Top 10 Tools for Learning
This valuable resource is compiled from the feedback of hundreds of learning professionals all around the world contributing their personal top 10 tools.
Here is my contribution for this year’s list:
1. The Web
According to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, the main objective of the World Wide Web was to be a space for sharing information. “It seemed evident that it should be a space in which anyone could be creative, to which anyone could contribute”, he wrote in his first blog post. It was, in other words, supposed to be a groupware application.
He designed and implemented the first web browser to not only display the content of web pages but also to edit and save a new version of that page. Early Web pages were fully collaborative. Mosaic, the browser that popularized the Web in 1993, allowed pages to be viewed and not changed. The original collaborative nature of web page browsing was lost.
Despite the fact that the Web took off primarily as a publishing medium people invented other ways like blogs, forums and wikis to make it the creative space Tim Berners-Lee envisioned right from the beginning.
For me the Web is without a doubt the number one tool for learning. It is the foundation that allows us to share our passion and knowledge with the rest of the world and to collaboration around shared content with others.
My favorite web browser to access the Web is Google Chrome: It is fast, user-friendly and convenient.
2. Google Search
Google search was originally developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1997. It achieved better results for many searches with an innovation called PageRank. It ranks web pages based on the number and PageRank of other web pages that link there. The page rank of a web site is an indicator of the popularity of this site but it does not say anything about the quality of the content. However the premise is that people will link to sites with good content and and thus make it more popular. You can think about PageRank as a voting system for web sites.
For me Google Search is still the best way to find information on the Web.
Twitter is a free online service that enables you to broadcast short messages of 140 characters or fewer (aka status updates or tweets) to your friends or followers. People interested in your status updates then subscribe to follow your messages and you can subscribe to follow others.
With status updates you can answer the question “What are you doing?” However many users go beyond this simple question and use status updates to share links to interesting content, photos, videos or music on the web. You can learn more by reading What Everybody Ought to Know About Twitter?
My preferred way to access Twitter is SharedMinds Desktop. With SharedMinds Desktop you can browse though all your tweets quickly and show links, user profiles and twitter search results right there in the same application. This will make you more productive and enhance your Twitter experience. You can download a free version here.
In addition to Twitter, reading blogs is still one of my favorite ways of learning about new stuff. Blogs are special web sites that provide an RSS feed of published articles or posts in reverse-chronological order. RSS is a document format which allows you to keep up to date with the content on sites all across the web.
When you subscribe to an RSS feed, the feed reader will check the website you subscribe to for new content. If there are any new articles, they will be displayed directly in your feed reader. The feed reader of my choice is Google Reader.
If you like to start your own blog you can check out WordPress.com, Blogger.com or TypePad.com where you can start blogging right away. For bSix12 I decided to setup a self-hosted WordPress blog. For writing blog posts I am using Windows Live Writer.
If you haven’t already subscribed to bSix12 you can do this here.
5. Podcasts / Audiobooks
Podcast and audiobooks are great tools for learning . There are many situation in which you can listen to audio while doing other things like driving to and from work, cycling, jogging and so on. In this way you can make use of otherwise unused time. Or you can save time by listening to the audio versions of books. Sometimes I find myself to tired even to read and an audiobook is a good alternative.
Wikipedia is a free, collaborative encyclopedia and a fantastic information resource. It is a starting point for most of the things I research.
I am not spending as much time reading books as I where used to but books are still very important. For me the best place to discover new and interesting books is Amazon.com.
8. Videos & Screencasts
YouTube is the most popular video sharing website where you can upload and share videos. If you want to use a video, you can embed it into your own web page or blog. On my blog I use embedded YouTube videos a lot. There are some excellent videos hosted on YouTube to learn from.
We learn a lot by watching other people doing things. This is why screencast’s are a powerful learning tool. It is like looking someone over the shoulder and learning from that persons experience. My favorite tool to produce screencast’s is Camtasia Studio.
9. Social Bookmarking
My favorite social bookmarking service is del.icio.us. It is a service for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks. The search functionality is very powerful and for certain keywords I get a better search result than with Google Search.
10. Note Taking & To-do List
My favorite note taking application is Evernote. This is how the developers themself describe it: “Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from anywhere.” It provides advanced features like OCR. This allows you to search for text inside images. Notes are synchronized between your devices and applications.
What are your favorite tools for learning?Related posts