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Top ten smart apps for learning and development professionals


James McLuckie of Eden Tree provides a list of must-have smartphone apps for learning and development professionals.

M-learning is one of the most keenly discussed topics in learning and development at the moment. (See last week’s TrainingZone article by Martin Addison for this publication’s most recent contribution to the debate.)

However, while most of the conversation centres on delivering content to learners, what about the advantages of using smart apps to help us as we go about our business as trainers?

Below is a list of ten smart apps that could make the life of a learning and development professional that bit easier.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if the application you are interested in is not available for your particular phone, you should have a search around the relevant app stores. In many cases, you should find an equivialent tool.)

1 TweetDeck (Android, iPhone)

One of the great benefits of social media is its ability to allow individuals from all walks of life to link up, collaborate and share information. Sometimes, however, there are so many accounts and communities to keep track of and update that it can take more time than it should to stay connected.

TweetDeck is an extremely useful free app that allows you to update Facebook and multiple Twitter accounts in one transaction. You’re never more than a click away from your personal learning network when you’re short of an idea, need to clarify something, or just want to chat.

2 Yammer (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile)

Alternatively, you may wish to set-up your own discreet learning community. Yammer is an increasingly popular way to do this, due to the way its clean interface allows for easy discussion and sharing. Although, its smart app misses the threaded linear discussions provided on the web version, it’s still a great way to keep in touch with your group. Either join an existing community or set-up your own.

3 Reeder (iPhone)

With the abundance of great blogs, sites and news feeds now available, it can be difficult to stay abreast of all the excellent information sources out there. This is particularly true in the learning and development world, where keeping up with the latest thoughts and ideas is essential. Reeder is widely considered the best RSS app out there. Now you don’t go to your information sources, they come to you ... even while you’re on the move. (gReader is apparently a very good unofficial Google Reader client for Android.)

4 CamScanner (Android, iPhone)

This is an extremely handy document scanner, that allows you to record and share anything from a journal article to a flipchart page. Once scanned, you can distribute it via PDF or email, or upload to cloud storage, such as GoogleDocs. (Some travelling trainers even use it as a way of keeping their receipts!)

5 Documents to Go (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry)

Unlike many other document storage apps, Documents to Go allows you to create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, as well as view them. Although it’s slightly more expensive than the average app, it means you’re less likely to need to download separate editing software, or switch between your smartphone and PC or Mac to update your documents.

6 DropBox (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry)

Remember the days when you were trying to remember whether that scoping document was on the laptop or the PC? And which USB stick had the latest version of the presentation you are working on? Well, DropBox, made that a thing of the past by saving files in multiple locations. And with the DropBox app you can now store, share, edit and download large files while you’re moving about.

7 Smart Genius Quotes (Android, iPhone)

There’s nothing L&D bods like more than a good quote to get a session going or to provoke thinking. This app has banked over 2,400 quotes by some of the most inspirational thinkers of our time for you to cherry pick as needed.

8 Evernote (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry)

This is the app that can turn your smartphone into "an extension of your brain". Never be caught short trying to recall those wonderful creative ideas you had for learning solutions by storing notes, ideas, images and audio clips onto your phone. You can also synchronise files to your PC or Mac.

9 Kindle (Android, iPhone, Windows Phone)

Everyone has heard of the Kindle and how it has revolutionised reading on the go. But many people are unaware that there is a Kindle phone app. Now, you no longer have to wait download the latest opus from the world’s leading subject gurus. Within minutes, you can literally have them in the palm of your hand.

10 GoodPractice Top Tips for Managers (iPhone)

One of the strengths of mobile learning is its ability to provide just-in-time content at the point of learning need. This great free app is full of essential management tips that you can use as your own personal ‘how-to’ store when you want to put together a handout, or you’re looking for practical instructions to help learners complete common workplace tasks. Alternatively, get the learners to download the app for themselves.

(My sincere thanks go to the contributors from the Learning and Development Group  (LinkedIn), Eden Tree and Glasstap for their input to this list.)


Do you have a favourite smart phone app you would like to share with the community? If so, tell us in the comments section of this article.

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