Monday, 3 October 2011


Jane Hart ( asked me to identify my best tools for learning.  It’s time for those of us who care about these things to make sure that Jane’s 5 year research project on the tools we are finding most useful ( ) remains as accurate as possible for 2011. 

Do I have 10 tools? My first reaction is “no” – but on closer inspection, maybe….. 

I am not a line learning practitioner, more of a person who has seen learning from the ground upwards – starting as a part-time training co-ordinator in a small department of scientists and ending up as a senior  training manager (that’s what we called a CLO in those days) in a major division of a global corporate, before becoming Organisation Behaviour Director of a consultancy practice.  So nowadays, I observe, analyse and research – often by immersing myself in the tools I am evaluating for my clients. 

My “tools” – I don’t like the word because it implies too much structure in a world which needs to discover the informal power of social learning – are those which enable me to learn and which I believe are most likely to help others on their learning journeys. 

As I think about it, they are almost exclusively in the area of platforms that enable me to talk to other people, the more interactive the better, the faster the response capability the better.  Why?  Because my learning comes so dominantly from “talking” to other people.  It may be oral, it is frequently written (instant or asynchronous).  It is always collaborative. 

Therefore my best tools 

·       Twitter (my micro-blogging tool) – puts me in touch with people thinking about how to take forward learning in the new era. It provides me with the fastest research mechanism at my disposal.  Asking for information and assistance on Twitter will normally bring quick responses not only about “what” but also “how” and “who” to take me forward.  Chat arenas like #lrnchat #realwplearning are an extension of that capability made easily workable by Tweetchat. Tweetdeck which filters my tweets so that I can easily keep up up with hundreds of messages every day is important – especially giving me virtual access to gatherings I am not able to participate in by using the #tag back channel facility.

·        Skype – where the ability to talk almost for free “face to face” but globally and at the same time to be able to make a written record of “conversations” again makes connections easy and fast. Recorded conversation and written records enable fast development of documents afterwards

·        Blogs – my own and those of others who I track.  I use Blogger for my own blog because I am a novice in the field and it is a simple space in which to work.  Why blogs?  They enable me to set down and share my thinking and to get feedback from others. I try to do the same with the blogs I read – provide comment and glean ideas.

·        Webinars remain an important part of my work, particularly those in which there is the ability for participants to interact.  Those that don’t I find to be frustrating in the same way that I cannot now sit through talk and chalk sessions.  Non-interactive webinars are only an electronic version of talk and chalk.

·        For filtering I use Google Chrome because it is easy to have a number of tabs running and updating simultaneously.  I also benefit from curating tools such as Summify that provide valuable pointers to material I need to become aware of.

·        Diigo is providing me with an excellent way of capturing, indexing and retrieval for a personal library

·        Yammer has become a very important part of my life. My example is the Social learning Community ( ), created in March 2011, now with about 1000 members all concerned with aspects of exploring and applying social learning in the workplace and in academia.  It has become an immense resource bank of content and contacts – and is itself both a tool for research and as an information warehouse.

·        YouTube has a place in my learning tools armoury – I search and watch but at this point am neither skilled enough nor brave enough to capture and upload. 

There are of course other programmes, suites and platforms that I use or of which I am a member in one place or another but the ones above are those that I am finding particularly useful. 

I have a list that I need to get to – either to learn how to use because I can conceptually see their value but have not yet experienced (Google Docs, SlideShare etc).  There are yet others that are too new for me with my range of interests to want to explore until they are more defined in their utility and benefits (Google+). 

Finally there are some I will not use because I am unconvinced about something in their ethics, governance etc.  These will remain un-named! 

So what are your tools – please find the time to go to Jane’s research site ( ) and give your information.  Surveys like this are incredibly valuable in keeping us all up to date with both trends and new developments – and scanning the list may provide a few ideas too…..

And by the way - please comment but don't attack my selection - these are my best tools at the moment - and I am entitled to my choice! 

PS Just the act of listing my best tools has been useful in causing me to reflect on the kinds of tools I find useful.  I hope it will do the same for you!

1 comment:

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