It’s that time of the year again when Jane Hart’s (@C4LPT) Top 10 Learning Tools survey is out. You can put your vote in on her Learning Tools website and voting doesn’t close until August this year.
I’ve been submitting my learning tools every year and I love to see how they’ve evolved over the years. Of course, there are some stayers (hello YouTube and Google, I’m looking at you) but there are some that have long since disappeared.
This year, I’ve streamlined my use of social media. Namely, I’ve gotten rid of most of it except LinkedIn and Twitter. It dawned on me that I really haven’t received any real value by being on them and most of the time, in recent years, they made me angry and frustrated that they were sucking up my time away from undertaking more creative pursuits.
So what are the changes this year?
For one, Twitter has now gone down the list for me. Way down. Over time, I’ve begun to realise that not many people are sharing meaty reflections, work or learning projects that make me sit up, think, test and try. I get inspired by people DOING stuff, sharing ideas and projects, showing their work. Sharing and showing value. Over time, there’s less of that now on Twitter so I’ve begun to use it more of a social network – as opposed to a learning network. I’ve realised that I know enough now to explore other platforms to “do my own thing”.
Another big change for me that is a result of getting off social networks is the focus on more localised and in-person meetups in my own community. This has been such a delight as I meet new people, learn more about the community that I live in and take up learning at a more local than global level. In some way I feel that knowing what I know now, I can actually put it into practice more close to home where I feel I have more impact – and I get to know my neighbours as well. So in some way, my networks are slowly morphing to being part of a community but that community is ‘in person’ mainly although supported by online technologies (of which I am not part of now eg Facebook) but which I have to be proactive enough to seek out and explore the latest news and information. All up, I’m desperately trying NOT to get sucked into the social online communities and instead, seeking out information for myself, by myself, – not having conversations online about it every so often and thus removing me from what I truly want to be doing with my time.
So here are my Learning Tools for 2021.
This is a no brainer. I love YouTube. It’s my main site I use daily and preferred over Google.
This is another no brainer. Although I have been using Bing a lot more simply because as a Microsoft Partner, this is what’s on my Win10 machine AND it also finds me internal documents when I do a search.
This site. Oh my this site has been my saviour. It’s ME online. It’s been my portfolio of my work and learning and now LIFE where I write so much more than just learning and development and instead, it’s basically a reflection of all that I have done since 2013. I cannot imagine ever letting it go. It would be like getting rid of my entire identity.
Feedly Pro Plus with AI Bot
I have subscribed to this and it uses AI to search through articles I read and offer a more personalised feed. I’m still deliberating whether it’s any good and I had to tweak the settings because it kept offering me up Medium articles (which I didn’t want because there’s a paywall and it locks you out of reading some posts once you reach the limit). However, this is the main site that I use to find interesting, engaging and thoughtful articles.
This is a new one that I have been using over the last couple of years trying to learn French. This is an EXCELLENT site that allows you to connect and pay for community tutors and language teachers and have conversations with them online. It’s as easy as searching for your preferred language, checking out their profiles, checking their timetable and logging a time where the system fires up an online ‘zoom’ like experience where you can chat with someone overseas and have conversation practice. I’m on it every week and have been using this to practice conversational French with real French speakers.
Podcasts are in my ears every – single – morning on my daily walks and jogs. I’m mad about podcasts and recently, I’ve started listening to French ones to help improve my aural skills. I subscribe to many podcasts related to my work and interests and would say this is one of the best ways to have learning content come to you.
This is a weird one for a learning tool but I have to explain this. The FitBit provides me with data about my health and wellbeing. Everything from diet and sleep scores and so much more. There is also a community if you want it. I’ve paid for the Premium version which serves me daily content of health and fitness videos, recipes and meditations so I don’t have to go looking for it elsewhere. I’m constantly checking my data and seeing how to improve on it. I would say that this is a learning tool because it’s helping me improve a part of my life that I have neglected for so long.
This is a new one this year. You may not have heard of Nulia but I love it. I’ve not seen anything like it on the market. It’s an application that sits on the navigation bar of Microsoft Teams (which is where I spend most of my day) and it taps into the Microsoft Graph into the back end. This means it keeps a tab on how you’re using the suite of O365 products and gets a ‘picture’ of your competency level and digital skill level and then serves up personalised and customised performance support from within MS Teams to undertake. Now you don’t get engagement points, achievements or badges by doing these courses and following checklists. No, you actually have to DO the tasks over a period of time before the system recognises you to be at a level of User, Producer or Master. Once you get your badges, you can share them across to LinkedIn as they’re using the open badge credentialling system. I’m in Nulia every day checking whether I have improved how I use O365 and doing the work it sets out for me. It’s a lot of fun too.
Meetup is another platform I use to meet up with people and events in the local community. Now that lockdown is over, I want to learn more about what’s happening in my local area and I’ve been using this site to find events and meetups to go to and meet people in real life. Conversations with real people are fast replacing my online conversations and it’s making me feel far happier in the process.
Alas Twitter, you come last this year. Who would have thought? I do wonder if this will change again but I’m not holding much hope. It’s been a slow one for me as I’m finding other ways to be more proactive to find tools that challenge, develop and make me grow and help me focus on new things. Covid put such a completely new perspective and mindset on everything I held dear in the past only to realise that I don’t connect with that thinking anymore. For the time being, I’ll stay on Twitter and continue to share things I find interesting but I’m not going to be swayed by spending any more time on it as much as I have to.
So that’s it. They’re my top 10 learning tools for 2021. Make sure you vote for yours and let me know which ones are your favourites and which ones are going to that great cyber graveyard in the sky.