I just revisited Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning 2022 link. It is a testament to the importance of Jane’s hard work: over 2500 people “reacted” to her sharing, more than 171 left comments, and almost 500 individuals shared it – within a week!
I have used the results of Jane’s surveys for over 15 years as a professor, consultant, and continuous learner. It is amusing to see how my technological tool needs and ways of learning have changed over the years. Each year I would ask myself these questions:
- Which of these tools will enhance my research and my communication capabilities?
- Which tools do I want all my students to know how to use? (Which, on the other hand, are better suited for my advanced research assistants?)
- Which of these tools will be around in four years?
- Which tools serve me best when I am engaged in my role as a partner of Schneider Consulting?
- Among subsets of tool types, which best serve my needs?
- How much learning time do my students or I need to invest to use these tools?
- How portable are these tools across the browsers I most frequently use?
- How portable are these tools across the hardware and operating systems I most frequently use?
- How much of the attractiveness of these tools to me is simply due to their “wow factor” and the fun they engender?
- Will mastering this tool increase my likelihood of becoming a more effective teacher, a better consultant or enhance my learning ability?
I’ve written numerous blog posts about the tremendous value I find from Jane Hart’s annual identifying top learning tools. I have unbridled admiration and respect for her vision, willingness to share, and thought-provoking ideas. As I wound up (or wound down) my teaching career, I intentionally concerted effort to use things learned from Jane (directly or indirectly). Thank you, Comrade and Mentor, across the Pond!
- I incorporated into my Experimental Social Psychology class the use of a Ning.
- Jane influenced (favorably) my extra-classroom university academic life (e.g., I maintained alumni contacts through LinkedIn and by cross-posting my WordPress blogs across Facebook and Twitter.
- Jane’s influence transformed the way I conducted my committee work (e.g., I began a Planning and Budget Committee meeting, which I co-chaired with a ScreenFlow screencast that explained to colleagues how to access budget and planning information).
- Jane transformed my daily interaction with my student research assistants, who pilot-tested all tools on Jane’s list annually. These research assistants revitalized me with their intelligence, playfulness, eagerness to learn, and youth.
I first discovered Jane’s work when I was writing a blog for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One of my readers indicated that she’d like to see more of my observations on technology tools for facilitating learning. I thought I’d share my experiences with the devices identified in Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning. I have mixed feelings about such lists, where an agency may get a high ranking merely because it is well-known to the users rather than for its merits relative to similar devices. However, I have the highest admiration for Jane Hart (who dumbfounds me with the rapidity and graciousness of her responses to my emails across the years and the ocean).
Her Top 25 Tools informed what and how I taught a freshman seminar in 2008. Her work introduced me to a diverse range of learning professionals. I am chary of embracing a tool just because others endorse it since that endorsement may be irrelevant to my learning and teaching needs. Still, I want to be an “agile teacher-learner” where such agility increases my effectiveness.
Here are my December 2009 thoughts and experiences after two years of experimenting with the tools endorsed by Jane’s list of learning professionals.
- Twitter (Why I don’t give a Twit). My present students have found little value in using Twitter (they fail to see differences between it and the update function of Facebook). I read two books about it, consulted with three Carroll alumni who did use it (Thanks, Chris G., Lori S., and Fred K.) and thought about others’ Twitter experiences described in publications I read and value. Since I have no particular interest in having “followers,” and I have been annoyed too often by come-ons from pornographic purveyors in the guise of potential followers, I presently see no value for Twitter in serving my teaching and learning needs.
Del.icio.us (Much more to my taste.) Though many similar social bookmarking tools are available, my students (including my 2009 Red Hot Researchers Group) found this helpful tool. My latency in using it more and better has probably been my not being used to SHARING bibliographies and my concerns about quality control of shared information.
- YouTube (Is it time for Curious David to Go Video?). Without a doubt, this tool has played a significant role during the past two years in enhancing my lectures with both timely, classic, and merely entertaining ancillary materials. I have found less value in the sections “dedicated” to education than in other areas. I can easily see my using this tool to enhance my courses’ international components and “publish” some of my own material currently under development.
- GoogleReader (“Kindling” my interests in many—too many— directions.) So much to read; so little time. At least an aggregator such as this imposes some structure filter/order on electronic information flow—a tool I need to better use—and plan to.
- GoogleDocs (What’s up, Docs?).
- WordPress (Making the Writer’s Choice). I still prefer Typepad ( and, knowing that I have at least a readership of 3, I’ll renew my account in January!
- Slideshare (PowerPoint on Steroids?) I’m still failing to find value in producing things with this tool, but that no doubt reflects my animadversion to PP.
- Google Search (But is Google making us Smarter, More Agile, or More Stupid?). I use this tool repeatedly but could use it far more wisely by mastering its intricacies.
- Audacity (a Sound Choice), but I am experimenting with others —stay tuned for CuriousDavidTunes–and
- Firefox. (Extending the Utility of Browsers—But look out, here comes Google Chrome)