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‘Tis the season: Top 100 Learning Tools for 2013

The results are in — learning professionals around the globe have voted!

The report on the 100 most valued learning tools in 2013 has been published at the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies.  Jane Hart, the C4LPT founder and leader, built the list from selections identified by more than 500 learning professionals from 48 countries. (Keep reading because this report assists personal learners as much as “learning professionals”.)

SURPRISED? I AM!

The report surprised me because some technologies seemed to fall well outside a learning context. Their inclusion and rankings made me reconsider the many tools I use to aid my online learning and that of others for personal or professional growth. Then I realized two things. These tools are part of my tacit knowledge + skill foundation.  Second, they are vital to my communicating, collaborating, or producing something of value that others may hear, read, or respond to.  These knowledge-building tools are like the ancient Phillips screwdriver or Read more

Directory

Rheingold U

From its website

Rheingold U. is a totally online learning community, offering courses that usually run for five weeks, with five live sessions and ongoing asynchronous discussions through forums, blogs, wikis, mindmaps, and social bookmarks. In my thirty years of experience online and my eight years teaching students face to face and online at University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University, I’ve learned that magic can happen when a skilled facilitator works collaboratively with a group of motivated students. Live sessions include streaming audio and video from me and from students, shared text chat and whiteboard, and my ability to push slides and lead tours of websites. Future classes will cover advanced use of personal knowledge tools, social media for educators, participatory media/collective action, social media issues, introduction to cooperation studies, network and social network literacy, social media literacies, attention skills in an always-on world.

Summary

Howard Rheingold teaches “Introduction to Mind Amplifiers,” “Toward  New Literacy of Cooperation,” and “Think-Know Tools” among other courses offered on a rotating basis.  Rheingold tells prospective students that the courses will demand them to devote significant time to reading, conversation, live session participation, and collaboration on group projects. All courses are based on peeragogy–a learning model–that places as much value on peer-to-peer interaction as on teacher-learner interaction.  Rheingold is also a prolific and respected author known for groundbreaking books such as The Virtual Community (1993); Smart Mobs (2003), and Net Smart (2012).

 

Powerful Learning Practice

From its website

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, PLP co-founder, coined the phrase connected learning communities to describe the PLP experience.

The connected learning community model is based on empirical research and years of experience. It represents a three-pronged approach to professional development. Connected learning communities weave together

1. Learning communities that happen face-to-face at school.

2. Purposeful learning networks where we harvest and share resources.

3. Global, online communities of practice and inquiry where we dig deep.

Traditional professional development models (like in-services and one-day conferences) fail to focus on the realities of daily classroom life and the skills needed to serve today’s iGeneration learner. Our Connected Learner Experience is grounded in job-embedded activities where professional learning becomes a regular part of the educator’s work day. We help you integrate technology, content, and the best pedagogy in ways that excite student interest and advance school improvement goals. We advocate for professional learning that builds collective responsibility for student success and shifts the culture within the school to one of learning first, teaching second.

Summary

Even though Powerful Learning Practice is oriented to educators, at least one of its courses–Connected Coaching–has application in myriad online settings where adult learners congregate.  Two of the three Women’s Learning Studio founders have taken this course and savored its focus on using the Appreciative Inquiry framework for coaching other adults to reach their practice improvement and career goals.  Co-learners define their learning pledges in week 2 of what has been an 11-week experience.  Co-learners participate in weekly 90-minute synchronous sessions with the course facilitators and each other in the Blackboard Collaborate environment.  The course is highly experiential with multiple asynchronous discussions each week, collaborative projects, and quick trust and perspective building exercises delivered through a variety of usually free social media tools that we all gain experience using.

CPsquare

From its website

CPsquare is like a town square, a place where people gather to connect and learn together. We are from corporate, private, non-profit, and academic organizations; we hail from many nations across the globe; we are involved in consulting, research, and direct support of communities of practice; and we join together to create our own community of practice. We are a non-profit organization, registered as a 501(c)(6) organization in the US.

