My Top 10 Tools for 2011

I have contributed to Jane Hart’s Lists of Top Tools for Learning each year since she started doing this five years ago. Her 2011 list will be finalized soon with contributions from people all over the world.  Listed below is my newest Top 10 list of tools, with short descriptions of why they made the list.

  1. Twitter. Stays at #1. Still the most valuable online tool I’ve ever used because it’s the place where I able to build the most valuable network of educators. Connect that same network of incredibly smart people into a different tool, then that tool will be #1 on my list.
  2. WordPress. I use WordPress.com for my main blog at http://barrydahl.com and during the past year I also created a new business site that is run on WordPress as well (see Excellence in e-Education). The themes, plug-ins, and other extras that are available make it a highly customizable tool.
  3. Google Plus (G+). This is a new entry on the list (obviously, since it didn’t exist last year). I’ve been surprised at how functional this young tool is – and how I’ve been connected to a whole new batch of educators through it. I find that I’m spending more and more time there and learning about things that I’m not always seeing in my other educator networks.
  4. YouTube. For both me and my kids, YouTube tends to be one of our first stops when we want to learn something. I post many of my own videos here, but I primarily find it to be a fabulous resource for all kinds of content, including educational videos.
  5. Picnik. I keep coming back to this super easy-to-use photo editor that integrates so nicely with my Flickr account. This is one of the few tools that I pay a fee ($25 a year) to get the premium service. Now my daughter is also hooked on using Picnik – in ways that only a 15-y-o would find fascinating.
  6. Zoho Notebook. I keep waiting for another tool to come along that has the functionality of this one – but that just hasn’t happened. Find another tool where you can make a series of webpages, with any kind of web-based content on any page in any location. It’s really amazing.
  7. Flickr. I continue to pay for the pro version ($25 a year) of Flickr because it is my main and almost only repository for digital pics and other graphics. As of 11/3/11, I have 4,520 items stored there. Almost all the graphics used on my websites are served from Flickr.
  8. Screencast-o-Matic. I’ve tried just about every screencast tool that is out there. There are lots of good ones andScreencast-o-matic logo some that are not so good. We also lose a couple of them every year to the dead pool. Screencast-O-Matic has hung in there over several years and just keeps getting better. This year I decided to support them by paying for a pro account (only $12 a year) which gives me access to editing tools, scripting, and offline use. They’ve recently added a feature that allows you to make animated GIFs as well as the standard screencast movies that can be stored on their servers, downloaded locally in various formats, or uploaded to YouTube.
  9. Toondoo. I make comic strips fairly often and encourage educators to include more of them in their teaching and learning. This is still one of the most popular tools in the Web 2.0 workshops that I provide at different colleges and universities. Toonbooks are very fun and can be used to deliver educational content that is certain to get the attention of students.
  10. Facebook. This stays on the list as I still have quite a few educators in my “friends” list. I also use it with my new business (please “Like” Excellence in e-Education!). I’ve also enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and college buddies, but that’s not why it’s on the list.
The main thing that fell off my list this year would be the following (this is what I said about it last year).
  • Android OS & Apps. This could have been higher on my list. I love my Droid, but mainly for all the things that Android and the plethora of useful (& mostly free) apps can do for me. First time I’ve felt like I have a computer in my pocket.
Soon I’ll post an update about how my relationship with Android has changed over the past year. Let’s just say it’s not pretty.
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