‘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”.)


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 hammer in a carpenter’s toolkit, taken for granted and unappreciated, until they’re needed.  Similarly, our ability to use online tools can make or break us when we must find information quickly, decipher what it means and how it might apply in our situation, and adapt it or use to achieve a specific purpose. All of us rely on a far wider range of tools than we may realize at first glance in the daily course of work.

For instance, the Video, Audio, and Image Tools category included Adobe Photoshop (in 42nd place), Flickr (52), Audacity (33), as well as YouTube (3) and Ted Talks (25) on the top 100 list.  Most people recognize Flickr, YouTube and Ted Talks as go-to treasure chests of pictures, videos, and brilliant people with impressive, mind-expanding ideas.  Their learning value is unlimited and obvious.  But Adobe Photoshop, a high-end image editing tool, and Audacity, a free audio track building tool?  Whether we are educators, scientists, consultants, entrepreneurs, writers or knowledge workers of any kind, constantly improving our practice, we need them, too, to make our images sing (no pun intended), and weave together graphics and narrative to share our perspectives with others.  We also need tools to survey, store, organize, present, network, collaborate, and synthesize our understanding for informing and influencing others.


The TOP TEN of the 100 learning tools for 2013 ranked by the learning professionals worldwide are listed below.  As you skim the list below or the full 100 available here, please think about these questions.

  • Do you agree with the rankings? How would yours be different?  Why?
  • How many of these tools do you use in your work or learning? 
  • Are you satisfied with your proficiency? 
  • What else do you need to become an at-ease online practitioner?
  • How might we at the Studio assist you? 


Twitter logo Twitter, social  network and micro-blogging service For the second year in a row, Twitter, the social network for micro-blogging, came in as the #1 tool.  Twitter also wins my “You’ve come a long way, baby!” award.  Do you remember when Twitter was first used for answering “What are you doing now?” inquiries?  Now see what Twitter can do. 


google_driveGoogle Drive/Docs, office tools and storage Google Docs are ideal for groups that need to collaborate, share and produce documents outside fire-walled intranets. Nowadays, organizations set up enterprise-wide Google systems to take advantage of the integrated suite of tools. Google is everywhere.


YouTube_logoYouTube, Video sharing site YouTube is an incredible resource. If it isn’t on YouTube or Google, it probably hasn’t happened yet.


google_searchGoogle Search, web search engine How many times a day do we use Google to find something, from maps to definitions, from pictures to research.  Is there anything that Google Search cannot find if we know how to put in our request to get results?  Look at this infographic for Google search tips by HackCollege and Josh Catone.


PowerPoint_logoPowerPoint, presentation software This ranking surprised me because PowerPoint is often so poorly used that it is joked about.  But it is a foundational tool that can yield good results for sophisticated SlideShare presentations and infographics, etc. I use it mainly to build graphics that become JPEGs in presentations or videos.


evernote-logo-designEvernote, productivity tool In 2014, I will try Evernote because I have learned that it will let me collect and easily search everything from random thoughts to detailed reports. When organized by general topic, it creates an outstanding digital filing system to keep track of a myriad of projects and responsibilities.


dropbox logoDropbox, file storage and synchronization service Dropbox was part of my repertoire with one group it worked just fine.  I haven’t needed it recently, but many groups use it as a group project library. I recently talked to a man whose choral group used it to save copies of their songs for other groups to review in their practice. Another friend is using it with a co-author to write a book.


wordpress_logoWordPress, blogging and website tool How many WordPress sites do you have?  It’s one of the best open source tools to set up your own domain online.  And as a blogging platform for writing and sharing with others, it rules as a top learning assist.  We use it for our Studio and independent consulting sites.


facebook_logoFacebook, social network I am not a big Facebook user because of privacy concerns.  This means I do NOT use it as entree to other social media.  I use it for a small circle of family and friends and have participated in online work discussions on other sites.  Millions of people do use it and find it valuable for marketing, group events and sharing ideas.


HangoutsGoogle+ Hangouts, social network/video meetings We use Google+ Hangouts at the Studio for our Virtual Happy Hours and other lighthearted gatherings.  We also use it for a research project that regularly brings together a small group of us.
6 replies
  1. Doris Reeves-Lipscomb
    Doris Reeves-Lipscomb says:

    Tina, I agree with your assessment of classroom ecosystems and tipping point. It is exciting! Mobile learning is also transforming the way we learn online as knowledge workers, making it possible to take ten minutes here and there to read, consider, and “use” our expanded viewpoint to write and share our understanding with others well outside our day-to-day circle of associates. Living and working in Clearwater would not be nearly as much fun for me without the vast realm of mobile, cloud- and web-based PD and informal learning opportunities, including the know-how to get to them. Thanks for sharing your insights, Tina, and best wishes for 2014.

  2. Tina Barrios
    Tina Barrios says:

    Here is what I find interesting. All of the applications listed in the top 10 with the exception of PowerPoint are stored in the cloud and designed to be accessed by multiple devices from anywhere. You could argue that some use powerpoint in that way as well. As someone who has been very interested and invested in how technology impacts teaching and learning I strongly believe that the movement toward mobile learning holds great promise for transforming the way teachers teach and students learn. The problem we have is that it requires a robust ecosystem that is very different than the one that exists in many k12 classrooms. It also requires rethinking and reallocating resources for the classroom. What is truly exciting is that we could be at that “tipping point” to realize the promise of what mobile learning brings to the classroom.

    • Lyn Boyer
      Lyn Boyer says:

      Tina, Thanks for your comments. You have made some very interesting points…for educators and for us as learners. I had not thought about these as being in the cloud, but I see how that will make a difference for all of us in the future. I still have some concern about my information in the hands of someone else. How will they use it? What are the implications of all that information in corporate hands?
      On another topic…Coincidentally, I was thinking about you this morning. I hope all is going very well for you and that we have a chance to catch up soon. Happy holidays to you and your family.

      • Tina Barrios
        Tina Barrios says:

        I am actually working with a Thought Leadership Group developing a strategic plan for 2014. The two primary leadership programs we offer currently revolve around the integration of mobile education into learning organizations. Right up my alley so I am very excited. I am also finally a grandmother. Jackson Thomas was born Oct 30th and it has been such a great gift. Have a wonderful holiday.

        • Doris Reeves-Lipscomb
          Doris Reeves-Lipscomb says:

          I hope you will share some of what you do (and learn!) on integrating mobile education into learning organizations with us here at the Studio, Tina. Others will be just as interested as I am.

          Congratulations, too, on the arrival of Jackson Thomas! Best wishes for health and happiness to you and your family.

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  1. […] 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 […]

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