I’m excited to participate this year, once again, in Jane Hart’s Top Tools 4 Learning. It is the 15th time she has conducted the survey. In more recent years, Jane asked us to separate our list of ten tools into the following three contexts:
- Personal Learning
- Workplace Learning
She then lists the top 200 results across all of the categories, as well as listing a top 100 for each category.
Not surprisingly, I didn’t participate last year. But I do have blog posts for the following years:
- 2019 Top Tools for Learning
- 2018 Top Tools for Learning
- 2017 Top Tools for Learning
- 2016 Top Tools for Learning
- 2015 Top Tools for Learning
As a person who enjoys it when I have a long streak of something going, I also want to be gentle with myself regarding what it has been like to attempt to keep even the simplest of things going during a pandemic. I avoid looking back at my own Top Tools for Learning prior posts, as well as Jane Hart’s listings, until after I have written the current year’s post. That way, I avoid biasing myself, given all the great tools there are to support our learning.
Top Ten Tools for Learning
Below, I present to you my 2021 list (which hopefully can make up for my lack of a list in 2020). In no particular order, the following are my Top Ten Tools for Learning:
Raindrop.io | Personal Learning | Digital bookmarking tool | Having the ability to save links and be able to easily resurface them later on is essential to my Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) system.
Overcast | Personal Learning | Podcast catcher | Despite not having as much time during the pandemic for podcast listening, I still treasure those episodes that I am able to consume. The reason I use Overcast is due to it’s smart speed function (set how fast you want to listen to particular podcasts and it keeps that setting saved) and the ability to share clips of episodes easily.
Twitter | Personal Learning | Microblogging + social media network | On Episode 53 of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast, Peter Newbury explained his method for who to follow on Twitter in that he connects with people who are like him, along with people who are not like him. I have carried that advice with me since that conversation in 2015 and have benefitted richly from it.
Readwise | Personal Learning | Digital reading highlights manager | Have you ever gone to purchase a book, only to have the book seller’s website tell you that you had already bought it? Have you ever went to read a book, only to discover you read it years ago? Readwise helps resurface the highlights that you have saved from a number of digital sources. You can save highlights from Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Instapaper, PDF documents, Inoreader, Evernote, and a whole lot of other services. Their tagline explains the functionality well: “Readwise helps thousands of readers get the most out of their digital highlights.”
Inoreader | Personal Learning | RSS feed aggregator | Rather than trying to remember to visit every website that might have information that is relevant to me, I use RSS (real simple syndication) to subscribe to various feeds, so all the information comes into one place. Inoreader is an RSS aggregator (meaning it “collects” all the things I want to subscribe to and keeps track of what I have read and what remains unread). To read my RSS feeds, I prefer to use Unread. When reading RSS feeds using the Unread app on my iPad, I can browse articles and mark things as read using only my thumb.
Zoom | Education | Web conferencing | While there are other web conferencing tools that attempt to ‘catch up’ with Zoom on a sustained basis, I still have found no other tool that comes even close. Zoom is easy to get started with, handles lower bandwidth situations with ease, and continues to innovate without allowing their usability to diminish.
Canva | Workplace Learning | Graphic design creator | I have two different Canva Pro accounts (personal and work), because it has that much benefit. For each context, I can have our various logos, color scheme(s), and photos/graphics uploaded and saved.
Blubrry | Workplace Learning | Podcast hosting | If you want to have a podcast that goes out to be listed among the various platforms/services, you will need a podcast hosting company. Teaching in Higher Ed has been a part of my life since June of 2014 and has contributed more to my learning than any single other effort I’ve undertaken since then.
Google Jamboard | Education | Collaborative sticky notes and simple drawings/text | Whenever I’m with a group of people, I can invite them to “join” me on Google Jamboard to collaborate by adding sticky notes, text, and simple shapes to a shared canvas.
Loom | Education | Screencasting | I use Loom in my teaching, work, and personal lives multiple times a day. When I have a quick thing I want to “show” someone, I can record my screen quickly and copy a link to the resulting video with a single click. I can also include my web cam and do a video with something on my screen, or just the camera, alone.
Would you like to submit a vote with your Top Tools for Learning? You can fill out a form, write a blog post, or even share your picks on Twitter. The 2021 voting will continue through Thursday, August 26 and the results will be posted by Wednesday, September 1.