Jane Hart tweeted that her 8th annual survey of learning professionals was out for her Top Tools for Learning 2014. I always find this list interesting and a great resource to share with my students. I regularly use quite a number, and have at least played with all but 18 of the top hundred. Last year’s list is available on her Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies website. I have embedded her slideshow from last year here:
The last time I submitted my top ten tools to her survey was in 2012, so it was interesting to first develop my list for this year and submit it…and then go back and reflect on how this list might have changed from what I submitted in 2012.
What is both interesting and maybe a little alarming for me is how little this list changed in the past two years. The order is a little different, and Google Reader was replaced with Feedly…but the functionality is the same. Facebook dropped off and the iPad was added. Two years ago, I stated:
“…these are my top tools for learning “at the present moment” – but I do see shifts occurring in the next year. I think this is the first year that I have not listed my learning management system (Blackboard) in my top ten, which is pretty telling on its own. My home institution has moved to Google Apps for email and productivity, so potentially I will shift from using Dropbox to Google Drive, which folds in another favorite tool of mine, Google Docs. As we all move to more open platforms and mobile friendly applications, some of the above will evolve as well. I did not list smartphones or tablets in my top ten, but I am increasingly aware of how well my tools work (or do not work) on mobile devices.”
Well…two years have passed… and I have certainly moved beyond Blackboard. I regularly use Google Drive and the associated docs…but continue to think and use Dropbox first. Wherever I go these days, my iPad and iPhone are handy…which I use for note-taking, research, and photos. In fact, the panorama feature of iPhone camera is another favorite.
Reflecting on the evolutionary changes occurring on the web, I think that I have moved beyond “tools” to practices. I do have my second top ten list that I use almost as often as my top ten…
…but it is the practices afforded by the open web that continue to excite me – not the tools. (My grammar colleagues tell me “practice” has no plural…but my mind refuses to accept that…)
By practice, I mean working and learning in the open. The web (and these tools) are no longer separate entities from my work / life experience. I met with some colleagues this morning for coffee, and we were discussing the visit this week by Christina Engelbart of the Doug Engelbart Institute. In many ways, the top 100 tools for learning simply provide evidence of what Doug Engelbart visualized as “augmenting human intellect.” The tools have become as much a part of me as the clothes I wear…and as such, the use seems to have become second nature and unconscious.
That said, I still find value in Jane crowdsourcing the top tools. Seeing what might surface provides new ways of thinking about teaching and learning in a digital age. If you have not done so, join me in voting for your top tools…and let’s see what all of us develop together.