Creating Learning


I’m following up on my blog post from yesterday (?) on the Top 25 Tool Sets for Learning Professionals.

I appreciate the effort Jane Hart has put in to compile her list over the last three years. And, while her “Top 100 Tools” list is interesting, my favored list is the one she derives from feedback she receives to the Top 100. That is, the 25 Tools: A Toolbox for Learning Professionals list which I wrote about the other day.

So, for Jane: in support of your continuing effort (and, thanks again for doing this, keep it up), here’s my 10 tools contribution. (BTW, for those of you cool folks who follow my antics here and/or on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and you’re in the Learning profession, I’d encourage you to send your feedback to Jane for her compilation. You can find out more info about how to do that on her “Share Your Top 10 Tools” page.

My guidance for favorite 10 tools for learning

In submitting my favorites list below, I’m using the following guideline for “favorite.” That is, a “favorite” tool is one that I use for creating learning for others. And, though I’m also submitting the name of a specific tool on each line item below (because I think that’s asked for), I’m leading with the type of tool that it might be grouped under… (Gah! I’m over-thinking again. Okay, I’ll shut up. Here’s my list.)

1. A tool for storyboarding. For this, I’ll say PowerPoint . It’s easy, I grew up with it, I can use it without thinking about the mechanics of the software.

2. A rapid authoring tool. Articulate (the whole suite).

3. But, because Articulate doesn’t handle branching too well (though it can manage it to a degree), I’ll also add Adobe’s Captivate as my number three pick. That’s mainly for its branching capabilities.

4. A non-linear video editing tool (because I do a lot of that stuff.) Apple’s Final Cut Pro .

5. An audio editor with robust noise filters: Apple’s Soundtrack Pro .

6. Then there are those projects where we need to show how to do something online. For these, a nifty screen capture software/editor is handy: Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio is still my favorite (this year) for the clean codec engine (encoder/decoder) Techsmith has created. (Though, this time next year I may be touting Ambrosia’s Snapz Pro software… it’s a Mac-thing, don’t ask.)

Context is important for learning to take place
Now, here’s the thing. The tools above are those I consider as my favorites for doing “grunt work” creation. That is, in creating the components of the whole learning program, for lack of a better of word at this late hour.

But eventually, those components all have to be served up in a contextual platform. My argument is that it’s the platform, and the context it can help facilitate, is where learning really takes off.

So, in that regard, I think Learning Management Systems, Content Management Systems and (of course) Social Networking Platforms all play a role.

7. Learning Management System: I’ve recently become enthralled with JoomlaLMS .

8. And, because JoomlaLMS requires the Joomla Content Management System to function, I’ll have to also list Joomla . (But, even if I weren’t using JoomlaLMS, I’d still list Joomla as a robust CMS platform. It derives a lot of its flexibility and robustness to its elegant modular design and, like the iPhone, gains a lot of utility in the fact that many many third-party developers support it with modular plug-ins. That gives it a lot of functional flexibility.)

Special Note: To get a flavor for Joomla and JoomlaLMS, check out the Demo Course I just recently set up on (You can login to the Demo Course using username: demouser and password: demouser.)

9. Back to LMSs, I also like Moodle for its simplicity and open-sourcedness. (Yes, folks, I can make up new words on the fly!)

A safe environment in which to fail
10. Social network… so which one? Well, actually, while I’d be willing to list the Big 3 (y’know, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) as networks where learning can happen and where learning can be supported. Remember, the guidance I’m using for “favorite tools” was that which I’d use to create learning for others.

Using that guidance, I’d be reluctant to use a public platform, like the Big 3. It doesn’t give my users enough of what I call “a safe environment in which to fail.” So, in that regard, I prefer creating a private social network in which my user community can play without fear of the larger consequences of failure that would otherwise hinder learning.

For this environment, I’d ordinarily list Joomla with the various social networking plugins. (Joomla, by itself, doesn’t give you a social networking platform. You’d need to add the appropriate plugins for it to become that.) But, since I already listed Joomla as Item #8 above, I’d have to list either Ning or Kickapps. Mainly for their ease of use and ease of setup.

HOWEVER (big point) if pressed about which one, I’d have to say that, although I slightly prefer Ning for it’s ease of use, it’s important to note that Ning’s terms of use technically gives Ning rights to all content — and user lists — associated with any networks you create. (!!) (Ning, if you come across this, please comment or clarify if that policy has changed.)

So, given the point above, I’ll have to give my nod to number 10, social network platform (in support of creating learning programs) to KickApps .

That’s it! What do you think of the list? How do these compare to your top 10?