Top 10 Tools for Learning and Working – 2009

Jane Hart recently posted her 2009 summary of learning professionals’ top 10 tools for learning and working. I submitted my lists in 2007 and 2008, but failed to submit my 2009 list before Dick Clark put the year to bed. Tardiness hasn’t slowed me down in the past. Why should it now? So, without further ado, here’s my 2009 list of top ten tools:

  • Google Chrome: Chrome replaced Firefox as my default browser in 2009. It’s much speedier, particularly when using AJAX-heavy web applications such as Gmail. I conduct nearly all web searches using the omnibox and I’ve even made several Application Shortcuts, which isn’t a terribly useful feature other than the fact that my web applications open within a streamlined Google Chrome window.
  • WordPress: I still consider WordPress to be the best blogging platform available, but I have been increasingly using it as a content management system for more static websites. WordPress plugins provide the flexibility to create almost any type of site, including a reviews system for a library catalog.
  • Brizzly: Brizzly is a web interface for Twitter and Facebook. My favorite feature is how it displays full URLs rather than those mysterious shortened ones. The mute feature is also nice, particularly when you need a temporary break from elearning folks who get tweet happy during lrnchats.
  • Friendfeed: I was really hoping to see Friendfeed become a bigger player in the world of social media in 2009. Those hopes were dashed when Facebook bought them out in August, though I still consider Friendfeed an extremely valuable tool. I’m now feeding my social media content from a variety of websites into Friendfeed. This means that it’s easier than ever to share content with my online contacts. We’re also using it as a collaboration tool in my office to share and discuss online content.
  • Readability: Readability is a browser bookmarklet that makes it easier to read online by stripping away all of the typical distractors from a page. This is highly recommended if you follow wordy bloggers.
  • Google Reader: Google Reader was included in my 2007 list, but I decided to list it again for 2009. It remains my most used web application other than Gmail. I follow news, blogs, web searches, and social networks using Google Reader. I also make heavy use of the share feature, which is fed into Friendfeed, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Lala: Lala enables me to listen to my music library from any computer. Its interface is very similar to iTunes, which is convenient since Apple recently bought them out. The rumor is that many of Lala’s features, including streaming your purchased music from the cloud, will be integrated into a future version of iTunes.
  • Garageband: Garageband has enabled me to start recording and writing music again. It’s much easier to multi-track with Garageband than with my old 4-track cassette recorder (though maybe not as hip).
  • Adobe Connect: Connect was also on my 2007 list, however a couple new features (or, new to me at least) warrant a second appearance. Breakout rooms are a great way to promote attendee participation in a web conference, though I must admit I have not yet tried to use them in a live class. Also, the third-party plugins available from the Adobe Exchange site are helpful and fun.
  • Handbrake: I have been using Handbrake to convert DVD’s to mpeg-4 files at work. It includes several presets that are helpful when converting videos for ipods, online streaming, Apple TV’s, and more.

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