Learning Tools: for the Educator/Teacher

Carrying on from my previous post on “Learning Tools: for the Learner” Jane Hart has produced the following list for the best  tools for learning professionals (in no particular order) to help them create learning solutions:

This is a really good list of some very good tools. And here comes the but … most of these require the educator to be reasonably technically savvy; enough to understand not only how they work but why they would want to use them in the first place. This is the biggest stumbling block I come across when trying to introduce something new to an academic.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the items on the list (even though I’ve not used Moodle or Ning, yet, and have only a passing knowledge of SlideShare and Snagit), but what are the reason I like the list above, and what alternatives are available that are not too technically demanding?

  • Delicious: I tried this about a year ago and gave up; it was either lack of time or I just didn’t want to understand it. I recently tried it again and have really seen the advantage. I often work from several machines (work, home, desktop, laptop, etc) and now I can easily access bookmarks and important links from where ever I choose to work.With a 5 minute introduction to Delicious, any non-technical academic will be perfectly capable to use it; it’s also worth noting that installing a browser add-on helps to add pages you find as you travel the ‘net. Here is my (growing) Delicious list: Delicious / hopkinsdavidm.
  • Twitter:  It is only through Twitter, and the people I follow / my network, that I have found half of the resources and amazing information that has helped shaped the past couple of months of blogging. My only recommendation for Twitter is don’t start using it until you have figured out why you would want to, what do you want to get out of it. This is the biggest obstacle many find, and it is a lack of direction that means people don’t understand it and give up. I am on Twitter as hopkinsdavid.
  • Search Engine: Despite the fact I don’t like Google, I still use it. I often find there are too many directory websites listed in the search results and it takes quite a while to find a good honest web page, but Google is still the biggest and best. I am, however, starting to use the Twitter Search more and more, and it is being reported as the fastest growing search tool on the web!
  • Echo360: If your Institution can handle the set up and installation of the Echo system and server, then this is by far the best lecture capture option I have come across: Echo360
  • Google Chrome: Again, I don’t like Google as a search engine or as a company, but I do like their Chrome browser. It is quick and easy to use, and ‘feels’ quicker than IE or Mozilla/Firefox.
  • Blog: Get yourself a blog and get into the new Social Networking mind-set with your own blog. I use WordPress, but there are others available.
  • Skype: A no-cost option for both colleagues and students to use to contact you, and you can manage when you are online and available. Skype.

If you have any tool you feel is an absolute must for any self-respecting educator/teacher (free or otherwise) then please let us all know by sending your comment in (see below).