Top 10 Tools for Learning 2008

I was recently invited by Jane Hart, Head of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies in UK, to share my Top 10 Tools for Learning with her. Jane has done an excellent job of compiling the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2007 which provides a very useful information for learning professionals. Currently, she is updating the list by inviting the learning professionals worldwide to submit their Top 10 Tools to help her compile the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008. Below are my Top 10 Tools for Learning 2008 submitted to Jane today.

1. Firefox. My favorite browser. It is customizable with a great collection of extensions, plug-ins and add-ons. It is fast and more secure way to surf the Web.

2. WordPress. A great open-source software for creating blogs. I use WordPress for my blog which is hosted by WordPress.com for free. WordPress provides a variety of attractive themes, plug-ins, and widgets.

3. Slideshare. A fantastic Web 2.0 tool that lets students and instructors to upload their presentations and share them online through a YouTube-like interface. Also, it is a good place to discover presentations and slideshows from others.

4. Ning. An excellent online service where I create and customize my own Social Network for students in my classes. Ning has customizable themes and templates. Also, it offers a public or private option.

5. Wetpaint. A great place to create a free wiki that can be a private or public site. Wetpaint Education Wikis are Ad-free for teachers and students.

6. Google Docs. A web-based word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation program that makes collaboration more efficient. It is a free online creation tool which is great for teachers and students. Also, Google Docs allows mobile access.

7. del.icio.us. A social bookmarking site that allows me to store bookmarks on the Web instead of inside my Web browser. Also, I use del.icio.us to share bookmarks with students, colleagues, friends, family, and the del.icio.us community.

8. Camtasia. A powerful screencasting software that I use frequently to create instructional videos for my students. Camtasia allows screen recordings, audio, voice narration, PowerPoint, Picture-in-Picture and webcam video. Also, I can edit and enhance my video with callouts, titles, credits, zooming, panning, quizzes and additional audio tracks.

9. VoiceThread. A Web-based digital-storytelling application that enables me to share my stories or slideshows through audio, images, videos, or text with others online. VoiceThread allows visitors to make comments on my stories or slideshows in: voice with a microphone, voice with telephone, text, audio file, and video with a webcam. I have used the VoiceThread as an online discussion tool in my class and it works quite well.

10. Skype. A great telecommunication tool that lets me use my own PC to make free voice-over-Internet and video calls to my students and colleagues (who are the Skype users as well) anywhere in the world.

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About Steve Yuen

I am a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States.
This entry was posted in E-Learning, Open Source, Software Tools, Web 2.0 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Top 10 Tools for Learning 2008

  1. joe bruzzese says:

    Steve, your list captures it all. Voicethread tops my list of amazing tools. This coming week I will introduce the program as well as a few others from your list, to the students in my undergrad, “Teaching with Technology” course. My best to you in the week ahead. Keep those posts coming.
    Regards,
    Joe Bruzzese

  2. Travis says:

    Hi Steve! Good list. My favorite is Google Docs. It makes group writing assignments so much easier! Some teachers have found Mixbook.com as a good learning tool. Its an online application that allows you to create books complete with photos and text. One teacher is having all of her college students keep a journal using Mixbook. I think you should check it out!

    -Travis

  3. James M. Thompson says:

    As a first semester IT minor student, I am interested in learning the current technological tools that can enhance my knowledge. Therefore, I have found this article to be quite interesting. In order to be highly proficient at technology, you must use it almost every day. As having any other types of skills, if you do not use it on a routine basis, then you are bound to lose it. On the other hand, the tools that are presented on this list are fairly simple to use. Another great advantage is the no cost for using the tools. Furthermore, they are great to use in both personal and professional settings. For instance, I have taken advantage of WordPress and actually enjoyed setting up my site. It is an opportunity for me to discuss a particular topic and post my response. My viewers can read my posting and either posts their comments, questions, criticisms, and so forth.

    Wetpaint is another tool that I thoroughly enjoyed using in collaboration with a fellow IT major student. We designed a site specifically for graduate students at Southern Miss who want to explore what Hattiesburg has to offer and to take a break from their studies. It was so much fun constructing this site because if I wanted to find information on a specific beach, I would just have to post my questions and wait until a viewer contributes his or her comments. Last but not least, I would like to write my thoughts regarding Sype. I am quite familiar with this tool. In fact, I used this tool a couple of years ago in order to avoid long distance fees and cellular phone overage. It is great for anyone on a limited budget that does not want to be charge for making long distance calls.