Our purpose:

  • Finding the social in learning: We learn in ever more diverse ways as we connect for diverse purposes, across social divides, through technology, and in new circumstances. CPsquare experiments with and seeks to understand traditional as well as emerging social formations where people learn: whether labeled communities of practice or not.
  • Helping CoP practitioners: We help each other become better in all the practices involved in supporting communities of practice. We cultivate a range of competencies which help communities of practice thrive in diverse settings. We serve both newcomers and leaders in the field.
  • Helping CoP researchers: We support the scholarly activities of members by providing a forum where research on the subject of communities of practice can be shared, supporting their access to the growing body of research on communities of practice.
  • Bridging the scholar-practitioner divide: We engage in and monitor both research and practice in and about communities, so that scholarly work can inform practice and practice can inform scholarship. We believe these collaborations can enable continuous learning and improvement over time.
  • Making a difference in the world: By serving the needs of members, CPsquare is a vehicle making a difference in the world. We believe that the formation and support of communities of practice will help give energy to a broader social movement for positive world change.

Summary

CPsquare (aka CP2) has been around since 2002 and incorporated for the last 6 years.  Two of the three founders of the Women’s Learning Studio started with the CP2’s Foundations workshop and have been CP2 members ever since.  Participating in CP2 activities has given us a wealth of learning connections (aka curious friends), ideas, and new knowledge and skills.  In 2012 and 2013, we convened  international discussions in CP2 on the changing roles of online learning facilitators and online learners. A group of us synthesized the first discussion (second is in progress) and published it on the CPsquare blog site here. CPsquare maintains a password protected conversations space for its discussions and extensive archives on social learning.  The annual fee to belong is $150.

Udemy

Summary

Udemy offers the opportunity for experts to craft, sell, and deliver online courses from the Udemy home platform and for learners to take them!  Courses range in topic, price, length, etc.

On the front page alone, its top 20 courses (as indicated by the number of students who have taken or are taking the courses and # of positive reviews) range from a $9 course (46 minutes–12 lectures) on Making PDFs Interactive from InDesign by Paul Cracknell, a  UK expatriate now residing in New Zealand to a course on Making iPhone and iPad Apps  Without Any Programming (185  lectures and 10.5 hours of content) by John Bura  for $497.  A different kind of course also on the front page is Discover The 1 Thing You Were Born To Do In 5 Easy Steps! by Steve Olsher ($49).  Udemy even offers yoga courses and American Accent Training for IT Professionals.

TU Delft OpenCourseware

From its website

…largest and most comprehensive university of engineering sciences in the Netherlands. TU Delft develops technologies for future generations, focusing on sustainability, safety and economic vitality.

Summary

It is a member of the United States OpenCourseware Consortium.  See explanation below:

Delft University of Technology has joined the OpenCourseWare Consortium in offering the world free access to certain course content online. TU Delft OpenCourseWare (OCW) seeks to capitalize on the potential of the internet to eliminate borders and geographic distance as obstacles to the instantaneous exchange of knowledge and new ideas. Unlike distance learning programs that charge tuition, provide formal instruction and limit participation, OpenCourseWare offers all course materials free to everyone with online access. Educators from around the world may upgrade their classes; students may enhance their coursework or pursue self study; the general public may glimpse the depth and breadth of what leading universities are offering and benefit from reading lists and lectures.

Rector  Magnificus Prof. ir. Karel Luyben also explains U Delft’s mission:

U Delft is dedicated to making a significant contribution to finding responsible solutions to societal problems, at both national and international levels.  Our mission is to deliver Science to Society.  OpenCourseWare is an important way to spread our mission around the world. 

It offers courses from high school to master’s degree college level programs.

Skillshare

From its website

Skillshare is a global learning community where you can learn real-world skills from real people … Learn real-world skills from anyone, anywhere. We power thousands of creative, collaborative classes on everything from programming to design to crafts.

Have knowledge to share?

Summary

Skillshare’s manifesto video titled “The Future Belongs to the Curious,” is a premise for living well that we subscribe to at the WLStudio, too.

Skillshare’s weekly email updates its current offerings in a wide range of interests: art, branding, crafts, culinary, design, DIY, entrepreneurship, extracurricular, fashion and style, film and video, music, performance, photography, social good, technology, and writing.

