My Top 10 Tools for Learning

Every year since 2007, Jane Hart has conducted a survey of L&D professionals from across industries and working around the world in order to find out what are the most popular, most helpful, most used tools for learning. In today’s podcast I share my top 10 tools list, and I also share how you can make sure your voice is heard in this, the 16th annual survey (but hurry because voting closes on Thursday, August 25!!).

Introduction 

Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Train Like You Listen, a podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks. I’m Brian Washburn, I’m your host. I’m also the Co-founder of an instructional design company called Endurance Learning. And today in the podcast, I’ll be talking about my top 10 favorite tools that I’m using to get my work done and also to help facilitate learning.

Before I get to any of that, I do need to mention that today’s podcast is brought to you by Soapbox, which is an online tool that you can use for 5 or 10 minutes, and you can take care of about 50 or 60% of the work when it comes to developing live, instructor-led training. So basically you go to www.soapboxify.com, you sign up for an account, you tell the computer how long your presentation is going to be, how many people are going to attend, whether it’s in-person or virtual, what your learning objectives are, and then Soapbox will instantly generate a training plan for you. The training plan has clusters of activities that are attached to your learning objectives. If you don’t like one of the activities, you can swap it out for another. There’s about 200 different training activities in Soapbox’s library. If you like the activity, then you just enter your own talking points for your content. Think about what you could be doing if Soapbox saved you about four hours of development time on your next training session. At $29 a month, it might be worth it to save yourself a few hours of work on every training session that you create. Spoiler alert: this might actually be one of my top 10 favorite tools. Stay tuned. But if you want to, try it out for free for about two weeks at www.soapboxify.com. Okay. 

Jane Hart’s List of Top Tools for Learning

Let’s talk about Jane Hart and her top tools list. Jane Hart is a UK-based author and a learning and development professional who spends a lot of time helping people learn about what modern workplace learning is, what it could look like, what it can be. And since about 2007, she’s been surveying learning and development professionals from around the world—people just like you and me—and asking them what digital tools do they find most useful when it comes to learning. These can be tools that people are using to help others learn, they can be tools that people are using to build out learning programs, or even tools that help people learn things on their own. (Editor’s Note: Check out Brian’s conversation with Jane Hart on the podcast where she shares some of the trends and most surprising discoveries from her years of compiling her top tools list.)

Over the years, her list has grown—last year it was about 300 different tools that made her top list. In a few minutes, I’m going to let you know how you can let your voice be counted and how you can vote for your top 10 tools for learning. But this isn’t your podcast, it’s my podcast, so first I want to share my own tools. 

Brian Washburn’s Vote For the Top 10 Tools for Learning 2022

Vote

What are my top 10 tools? Well, every year when it comes time to vote on my top 10 tools, it’s always a really interesting exercise. It forces me to reflect on just what tools I’ve been using and, oftentimes, I take the tools that I’m using for granted. So it’s a good time to think about, “What am I actually using?” Keep in mind when I give you my top 10 list, there’s no particular order. The tools that I find are all useful, but to rank them, it’s a little bit situational. So, just keep in mind that these are most important when I actually need them. I will, however, just for organization’s sake, put these into clusters of how I use them. And so first, a pair of tools that help me keep everything organized. 

First of all, I’m gonna talk about Google Drive just for a moment because I consider this to be a top tool for learning. It’s where my team and I keep all of our documents and all of our projects; we can work with each other collaboratively, we can comment on any document at any time so that we can learn how to get better, and sometimes, so that we can learn what our client wants to see more of or less of in a project. So if one of us is on a call with a client, but other people are working on the project, we can all use the Google Drive to see kind of what the client’s thinking.

A second tool that I use to help keep organized is Slack. Our team is 100% remote, so when it comes to opportunities for collaboration and for social learning, learning from each other, Slack is the easiest and quickest way that we can use to help each other out. 

Next, are a pair of tools that I use at work and in my personal life to quickly learn how to do things. The first one is YouTube. Whether I need to find how to take the stopper out of the sink in the bathroom to unclog the drain, or if I need to find a quick tutorial on how to do something more advanced in an Excel Spreadsheet, YouTube typically has a short video that’s gonna help me solve my problem. 

The other thing that I find really useful, and it’s pretty self-explanatory when I say it—Google Search—but I’ll talk about it anyway. When I need to find something even more quickly than YouTube, perhaps. Whether it’s a fast way to find the name of a book title that’s on the tip of my tongue, but for the life of me, I cannot remember the name of it, but I can remember the author’s name. Or if it’s even something like how to create a Family Feud-style interaction using PowerPoint, Google typically has a step-by-step answer for me. 

My next cluster of tools are tools that I use at work to help me develop training projects. Number one in this cluster is PowerPoint. I’m not sure this one needs much of an explanation. How many instructor-led training programs have you attended over the past five years that didn’t include some sort of PowerPoint slides? 

Soapbox is the next one. Yes, the same Soapbox that sponsors this podcast. This software tool really does help me come up with ideas for training in an instant. 

The next one is Screencast-O-Matic. I actually used this tool to help me with a blog post several weeks ago. It is simple and easy to use. It’s an online screen recording software that makes it easy to capture videos of you working on your computer screen. It works really well if you want to make a quick tutorial, it’s super easy to post those tutorials on a channel like YouTube.

The last one in this cluster of tools that I use to help develop training projects or maybe deliver training projects is Zoom. I use Zoom for all sorts of meetings and webinars. Again, since my team is 100% remote, this is how I can easily see my teammates face-to-face. It’s also the tool that I prefer to use for webinars and for meetings. It’s really simple. 

I’m gonna round out my top 10 list with a pair of tools that I use at work to help other people learn. One is WordPress. So, every Monday and Thursday since 2012, I’ve actually gone to WordPress to write a blog post or to share a podcast. It’s evolved over the years, but it’s always been simple to use, and customizations seem pretty simple to make also.

And then the last tool that rounds out my top 10 list is Kahoot. How could I not mention this easy-to-use learning game generator? Well, it’s no longer a new tool. It seems to be used pretty universally in schools and organizations, at conferences even. We even use it in team meetings to see how much we’ve learned about one another, or even how much people know about our company.

How to Vote for Jane Hart’s List of Top Tools for Learning

Vote

All right. So those are my top 10. How about you? Do you have a top 10? If you want to have your voice heard and if you wanna vote, it’s super simple. There’s a few things that you can do or a few different ways that you can have your voice heard. One is that you can go to www.toptools4learning.com/voting—that’s top tools, the number four, learning dot com, slash voting. And on that site, you can use the online form—super quick, super easy, or you can email your top 10 tools to Jane.Hart@c4lpt.co.uk. You can also tweet your top 10 tools at Jane Hart and tag her at the handle @c4lpt. Or you can write a blog post about your top 10 and then send the link to Jane.

So in sum, this is a super-interesting exercise to reflect on your top 10 most used tools for learning. I highly recommend going through the exercise, even if you don’t vote, but if you’re gonna go through the exercise anyway, then why not vote? And if you’ve never actually seen the list, definitely visit www.toptools4learning.com and scroll through—you might find a new or useful tool that you’ve never heard of. 

What's your fave?

All right. Thank you for listening. If you want to make sure that you are notified of a new podcast anytime it’s hot off the press, go ahead and subscribe at Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Even better, if you were to give us a like or a review—that’s how other people find out about us. If you’re interested in learning more about a broad range of learning and development strategies, including a cluster of tools, you can pick up a copy of my book: What’s Your Formula? Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training at www.amazon.com. And until next time, happy training everyone. 

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