Written by:

Holly Macdonald


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?