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Neil Davey

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Twitter tops learning tools list


Jane Hart,  founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, has started the 3rd annual Top 100 tools list. Technology correspondent, Jon Wilcox, looks at some of the movers, shakers, and trends for 2009.

According to the Chinese, 2009 is the ‘Year of the Ox’; according to the United Nations, 2009 is the ‘International Year of Astronomy’. For the online community at the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (and much of the world’s technophiles), 2009 is the year of Twitter and social networking in general. Twitter, the micro-blogging website, has literally exploded onto the mainstream over the past five months, thanks to high-profile advocates including Stephen Fry, Oprah Winfrey, and of course TrainingZone!

Founder of the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, and a TrainingZone contributor, Jane Hart has been compiling a list of the top 100 learning tools for the past two years, and is now starting on the 2009 list – so far topped by Twitter. 
‘Throwing sheep’, ‘becoming a zombie’ or ‘poking someone’ isn’t quite what learning professionals are looking for in a social networking website.
At present, 87 learning professionals have cast their vote, highlighting free, hosted, and commercial tools – and expect that figure to grow in the coming weeks. However, trends are emerging amongst the learning community which certainly suggests a dramatic shift in the way learning professionals are using technology.

Although its application amongst learning professionals isn’t obvious, Twitter has steadily grown in popularity over recent years, rising from mid-table mediocrity in 2007 (ranked no 47) to a surge in popularity to 11th place in 2008, before reaching the dizzy heights of first place in the table this year. Its explosive rise is likely linked to a wider circle of awareness in the public eye, and it’ll be interesting to see how the website consolidates its place in 2010. 
The rise of social networking
The rise of social networking as an important tool for learning professionals is evident by the increasing popularity of business networking site, LinkedIn, and blogging/social bookmarking website, Diigo, which both share the no 22 slot in the list at present. However, the continuing trend of Twitter overtaking rival social networking darling, FaceBook (currently in 32nd place, dropping 15 places in two years) is an indicator that ‘throwing sheep’, ‘becoming a zombie’ or ‘poking someone’ isn’t quite what learning professionals are looking for in a social networking website. 

The battle between Google and Microsoft is usually restricted to the world of web search, but in the top 100 list the war sees the two giants vie for office application supremacy. So far, Google Docs (which includes a web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, and database applications) continues a heady rise to sixth position, whereas Microsoft Word continues to drop from being a top 10 tool in 2007, to 45th in 2009. The argument that Google Docs’ increasingly powerful position in the list is down to a surge in Cloud Computing - web-based software solutions - is countered by the performance of several Adobe products. Neither online or free (in fact quite the opposite), both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Flash find themselves sharing the 25th place on the list, despite their price. 

One of the newcomers on this year’s list is Prezi, the online presentation software, which was featured in TrainingZone’s recent presentation tools round up. Currently in the crowded 25th spot alongside the Adobe duo, Prezi’s dynamic layouts are a far cry from the standard (and some would say dull) PowerPoint presentations! It does have quite a way to go until it knocks the Microsoft presentation software off its very respectable 7th position – it’s an exciting trend to follow in the coming years, and we’ll certainly be watching this with interest.

The final positions are yet to be decided, so there’s plenty of time for things to change. Visit the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies website to add your vote and stay up to date with the Top 100.
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TrainingZone’s technology team, made up of John Stokdyk and Jon Wilcox, also have a Twitter following, at

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Neil Davey

Senior Content Manager

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