C4LPT (Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies), run by Jane Hart, is taking votes for their annual Top 100 Tools for Learning. This is the fifth time they'll be compiling the list, and voting closes on Sunday 13th Nov. To be honest, I've never participated in their previous compilations, nor, for that matter, in any other such lists run by others. There are so many so-called tech tools for learning, that one just becomes overwhelmed, and, furthermore, it's an area that doesn't remain static. Free sites may start to charge, software disappears, but for each that dies, 5 more are born, so if you don't keep abreast of the situation, you will simply lag too far behind.
I decided to participate in this year's compilation, but I had to think long and hard for my list. My criteria may be different to that of others, though. I thought to myself, which tools are imperative to my needs? Which would cause me the worst hardship were they to be removed? Which tools do I use, day in, day out? I'm sure some of these on my list would not appear on the list of others because they're simply so taken for granted that they're no longer considered a tech tool as such!
Here are my choices, in no particular order.
- Gmail: I've been using this since their beta days, and it's just revolutionised the way I manage my emails. Without Gmail, I don't think I'd have subscribed to so many sites, and I certainly wouldn't have been able to archive so much mail.
- Twitter: At first, I didn't understand what the fuss was about. Who wants to know about who you're having coffee with or how many miles you've run? Who has time to read a constant barrage of 140-character snippets? This was until I decided to take a look at...
- Tweetdeck, and when I found out that there are so many people who are using it not so much for social but for professional purposes, and when I learn about hashtags and such, I became hooked. Incidentally, Tweetdeck has been bought by Twitter a few months ago.
- Blogger: I've seen the other platforms, and I even have two wordpress blogs, but blogger makes it to my list because of its user-friendliness and versatility. Handling widgets is a piece of cake, and even if your knowledge of HTML is null, you'll be able to get a blog up and running in no time. Wordpress, on the other hand, gets to be such a pain, sometimes. It doesn't accept iframe code, and even putting line spaces in your post becomes an art form.
- Google Docs: I'm using this more and more, especially for written work. I hardly use paper if I can avoid it, and how many students do you know file their compositions systematically and refer back to them? Using Google Docs, they can access their past work much more easily, they can quick search for words or expressions, and if teachers use the comments feature to provide feedback, they are there for the students to refer to as and when required.
- Scoop It: This is my latest 'toy'. I use it as a sort of bookmarking tool. With so much information available, it's hard to keep track of it. You know how it is - you come across something that is interesting, but you either have no time to study it or it isn't something that is of use now, but might be for later, so you want to save it. Bookmark it? Only to forget, months later, that you had it bookmarked? I was never fond of Diigo, and although I have stuff in Livebinders, I find I hardly refer to them. ScoopIt is fast and its layout makes it easier to find what I'm looking for, and, if you share your scoops, you'll help others find what they're looking for, too. The Internet is all about give and take! Have a look at some of my ScoopIts: Why Twitter for Teachers, or Grammar Exercises.
- PowerPoint: Relatively easy to manage, and it's improved a lot since its inception. I don't like Prezi, to be honest. Sorry!
- Google Search: How did we find information before Google? Can you imagine life without Google Search? A lifesaver in many occasions. The world at our fingertips, literally.
- Wikipedia: Encyclopaedia for the masses. Fundamental.
- Audacity: A basic (and, importantly, free) sound editing tool which I use quite a bit.