Top Ten Tools for Learning 2011

This is the fifth year that Jane Hart has been collecting lists of top tools for learning. The list will be finalized on November 13, but you can see the ongoing results in this list. I have contributed my lists in 2007, 2008, and 2009. You can contribute your top tools too.

As in 2009, I’m going to divide my list into personal learning and course development.


Personal Learning

Google Reader is still my main tool for personal learning. I just checked my stats, and I currently have 320 subscriptions and have read over 8000 items in the last 30 days, and over 300,000 items since February 2009. is my blogging platform of choice and a great tool for personal reflection.

Diigo is my social bookmarking option. I also back up bookmarks to Delicious, but especially after the disastrous transition to AVOS (a third of my bookmarks didn’t survive the migration), I’m so glad I don’t rely on Delicious as a primary tool. Diigo’s highlighting option has always differentiated it from Delicious for me, and my weekly bookmarks posts are automatically generated by Diigo.

Google Search has never been on my list before, but it really should have been. Google is one of the first places I go when I need to learn something specific. I use Google Scholar search, blog search, or other advanced options as needed.

LinkedIn is increasingly a place I find useful conversations and resources, especially in the groups.

Course Development

Microsoft Word isn’t exactly the most glamorous tool here, but it is a tool I use regularly for design documents, storyboards, and other projects for clients.

Google Docs is where I keep track of my time spent on projects, create quick drafts, and other tasks.

Captivate is my tool of choice for simulations and interactive learning.

Moodle is the LMS I use most currently. I’m so thankful for the active Moodle community and the wealth of knowledge available in the forums, community documentation, and other sources.

Jing is the best free tool for screenshots I’ve ever used. It’s immensely helpful for creating technical documentation, job aids, and the like, as well as for documenting issues when reviewing courses.

Image Credit: 10-10-10 by woodleywonderworks

18 thoughts on “Top Ten Tools for Learning 2011”

  1. Pingback: My Top 10 Tools for Learning 2022 - Experiencing eLearning

  2. Great suggestions Christy! There are many tools available on the web where you can search as an individual and learn the things you want to learn about, but there are also certain software applications designed to help you learn.

  3. Christy, the above mentioned tools were helpful for learning and I agree with that. But those all are documentation tools that helps to store the data when it comes to E-learning. For real time interaction with the other learners and tutors, there are many online communication tools available. I suggest you to write about them in your upcoming posts. Thanks.

    1. Denny, I have to disagree with you that everything on this list is a documentation tool. How is LinkedIn a documentation tool? It’s a social networking tool. How is Google search a documentation tool? It’s an important part of my personal learning. As I noted, it’s not a tool for e-learning development, but it is how I learn myself.

      Your claim that Moodle isn’t a tool for interaction with learners and instructors is clearly false as well. It’s not a real-time collaboration tool, true, but saying it doesn’t provide a platform for interaction shows you don’t know the tool.

      This post wasn’t about what tools are the best for every purpose though, or even about one specific purpose. It was about the tools I use the most myself for both personal learning and course development. In 2011, at the time I wrote this post, I had just left Cisco and started working freelance. My major freelance client at the time develops self-paced e-learning, so I wasn’t using as many real-time collaboration tools like WebEx and TelePresence as I had been at Cisco.

      However, if you’re interested in reading what I’ve written about synchronous online learning, check out these posts. I’ve got quite a bit in the archives.
      First Impressions of TelePresence
      Synchronous Software Scavenger Hunts
      Key Steps to Preparing Great Synchronous Interactions
      Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning Communities
      Collaborative Learning Trends

      I also have five posts on Second Life, another platform that can be used for real-time collaboration and interaction.

  4. Sorry about that, it was my friend. A tool of learning for me is knowledge. Knowledge gets you far in this world and gives you lots of experiences that can change your live.

  5. Pingback: Week 5: Mapping My Learning Connections « Dalia Hanna

  6. My name is Monica Smith. I am a graduate student at Walden University. I’m currently taking EDUC 6115 which is Learning, Theories, and Instruction. I teach business education in Georgia. I would like to thank you for providing resources that may help everyone and not just instructional designers. I am listing some of my favorite bookmarks. – It can be used for any subject. One can key any topic and it provides you a list of 10 different search engines to use. You click on the search engine and the results appear. The search engine stays on page so you can click on the next search engine without going back to the homepage. – It can be used for any course. One can look for web quests or create one of you own. – It can be used as a teacher website with pages for all of your classes. It can be used with Google tools. One can collaborate with google docs, calendar, blogs, etc.

    Hope they can be of use to someone!

  7. Hi Christy
    As part of my graduate course in instructional design, I started a blog and will be participating in other blogs through the course. Your blog was listed on one of my classmate’s blogs as a resource, and I found it very useful and full of resources that could help me in my journey exploring the instructional design world.
    I am interested in the use of social media and web 2.0 tools in the classroom, I like that you listed these tools as it made me think about the tools that I am currently using, and that I am planning to explore in the near future. I liked the way you divided the tools as personal and course related, at this point in my education, as I am in the learning process, and not in course development yet, I will list them all:

    Google search: I use it all the time in looking for information personally, for work and for my studies
    Twitter: It was my first learning tool, I liked the ability to connect to many resources and the timely information provided through the various links. I also use it personally.
    LinkedIn: I joined many groups, like the instructional design group, it gave me a head start in my learning journey. In the groups there are many questions, resources and interesting conversations to follow.
    Wikispace: I am using it at work. I created a community of practice, we share current projects and news and resources.
    Skype: I use to connect with the above community when we need to meet and discuss projects
    Captivate: I used it to design my final assignment in a previous course, it is amazing! I am planning to use it in my work to create learning modules for faculty development. I liked the ability to incorporate voice, videos and slides in one project. It was simple to use and gave me a professional outcome.
    Wordpress: A wonderful recent discovery, as I mentioned, I just started my blog which I hope you will connect to it. I am already learning through it and I believe there is much more to come.
    Google Reader: I used it before, but currently I am actively and effectively using as part of my course, this how I got to know about you blog. The categories are helpful in reading posts
    Diigo: I learned about it through twitter by Steven Anderson. I tried to use delicious in the past but did not work fine with me, so I hope this would be better. It seems more organized, and the interface is more user friendly. Thanks for the tip about generating weekly bookmarks, I will try to discover how it works.
    Jahshaka: Still to discover; I downloaded it and planning to maybe using in developing the online modules. It is a free video and audio editing program.

    I am glad I found your blog, I read through the archived posts about instructional design and found them very helpful and to the point. Thanks Christy.

  8. Christy:

    I needed to research different sites for an assignment I had and I came across your site.

    I find it very informative and helpful.


    1. I paid attention to my Technorati stats when I first started blogging, but it just isn’t something I really use anymore. I just looked at it now for the first time in months, and I had to go search in support to find out what the authority stats mean.

      It’s also not a source of traffic for me. Even though Technorati lists my rank as around 10,000 (not amazing, but not bad considering it’s out of all blogs they index), I got a whopping 17 referral visits from Technorati in the last 12 months.

      I’m not sure that Technorati search gives me anything more than Google blog search. Yes, it’s real time, but what I’m talking about in this post is mostly ongoing professional development, and even the field of online learning doesn’t move so fast that I need real time search for that. My referral traffic tells me that not too many other people are using Technorati’s search either.

  9. Pingback: Top Ten Tools for Learning 2011 « Educational Technology for Teachers

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    1. Looking at your list is what reminded me that I should include Google search here. I originally had another tool (Remember the Milk) on my list before realizing LinkedIn was actually a better choice. I could certainly come up with 15-20 tools too.

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