12 Top eLearning Tools for 2012 and Beyond

By Melissa A. Venable, PhD
MelissaVenable-OnlineCollege_orgWhat’s new in learning technology? As we wrap up 2012 and head into 2013, there are a lot of lists out there to help us discover the latest tools and techniques. The Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (C4LPT) conducts an annual study of learning tools, creating a list of the top 100 from votes submitted by learning professionals (i.e., educators and trainers at all levels) around the globe.
What’s most interesting about the 2012 list, the 6th year of the project, is a sub-list of 12 tools that appeared for the first time this year, some of them making their debut fairly high. Take a closer look at each one and consider the possible uses in your online and face-to-face learning environments:
1.  Pinterest (#36) (http://pinterest.com/) A “virtual pinboard that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.” It’s gaining a lot of traction in education with its appealing layout focused on images and a social component. Check out high school principal Eric Sheninger’s Personal Learning Networks pinboard as an example.
2.  Google Translate (#57) Just one of the many popular Google apps, Translate allows users to cut and paste text to be translated to or from a long list of languages. This tool also allows you to upload a document or webpage for translation.
3.  Flipboard (#61) This mobile app invites us to “discover, view, and share content” in a number of ways. Teacher Vicki Davis presents 15 ideas for using Flipboard in education, such as subscribing to relevant sites and resources, and combining feeds from multiple social networks.
4.  Bing (#62) While Google’s search engine routinely tops the charts, and came in at #4 on the C4LPT list, Microsoft’s Bing is gaining ground, particularly with educators participating in the survey. What is your search engine of choice?
5.  Instapaper (#66) Another app that helps you collect web-based reading material, Instapaper provides a way to mark items to “read later” and “read anywhere” with access from a variety of devices. MiraCosta College’s Jim Julius suggests specific uses related to productivity in education.
6.  Zite (#73) You may be sensing a trend as Zite is the third new social reader/content collection app on the list (with more to come). Designed to help you manage and share information, this one is specifically for use on the iPad.
7.  Learnist (#89) Sometimes described as a kind of Pinterest for Education, Learnist “makes it easy to share what you know by curating the web.” Request an invite to set up your own boards, and follow some of the leading users to see how they use this tool to connect with peers and students. Featured teacher Dawn Casey-Rowe http://learni.st/users/dawncasey provides a wide range of examples.
8.  MentorMob (#90) Create a “learning playlist” of web-based content for your students, or browse playlists created by other educators and organized by academic subject. You can even work together with others, edit, and embed into your website or LMS. Explore UK educator Mark Anderson’s playlist “How to Use Twitter if You’re a Teacher.”
9.  Doodle (#92) If you’ve ever tried to set up a meeting time with multiple people via email, you’ll appreciate the assistance provided by Doodle. Create a poll with meeting date and time options, and invite your participants to indicate their availability. Then confirm the date and connect to your online calendar.
10.  Quora (#97) With a goal of “organizing people and their interests so you can find, collect, and share the information of most value to you,” this question and answer site has over a million users. Some faculty members are using it as a resource to connect with others and establish their expertise. You’ll also find many categories related to education at all levels. You may not only find what you are looking for, but also want to share your knowledge with others.
11.  Windows Skydrive (#98) This Microsoft product stores and “syncs your files across your computers” so that you can access and easily share from any location. Great for collaborative writing projects with multiple contributors, conference presentations, and student projects, this tool is similar to Dropbox, another popular cloud storage system appearing at #6 on the Top 100 list.
12.  Popplet (#99) This “place for your ideas” creates visual representations, graphic organizers, and timelines, and can be used for mind mapping and presentations. TeachingHistory.org provides examples of “collaborative brainstorming” and Popplet projects from history classrooms.
From professional development and content curation to online communication and classroom teaching, these tools are worth watching. If you have experience with these technologies let us know how they are working for you. And mark your calendar to contribute to next year’s survey.
In the meantime, what are your favorite learning tools? Review the Top 100 and share your predictions for the next big thing in 2013!
Melissa A. Venable, PhD is a contributor to OnlineCollege.org (http://www.onlinecollege.org/inside-online-learning/) where she writes from her experience as a course designer, online instructor, and career advisor in higher education. You can also find her on Twitter (http://twitter.com/Melissa_Venable) and Google+ (https://plus.google.com/100673096629878183513/posts).

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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Charles Perry

Love that MentorMob made it into the top 12 list for tools that debuted this year!
With an arsenal of tech tools like these, teachers have a much better chance at making school as additive and interest-driven as it ought to be.

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Magnificent site. Lots of helpful info here. I am sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious.
And obviously, thank you in your effort!

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