My top 10 online tools of the year – what’s in your toolbox?


Every year since 2007 Jane Hart has created a poll to determine the top 100 tools that people are using for work, learning, life. This year’s poll, which was completed by over 900 people so far who subscribe to and/or read her blog, will be revealed on Monday, September 22, 2014. Those who complete the poll cross a wide range of professions from teachers, course designers, trainers, managers, business executives. I can’t wait to see which tools are on the list this year. You can revisit the blog Doris wrote on the 2013 list while you are waiting.

Jane always reveals her top 10 tools when she opens the poll, usually in July.This year was no exception. I am always intrigued by what she is using. Her top 10: Twitter and Tweetdeck (tweet aggregator program) for learning and connecting; Powerpoint, Keynote, Slideshare, Poll Everywhere for presentations; WordPress and Buddypress for her blog and her discussion groups (same as what we use at WLS); Feedly for RSS feeds and following others’ blogs; IFTT (if this than that), a new tool for her, that connects social media sites.

In addition to exploring new tools, such as IFTT, I have never heard of, it is very valuable to get her explanation of why she uses them and rates them so highly. In this same spirit, and in the spirit of seek, sense, and share of Personal Knowledge Management, many others have posted their top 10 tools in the comment section of her blog with explanations of what they use the tools for, and why it made the list. Although posters used different criteria to rate the tools (most innovative, used the most, newly acquired are some criteria examples) each list was thoughtful and meant to add to the discussion. Jane has aggregated them making it easy to peruse the top 10 tools from people around the globe. Reading through these lists is not only a lot of fun, but also exposes me to some new tools that I know I will use. They may not make my top 10 list, but they certainly will enter into my digital work and play life.

It interested me that I was drawn to new tools that were not text-based. For example, was mentioned by a teacher in Ireland as a great tool for her classroom. Her students created whole stories around the characters/avatars they create. You can customize the character’s look, add a voice, and go! I immediately created my own Voki having fun changing hair color, style, and outfits. I can see using this tool for our WLStudio E-vents and Learning Labs to spark creativity and connections while having fun, too!  My Voki

Audacity was mentioned by quite a few posters as a wonderful tool to add audio to presentation tools such as powerpoint, prezi, or keynote or even videos to post on YouTube. It is open, free software for any operating system. I have used it before, but seeing it on so many lists reminded me to revisit it and use it more often.

Although I didn’t read everyone’s list (there are a lot posted!), my impression is that most people are using WordPress for their blogs, Twitter for connections and learning, Google drive, hangout, + and other Google apps for sharing, and PowerPoint, Prezi for presentations (with Audacity for narrative). It also seemed as if many posters use Feedly for RSS feeds to follow blogs and other sites. I will see if my quick assessment is in keeping with the final poll results.

To join in with the spirit of sharing, here is my list of top 10 tools. My criteria for choosing my top 10 is the tools I use most often, and in fact, some everyday.

Lisa’s Top 10 Tool List:

    1. Symbaloo: This is my dashboard, with links to all the sites I use. I use this several times each day. It is easy to use, free, visual (each link is on a separate tile), and has changed my life. I used to have a LOT of tabs open on my browser, but now I don’t have to because they are either on my dashboard or I can put them on it (and easily delete those I don’t use that often). You can have different dashboards for different groups of links (e.g. I have a dashboard just for all the news sources I regularly read or want easy access to).
    2. Diigo: Doris and I bookmark, annotate and share most everything we read, view or listen to using Diigo, creating tags to define the main topics of the articles we Diigo (we have turned it into a verb!). I often search our Diigo group (WLStudio) for references and blog ideas. I enter keywords, and up come a host of articles we have added. Diigo has a browser toolbar, so it is always at the top of my browser tabs. We use Diigo constantly and I don’t think we can live without it.
    3. MacMail: I have 5 email accounts, and keeping them separate and organized is a challenge. Using MacMail as my email client allows me to create my own folders for each account, read emails from all my accounts in one place, and have distinct signatures and formats for my business, personal, and other accounts. Needless to say, I use my email client all the time.
    4. MS Office: I compose drafts in Word, create schedules and other spreadsheets in Excel, and presentations and infographics in PowerPoint. I use Word almost everyday, and Excel and PowerPoint when I need them. Although I have usability issues and hate all the proprietary html built into Office applications, everyone I work with uses it.
    5. Adobe Connect: Doris and I use Adobe Connect once or twice a week for our Women’s Learning Studio work meetings. It allows us to use webcams to see each other, and headsets to talk. We can share screens and documents, take notes, and feel connected. We do this so often that now the phone seems disembodied to me – voices without faces. This web site is a testament to our use of Adobe Connect! We use Adobe Connect for our E-vents and Learning Labs so they are as interactive as possible.
    6. Skype and Facetime: When working on projects sometimes a quick check in will do and Skype and Facetime are great for that. I prefer Adobe Connect for working sessions, but Skype is easy to use for a quick call without video, the ability to take notes, and the ease of retrieving call history. I haven’t used Facetime as much, but younger friends and relatives use it a lot and are getting me to do so as well. I suspect I will be using Facetime more over the next year.
    7. Snag It: Whenever I see something on the web I like, or want a copy of, I just snag it! This handy tool is low cost and resides to the side of my screen just waiting for me to take a picture of a full screen or window, or just a small part of it. I can share anything on the web easily this way.
    8. Social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn: I admit that I am more of a lurker than participant of social media. I do look at FB to catch up on friends and family, and update and post on my site and the WLStudio site. I value the groups I am a member of on LinkedIn, and have participated in as well as read some wonderful discussions. I get a lot of information from Twitter, and use my next tool, Hootsuite, to follow hashtags and people who provide great retweets, links, and resources. I am not a regular Tweeter, and hope to give back to those I follow and value in the coming year by being a more active Tweeter.
    9. Hootsuite: I collect all my RSS, twitter, and other feeds through my Hootsuite account. It is reasonably priced and I have all the social media and blogs I follow in one place. I then “browse” through the feeds and graze on the ones that catch my eye or are related to a topic I am interested in. There is no way that I can read everything in my Hootsuite feeds, but it does help me pick and choose what to pay attention to more easily.
    10. Pandora: I like to listen to music when I am doing tasks that don’t require me to concentrate deeply. I need complete quiet for that. I can have Pandora playing a station I create, or a favorite artist’s songs, and not have to change CD’s or think about what I should put in my player next. I have the free version and use Pandora on my laptop and all my digital devices.

My new year’s tool resolution of tools I want to use more or become more facile using: Evernote, Feedly (as opposed to Hootsuite), Audacity, Twitter, LinkedIn, and I am sure I will encounter other tools over the course of the year as well as from Jane’s top 100. What are your top 10 tools? Do you have a new year’s tool resolution to share? Join in and share below!

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  1. […] 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 […]

  2. […] you have read this far, maybe my clickbait is working to keep you here!) Now I would like credit Lisa’s post last week that listed her top ten learning tools for 2014. Her post was prompted partly by Jane Hart’s […]

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