A Look at Over Ten Years of Top Learning Tools

This week Jane Hart (@c4lpt) published the results of this year’s Top Learning tools survey. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely pop over there and take a good look. Alternatively, I’ve included her slide deck for your convenience.

I’ve contributed every year since the first one back in 2007. Here is what my top learning tools list has looked like over the years.

Looking back like this shows that although a few of the specific apps have changed, the functions they serve have not. Every list I’ve assembled has included tools that handle four critically important functions:

  1. Managing my personal content consumption
  2. My online home base
  3. Curation
  4. Content Creation (PowerPoint)

Managing My Personal Information Diet

For me, the most important learning tool, and the foundation for all the others is a personalized system of managing the way I take in new information. My primary source for keeping up with our industry, the skills I want to develop and anything else I want to stay up-to-date on flow through my RSS / Feed reader. Without Feedly (or previously Google Reader there is simply no other way I’d be able to keep up with the volume and get the level of quality from the content I consume every day.

Twitter is a great way to find and connect with diverse, valuable network of people. I think many people are surprised that Twitter is ranked so high because it is not something you can “get” without putting your hands on it and actually experiencing it. If you’re not tapping into the potential ot Twitter here are 10 Easy Steps for Twitter that can guide you as you’re getting started. To help you find some excellent people to follow, here is a list of 100 people who tweet about Learning & Development assembled by Jane Hart (@c4lpt). They are all excellent…except that guy at #39 looks a bit sketchy.

Here is a brief video that walks through my personal system for keeping up, organizing and sharing — and doing it efficiently with a minimal time commitment. Do you have system for this? How does yours compare to mine?

An online home base

WordPress is such a useful, versatile tool that has so many uses for L&D professionals. For example, I’m using WordPress for my personal website, a self-directed learning program to explore new digital skills & learning technologies, a professional portfolio project,and more.

If you’re looking to set your own online presence (and everyone should have one!), WordPress is hard to beat. You can start with a free version on WordPress.com in only a matter of minutes.

What are you using for your online home?


Whether keeping track of things for myself or organizing them to present for others I’ve had a curation tool on my list every year. Originally that was del.icio.us which not only let me keep track of my own things but also follow what others were saving. With the demise of delicious, I picked up Diigo which is very similar to delcious.

Recently, my favorite way to organize and share resources has been Zeef. A few of the things I like about Zeef include the ability for anyone to suggest additional items for your page and that people can Follow your page to be automatically notified whenever new items are added to the page.

Here are a few examples for you to check out:


When I need to create original content, the first thing I reach for is PowerPoint. For my money it is the most flexible option in my toolkit. What other tool can create slides, elearning, mobile learning, documents, ebooks, videos, handle graphic design and even throw in a free online presentation service?

How about you? What does your personal toolkit look like and what functions are most important to you? Do any of my tools line up with yours? What is different with yours that I might benefit from?

Published by Mike Taylor

Born with a life-long passion for learning, I have the great fortune to work at the intersection of learning, design, technology & collaboration.

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