2015 top 10 tools for learning

Jane Hart has been widely and wisely known for her top 100 Tools for Learning (you too can register your vote).  As a public service announcement, I list my top 10 tools for learning as well:

  1. Google search: I regularly look up things I hear of and don’t know.  It often leads me to Wikipedia (my preferred source, teachers take note), but regularly (e.g. 99.99% of the time) provides me with links that give me the answer i need.
  2. Twitter: I am pointed to many amazing and interesting things via Twitter.
  3. Skype: the Internet Time Alliance maintains a Skype channel where we regularly discuss issues, and ask and answer each other’s questions.
  4. Facebook: there’s another group that I use like the Skype channel, and of course just what comes in from friends postings is a great source of lateral input.
  5. WordPress: my blogging tool, that provides regular reflection opportunities for me in generating them, and from the feedback others provide via comments.
  6. Microsoft Word: My writing tool for longer posts, articles, and of course books, and writing is a powerful force for organizing my thoughts, and a great way to share them and get feedback.
  7. Omnigraffle: the diagramming tool I use, and diagramming is a great way for me to make sense of things.
  8. Keynote: creating presentations is another way to think through things, and of course a way to share my thoughts and get feedback.
  9. LinkedIn: I share thoughts there and track a few of the groups (not as thoroughly as I wish, of course).
  10. Mail: Apple’s email program, and email is another way I can ask questions or get help.

Not making the top 10 but useful tools include Google Maps for directions, Yelp for eating,  Good Reader as a way to read and annotate PDFs, and Safari, where I’ve bookmarked a number of sites I read every day like news (ABC and Google News), information on technology, and more.

So that’s my list, what’s yours?  I note, after the fact, that many are social media. Which isn’t a surprise, but reinforces just how social learning is!

Share with Jane in one of the methods she provides, and it’s always interesting to see what emerges.

It’s time to vote for Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015

Voting for the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015 – the 9th Annual Survey – is open for learning professionals around the world – from both education and workplace training. All you need to do is submit your favourite 10 Tools for Learning. A tool for learning is any software or online tool or service that you use either for […]

smart cities need smart citizens

I will be speaking this Wednesday in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France at a conference on ‘The Smart City, the Cloud, and Citizens’ (link in French).  My presentation will be short and focused. Here are the main points, in English. The French version may be webcast, so watch my Twitter feed for updates.

We are connecting our cities to the cloud via the internet of everything, so that objects share data with each other. With these data, governments, organizations, and companies can sense patterns and make decisions – from traffic control to geographically specific advertising. But this is merely the tip of the iceberg of the real potential of smart cities and digital networks. A major challenge for society will be to enable an intelligent and aggressively engaged citizenry to build upon the potential of these growing digital interconnections.
For the past century we have compartmentalized the life of the citizen. At work, the citizen is an ‘employee’. Outside the office he may be a ‘consumer’. Sometimes she is referred to as a ‘taxpayer’. All of these are constraining labels, ignoring the full spectrum of citizenship. As the network era connects people and things, society needs to reconnect with the multifaceted citizen. This is the primary role the smart city can play.

The last century’s division of work and personal life are still evident in many organizations where employees are cut off from their online social networks. Workers are often expected to put their personal lives aside and concentrate on the work at hand for eight or more hours per day. But as we have connected computers and devices, we have made standardized work obsolete. In the emerging workplace, where complex and creative tasks become the norm, work cannot remain isolated from the rest of the world.

Complex work requires multiple perspectives and non-linear processes. While teams still need time and space to get things done, they also have to stay connected to the quickly-changing external environment. This week’s events in Greece and Europe show the volatility of interconnected political-financial systems. The challenge for the modern workplace is to connect external social systems with internal projects, and still remain capable of getting deadline-driven work done. This balance requires organizational systems that enable knowledge to flow, but more importantly it requires workers who are also engaged citizens.

working out loud

Alexis de Tocqueville, in his book ‘Democracy in America’ based on his travels in 1831, identified ‘associations’ of citizens to be a driving force in the new democracy. These associations could also be described as communities of practice – self-forming groups of engaged citizens. John McKnight, in The Careless Society, described these groups as having three key capabilities: “the power to decide there was a problem, the power to decide how to solve the problem – that is, the expert’s power – and then the power to solve the problem”. The association of engaged and connected citizens that enabled a functioning democracy in early America is now necessary in the early network era. As de Tocqueville saw how a society could function without an aristocracy, we now must see how companies can function without a managerial elite, and cities can operate without bureaucratic overlords.

Today, the connected citizen must also be the connected worker, as well as the connected taxpayer and the connected consumer, among many other roles. Cities can play an important part in this transition. They are the logical place for citizens to act out their roles on a daily basis. For example, co-working spaces are one way to enable the necessary cross-pollination of ideas and action. Public transportation infrastructure can enable more serendipitous encounters between citizens. Public spaces and walkable communities can encourage citizens to connect. Smart technologies should be designed to enable more citizen connections.

The smart citizen is connected: to communities of practice, extended social networks, the community, and society. Helping citizens engage intelligently is another role that smart cities can play. In addition to creating space, opportunities to develop skills and abilities should be supported. Cities should be encouraging citizens to seek new connections and knowledge, make sense of these in a disciplined manner, and share their knowledge. Smart cities need smart citizens.