1,000+ Learning & Performance Tools

top100-1Looking for some new ideas for tools to support your work? Here are the links to the pages in Jane Hart’s Directory of Learning & Performance Tools, which lists over 1,000 tools  in 4 main categories as shown below.

Want to add or amend a tool’s details? You can do so here.

What are your favourite tools for learning? Voting is now open in this year’s Top Tools for Learning survey. Please share your own.

Amazingly, 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the Top 100 Tools for Learning list compiled by Jane Hart from the votes of learning professionals around the world – from both education and workplace training. This year there will be a few changes:

Due to the fact that the same tools have dominated the list in recent years, for 2016 the list will be extended to contain 200 tools so that more tools can be mentioned to create the Top 200 Tools for Learning 2016

Additionally, in order to understand how these tools are being used in different contexts, three sub-lists will also be generated:

  1. Top 100 Tools for Education (K-12 to Adult Ed) 2016
  2. Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning (Training, Performance Support & Social Collaboration) 2016
  3. Top 100 Tools for Personal Learning & Productivity 2016

The results will be released on Monday 3 October 2016.

Doodle to learn?

As a teenager I spent hours doodling in my exercise books – much to the chagrin of my teachers. Unlike the example from this report from Harvard Business Review on the scientific case for doodling while taking notes, my doodles were creative pieces that were more in keeping with hippy style swirls influenced by Hungarian cultural patterns. (sorry, no samples survive, though they were dubbed ‘creative’!)

Did that doodling help me learn?

Well certainly the doodles were not notes or summaries  of the kind we see popularised on Twitter and showing how drawing in class and meetings can help people pay attention–and remember information afterward.

Visual note-taking blends these two approaches. By using a combination of words and quick images, the note-taker listens, digests, and captures on paper the essence of what has been heard.

My creations were a way to occupy my creative mind while I listened to a teacher talk talk talk. Having said that, I am not implying that all the teaching was boring – rather that the doodling was in keeping with the recent trend to colouring books for adults that have become so incredibly popular.    According to this article on HuffPo (and many others!), as well as being great fun, colouring in is a fantastic way to ease the stress we face in our adult lives.

Begs the question if I was stressed by the constraints of my classroom as I did not doodle out of school.  The answer to me is pretty obvious – I was, as is also evidenced by the number of classes I skipped.  To give the nuns their due, they did not hassle me about classes skipped too much, as my escape was to go and practice piano for hours instead. If I think of our schools and my tertiary online teaching environments – we still have a tendency to ‘old school’ – we still expect students to attend classes!

Of course we now understand the importance of creativity in learning. But what do we do today to accommodate our learners?  Whether it’s school or tertiary settings, and whether we have flexible classrooms or not, perhaps its time to better discern what the modern stresses really are and to stop hiding behind ‘open plan, multipurpose spaces’ as being the obvious (and only?) solution.

What are you really doing to make learning more about engagement than compulsory completion?

Image:flickr photo shared by m01229 under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license


E-learning in higher education

Distance education and distance learning, once undertaken by one-to-one correspondence between learners and teachers (yes I did this!) has been radically transformed into online learning, or e-learning, through the use of learning management systems and other web based or digital tools. Now this type of education is characterized not so much by ‘distance’ as by the mode of ‘electronic’ or ‘e’ learning environments that is internet or web-based, and provides ongoing challenges for the researcher investigating professional contribution (i.e. teaching or educating) in higher education.

Distance education has evolved through many technologies, in tandem with the affordances these technologies provided, and each mode or ‘generation’ has required that distance educators and students be skilled and informed to select the best mix(es) of both pedagogy and technology. Internet connectivity is ubiquitous and now makes communication from multiple locations easy, and puts a vast range of online resources in the hands of individuals, who can stay aware of other’s activities through Twitter feeds and social networking site information or stay connected and update data (including status information) to central sites for others to view and use (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011. p. 20).

In practical terms when communication online becomes more relational, socialized and expressive, individuals are required to master an emergent, articulated repertoire of communicative competencies that mixes interpersonal and group process fluencies to make linkages and correspondences through a repertoire of competencies inextricably social and technological (Lievrouw, 2012, p. 626). In this way new communities of inquiry are formed around shared interest, activity and educational experiences (Garrison et al. 1999; Shea & Bidjerano, 2010), facilitated by the web as a platform for content creation and collaboration by multiple recipients (Franklin et al, 2007).

Whichever way we look at it, working with technology is now an integral component of academic life, content information and connectivity, providing essential components of access to scholarly resources, digital content, communication platforms, and new social, legal and technical frameworks of practice – leading to new forms of scholarship and learning (Borgman, 2007 p.3 ). Academics (as teachers) need to support and nurture learners to learn within connected and collaborative learning environments, to lead purposeful and corrective discourse in relation to multiple information environments as part of the construction of meaning and understanding (Garrison, 2015).