  4. Lou Ellen says:

    This blog is great! Being in the IT 780 class, and having many assignments on some of these sites, I feel that I can truly see why some of these are on your Top Ten List. After looking over the Top 100 List, I had to add several to my “look into it more” list. It is a wonderful resource to have for many situations. Firefox is a terrific browser, and was number one on both lists. After using WordPress, I like how user friendly it is. I’ve played around other blogs before, but I enjoy the features on WordPress better than others. Slideshare is a new one for me, but I am enjoying the search option. Ning has really grown on me. I was on Myspace and on Facebook, so Ning was a fresh idea for me. I am just beginning my own Ning based on my family, and even though they are not the most technologically advanced people, they are excited about communicating with each other. Working on Wetpaint was different for me. The experience was interesting and a neat concept, but I’m not sure that I’m fully ready to commit to it yet. Some of the others that you mentioned, I am just beginning to browse around and use. But I agree with the Top 100 List on Google and Audacity. Both of those have been terrific for me both professionally and personally. The list could go on and on. I am thrilled to have this list and I am slowly, but surely going through these to see which ones will work best for me.

  5. guoqiangcui says:

    This is my first semester here as a graduate student. To be honest, when I first read the posting at the beginning of the term, I don’t have any feeling towards it. By now, almost all of the tools mentioned in the above article are so familiar and actually, I have used most of them either from the course or some other online learning materials. The learning tools are indeed quite necessary in the teaching and learning process and they have played a great role in helping and facilitating teaching.

    Firefox is indeed a very popular browser and the producers update the firefox in such a fast speed and sometimes I think it really worthwhile the time to learn in depth about all the functions, plug-ins and add-ons. It makes the online experience easy and secure. But recently, I began to use the Safari browser. Though it is produced and mainly aimed at the Apple computers, you can still download it and use it in your own Microsoft computers. The connection is quite fast and it is so easy to use. You can also adjust the font size and style you want. The other great reason I like it is that it has really beautiful and elegant interface and I am sure you will like it the moment you use it.

    We actually have learned most of the other tools mentioned here and they are indeed useful in my learning experience. I am also greatly expecting to join the workshop of Camtasia. I know it is a screencasting software that is quite useful and helpful in producing the video tutorials for some software and other tools.

  6. Christopher Tisdale says:

    I totally agree that these are the top 10 tools for learning in 2008. After being exposed to different tools in IT780, I have incorporated the majority of these tools into my classroom.

    Firefox has become really popular, and I am going to inquire about having that web browser installed in my lab. I’ve spoken with several business teachers and others, and most of them talk about how amazing Firefox is as a web browser. WordPress is a great website for students to share their ideas on topics, and it could also be used as a class website. I have posted several topics on my blog, and my students enjoy writing their opinions and sharing their ideas on a topic. They enjoy reading and responding to others’ opinions on different issues; incorporating blogs into my classroom was the best thing I could have ever done. My students use this blog to evaluate my instruction, which is very helpful. Also, from using blogs in my classroom, I have seen an improvement in student grades. Another tool I use in my classroom is Wetpaint, which is very good for creating a class website. I am still in the process of working on my class website, but I think my students will enjoy using wikis after completion of my wiki. My Ning website was created for my friends and family where we could share different types of recipes, which I just started last week, but it is slowly growing. Creating a Ning website is a great learning exercise in the classroom; unfortunately, at the secondary level the school district recognizes this website as being similar to MySpace and Facebook, which are blocked due to containing inappropriate material. I am also incorporating SlideShare and VoiceThread into my classroom as I become more experienced with using these applications.

    I noticed that these are top 10 tools for learning, but in order to use them effectively one must use them every day, because what is learned will be easily forgotten without practice.

  7. Tim Bryant says:

    Great tools, I am revisiting many of them now. I must admit that I didn’t use del.icio.us much, but I find myself quickly tagging sites to keep up with them. The bookmark system in most browsers is just too weak when you get down to it.

    WordPress as well, I had let my blog sit there for quite a while, but this class has me dusting it off and really trying to use it for something more than just a few rants.

