Top 10 Tools 2016

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Image courtesy of Pixabay

If you haven’t seen Jane Hart’s top 100 tools for learning, where have you been for the last 9 years? Now in its tenth year, Jane asks people to add their top 10 tools for learning and list the software, tools, and services that people use for learning for themselves and others. The vote is open now until 30th September so you have plenty of time to submit your choices.

I looked through my previous blog posts and found that I’d written this up in 2012 and in 2014 so it seems appropriate that I write my list up for 2016! There is a further classification this year to understand how these tools are being used in different contexts and three sub-lists will also be generated:

  1. Top 100 Tools for Education – for use in schools, colleges, universities
  2. Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning – for use in training, for performance support, social collaboration, etc
  3. Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning – for self-organised learning

My current list is as follows:

Twitter – Personal and Professional

How could I not include Twitter? I was a little shocked but honoured to be nominated as one of the People Management Power List earlier in the year and that has come about through my use of Twitter. In addition to the simple way to connect with people across the world, the chats, the improved DM system,  and ease of use across all devices makes it my go to place to check what is happening. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning to check news, ahead of the radio or TV.

Evernote – Personal and Professional

In 2014 I described Evernote as my second brain and it’s still, for me, the best place to file those snippets of information. I had to learn how to use notebooks and stacks to get the best from it but it is definitely something that improves the more you use it. I’m keen to see if it’ll still be on the list in 2 years time; it doesn’t seem to have the fanbase it used to attract.

Feedly – Personal and Profesional

After Twitter, Feedly is the second place I go to in the morning. It aggregates 200+ feeds into 9 collections which I check each day. It is simple, ease to share from and I’d be lost without it.

Podcast – Personal and Profesional

Since I started running I found that I sometimes needed to hear something other than the sound of my feet on the pavement. I don’t like running to music too often as I find it makes me speed up so looked around at audiobooks and spoken word content. I discovered a great podcast app (Pocket Casts) and have a menu of 20+ podcasts which I listen to regularly. These include the TED radio hour, Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, the Tim Ferriss Show, RadioLab and This American Life. There is enough variety that I can find content which I can use in work and it’s all available for nil/neutral cost.

YouTube – Personal and Profesional

I know other video platforms are available and that you should never read the comments but YouTube still remains the best place to go for video content. Its sheer size is a benefit and an issue; there is most likely the content you need but to sort the wheat from the chaff takes time and focus. A tool which requires some care in its use.

TED – Workplace Learning

This parody of a TED talk is brilliant but there is still a lot of value to be had from the videos. I appreciate that the style is tired to some but TED talks are quick (18 minutes) and used as part of wider support can be excellent ways to headline or summarise additional content.

Chrome – Personal and Profesional

I’d be lost without Chrome as my browser. My Chromebook died a couple of months ago and ordered a new one. Within 10 minutes I was back online, set up with the same extensions, tweaks, and tools that I’d had on the previous device. The extensions available from the Chrome web store work effortlessly. Need to identify the colour on a webpage? Use the Colorzilla extension. Want to delete cookies from a single site from within the browser? EditThisCookie will do that. Clip whole or partial pages to Evernote? There’s an extension for that. Simples.

Futurelearn – Workplace Learning

This is the first time I’ve added a MOOC site to the list. Since their introduction in 2008 and development from 2012 as a mode of learning I’ve always thought they needed to be included but never felt that they had the traction required. This was partly because, for some, the jury was still out on them but to me, more importantly, they had a firm US bias. When Futurelearn launched as a UK based MOOC provider I was always hopeful that it would be able to provide the quality that the other MOOC providers offered but with a more UK centric approach. After a slow start, I think they’ve found their space and the content offer is currently used by over 4m people. I’d class that as established now.

Pixabay – Workplace Learning

All the images that I now use on the blog and in my presentations come from Pixabay. It’s a photo sharing community similar to Flickr but the image quality is, in my opinion, much higher It is a tiny site when compared to FlickR (690,000 images compared to 6 billion) but the quality is excellent and all images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. People may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything they like, even in commercial applications. I always attribute them to Pixabay although attribution is not required

Pocket – Personal and Profesional

I still use Pocket as i haven’t found a better aggregation tool. You know what happens, someone says look at this site, you do but don’t save it, note it, or record it. I go to a page and rather than bookmark it, I simply add it to Pocket to review at a time when I’m ready. The great thing about Pocket is that it’s not device specific and has both Chrome and Firefox add-ins making it simple to use on any system I’m working with.

So, that’s my top 10 tools. In 2012 I said it might be an idea to try some new tools out on the list with a testing group. I never got to start that idea and think now would be a good time to try it again. I’ve decided to resurrect that idea and so when Jane’s list is published, I want to create a focus group to test some of the tools.  We’ll create a space where the group can test tools and review them. They might be workplace or personal/professional – are you game for trying out a new tool?

Let me know in the comments if you’d like to join this focus group and also your thoughts on my choices.


12 thoughts on “Top 10 Tools 2016

    1. Thanks Rachel, that makes 6 of us. Now we need to work out which tools and how/where we start. Open to suggestions but tempted to open a blank Google Doc up over the weekend and we can start from there.

      Change of plan…check your Twitter DMs!


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