Well it’s that time of the year again when Jane Hart (@C4LPT) creates the annual survey collating the top 10 tools that people use for learning. Every year, I submit my results and I have to say that over the years, there have been some that remain the same – the stalwarts, if you will. However, depending on what I’m learning about – and what I’m working on – will also make this list change.
For example, in the last year, I have been working for a Microsoft Partner, http://www.adoptandembrace.comand I can say that it’s been a MASSIVE learning curve for me to skill up in all things Microsoft.
What has helped me has been that the BEHAVIOURS and MINDSET for learning new things.
That is, I’ve jumped into learning all about Microsoft because it’s insanely interesting for me – and quite motivating, It’s also put me into contact with a whole group of people outside of my field of learning and development who also have provided me with insights I never would have come across myself.
Similarly, as my role at Adopt & Embrace will change soon (I’ll share more later) it’ll mean that I will be learning more new things that I’ve never picked up in the past such as podcasting and live streaming.
Also, outside of work, I’m delving into my own learning journey taking up my own courses in learning German, learning how to conduct video interviews and at the back of my head, there’s a little voice that is telling me that I need to exercise far more creative expression – and that may be through doing some acting classes soon…let’s see how that goes.
I’m at a point in my life where I have long stretches of time ahead of me excited by the prospect of what Helen 3.0 would look like as I move into the next phase of my life in my 50s and beyond. Creative expression (I hope), will play a part because I seem to have turned it off and hidden it away over my working years because of the need for professionalism and respectability….
…..but it’s not about that….
Learning plays a HUGE role in my life. It’s what drives me to explore and delve into new areas and see the world like a child – everything is open, new and just ready for new possibilities.
So what are the tools helping me do this?
1: Google & Bing
Seriously, this is the be all and end all. I’m in this search engine every single day.
However, I’ve been using BING too. (Yes, you read that right). Why? Because Bing is Microsoft’s internet search browser.
That means, it LINKS all my work documents to my search. For example, if I log into Bing with my Microsoft work credentials, and I do a search on “Onboarding”, not only will it provide PUBLIC references and links but also my INTERNAL documents, references, resources in our company that is open to be seen. That is, it searches inside the company documents and enterprise social networks like Yammer and Teams for files, conversations, documents that has that word in it.
So now, internet searching for me means I can also find documents inside my own company instead of using public references. It gives me line of sight over what work has already been done inside the company before accessing public links.
This is a no-brainer. Twitter is the best way to build a personal learning network but my use of it has changed since I first started on it. I’m finding I’m far more creative on it now and will not hesitate to share my passion and creative projects on it. I have noticed a trend over time with a steady decreasing lack of engagement and conversations from my old Learning and Development peers but this may be because I’m not contributing to the conversations either – or selecting the conversations I participate in. I have built more Twitter lists and trying to engage more with people outside the field of formal L&D and more of those who are possibly, sharing new ways of learning in their field (but they may not see it as such – to them it’s all about their craft or subject).
I don’t subscribe to Netflix and instead, I’m on YouTube nearly every day. Hours spent viewing all sorts of different content – some educational, some fun. However, I also have been increasing my use of it as a content creator too. My YouTube channel is more like an online video portfolio of learning. I capture video of what I’m doing and learning and upload these onto a playlist. I have playlists for every project I get involved with. I also subscribe to people who share interesting and educational content. This year, it has been focussed a lot on my colleague Darrell Webster who has a channel sharing content on Microsoft 365 updates; learning about keto diets and looking after my back health; exploring tutorials around creating video content;
My YouTube channel is less of a marketing tool for me and more like a portfolio – and a canvas – for my projects. It’s not about building a following to sell services nor building a community. It’s simply a platform that I can house my work and my learning projects – evidence that I “exist”. If someone gleans value from them, all power to them.
4. Feedly Pro
I use Feedly Pro every day to filter and curate content to me. I’ve set up key word searches and have various streams where content gets filtered to so that I have a steady stream of content to read. From there, I share to social media (or save it to particular Boards) that I have created that allows me to keep them.
5. Evernote Premium (Personal) & MS OneNote 2016 (Work)
I have been an Evernote Premium user for many years. I use it for everything in my life – travel documents, scanning documents and so much more. I use it as a dumping ground of all my links and references and use the annotation and editing to read and write notes in PDFs.
In my day to day work I use MS One2016 which I must say is far more easier to use than Evernote.
It also has more functionality in that it links to Outlook as well as it sits in the Microsoft ecosphere so all your work is in the one place. Also, it has excellent search capability within the tool – I find it far better than Evernote search.
Over time, I’m thinking of moving over to OneNote 2016 but this is going to require some research because I want OneNote 2016 and not the lesser lite version of OneNote and it requires some time and consideration of this. It means you’re then locked into one ecosphere for the long term. This is why I still have Evernote.
I am hedging my bets but know that either may not be the right solution….so I’m going to wait it out.
6. MS Teams
This is a new one for me this year.
It’s a great tool to keep up to date and basically do all my work in it. I hardly get any work email now as all the project and client work is done within Teams.
When working with clients, I encourage them to consider creating a channel within each team called “What Did We Learn?” as a means of having conversations during the project life cycle of continual learning and to call out those moments when people learned something new from working with each other or on the project.
By calling it out, you’re making a concerted effort of drawing attention to what you’re learning and observing. By writing it down, others can also contribute to the conversation and the social/shared learning is elevated across the team so that ideas can flow for future improvements.
Yammer has returned with a vengeance this year. We have a community titled “Today I Learned” where we are encouraged to share one thing we learned everyday in it. I read that daily and in 99% cases, I have learned something new from my colleagues that I had no idea about.
Similarly, I’m also part of some external groups across Microsoft community and this puts me into contact with Microsoft partners and employees. Yammer has been an immense learning platform for me that extends my networks outside of my own work colleagues.
8. iTunes Podcasts
I love podcasts and listen to them daily on my walk. I have subscribed to various channels once again a real mix of everything – not just learning and development.
This is a new one this year because I used iMovie to create videos however, some clients want me to create screencasts for them as quick reference guides. I am kicking myself for not learning how to use Camtasia from years ago.
I taught myself how to use it through doing Lynda.com courses and also the videos from within the Camtasia website. I’ve downloaded Camtasia onto my Surface Pro which seems to do the job – and my Surface Pro is a MASSIVE LEARNING TOOL in itself. Everything I need is on it.
This is a new one this year too and I’ve been using it consistently for a month now to learn German. I’m enjoying the experience and the notifications that ping in reminding me to do my German lesson. I’m only using the free version but I have noticed that in order for me to learn it effectively, I need to WRITE THINGS DOWN. So this weekend, I’ve planned to go through the entire lot so far (Reached Level 2 – there’s heaps of lessons within each level), and WRITE down everything I’ve learned so far. I’m also building up on my German contacts in Twitter so hopefully, I’ll be able to find people who can help me with my pronunciation.
(Some years ago I did do Language Aptitude Assessments when I was in the military to see where people could be trained up easily with languages when they needed them. My aptitude rated the highest for German. I was however, hopeless at tonal languages….so no Mandarin for me)…
Well I have so many others. For example, Lynda.Com is a MASSIVE RESOURCE for me. I use this on average, once or twice a month. I have created playlists of learning content around all Microsoft Products – however, I have done courses in Video Interviewing; Video Editing; all of the Camtasia courses too. I access Lynda for free through my local library membership. I love it.