E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Top 10 Tools for Learning 2016

Gran Canaria - Charca Maspalomas

Every year, and for the last 10 years, which is a huge achievement in this day and age, if you ask me, Jane Hart puts together this wonderful list of Top 100 Tools for Learning, where she encourages everyone to fill in a form, or tweet further along, or even create your own blog post, where you’d be listing your Top 10 Tools for Learning, indicating whether each of those tools would be fitting in under the following categories: 

  1. Top 100 Tools for Education – for use in schools, colleges, universities, adult ed 
  2. Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning – for use in training, for performance support, social collaboration, etc.
  3. Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning – for self-organised learning

Now, I guess it’s never too late to dive in into such an interesting exercise that would definitely help you question how you learn, at work or in one’s own personal life. I mean, even though Jane has been running this exercise for a decade I think this is the first time I’m chipping in. I suppose better late than never, right?

The voting for this year is well under way and folks can cast their vote(s) till Friday 23rd, September 2016. So I thought for today’s blog post I’d put together my own list and share it further along. I can’t wait to see what that list would be like say, in 5 to 10 years from now, and whether my tools selection I’m sharing across today would differ much over time. Something tells me that a good number of them won’t even have a place anymore in the landscape of options I’d go for to accommodate my learning needs, but we shall see.

Needless to say it’s been a bit of a challenge as well to try to summarise my own Top Tools List for Learning down to just 10, more than anything else, because of how varied and mixed my very own learning needs and wants have become over the course of the last few years. So from the initial list of 40 different tools I eventually came down to the following 10 for 2016, where I have just selected them based purely on learning terms versus other key elements such as productivity, life hacks, curation, content management, etc. etc. 

I have also taken the liberty of adding a brief paragraph for each of the tools themselves to explain a little bit how I use them to help cover my learning needs, but I’m pretty sure that, over the course of time, I will be talking plenty more in detail about each and everyone of them, plus the other 30 I have left behind for now, in order to share across how I, eventually, get work done WHILE I learn, because that’s what matters at the end of the day, doesn’t it? Adapting to living live in perpetual beta, as my good friend, Harold Jarche would say… So here we go: 