According to Nagy (2011) creating the right blend of resources and methods for an engaging learning environment requires particular and diverse skills, and skills take time to develop and need refreshing as technologies (and student expectations) evolve, though there is an unresolved presumption that academics should contribute to the generation of new knowledge so that teaching is informed by discipline practice.  Nagy (2011) concludes that the increasing application of web-based technologies and flexible learning tools associated with academic programs is associated with growing numbers of university staff able to make substantial contributions to scholarship in teaching and learning.

However, different academic communities engage differently in scholarship. Also the proliferation of digital content is part of the change in scholarly communication, and the nature of digital scholarship is dependent on emergent practices, processes and procedures of scholarly communication conducted via various digital domains.

Lynch (2014) describes digital scholarship as a shorthand for the entire body of changing scholarly practice, in recognition of the fact that most areas of scholarly work today have been transformed, to a lesser or greater extent, by information technologies, such as: high-performance computing; visualisation technologies; technologies for creating, curating, and sharing large databases and large collections of data; and high performance networking which allows us to share resources across the network and to gain access to geographically dispersed individuals to communicate and collaborate. New techniques and forms of digital engagement will be required, and at the same time, older modes of disciplinary inquiry will be preserved, carried forward, and reconstituted (Thomas & Lorang, 2014).

In short – there is much to think about, much to change, and much to investigate with deep research into the new fields of digital scholarly endeavour.  Digital scholarship should underpin the changing focus for e-learning or online learning for (distance) higher education, not just be driven by the affordances of online technologies.

Yet while personal and social technologies are also (explicitly or implicitly) increasingly expected to be used for academic work, embracing digital communication and information media, the implications and/or relationship to digital scholarship practices remains disconnected or compartmentalised. I believe that understanding digital scholarship may support new pedagogies to emerge in terms of course content, subject dialogue and conversation, which will require an elaboration of the relationship between scholarly practice and technology from digital and social perspectives. – to perhaps create the lasting (and effective) change and development we are ultimately seeking!


Borgman, C. L. (2007). Scholarship in the digital age. MIT press.

Franklin, T., Van Harmelen, M., & others. (2007). Web 2.0 for content for learning and teaching in higher education.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The internet and higher education, 2(2), 87-105.

Garrison, D.R. (2015). Thinking collaboratively: Learning in a community of enquiry. London: Taylor & Francis.

Haythornthwaite, C., & Andrews, R. (2011). E-learning theory and practice. California, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Lievrouw, L. A. (2012). The next decade in Internet time. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 616-638.

Lynch, C., (2014). The ‘digital’ scholarship disconnect. Educause Review, May 19. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2014/5/the-digital-scholarship-disconnect

Nagy, J. (2011). Scholarship in higher education: Building research capabilities through core business. British Journal of Educational Studies, 59(3), 303–321. http://doi.org/10.1080/00071005.2011.599792

Shea, P., & Bidjerano, T. (2010). Learning presence: Towards a theory of self-efficacy, self-regulation, and the development of a communities of inquiry in online and blended learning environments. Computers & Education, 55(4), 1721-1731.

Thomas, W.G. & Lorang, E. (2014). The other end of the scale: rethinking the digital experience in higher education. Educause Review, September 15.

Image: flickr photo shared by sandraschoen under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license


NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Library Edition

2015-nmc-horizon-report-library-EN_pdfWhat is on the five-year horizon for academic and research libraries?  Always provocative, and worthwhile reading arrives again with the publication of the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Library Edition examines key trends, significant challenges, and important developments in technology for their impact on academic and research libraries worldwide. This publication was produced by the NMC in collaboration with University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur, Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) Hannover, and ETH-Bibliothek Zurich. To create the report, an international body of experts from library management, education, technology, and other fields was convened as a panel. Over the course of three months, the 2015 NMC Horizon Project Library Expert Panel came to a consensus about the topics that would appear here. View the work that produced the report on the project wiki.

>Download the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 Library Edition (PDF)

Innovating Pedagogy Report

Once again the Open University has provided another Innovating Pedagogy report – the third report in it’s series. This series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teacher and policy makers in productive innovation.

Download the 2014 Innovating Pedagogy Report

Produced by the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University, the report identifies ten educational terms, theories and practices that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice in the near future.

Featured in 2014’s annual report:

  1. Massive open social learning
  2. Learning design informed by analytics
  3. Flipped classrooms
  4. Bring your own devices
  5. Learning to learn
  6. Dynamic assessment
  7. Event-based learning
  8. Learning through storytelling
  9. Threshold concepts
  10. Bricolage

While MOOCs and other theories covered in this year’s report are not necessarily new, the report aimed to examine how they can gather momentum and have a greater influence on education.