The teachers charge fees for classes. For instance, a one week online class by Jennifer Barbour in March 2013 on How to Write Blog Posts that Build a Community cost $10. Another one week online class by Pei Ketron on Make Your Photos Pop:  Intro to Photo Editing through Adobe Lightroom is $20.  A highly endorsed two week class by Dan Kozikowski on Pull Your Own Data:  An Introduction to SQL is $20.  Yet another interesting option in April 2013 was a class on drinking wine–Get Wine-Smart:  Stop Thinking & Start Drinking by John Boyer, a geography professor at Virginia Tech.  He charged $15 for the two weeks.  By the end you would have presumably consumed a lot of wine and written a blog series about it.  Here is his wine-in-mouth justification for taking the course:

Why would we take this class? Will it help us advance in our career? Will it provide us with all of the foundational knowledge we need, and more?

Ummm…yes, yes, and yes. In today’s world, drinking wine is not just part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, but it is a life skill, a business skill, and a language in and of itself that by being fluent in it, affords you access to the ‘cultured club’: the cosmopolitan, educated, successful, cultured, and classy peeps…and isn’t that we all aspire to become?

 

P2PU

From its website

The Peer 2 Peer University is a grassroots open education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements. P2PU creates a model for lifelong learning alongside traditional formal higher education. Leveraging the internet and educational materials openly available online, P2PU enables high-quality low-cost education opportunities.

Summary

The above description conveys a purpose similar to that of the WLStudio, i.e., help women (and a few brave men) become online residents capable of fostering and benefiting from connections to support their lifelong learning.  The P2PU philosophy below is in line with the Studio\’s mission, too.

p2pu_600px

Anything might be possible with this learning approach.  It seems to be easy to get started at P2PU.

MIT OpenCourseware Initiative

From its website

OCW is a revolutionary approach to sharing educational resources. The site presents the core academic content–including lecture notes, syllabi, assignments and exams–from substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate curriculum freely and openly to support formal and informal learning around the world. Many of the site’s more than 1,900 courses also include rich media resources such as video lectures, simulations, and animations. OCW has inspired a worldwide movement that now includes hundreds of universities sharing materials from more than ten thousand courses.

Through OCW, educators improve courses and curricula, making their schools more effective; students find additional resources to help them succeed; and independent learners enrich their lives and use the content to tackle some of our world’s most difficult challenges, including sustainable development, climate change, and cancer eradication.

 

 

 

 

Lynda.com

Summary

Lynda.com advertises more than 1,617 courses with more being added frequently. The courses focus on software, creative design, and business skills. The courses last 1+ hours in length (many are between 2-3 hours in length but may be more than 8+hours) and are delivered in a video format.  Each course has a detailed Table of Contents that provides topics and time allotted for each, making the courses very handy for quick referencing.

Each course features a few topics available for guests to open and view at no charge.  For instance, WordPress is hugely popular as a blog site/web site design app.  One course titled WordPress Essential Training taught by Morten Rand-Hendriksen was updated in December 2012 to explain the new aspects of WordPress 3.x.  A visitor to Lynda.com may click on certain clips to view the topical content one-time.  Then the viewable clips are closed to playback.

Another valuable course shows learners how to set up Audacity, a free audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and start recording live audio. The one hour-46 minute course consists of four major sections:  Getting Started, Recording, Basic Editing, and Common Tasks.  Within each section, certain elements are viewable.

Lynda.com is available FREE for a seven-day trial basis.  Subscriptions start at $25 a month or $250 a year. Subjects, software, and authors of courses are organized in alphabetic indices, making it easy to cruise through to see what they have.

 

Google Developers Group

From its website

Google Developer Groups (GDGs) are for developers who are interested in Google’s developer technology; everything from the Android, App Engine, and Google Chrome platforms, to product APIs like the Maps API, YouTube API and Google Calendar API.

A GDG can take many forms — from just a few people getting together to watch our latest video, to large gatherings with demos and tech talks, to events like code sprints and hackathons. However, at the core, GDGs are focused on developers and technical content, and the core audience should be developers.

Summary

The GDG has 355 (active and emerging) chapters in 99 countries for people interested in Google technology including Android, App Engine, Google Maps API, Google Apps API, and Google+

The Google Developers Group initiated the Women Techmakers in 2012 as a “five-episode series airing November 5th-9th daily at 2:30 PM PST (22:30 UTC), highlighting women in the technical space who are fearlessly innovating, honing technical expertise, and testing the boundaries of technology.”  “These episodes are filmed and retained in Google Hangouts to attract girls and young women to enter the field of science and technology. ”