  8. Andrea Howard says:

    After taking both of your classes (IT 755 and IT 780) this semester, we have used most of these sites for our assignments and they have proven to be great resources for the assignments you have given us. The are all so user friendly and allow you to create your basic desired works relatively quickly. Of course, you could invest more time in the sites and add more “bells and whistles” to your projects, but for the most part, anyone who is looking to create something basic and functional, most of these sites will do the trick. Firefox is too my favorite web browser and I swear by it. I find it to be more compatible when using javascripts and sites that require certificate verification for access. I will pass this information on to my fellow teachers and administrators.

  9. 陳旭能 says:

    關於阮老師於本文中所提之十項網路學習工具,我所服務之單位雖非學校教育類別,但亦有部份已應用於企業體之教育訓練部門。其中如:
    Firefox、Slideshare. . VoiceThread與Skype等等;其中在訓練部門所開發之內部網頁中,有關具動畫影音等之教案、教材,訓練企劃單位亦均使用此類工具進行製作與編輯、發佈。尤其在屬流通連鎖店舖經營業態部份,由於從業人員分佈全國各據點,集中訓練甚為困難,故多年前即開始利用各項網路資源發展遠距教學。即使是全省性會議或講座課程,初期亦曾以Skype配合視訊系統進行簡單型之「視訊會議或訓練」作為提升時間效率性與節省差旅成本之管道。
    不過,以資訊網路方式進行企業訓練目前仍有其須解決之問題;其中最迫切者乃在於「線上認證」之可信度問題。從業人員於透過遠距教學系統完成學習後,在最後測驗認證階段如何確保弊端之防治—如應考時參考答案資料之防止,以及應考者身分之辨識等,均是企業推動遠距教學尚待解決之課題。

  10. 陳旭能 says:

    關於阮老師於本文中所提之十項網路學習工具,我所服務之單位雖非學校教育類別,但亦有部份已應用於企業體之教育訓練部門。其中如:
    Firefox、Slideshare. . VoiceThread與Skype等等;其中在訓練部門所開發之內部網頁中,有關具動畫影音等之教案、教材,訓練企劃單位亦均使用此類工具進行製作與編輯、發佈。尤其在屬流通連鎖店舖經營業態部份,由於從業人員分佈全國各據點,集中訓練甚為困難,故多年前即開始利用各項網路資源發展遠距教學。即使是全省性會議或講座課程,初期亦曾以Skype配合視訊系統進行簡單型之「視訊會議或訓練」作為提升時間效率性與節省差旅成本之管道。
    不過,以資訊網路方式進行企業訓練目前仍有其須解決之問題;其中最迫切者乃在於「線上認證」之可信度問題。從業人員於透過遠距教學系統完成學習後,在最後測驗認證階段如何確保弊端之防治—如應考時參考答案資料之防止,以及應考者身分之辨識等,均是企業推動遠距教學尚待解決之課題。

  11. 林學志 says:

    老師您好
    我是高師大工教博士班學生 林學志

    閱讀完此文章後,我認為要當一個現代的科技人,科技素養的具備,媒體工具的運用與資訊的分析三者都是非常重要的,所以對於目前科技工具的運用,我的想法是,應當妥善運用智慧,並顧及人、事、時、地、物、以作出適當且切合需求的科技選用。

    這十項媒體工具中,我常用的有六項,而其中我個人最喜好NING與WETPAINT
    ※NING可協助我建構完整的網路社群,其中所包含的功能眾多,如:個人網頁、討論版、BLOG、團隊成員、影片與圖片集等等。
    ※WETPAINT,其具備WIKI平台的多重編輯的功能,可協助團隊與我的互相學習;個人認為博士班的學習,主要為哲學思辨,而個人WIKI平台的建置則可以協助我進行多重探討與哲學辨證的探討,以協助我於博士班期間的學習。

    我的網路社群NING
    http://linhsiaochih.ning.com/
    我的WIKI知識建構平台
    http://conan-music.wetpaint.com/
    請參考 謝謝

  12. 林學志 says:

    老師您好
    我是高師大工教博士班學生 林學志

    閱讀完此文章後,我認為要當一個現代的科技人,科技素養的具備,媒體工具的運用與資訊的分析三者都是非常重要的,所以對於目前科技工具的運用,我的想法是,應當妥善運用智慧,並顧及人、事、時、地、物、以作出適當且切合需求的科技選用。