I find the greatest value of this report is to see the changes taking place – a litmus test – of what is considered relevant/important and/or of note. I would also juxtapose the findings against the series of NMC Horizon Reports, which cover a range of school, tertiary, and library sectors.

Look out for other annual reports in your country, sector, or region too!

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by Intersection Consulting: http://flickr.com/photos/intersectionconsulting/7537238368

Information ecology at the heart of knowledge


While technology is changing the information environment (including information places and spaces), the transactional nature of information interactions and knowledge flow underpins learning. Information can comprise both physical and virtual parts for operation and interaction.

I see that a  major challenge for education is to enable and facilitate the generation of new knowledge via an appropriate information environment, to facilitate integration of new concepts within each person’s existing knowledge structure.

Information ecology presents the contexts of information behavior by analogy with ecological habitats and niches, identifying behaviours in biological terms such as ‘foraging’ (Bawden & Robinson, 2012. p.199). In this context of adaptive and responsive co-construction of knowledge, we can facilitate a viable praxis in digital environments, influenced by concepts of rhisomatic learning. Seen as a model for the construction of knowledge, rhizomatic processes hint at the interconnectedness of ideas as well as boundless exploration across many fronts from many different starting points. (Sharples, et al. 2012 p.33).

By creating curriculum and subject delivery which can be reshaped and reconstructed in a dynamic manner in response to changing environmental conditions or the personal professional needs of students, a digital information ecology provides the opportunity to work with information in the construction of knowledge in more dynamic ways, connecting learning experiences across the contexts of location, time, devices and platforms.

Researching how digital technologies may be used to create a more responsive learning ecology both in use of online tools and assessment practices can provide a valid way of examining effectiveness if the link between the use and the learning is explicit. Research to date rarely makes this link explicit and evaluations appear to be based on researcher beliefs about learning which are either not expressed or vague (Starkey 2011, p20.)

Starkey (2011) provides an excellent summary of the key concepts of critical thinking skills, knowledge creation and learning through connections that epitomizes 21st century learning. Technology can be used to evaluate learning, though the link between digital technologies and student performance is complex. Yet the digital age students, who can think critically, learn through connections, create knowledge and understand concepts should be able to connect and collaborate with others beyond a constrained physical environment; understand that knowledge is created through a range of media and created through networks, connections and collaborations; be able to think critically and evaluate processes and emerging ideas. The ability to evaluate the validity and value of information accessed is essential.

In such a context and information ecology, enabling learning involves the creation of assessments and environments for knowledge building to enhance collaborative efforts to create and continually improve ideas. This approach to knowledge building exploits the potential of collaborative knowledge work by situating ideas in a communal workspace where others can criticize or contribute to their improvement (Scardamalia 2012 p.238 ).

A communal workspace, a collaborative and formative framework for assessments, and research into the impact of all this on learning futures – now that would be grand to see!

Rhizomatic learning new to you?  You might like this fireside presentation from Dave Cormier about embracing uncertainty.


Bawden, D. & Robinson, L. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187-210). London : Facet.
Scardamalia, M., Bransford, J., Kozma, B., & Quellmalz, E. (2012). New assessments and environments for knowledge building. In Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (pp. 231-300). Springer Netherlands.
Sharples, M., McAndrew, P., Weller, M., Ferguson, R., FitzGerald, E., Hirst, T., & Whitelock, D. (2012). Innovating Pedagogy 2012: Open University Innovation Report 1. Milton Keynes: The Open University.
Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: A digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19-39.

Image: Learning (Photo credit: Anne Davis 773)

Launching Designing Spaces for Learning – our new subject!

Our newest program/course/degree (terminology depends on the part of the world you are in) has been keeping me very busy.  Here at Charles Sturt University I  launched the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) in March 2014.  We have just completed some of the subjects, and I will have to share the outcomes.

But before I do share this, I want to welcome my good friend Ewan McIntosh of NoTosh fame,  to CSU as a newly minted Adjunct lecturer – all ready and engaging as of this week with a new clutch of students. We have people from all around the world, who will be pulling and teasing ideas around with Ewan in the first iteration of the grand new subject.

Ewan said:

When most people find out that they are in line to create a new physical or virtual environment for their school, few have really driven deep into what the research says, and how it might pan out in practice. And, with deadlines in place, and architects producing their “masterplans” based on what they have been able to squeeze out of school communities, the clock is ticking too fast in most cases to begin that learning journey in a timely fashion.

School principals, deputies, librarians and innovator educators can base multi-million dollar decisions on hearsay, gurus’ say-so, and what the Joneses have done with their school. For the initial cohort of students on our inaugural Masters subject on Designing Spaces for Learning at CSU (Charles Sturt University), the story will be very different.

Do visit his blog post Launching a new Masters: Designing Spaces for Learning #INF536. and check out his wonderful welcome video.  Visit the course Facebook Page too!

Perhaps you would like to join our course and his subject in 2015?