Top Ten Tools for Learning 2014

My top 10 tools for learning for 2014, divided into personal learning and course design/development.

Jane Hart is collecting her eighth annual list of top tools for learning. You can vote for your top tools until September 19, 2014. I haven’t done my list in a few years, but you can see my past lists from 20112009, 2008, and 2007.

My list is divided into personal learning and course design/development.

Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Digbeth - 10 mph sign

Personal Learning

Feedly is my RSS reader of choice since the demise of Google Reader. I read on my smartphone much more in the past, and Feedly’s mobile app fits in my workflow.
Diigo is my social bookmarking option. Diigo automatically generates my ID and e-Learning bookmarks posts. People are sometimes amazed at how quickly I can find resources for various topics; Diigo is what lets me put my hands on links from my library in a hurry.
LinkedIn, especially LinkedIn groups, is a source for many useful conversations and resources.
Google Search is one of the first places I go when I need to learn something specific or am researching courses and clients.
WordPress is my blog host. Even when I’m sporadic in posting, WordPress is a great tool for personal reflection. I appreciate the active community and constant improvements to the platform. My business website and portfolio were also built with WordPress.

Course Design/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.
Microsoft PowerPoint isn’t particularly exciting either, but it’s still a tool I use for storyboard, mockups, simple graphics, flowcharts, and more. Once in a while I actually use it for presentations too.
Google Docs is where I keep track of my time spent on projects, create quick drafts, and other tasks.
Moodle is the LMS used by several of my clients. Although my primary freelance work is designing courses, I do some LMS consulting as well. Almost all of that is helping clients use Moodle more effectively. The active community for this open source tool and the numerous free tutorials and resources are a huge benefit for me when I’m working in Moodle or Totara (a corporate version of Moodle).
Skype is one of my primary tools for keeping in touch with clients. If I have a question for them or they have one for me, a quick message on Skype can often keep a project moving. I use video calls and screen sharing regularly as well.
Image Credit: Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Digbeth – 10 mph sign by Elliott Brown

12 thoughts on “Top Ten Tools for Learning 2014

  1. My top tools: Visio Professional for flowcharting, Word for Scripting, Adobe Premiere/Audition/Photoshop for Media, Captivate 7/8 and ToolBook 11/11.5 for eLearning Authoring, SCORM Watch for troubleshooting and Articulate Presenter for quick and dirty SCORM 1.2 apps. I communicate face-to-face and focus on working rather than chatting/blogging so no need for SKYPE/FaceBook, Twitter and other colossal time wasters.

    1. Thanks for sharing Peter. Make sure you submit your list here so it gets counted:
      SCORM Watch is a new tool to me. I’m going to go check it out now.
      None of my clients are local, so online communication tools are a must. I find I’m actually much more productive working remotely. I don’t have all those interruptions of people coming to my cubicle to chat for 30 minutes. They can ask a question on Skype and I can answer in 5 minutes before getting back to work.
      I’m sorry to hear that you feel investing in your own professional development is a “colossal time waster” though.

  2. Have you seen the OfficeMix PowerPoint Plugin It allows you to create content using PowerPoint, videos, screencapture, pen, etc., incorporate knowledge checks and quizzes along the way, and then capture metrics with amazing bi. Truly the easiest elearning tool of the future!

    1. I hadn’t seen it before. It looks like Microsoft is trying to build a competitor for Adobe Presenter. PowerPoint plugins tend not to be powerful enough for my needs. If I’m going to do development, I want to use Captivate or Storyline or something with more flexibility. I can see that it might be useful for someone who just needs something lightweight.

    1. I’m sorry to have disappointed you, Paul. My goal here wasn’t to talk about the shiny new tools in the field, but the workhorses that I turn to all the time. You’re correct that not much has changed here. Three of these tools were on my top 10 list in 2007 (Google Docs, Skype, and Diigo).
      Part of the stability of my list is because I’m doing lots more design work than development work, and most of the innovation in new tools is on the development end of e-learning. Even if the design itself is innovative, the tools for writing usually aren’t. When I’m sharing design documents and storyboards with clients, they need to be in a format that’s easy for clients to read and review. As boring as they are, Word, PowerPoint, and Google Docs are still my best choices for that purpose.
      Have you posted your top 10 tools? I’d love to see what you’re doing to keep yourself from being “stagnant.”
      If you’re looking for a list of more new tools, keep an eye out for when Jane publishes her new list on 9/22. I always find it interesting to see which tools have made big leaps in popularity. The current list is here:
      Here’s a few other tools that you might find more inspiring. Some of these are tools I use; others are just on my radar. These aren’t the tools I use the most, so they’re not in my top 10.
      * Pinterest: Visual social bookmarking. I use this for personal purposes (recipes and crafting), but it can be used for curating resources for informal learning.
      * Branchtrack: Easy branching scenarios.
      * PowToon: Animated videos and presentations
      * VoiceThread: Digital storytelling, presentations with audio plus lots of collaboration and interaction opportunities. I used this with a client for student presentations with peer feedback.
      * VideoScribe: Whiteboard animation videos
      * GoAnimate: Animated videos

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