My Top 10 for Learning 2021

My Top 10 for Learning 2021

August 26, 2021 Off By JR

I can’t recall the last time I added my top 10 tools for learning as part of Jane Hart’s annual survey (I missed the survey this year I’m pretty sure). I thought I would follow the lead of other IDs, L&D Pros, and Edtechs by sharing my top 10 list on the blog such as Christy Tucker, Mike Taylor, Bonnie Stachowiak, and more. Some of these will be my personal learning tools; others for what I use in my day-to-day as an ID in higher ed. Note that some tools that appear on this list will be because I love them, and others strictly because I use them everyday (regardless of how I feel about them). Check for Jane’s updated list at when the final tally comes in. The tools I’m listing aren’t ranked, but they are categorized based on whether I use them to design learning materials or for my own professional development.


The list has been published as of Sept 1, 2021. I’ve added a number next to each tool below to indicate where it landed on this year’s list.

Feedly (27)

Personal Learning | RSS Reader, Keeping Up

My day most often starts with a cup of coffee and opening up Feedly. I subscribe to about 175 blogs and websites ranging from UX/UI blogs, to visual design, to edtech blogs, to podcasts (that don’t appear in Apple Podcasts), to academic journals, and more. I came to Feedly after the infamous Google Reader shut down and have never looked back. It really helps me keep on top of new ideas and doesn’t have all of the distractions that come with other social media tools you might use for similar purposes.

LinkedIn Learning (51)

Personal Learning | Workplace Learning | Technology Training

If you asked me a year ago, past me would probably be surprised by this. I made use of quite a bit in undergrad while learning media tools (Final Cut and others), and have used it for supplementary materials in recent courses for specialty programs such as SPSS. Beginning to use it for personal learning in 2021 is what pushed it into this top10 list for me. It’s not the best option necessarily as like with any educational program it’s difficult to get learners right where they’re at, but the courses themselves I always learn something from. Currently I’m working through the courses on Affinity which I’ve been using, but taking the classes is revealing lots of neat tricks I would never have figured out so quickly.

H5p (98)

Personal Learning | Workplace Learning | Higher Education Learning | eLearning Authoring

If you have ever met me or seen my online presence, this entry should not surprise you. I’ve been using H5p for at least five years and use it for personal learning (like when I made Judo flashcards to prepare for one of my belt gradings), workplace learning resources, hundreds of examples for use in higher education for classes from 100 level through grad school. Although authoring tools such as Articulate 360 dominate the market, H5P is an excellent tool with capacity to do much of what the older tools on the market are capable of. It’s open source origin, portability, and shareability make it a game changer.

Microsoft 365 (various)

Higher Education Learning | Documents, Slides, Communications

I’m pretty sure Jane’s survey said to list this as a collective software rather than each Word, PPT, etc. individually, so here it is. I use Teams every day for comms, and finally figured out how to use it effectively for document sharing/organization/collaborative editing. For slides and quick and dirty graphics I still use PowerPoint. Part of that is just familiarity with the tool, but also that’s largely what my clientele use, so I stick with what can be shared, edited, and returned. MS Forms is slowly becoming the predominant survey tool I’m using in 2021 as well. In previous years I might have had GSuite here instead, but in 2021 MS365 is where I’m spending energy with these types of tasks and deliverables.

WordPress (21)

Personal Learning | Higher Education Learning | Communities of Practice | Content Management System, Blogging

Out of all content management systems I use, I would say WordPress is the one I use most. I have my own blog and portfolio built on WordPress, I also use it for presentations using the SPLOTpoint theme (h/t CogDog). Through my work in higher ed, we use WordPress for open access online courses, as well as special project courses (see SPLOTbox with the previous link). I support ebook & open textbook using Pressbooks as the platform (built on WordPress) and launch loads of H5P activities from the WordPress plug-in. What I really like is that it’s what you might call a low-floor high-ceiling tool, easy to get into but the options seem limitless depending on how far you want to go.

Canvas LMS (57)

Higher Education Learning | Learning Management System

I would be surprised to see any edtech of ID from higher education not include their LMS in their top 10. My place of employment recently moved from BBL to Canvas (yes over the pandemic year), so I have been living and breathing this LMS for a little over a year.

iTunes Podcasts (45)

Personal Learning | Workplace Learning | Higher Education Learning | Communities of Practice | Podcasts, Keeping Up

I can’t recall how far back Jane’s lists go, but this tool would be in my top ten for every year. I listen to hours of podcasts per week. Some for personal enjoyment. Others for professional development (lots of great edtech and ID related podcasts out there). I share notable podcasts with colleagues and clientele, and even include some in course design and development projects. What I really like is just being able to throw in a pair of headphones and walk out the front door and get some air while learning.

YouTube (1)

Personal Learning | Higher Education Learning | Communities of Practice | Video Streaming

Whether it be for personal learning (recently I’m trying to learn how to tile), including explanatory videos or lectures for online courses – bonus points, some of the videos are enhanced with H5P! – or sharing workshops with the broader community  – like through the ACCP-CAID channel – YouTube has a lot to offer. The burn-in ads, related video suggestions, and questionable content have made it tricker to use and enjoy over the past few years, but ultimately it’s still very useful for learning.

Panopto (83, and new to the list!)

Workplace Learning | Higher Education Learning | Video Recording, Video Streaming

I used to use a series of screen recording applications, but since my place of employment adopted Panopto is has become my go to screen-recording app. It’s so simple to use, can capture multiple streams, has just enough basic editing tools, and flexible sharing options. For all kinds of JIT training for software (lots of Canvas in the past year for example), I just boot up Panopto, capture the explanation and the screen walk through, and send it directly to the client. It’s all connected through SSO so sharing is quick and secure if I need that. It’s also very simple for instructors I work with to capture and share lectures with their online students.

Padlet (26)

Higher Education Learning | Collaborative Workspace

The tenth tool was difficult to think of, so here is Padlet. Padlet is great for getting lots of students to contribute to one space with little friction. Everything about Wiki applies here in terms of being quick and collaborative, but you get different kinds of products because Padlet is not focused on long form writing. It’s great for sharing resources in tile boards, juxtaposing ideas on shelf boards, creating collaborative mindmaps, the recent addition of the timeline board enables a nice linear layout. It’s often media rich creations which the students and instructors enjoy alike. Depending on the task at hand, Padlet has even replaced the use of discussion forums in parts of many courses.



That’s my off-the-cuff top 10 list. What’s on your list?

Photo by Katie Rodriguez on Unsplash