It’s that time again where it’s time to list our top 10 learning tools for the year and submit our responses to Jane Hart’s annual Top Learning Tools survey.
Why not take the time to consider what tools you use on a daily basis to learn from and with and share your results too?
I’ve been submitting my responses since 2012 and I have collated these here.
Unfortunately, I have not written a blog post for each of the years (I wish I did to capture what tools I was using)!
It’s interesting to see how these have changed over the years. What has stayed (Google, YouTube, Twitter) and what has gone (oh so so many and some that I can’t even remember what they were and how I used them.
Here’s the blog posts if you’d like to see what they are:
- My 2012 Learning Tools
- My 2014 Learning Tools
- My 2016 Learning Tools
- My 2017 Learning Tools
- My 2019 Learning Tools
In recent years, Microsoft has gone into these tools simply because I am now working for a Microsoft Partner and it’s been amazing to explore the Microsoft suite of products which are only going from strength to strength especially as they are blending the field of work and learning (around productivity, collaboration, community and meeting experiences). Added to that the back-end analytics and the move into virtual reality and augmented experiences, I think over the next few years, my work life and the tools within it are up for a massive shift in how I EXPERIENCE work. Much more immersive, expressive, untethered, highly customised and personalised which would allow me even more time to explore, discover, learn and create much freely. Watch this space here.
What are my Top 10 Learning Tools for 2020?
No denying it, it’s YouTube. I’m a subscriber to many channels and have learned SO MUCH especially during COVID. YouTube has now overtaken Google and I search for video content more over text base content and then work backwards. I have recently revisited learning French and have a goal to be accredited through DELF (so I’ll need some formal education) and until I take my assessments, I’m using Playlists of French channels on YouTube to help me here. I use it so much that I’m now thinking of being a subscriber so I don’t see any more ads because during COVID I noticed a massive increase in the amounts of ads they now show which is quite irritating.
I use YouTube as both a consumer and a creator. Over the last couple of years, as well as sharing my work out loud daily videos, I now have started sharing reviews of books. Here’s a recent review I did on Lynda Gratton’s and Andrew J Scott’s A New Long Life.
Twitter is still my social network of choice but during COVID I began to have a love-hate relationship with it. I noticed my feeds filled with hate, fear mongering and nastiness. Also people from my Personal Learning Network had since left Twitter, stopped using social media or stopped blogging, or sharing references that were interesting. To be fair, I did the same. The whole world was immersed into worry and anxiety. I had to make the choice to remove myself from social media (I didn’t like this idea), stop using Twitter (I hovered over the button to deactivate my account at one stage until I thought of all the friends I made on it); or refine my lists. I did the latter.
I removed everyone on my Super List (My Professional Learning Network) who didn’t tweet anymore, hadn’t tweeted in months or years; or tweeted content that was considered to me as being marketing or promotion. Alternatively I unfollowed a whole heap of people and muted them. I revisited my key words to mute more words and this cleared up my feed considerably.
I did the same on LinkedIn using a piece of code I found. I UNFOLLOWED EVERYONE. Got my feed to being NOTHING and started from scratch. Now every time I connect with someone, I immediately UNFOLLOW them unless they share great content. My LinkedIn feed is now a feed of great educational content but there’s still a lot of advertisements for my liking. Doing the LinkedIn clean up was a bit of a saga because it required investigating how to unfollow everyone as LinkedIn doesn’t make it easy.
You can see my process here
Right. Tired that LinkedIn automatically makes me follow everyone and what they “like”. I like to be in control of what I see in my feed. Found this piece of code and now going to do a mass unfollowing. pic.twitter.com/BUpwG6RTOz
— Helen Blunden #AlwaysBeLearning 🤔🧠🦉📚🥇 (@ActivateLearn) May 11, 2020
3. Feedly Pro
I’ve been a Feedly Pro user for years and swear by this tool to feed me great content. I’ve found some gems in here but you really need to refine key words and search terms. Over the years I noticed that my network has not been blogging anymore or sharing a lot of content so I’ve had to rejig this again.