    這十項媒體工具中,我常用的有六項,而其中我個人最喜好NING與WETPAINT
    ※NING可協助我建構完整的網路社群,其中所包含的功能眾多,如:個人網頁、討論版、BLOG、團隊成員、影片與圖片集等等。
    ※WETPAINT,其具備WIKI平台的多重編輯的功能,可協助團隊與我的互相學習;個人認為博士班的學習,主要為哲學思辨,而個人WIKI平台的建置則可以協助我進行多重探討與哲學辨證的探討,以協助我於博士班期間的學習。

    我的網路社群NING
    http://linhsiaochih.ning.com/
    我的WIKI知識建構平台
    http://conan-music.wetpaint.com/
    請參考 謝謝

  13. 這學期對我而言,非常新奇、興奮,修了阮老師的課之後,老師所列之Top 10 Tools for Learning 2008,真的是提供我們網路學習非常好的工具清單,這是之前完全沒有的經驗。我從阮老師這邊學到Slideshare、Ning、Wetpaint、Wordpress等網路學習工具,從上述工具我可以輕鬆和大家分享投影片,學到製作我自己的社群、wiki,這是一個完全新的開始及收穫滿籮筐,這些工具已經流傳一陣時間了,也在教育學習、企業和商業已經運用非常廣泛、流行及便利。
    剛開始學的時候,因不熟所以感到非常生澀,但是慢慢每天上網瀏覽、做老師派的作業練習、漸漸做有點熟悉之後,自己覺得說還不賴,也不是那麼困難,有道是「熟能生巧」。
    我想Ning和Wordpress是我最喜歡的,也對我幫助很大,我學了之後,我想以後我會運用在我個人博士班學習歷程的建立、在我職場HRM(人力資源管理)上建立教職員工教育訓練平台社群,以及在我教學上與學生互動的學習社群,使得教育訓練與學習能夠更便利、公開及有效。也期盼能從阮教授這邊在學到更多知識與技能,對於未來學術研究與工作職場均有相當大的幫助。
    在台灣還不是很普遍,如果要推廣普及,我想教育訓練非常重要,要讓大家都熟悉,如此才能達到資訊科技社會的要求。

  14. 這學期對我而言,非常新奇、興奮,修了阮老師的課之後,老師所列之Top 10 Tools for Learning 2008,真的是提供我們網路學習非常好的工具清單,這是之前完全沒有的經驗。我從阮老師這邊學到Slideshare、Ning、Wetpaint、Wordpress等網路學習工具,從上述工具我可以輕鬆和大家分享投影片,學到製作我自己的社群、wiki,這是一個完全新的開始及收穫滿籮筐,這些工具已經流傳一陣時間了,也在教育學習、企業和商業已經運用非常廣泛、流行及便利。
    剛開始學的時候,因不熟所以感到非常生澀,但是慢慢每天上網瀏覽、做老師派的作業練習、漸漸做有點熟悉之後,自己覺得說還不賴,也不是那麼困難,有道是「熟能生巧」。
    我想Ning和Wordpress是我最喜歡的,也對我幫助很大,我學了之後,我想以後我會運用在我個人博士班學習歷程的建立、在我職場HRM(人力資源管理)上建立教職員工教育訓練平台社群,以及在我教學上與學生互動的學習社群,使得教育訓練與學習能夠更便利、公開及有效。也期盼能從阮教授這邊在學到更多知識與技能,對於未來學術研究與工作職場均有相當大的幫助。
    在台灣還不是很普遍,如果要推廣普及,我想教育訓練非常重要,要讓大家都熟悉,如此才能達到資訊科技社會的要求。

  15. 莊明廣 says:

    「工欲善其事,必先利其器」雖然我一直在接觸教育科技相關工作,也頗有一些心得,但這一學期上了老師的課之後,嘗試操作老師所介紹的相關工具軟體,發現科技進步的速度真是太快了,只要一有怠惰便會跟不上腳步,況且,老師還說,這些工具都是2007發展的。

    之前都有一個錯誤的觀念,對於一樣新興的科技工具,總是會有一個先入為主的觀念,將之拿來與現有的比較,然後給予很多的批評,而不肯好好地應用看看,最後的結果常是束之高閣。但是,更要不得的是,總以為這樣就算是對新科技的了解了。老師在課堂上一直不斷地強調我們要用,要實際去用才會有所體驗,上述的10項工具,在老師的鼓勵之下,我算算也試用8樣,如此一段時間下來,才有了一番新的領悟。要透過實地的使用,才會找出新的方法,也才能真正應用在教學上,如此的應用也才能發揮功效,而不是為了科技而科技的白忙一場,最後累翻了也達不到應有的效果。

