Thursday, May 7, 2009

Top 10 Tools for Learning Professionals

Jane Hart at the Centre for Learning and Performance technologies has asked learning professionals to contribute their lists of top tools we use to enhance learning and performance. 
  • Blogger : experts can easily contribute tips, thoughts, and best practices to a large community of learners. They can also be used to create a community of learners following learning events.
  • Google documents:  multiple collaborators can contribute to online documents and spreadsheets. They can be used to brainstorm ideas, edit project plans, share ideas, and generate repositories of information for use before, during, after, and instead of a learning event.
  • Google Moderator: this online tool enables a community to submit questions, ideas, and suggestions about a given topic. Members of the community can then vote on the ones they like best. President Obama has even used this tool a few times to gather citizens' sentiments.
  • YouTube:  we have been using flip cams and SnagIt to have experts share tips, tricks, and best practices on a variety of topics. Members of the community can view these easily and rate the ones that they like best or find most effective. The YouTube Symphony is a recent example of gathering top performances from around the world!
  • Twitter: I love hearing from learning and performance experts share quick tips, links, and information about what they're working on and how they're using new technologies. Our team has also used it for internal communication across geographies and for creating communities of learners following learning events.
  • WebEx:  Since travel budgets have been slashed, virtual classrooms are being used more and more. I love the features of WebEx Training Center, which include enabling participants to write on (or annotate) the screen (great for brainstorming!) and break out into virtual sessions with each other (connected to each other via phone and a shared computer screen).
  • SnagIt: I love this screen capture and screencast tool. For static captures, the annotation features are excellent (especially the spotlight and magnify features) for creating job aids for tool walk-throughs. For dynamic screencasts, SnagIt beat out Camtasia in a head-to-head competition for ease of use and quality of output (even though it has limited editing capabilities). Easy enough for a Subject Matter Expert to use! 
  • Captivate:  Adobe Captivate is a great tool for creating interactive scenarios. It quickly records what is happening on your screen, including audio narration, and adds captions. You can also add interactive elements like rollovers and clickboxes easily!
  • InDesign: I am a big fan of job aids. I think job aids can replace training and learning events 90% of the time; if not, they can certainly supplement what is being taught. Adobe InDesign enables the production of high quality, sharp PDFs.
  • Wikis: I don't have a favorite wiki provider, but wikis are amazing tools for online editing and collaboration. Wikipedia is a great example, but I also have used Google Sites and PBWiki successfully.