Top 10 Tools for Learning 2016

  1. IBM Connections: [ Education and Personal & Professional Learning ]  Like I have blogged just recently, ‘Learning is the Work’, and since IBM Connections is where I spend nowadays vast majority of my time, while working with clients, it would be my number #1 tool for this year. And more than anything else, because, a long time ago, I realised that one of my main sources where my learning comes from is, basically, the clients I work with. They are my main source that keeps feeding my brain on a daily basis and that, thanks to them, plenty of the blog posts you see over here, in this blog, are direct reflections of those key learnings. At one point in time, I believed rather strongly that the moment you stop learning from your clients, that’s the moment that you are in trouble and it’d be a good thing to perhaps move on to better things. IBM Connections becomes then my number #1 Learning tool for 2016.
  2. Twitter: [ Education, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] Coming up, and pretty close, as my number #2 Learning tool, it would be Twitter. And for obvious reasons, specially, after I did a little experiment, which I blogged about under the heading ‘Is Twitter Where Connections Go to Die – The Unfollowing Experiment’. There will be a specific blog post coming up where I will talk more in detail about what has happened in the last year since I embarked in that experiment, but suffice to say that Twitter has become my main Personal Learning Network of choice and for absolutely everything, whether it’s work related, personal, global events, news items, etc. etc. It’s become my main glimpse into the Pulse of the Planet, as I used to call it back in the day. I have always sensed the moment I decide to leave Twitter behind, for whatever the reason(s), that’s the moment a little bit of me will die off as well. It’s become my preferred method of just pure learning, whether work related or not, just for the sake of it, which would probably explain a little bit further along why I’m so picky with it in terms of defining how I would want to use it to get the most out of it outside from the standards and expectations everyone seems to be conforming with.
  3. Slack: [ Education, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] Ok, I realised I haven’t blogged much about Slack per se, unless it’s been in connection with something else, but right now, for 2016, it’s my number #3 learning tool of choice and for multiple reasons… If there is a single word I could utilise to describe my own use of Slack, it would probably be flexibility, more than anything else, because I’m using Slack for work with different project teams, as well as participating in a number of different communities of practice, or of interest, as well as one of my favourite use cases, that one of a personal knowledge hub, but I will blog plenty more about it over the course of time, not to worry. For now though, it’s my number #3 learning tool for this year.
  4. WordPress (blogs): [ Education, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] It’s been powering this blog for over a decade and still going strong! It’s this blog that I have always considered an extension of my own brain, my own reflections, ideas and thoughts, along with experiences, about everything that I learn on a daily basis, so, of course, WordPress had to come up within the Top 5 tools list for learning and, in this case, at number #4. It’s also the main blogging platform that vast majority of the blogs I follow through my blogroll are using at the moment. To me, a non techie, it’s the easiest and most effective blogging platform out there, with a huge community to offer support and learning along the way and, above all, the most effective tool, in the long run, to help your manage your own personal knowledge. That powerful.
  5. Feedly : Education and Personal & Professional Learning ] Since I rely quite heavily on reading and commenting on different blogs, as well as receiving news items from different various Web sources, one learning tool that I just can’t do without, and which, in this case, comes up as number #5, is Feedly, my preferred RSS news feed reader. Yes, I still use RSS feeds and quite a lot! Remember them? From the good old days of the Web 2.0, it’s still very much alive and kicking and, to me, an integral part of my day to day learning activities to keep me in the know about what’s going on with the blogs and Web sites I am subscribed to. I mostly use Feedly on my iOS devices (both iPad Pro and iPhone), but on the Mac I don’t use Feedly, but Reeder, which is also available in iOS, where I’d only use it for when I’m offline for an extended period of time, like being stuck on a plane for several hours on a business trip. The great thing about RSS news feed readers is that there are tons of choices out there, and it’d be just your own personal choice to go for the one that works for you the best, pretty much like you would do with your own Web browser of choice. 
  6. Pocket [ Personal & Professional Learning ]: Coming up as number #6 is one of my all time favourite Apps, accessible via both the regular Web browser and iOS, it’s become an essential application to help me keep up with #longreads, or more in-depth items, I’d want to read and learn from with more pause and while disconnected, taking my time, allowing me to reflect on a deeper level what I am learning about. At the same time, and since not long ago, it acts as a superb tool for curation where you can recommend the best reads you may bump into that you’d want to share across, so your learning becomes everyone’s learning. It’s got a gorgeous user interface making the learning more focused on what you are reading, rather than trying to figure out the tool. Essential for the toread-later fans. 
  7. SkypeEducation, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] I think I may have been using Skype for well over a decade and, despite everything that may have happened throughout all of that time, it still remains within my top 10 list of tools for whatever the purpose. It’s the main learning tool I keep using on a regular basis for both audio and video conferencing, for podcasting, for vodcasting, for reaching out to people (either 1:1 or 1:many), so I can keep up with them and learn what they have been up to and despite other noteworthy efforts, like WhatsApp, Google Plus Hangouts, Blab, Viber, Tango, FaceTime, Zoom, Fuze, WebEx, Vyew, GoToMeeting, etc. etc. (It’s a far too long list already!) Skype is the only one I can continue to use reliably with good quality of both video and audio, and, most importantly, knowing it will always be there, while some others just don’t manage to pick up enough steam and therefore disappear into thin air over time, sadly. 
  8. Instagram / FlickrEducation, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] Back in the day, over 11 years ago, for number #8 I would have selected Flickr as my preferred tool to learn about how people live AND experience life, both on a personal and work levels. But in 2016, while I still use Flickr a fair bit, things have switched and I would now have to go for Instagram. It’s my photoblog where I try to share what I experience during the course of a given week, not just when I’m on the road, traveling, but also while living in Gran Canaria. It’s become my window to show the world a little bit of my world and therefore for me to learn plenty more about everyone’s world. I’m a visual animal and can then spend a fair amount of time learning different tidbits about the different photos people share through my Instagram feed, more than anything as an opportunity to help me cultivate and nurture my own social capital skills, so I can then put them into work when meeting up wonderful folks face to face to talk, share and learn about those mutual experiences of the pictures we share. Yes, I know, you may have noticed I got a thing for Instagram, and I surely do. It’s the only social networking tool from the Dark Social Web (a.k.a. platform monopolists) that I still use on a regular basis to keep me on my toes and remind me why I left that Social Web behind a long while ago (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pulse, Slideshare, Uber, Airbnb, etc. etc.) and why we still have got a long way to go to realise the so-called Web 2.0 spirit in its full potential and reach.
  9. Haiku DeckEducation, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] I am pretty sure that plenty of folks would probably choose between either PowerPoint or Slideshare as one of their preferred Top Tools for Learning in 2016. Perhaps not only for the creation and curation of their own presentations they may have done for a particular conference event, or a client engagement, but also to learn about a whole lot of different topics by curating other people’s decks. Well, in my case, it’s been nearly three years since I last uploaded a presentation into Slideshare and quite a long while ago as well last time I went there to learn about specific subject matter or themes. For the creation of my own presentations, I don’t use PowerPoint either, but rely more on Keynote (Mac & iOS), specially, if offline, but since I’m mostly online when crafting a presentation or learning about other’s presentations I usually resort to Haiku Deck. It’s my preferred learning tool to put together different stories that then, eventually, end up in a presentation and the reason why I heart it quite a bit is because I can always manage to find some stunning visual aids that would go really nice with the story, in a heartbeat, and therefore makes the job of having to find that perfect snap shot painless. That’s why Haiku Deck is my number #9 top tool for learning in 2016. 
  10. YouTubeEducation, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] And, finally, my top tool number #10 would go to YouTube. Yes, I know and realise most of you would be a tad surprised I’ve picked up YouTube as one of my Top Tools for Learning in 2016, but I use it quite frequently, either on my MacBook Air, iPhone or iPad for almost every type of learning aid: whether it’s a podcast, a vodcast, a screencast, a tutorial, a MOOC, a review, a presentation and / or a dissertation, interviews, book reviews, music videos, funny videos, etc. etc. and you name it, YouTube does it for me. And since there is a lovely hack everyone can use to download either the video or just the audio of the clip for offline watching it makes for the perfect companion when being disconnected for a while and having to catch up with a particular presentation, video, podcast / vodcast, etc. Yes, indeed, YouTube makes it into my Top 10 list of learning tools for 2016. 

And that’s a wrap! That’s my list of Top 10 Tools for Learning for 2016. But before I let you all go I wanted to mention, perhaps, how my favourite learning tool this year, and without a doubt, although it doesn’t have much to do with software or a specific service, is a piece of hardware, or, better said, two pieces of hardware: my iPad Pro and my iPhone. Why am I saying that? Well, because for the very first time in a long while 2016 is the year where I have gone mobile with my own learning, regardless of whenever, or wherever I may well be and that’s, probably, as good as it gets as I can now take my own learning where I’d want to, or need to, and not be attached to a specific setting, computing device and what not. Just me and my own learning activities on my own space, the way it should have always been.

How about you? Have you put together your own Top 10 Tools list for Learning for 2016 yet? What are you waiting for?

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