    這10項top的工具各有不同的功用,老師的文章裡有了說明,我不在多加說明,我想說的是應用工具時要有核心思想,才不會被工具給制約了,也就是說我們在接觸新科技時,常容易犯的的毛病是誤用科技或是陷入迷思,最後的結果,可能是花了一堆錢、一堆時間而達不到我們想要的效果,尤其是一個單位的領導者,更需謹慎。

    換句話來說,就是先秉除既有的觀念,用比較客觀的角度去探索新的工具、軟體,了解他的功能改變、新的設計理念、新的優勢條件等,再來思考,如果我想應用在教育現場,該怎麼運用?這是一個課題。
    另一個課題是從課程著手,我們在和教師討論課程設計時,先知道學生的先備知識以及我們的教學目標,然後再思考,如果在某些地方運用科技工具時,會有什麼變化,會不會更快達會我們要的教學目標呢?工具的誤用和迷思是我們必須避免的。

  16. 莊明廣 says:

    「工欲善其事,必先利其器」雖然我一直在接觸教育科技相關工作,也頗有一些心得,但這一學期上了老師的課之後,嘗試操作老師所介紹的相關工具軟體,發現科技進步的速度真是太快了,只要一有怠惰便會跟不上腳步,況且,老師還說,這些工具都是2007發展的。

    之前都有一個錯誤的觀念,對於一樣新興的科技工具,總是會有一個先入為主的觀念,將之拿來與現有的比較,然後給予很多的批評,而不肯好好地應用看看,最後的結果常是束之高閣。但是,更要不得的是,總以為這樣就算是對新科技的了解了。老師在課堂上一直不斷地強調我們要用,要實際去用才會有所體驗,上述的10項工具,在老師的鼓勵之下,我算算也試用8樣,如此一段時間下來,才有了一番新的領悟。要透過實地的使用,才會找出新的方法,也才能真正應用在教學上,如此的應用也才能發揮功效,而不是為了科技而科技的白忙一場,最後累翻了也達不到應有的效果。

    這10項top的工具各有不同的功用,老師的文章裡有了說明,我不在多加說明,我想說的是應用工具時要有核心思想,才不會被工具給制約了,也就是說我們在接觸新科技時,常容易犯的的毛病是誤用科技或是陷入迷思,最後的結果,可能是花了一堆錢、一堆時間而達不到我們想要的效果,尤其是一個單位的領導者,更需謹慎。

    換句話來說,就是先秉除既有的觀念,用比較客觀的角度去探索新的工具、軟體,了解他的功能改變、新的設計理念、新的優勢條件等,再來思考,如果我想應用在教育現場,該怎麼運用?這是一個課題。
    另一個課題是從課程著手,我們在和教師討論課程設計時,先知道學生的先備知識以及我們的教學目標,然後再思考,如果在某些地方運用科技工具時,會有什麼變化,會不會更快達會我們要的教學目標呢?工具的誤用和迷思是我們必須避免的。

  17. Dane Conrad says:

    Okay, we are now over two years later and the items listed here might still be the same with maybe just one or two exceptions. Isn’t that interesting? It is to me in that it reveals a myth that we (at least me) live under – that the Internet and its innovation isn’t happening as fast in education as in general, public use. I would guess that Twitter might make its way into the list now and maybe Diigo might be exchange with Delicious but for the most part the top ten then are still very much the “go to” applications or resources for teachers in their classrooms. We have even noticed this slow down in MECA presentations. Very many of the same topics have been repeated over the last year or so with very little breakthrough “new” applications.

    So, why the stagnation, I wonder? It would seem to me that location-based and GPS-data related applications and services are the rage currently but not being leveraged in school systems in innovative ways . . . yet. Maybe augmented reality will make the next big splash in the educational space as students could walk down a historic street with a camera-enabled mobile device and be able to hold it up and “see” all the interesting factoids “pop” upon the screen (sorta like the old VH1 Pop-up music videos.) What about the textbook industry being revolutionized away from paper-based products to mobile device delivery in way that is drastically cheaper – as it should be?

    I don’t know but I am about ready for something big.

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