Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The 10 basic online tools every trainer and online facilitator should know

(photo by Kitty Terwolbeck) There are lots of online tools that you can use for free or for very little money. Every week I try some new tools (like this week vialogues) and honestly? Occasionally the high number of tools and possibilities make me restless.. I have a tools list (both in a booklet and online in diigo) to try out and I never find the time or have the idea that I've tested enough tools. I therefore completely understand that facilitators of learning and change processes and trainers/teachers can't see the wood for the trees. I have good news: I can recommend a group of 10 tools that are so useful that each facilitator needs to know them and should be able to use them. The bad news is that for every tool also is another alternative ...

10 online tools in the backpack of every trainer and facilitator

  1. Twitter - microblogging
  2. Diigo - or any other social bookmarking service
  3. LinkedIn - for networking and groups
  4. Padlet - a brainstorm wall
  5. Youtube - search and make your own channel/playlists
  6. Yammer - and other smart tools to create private conversation groups
  7. Screencast-o-matic - and other screencasting tools
  8. Bigmarker - webinar tool for free
  9. Google - and Google plus
  10. Ning - or another paid online platform/LMS
Do you know and work with the tools mentioned? A short description below.
Twitter is good for networking with colleagues, use and follow hashtags like #lrnchat.  But Twitter is also very useful in a learning trajectory - search and follow your participants who are on Twitter. It will help you to know better what they are doing. I think there are many facilitators already doing this. Furthermore, as a facilitator of a group you can create a list for others to follow, participants or around a particular topic. So no facilitator should not be able to manipulate Twitter!
  • Diigo - or any other social bookmarker
Diigo is very important to keep track off your online sources. An alternative to this bookmark tool is delicious. You may also use Evernote to store your resources, but I prefer diigo because its default is public.
Everyone knows LinkedIn . However, as facilitator, you should also know how LinkedIn groups work and how you can facilitate conversations in groups. Are you already an administrator of one or several LinkedIn groups?
Padlet is an example of a brainstorming wall where participants don't have to create an account. You can also export a padlet wall as pdf or photo (.jpg). There are many alternative brainstorming walls like stormboard or spiderscribe.
Everybody knows Youtube. However: do you have your own channels or playlists? It is useful as a trainer or facilitator to create your own playlists which you can later use whenever needed.
  • Yammer - or other tool for rapid, private conversations
Yammer is widely known and used within organizations, often not by all employees. If you have your own Yammer network you can easily build an external network in which people with different email accounts can exchange. Not many people know this but it is very useful if you intend to facilitate a week online before a meeting or workshop. Yammer is spontaneous, but experienced as chaotic and fast. It works well with people who use Facebook alot, they will recognize the logic of the conversations.
I think every teacher or trainer should be to make a so-called screencast video to explain one of your subjects. I use screenflow for mac, which is a paid screencasting tool. If you want to try screencasting, start with the free version of screencast-o-matic. One alternative is present.me.
I was tempted to write webinar tool, but the other nine are actual services... to make it very practical. Bigmarker is a webinar tool to organise online meetings. The better-known paid webinar tools are GoToMeeting, Webex and Adobe Connect.
Everybody can google, but you can always learn new boolean tips to Google better (did you know that if you Google video site: Ennuonline.com Google search for content on the website ennuonline.com?). Very handy are Google forms and Google drive to work together on documents. And let's not forget Google communities and hangouts tools to facilitate a group conversation.
  • Ning - or other paid online platforms
I hesitated whether Ning had to be included in the list because it is not a free tool. Well I think that as a trainer / facilitator you should have the experience of working with at least one online platform with more options then Yammer, a LinkedIn group or a Google Community. Ning is a social network, but it can also be a LMS (Learning Management System) such as Moodle. Ning is more focused on social interaction, works well and is affordable. Once you mastered one platform, it's easier to learn to work with another platform.

Which tool is missing? Please share it below! More tools? Have a look at the top 100 by Jane Hart.


Ben Ziegler said...

Good list, Joitske. Maybe its included in your Ning category already(?), I think a lightweight LMS is very helpful. Something which you can use to organize a variety of e-learning elements, and quickly adapt/configure to meet the needs of whatever group of participants you are working with. Examples of lightweight LMS include Mindflash, Litmos, TalentLMS (my choice).

Joitske said...

Hi Ben, that's a nice addition a lightweight LMS. Do you consider Moodle Lightweight LMS?

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John said...

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