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The Learning Professional’s toolkit – what’s essential?

June 3, 2010

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June’s BQ is… “what tools should we learn?”

Tony’s question is fairly specific, but anchored in the “what did I learn that I’m glad I did” vein.  As I think about that, I am struck by this great quote from Donald Clark

 “prepare young people for the tests of life, rather than a life of tests.”,

so am feeling a bit more philosophical about the question than is probably intended. 

First off, let me be clear.  I am not a programmer nor a developer, so my perspective is more from a trainer/learning manager’s point of view.   When I think about the tools, I always come back to the fact that they are all just typing, so that is the critical thing to learn (but even that will be obsolete someday).  For example, I used to think that I needed to learn HTML, but so far I’ve gotten by without it, things just keep dumbing down.  For people who are creating the dumbed-down stuff, I have no idea what they need to learn.  I won’t pretend that I do.

But if I were to mentor another me, what would I suggest?  Focus on the user-generated learning content – be both a producer and a consumer and figure out how to tag, categorize, organize and search.  I think that is where the tides are turning and the informal will end up.  Maybe not forever, but for awhile. 

If I had to put together a list of specific tools for today:

  • Blogging tool (WordPress for me) – can cover many things – you could build a self-paced course (yes, I know we are so over the “course”, but corporate people need them), insert hyperlinks, photos, videos, reflect and organize your thoughts and write for the web.  As I’m writing this, not sure if there are any other tools needed! 
  • Screencasting tool (Jing) – this medium is visual, so get visual.
  • a search engine (Google) – for those moments of serendipity
  • a browser – won’t even bother with a suggestion, people are so cliquey about their browsers.  Why?
  • a video-camera – for observation, feedback, demonstration, etc.  Many great uses – it’s a gadget, not a tool (or is it?)
  • some kind of web collaboration/webinar tool – (dimdim or others) most have similar features and as long as you’ve actually DONE a webinar, not just listened to one, you’ll have picked up a bunch of experience!
  • membership in an online community – not FB or LinkedIn per se – something topic-based, and be a moderator!  That’s where the learning happens…
  • and a pair of eyes.  (Sounds like a trainer’s version of I SPY books, doesn’t it?!). 

Tools come and go, but the gist of Tony’s question is “what am I really glad I learned and has served me well over the years”.  If I could be facetious and say pen, paper and a library card, I would.  Brains in my head and shoes on my feet are pretty close, too! 

What did I miss on my list?  Would you agree or disagree with my choices?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2010 8:06 am

    Great! So many are terrified at the media tools out there….but like with any thing else: simple is good.

    At a carousel conference entitled Creative Innovations for VP’s, Trustees and Learning Support teachers of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, I sold the same cookies. The only two tools I added to the list are a compact camcorder that does pics and stills – like the Small Wonder be RCA and a microphone.

    Keep on trucking!

    For the fun of it, here’s the outline of my presentation intro.

    Combine the revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Lorin Anderson- a former student of Bloom’s updated the taxonomy reflecting relevance to 21st century work.) (1) with current research in brain plasticity analysing the conditions required to allow the “emergence of complex learning environments (that) provide promising new avenues when it comes to optimizing learning in real-world setting.” (Levels of Representation p.159 of particular interest) (2) and it’s showtime!

    With a bag of tricks that includes basic improvisation drama techniques, a simple still/video camera and any of the oodles of production and sharing tools available, student, teachers and communities can collaborate in creating transformative learning experiences. will be the hub for the presentation and discussions.

    Motivation and arousal are critical components of most major theories of learning. With their levels dependent highly on an individual’s internal belief about her ability to meet the current challenge, it is understood that if ANY student who has a body and is alive can be fully engaged in experiences that are rich in content, process, and creation, on top of offering opportunities for development of a slew of undermentioned ‘soft skills, ‘ school experiences will not only have generalized learning effects, but have promise for benefiting individuals and the societies in which they live.


  2. hollymacdonald permalink*
    June 9, 2010 3:23 pm

    Hey, thanks for coming by and sharing!

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