Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reflections on LT2008: Jane Hart

I'm finally getting my head above water enough to have put together my thoughts on the sessions I attended at Learning Technologies at the end of January. At the moment I'm restricting myself to the training track sessions, rather than the keynotes - I might get to those in due course.

I thought I'd start with the presentation I found most useful, namely Jane Hart's top 10 tools for learning in 2007.

Jane revealed the results of her survey of the community's top 10 tools for learning. She had received over 100 responses from 21 countries, the first of which came from Jay Cross. The responses had come from a wide range of people: geeks, specialists and coalface practitioners, and showed an even spread across the education and corporate sectors. Over 400 tools were mentioned in total, 100 of them three or more times and a further 50 got two mentions. The top product received 63 nominations.

There was mixed reaction to the news that Firefox took first place overall. The rest of the top 10 were:
#3 tie Google search and Skype
#5 PowerPoint
#6 Wordpress
#7 tie Googlereader and gMail
#9 Blogger
#10 Word

Jane expressed the view that this revealed that people are personal learners who no longer just look to "go on a course" but seek to create their own learning space. It indicated a move towards self-managed learning. Most delegates had only heard of 3 or 4 of the top 10, opening up many opportunities for them to explore new avenues after the conference.

Jane shared that the top scoring social media tool was Facebook, and that the productivity tools were dominated by Google applications, almost all of which were free. In fact, Jane revealed that free tools took 75% of the nominations overall. She also indicated that tools not specifically designed for learning were being used as such. It seemed the criteria for popularity were that a tool had to be good at its job, customisable, sharable, collaborative, preferably free... and loved by its users.

Jane gave honourable mentions to a few free tools that had scored high, but not made the top 10. These included:
#11 Audacity
#12 tie Moodle (corrected thanks to a pointer from Jane - well spotted!)
#15 Wikispaces
#26 tie SnagIt
#31 tie Ning

Some popular file sharing tools were:
#16 Flickr
#22 tie YouTube
#31 tie Slideshare
#50 tie Scribd
#57 tie Teachertube

Some popular producer tools which are not free included #17 Captivate and #22 tie Articulate.

It is likely that many will have left this session with a to-do list. Certainly the man sitting in front of me was taking frantic notes and made sure that he heard the names of the tools correctly so that he could learn more about them. He wasted no time getting started, either, because when he realised that I had some experience with some of them, he made notes of my recommendations, too. This is what I love about this business - the bit about seeing that light come on and watching a person move to a new place (I think that scrambled metaphor can be attributed to the fact that I am in the throes of moving house!).

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