans, or group thoughts into action items. Doris has done this recently with our Encore Tampa Bay partner.
Here is Hart’s list of the top 100 tools with notes on where tools have dropped off the list, which are on the rise, and which are new. Interesting to note – for the sixth year in a row Twitter heads the list, with Google Docs/Drive and YouTube at numbers 2 and 3.
Once again, it is still free online social tools that dominate the list, and it is again clear they are being used significantly for both continuous and on demand independent personal learning. Social networks dominate the top half of list as they are seen as key places for professional networking/building a PLN (Personal Learning Network)
She saw an additional trend from the 2014 data:
But, this year it was very obvious that there were two kinds of voters:
- Those who voted for (primarily desktop) e-learning authoring and content development tools and MS Office products (PowerPoint, Word and Excel) – which implies that their view of a “learning tool” is focused on those for creating e-learning courses.
- Those who voted for a wide range of online tools and apps – which demonstrated a very diverse understanding of how tools can enable, support and enhance learning in many different ways. These voters were also the ones who exploring new tools in order to improve their own professional practice and learning.
In other words, the e-learning professionals who complete Hart’s survey are either creating online courses or are dedicated independent, Do-It-Yourself learners. The Women’s Learning Studio is dedicated to supporting those who are the latter – seekers of their own learning using all the tools, resources, and networks available to us all via the web.
I gravitate from the actual list to read the comments and lists that others have made of the tools they use. I always am exposed to new tools and what they are used for from the commenters. For example, JD Dillon reports that Hipchat has replaced email for him. Harold Jarche, in his blog on his top tools, identifies Slack as his number 9 tool because:
this message application is a great way to stay connected and work in small groups and I am a member of two active Slack communities.
Doris and I are starting to experiment with Slack to see what it is about as a result. It is always a time investment to learn a new tool, but if that tool helps achieve your purpose, it may be well worth the time spent.
The tools new to me are too numerous to mention in this blog, as new tools appear every day. Do peruse the top 100 list, read about the tools others are citing, and try out a few new ones. Playing is a part of learning – consider this permission to play in the internet sandbox and have fun!
What tools do you use? Which work best for you? What new ones have you tried? What are your recommendations? Please share!