Tag: Google

Top Ten Tools for Learning 2014

Jane Hart is collecting her eighth annual list of top tools for learning. You can vote for your top tools until September 19, 2014. I haven’t done my list in a few years, but you can see my past lists from 20112009, 2008, and 2007.

My list is divided into personal learning and course design/development.

Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Digbeth - 10 mph sign

Personal Learning

Feedly is my RSS reader of choice since the demise of Google Reader. I read on my smartphone much more in the past, and Feedly’s mobile app fits in my workflow.

Diigo is my social bookmarking option. Diigo automatically generates my ID and e-Learning bookmarks posts. People are sometimes amazed at how quickly I can find resources for various topics; Diigo is what lets me put my hands on links from my library in a hurry.

LinkedIn, especially LinkedIn groups, is a source for many useful conversations and resources.

Google Search is one of the first places I go when I need to learn something specific or am researching courses and clients.

WordPress is my blog host. Even when I’m sporadic in posting, WordPress is a great tool for personal reflection. I appreciate the active community and constant improvements to the platform. My business website and portfolio were also built with WordPress.

Course Design/Development

Microsoft Word isn’t exactly the most glamorous tool here, but it is a tool I use regularly for design documents, storyboards, and other projects for clients.

Microsoft PowerPoint isn’t particularly exciting either, but it’s still a tool I use for storyboard, mockups, simple graphics, flowcharts, and more. Once in a while I actually use it for presentations too.

Google Docs is where I keep track of my time spent on projects, create quick drafts, and other tasks.

Moodle is the LMS used by several of my clients. Although my primary freelance work is designing courses, I do some LMS consulting as well. Almost all of that is helping clients use Moodle more effectively. The active community for this open source tool and the numerous free tutorials and resources are a huge benefit for me when I’m working in Moodle or Totara (a corporate version of Moodle).

Skype is one of my primary tools for keeping in touch with clients. If I have a question for them or they have one for me, a quick message on Skype can often keep a project moving. I use video calls and screen sharing regularly as well.

Image Credit: Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Digbeth – 10 mph sign by Elliott Brown

Google Wonder Wheel & Other Search Options

Update: The Wonder Wheel has been discontinued, as has the Search Timeline, so the information in this post is no longer valid.

OK, apparently I have been oblivious in the last few months, because I didn’t even realize that Google had added a whole new set of search options. Click “Show options” on any Google search results page to see what’s there.

Google Wonder Wheel
Google Wonder Wheel

The “Wonder Wheel” is an interactive map with related searches. For “instructional design,” the related searches shown include “instructional design models,” “addie,” and “instructional design courses.” Clicking on any of those options changes the search results on the right and shows another level of mapping. This seems like a great way to see connections in ideas, and to see how other people have made connections between ideas. On a practical note, for people who tend to start with general search terms, it could also be a way to drill down and find better results. It might even be a way to help teach people how to come up with better search terms.

Google Search Timeline
Google Search Timeline

The timeline view is also interesting. Like the Wonder Wheel, you can drill into the results to look at more narrow timeframes. Great if you need something in a specific time frame, but it also shows the trends over time. Where Google Trends shows the search patterns (i.e., what people are looking for), this appears to be showing the search results. Interesting how search results for instructional design have declined in the last decade, isn’t it?

So did everyone else know this was there and I just missed the conversations? Or did you know it was there and simply haven’t found it useful?