4. OneNote 2019
To be fair I use both OneNote (the full enterprise version not the O365 OneNote app) at work and I also use Evernote Premium which I have been using for years. OneNote is by far the easiest to use but I use both for work and for home as I use Windows and Microsoft for work; and then all my other devices are Apple. I removed the Microsoft for Mac programs from my iMac as I didn’t like the experience of using these on a Mac. Too clunky for my liking. OneNote 2019 is an excellent tool in itself. If you wanted to, you could create an entire course within it (as you can do with Evernote) and the collaboration is superb. I use it for all my research, collation of notes, I insert audio files of ideas into it on my daily walks, I use it for everything basically.
Wakelet is by far one of the best content and curation tools I have ever used. Check out this Twitter thread on how I use it for work and it’s integration into MS Teams.
OMG. Tried out new @wakelet integration with #MSTeams channels & it’s GREAT!! It now brings DIGITAL CURATION to the modern worker from WITHIN their workflow. They can add context & meaning to links & create visually appealing boards (resources; guides; etc) Look what I created 👇 pic.twitter.com/vVl1d1LnN8
— Helen Blunden #AlwaysBeLearning 🤔🧠🦉📚🥇 (@ActivateLearn) May 5, 2020
I am asked so many questions about #MicrosoftTeams so I’ve collated them into a @wakelet of resources for you. You can also ADD this to your work Team Channels as a tab so everyone has access to these as an aide. https://t.co/6Bjgeg3LgH – I will be adding more over time. pic.twitter.com/9nByWgsqFU
— Helen Blunden #AlwaysBeLearning 🤔🧠🦉📚🥇 (@ActivateLearn) April 19, 2020
I created a Wakelet some time ago and included the potential questions and impact that this may have on a future skills of your workforce. The soft skills around sensemaking, curation, community will be critical – all assisted by this service. https://t.co/oUwN6LwFWY
— Helen Blunden #AlwaysBeLearning 🤔🧠🦉📚🥇 (@ActivateLearn) April 8, 2020
6. Microsoft Learn
Microsoft Learn is Microsoft’s Learning Management System that holds many courses and certifications. I have spent some hours in here learning courses and doing the learning paths they suggest as well as swotting for the Microsoft 365 Certifications. They run all their assessments within this and a couple of weeks ago, sat their Fundamentals Exam where I had my camera on while I was taking the exam with an invigilator somewhere around the world watching me do it. It was a weird experience. Recently Microsoft has offered their courses open and to the public for millions of people around the world in an effort to increase digital skills to those who need it the most. They are going to create a new Learning app as well and which has all the analytics sitting behind it. This one will spell the demise for many LMS platforms.
If you want to see what MS Learn is about, I interviewed one of the people at the expo stall at MS Ignite in Orlando last year.
Watch from 4:02 the interview and walk around lasts a few minutes. Last year was selected to be one of 10 global reporters to be flown to this huge event and cover the stories coming from the conference and expo. https://t.co/pVFRzXviUP it was a wonderful experience
— Helen Blunden #AlwaysBeLearning 🤔🧠🦉📚🥇 (@ActivateLearn) July 2, 2020
7. Microsoft Teams
What’s not to say about this one?
We even wrote a book on it last year which has been received very well. We are in the process of writing its follow up now (to be published in October 2020)
I’m in Teams every day and it’s the main portal for all my team work.
We wrote this book entirely from within Teams using all the collaborative, productivity and meeting features.
Teams is a game changer.
8. Netflix, Kanopy, SBS On Demand and ABC iView
I’ve been watching a lot of video content but the main channels I seem to use are Kanopy (free subscription with your library card) and has some excellent documentaries, old movies and older training content for language training. I also watch a lot of international programs on SBS OnDemand and ABC iView. Some of the Netflix documentaries too are excellent.
I’ve had to go back to the curators again and revisit their sites to see what they’ve been sharing. At a time when some of my network has changed how they use social media (mainly for retweeting, promotion) or conversations that are less work related and more about what their interests are in life (to be fair, I have too), I’ve gone back to the curators who were always doing these collections right from the beginning. If I need a dose of inspiration or learning, I’ll go back to their curated collections and can be guaranteed to always find something new.
10. iTunes Podcasts
Podcasts are a great learning tool so I listen to them every day and tweet out “What’s In My Ears this Morning”.
My COVID time has seen me listening to very little – if any – podcasts related to Learning and Development and instead, listening to real life stories of people who share their experiences, French language learning, Community Building and Management and History. At the moment, I’m enjoying Louis Theroux Ungrounded series as well as Coffee Break French which I’m working slowly through the series as well as French with Luis.
So what about your learning tools?