Top Tools for Learning

It is that time of the year again. There are lists popping up everywhere. I started reading this last week and it coincided with some discussions about digital tools in other forums at work.

The Jane Hart has compiled her annual list Top Tools for Learning. It is always interesting to note the changes, what is up and what has gone down The Top 100 Tools For Learning 2009  can be found on this page as a list and also as a slide show. This final list (Nov 15th) has been compiled from the Top 10 Tool Contributions of 278 learning professionals worldwide.

View more documents from Jane Hart.

There have been debates about what should be and what is allowed to be used in schools. Recently one principal was asking about what should teachers be allowed to access whilst they are at work. She was basing her question around reports that many workplaces were banning social networking tools. I am disappointed some of the comments made by some educators, teachers and admin people. Many of those who can’t/don’t see the point are those that are not using these tools. They often have not tried to see what others may be doing and also seem to simply think Facebook or Twitter are all there is. They base their ideas around some of the more sensational news media reports without any or very little actual experience of the tools. I cannot believe that any learning (curriculum) decisions based on such limited and weighted information are going to create 21st century learning experiences in schools.

I find that I use many social networking tools to help me with my everyday work. Many times I have been able to obtain answers to my questions, help with problems and notice about interesting articles, events, etc. via twitter or other online devices. My personal learning network has increased amazingly over the past 18 months and I rely on it as one of the key ways to  keep my professional learning/skills up-to-date.

So it was not surprising to me to see Twitter has risen up the ranking. many people I know are now using it but think I was surprised that it is now considered the Top Tool for 2009. Coming third was YouTube, which has risen fifteen places from last year. I know that this tool is used widely by staff and students in my school. Tools new to the list that have become favourites with me and/or others I work with include Wordle (30), Animoto (31), Tweetdeck (43), Glogster (55), Dropbox (71), Flip(simple digital camcorder) (71), and Picnik (71) and Prezi (quite a new tool) is already in 28th place. Social annotating tool Diigo, which has become my main bookmarking and annotating tool, is up to 22 from 35.

The “losers” this year were Delicious (from 1st to 2nd) and Google Reader both moved down one place and Powerpoint (13) moved down 5 places, Firefox (the winner in 2007), Skype and Facebook all went down 7 places, Word is down 14 places and Bloglines down 56 places (12th in 2007, 3oth in 2008 to 86 in 2009) . Interesting also to see  Wikipedia at 17th, .

Most interesting to me is how many of the sites and tools (often included at high places on the list) are on the “blocked list” for many Australian education institutions. Some it, could be argued, were not set up as educational tools and can be easily misused  therefore could be seen as valid exclusions based in but for others it seems that we should/need to come up with other options than just blocking. At my school we cannot use either Skype or Elluminate, both of which have been used with great success in other schools and allowed students and staff valuable real-time learning experiences.

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2 Responses

  1. I am one of those teachers who is teetering on the brink about Twitter and Facebook, not because I think they’re useless tools, but because I just don’t know if I want to have more places to check and manage online! Since I started blogging and regularly reading others’ blogs, my PLN has expanded exponentially and I have learned a tremendous amount from colleagues all over the world. I hope you don’t mind, but I sent your post along to my fellow teachers here at our middle school in Ohio. I think we all have a lot to learn! Thanks for a great post! Stacy

    • No Problems Stacy. Share with anyone you think would be interested.
      I think that we all need to make decisions on what tools suit us/our teaching best. We don’t all have to do use the same tools but we should be aware of the potential of a wide range of tools and certainly be able to make up our own minds – from a knowledgeable base. As teachers we should be able to discuss the merits of any approach and I would hope that we are all aware of our responsibility towards the safety of our students. As you can gather I really don’t agree wih blanket blocking of sites as I would rather teacher my students to be safe and considerate users of all things (digital, web2.0 or not)

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