The Modern Professional Learner’s Toolkit

There is a lot of interest in the behaviour of the Modern Learner, but in the context of work it is more appropriate to talk about the Modern Professional Learner. The Modern Professional Learner learns for, at and through work in many different ways – i.e. not just in formal training or e-learning, but through everyday work experiences as well as on the Web.  In doing so the Modern Professional Learner makes use of a wide variety of tools.

The diagram below shows the key tools a Modern Professional Learner might use in 12 different contexts – many of which appear on the Top 200 Tools for Learning 2016.  How many do you use for your own professional learning? How many do you support in your organisation to underpin learning in the modern workplace?

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A Personal Learning Space lies at the heart of the Modern Professional Learner’s Toolkit. It is a privately-controlled space where an individual can organise and manage his/her own learning, by recording and reflecting on experiences wherever and however they take place – in the classroom, online, in the office, in a conference or elsewhere – as well as evidence changes and improvements in her/her performance change. (It might  be termed an ePortfolio or even a Personal LMS). Example: PebblePad

Web browsers are essential to get the most out of the Web. The most popular are Google Chrome and Firefox.

Social networks are where individuals build their own professional network (of trusted connections – from practitioners to thought leaders). Most popular are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Messaging apps are becoming more popular than social networks to connect with both colleague and other contacts .  Apps include Messenger and WhatsApp.

News readers let an individual subscribe to and aggregate posts from blogs and web feeds. These include Feedly and Inoreader.

Blogging tools are used by those who find it valuable to blog about their ideas and experiences. The main tools they use are WordPress and Blogger.

Resource collections – like YouTube, Wikipedia, Slideshare and TED – are often the first port of call when individuals need to solve a (learning or performance) problem.

Search engines are of course needed for a wider search of the Web, Google is the leading tool on use, although Microsoft’s Bing is another (albeit not as popular) option.

Curation tools are used by individuals to keep them abreast of new resources.  Google Alerts notifies subscribers when new resources appear of interest to them. Scoopit curates resources on specified topics and presents them in a magazine. Flipboard scours an individual’s network connections for new resources and puts them in a mobile magazine.

Bookmarking tools are used to store links to resources – either temporarily or permanently. So for instance Pocket is a tool to save something to read later, whereas tools like Diigo (are for storing textual links) and Pinterest for pinning  links as images.

Clipping tools support the “clipping” pieces of content from the Web.  The main tools for this are Evernote and OneNote, although this functionality is also found in a Personal Learning Space.

Online course & MOOC platforms offer free and paid-for online courses and programs (often from universities) for self-study . The most popular are Coursera, Lynda, edX, FutureLearn and iTunesU.

Learning experience platforms are a new range of platforms that offer continuous curated content for both personal and enterprise use. These include Degreed, Axonify and EdCast.

Enterprise LMS deliver and manage e-learning (and sometimes social e-leaning) to employees. Examples: Moodle, TotaraLMS and Cornerstone.

Classroom tools provide a way for trainees to interact and feedback in the classroom using mobile devices. Examples include Poll Everywhere and Mentimeter.

Webinar tools provide a platform for individuals to participate in live e-learning. Most popular are WebEx and Adobe Connect.

File sharing tools are used for resource sharing in work teams or across the organisation (and elsewhere). Dropbox and Google Drive are the most popular.

Enterprise social networks and platforms provide a place for individuals to connect with one another inside the organisation. Popular ESNs/Platforms include Yammer, Confluence and SharePoint.

Video meeting tools allow groups of people to meet with video conferencing facilities.  Tools include Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom.

Collaboration tools like Slack, HipChat and Trello support collaborative team work, whereas Google Docs, Google Slides & Google Sheets enable the creation of collaborative documentation.

Office tools are dominated by the Microsoft Office suite (Word, PowerPoint and Excel) although Apple iWork tools (Keynote, Pages and Numbers) are now very popular. Other tools include those like Prezi (for presentation creation).

Personal productivity tools abound but two key ones are Google Calendar and Google Translate.

Email clients are still very important communication tools, and Gmail and Outlook are the most popular.

Of course, when it comes to using these tools, a  new set of Modern Professional Learning skills is required to function effectively – to get the most out of the tools and ensure the individual is not overwhelmed. That’ll be the topic of a future article here.

[You can find out more about the Modern Professional Learner’s Toolkit here where you find a growing collection of Quick Guides to the Tools.]

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Jane Hart

Jane Hart is the Director of the Centre for Modern Workplace Learning, which she set up to help organisations and learning professionals modernise their approaches to workplace learning - through public workshops as well as private company sessions. She is the Editor of the Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, and is the author of a number of books including, Learning in the Modern Workplace 2017. You can contact Jane at editor@ModernWorkplaceLearning.com.

10 Replies to “The Modern Professional Learner’s Toolkit”

  1. Thank you Jane. Looking forward to the next article – I’m sure L&D professionals will have a part to play in helping learners navigate without being overwhelmed.

  2. This is a great collection and reflects what many of my clients recognize as a chance and a challenge at the same time.

    technically: I am missing iSpring on the poster – because this enables the use of all the PowerPoint treasures to be used in the LMS and Web and mobile. Some say: instant App creation from PowerPoint.

    1. e-learning authoring tools are not learners’ tools – they might come into contact with the courses that are produced by them – but have no interest in the tools that are used to create them. iSpring is therefore one of many learning PROFESSIONAL’s tools. See this list for more options http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/top100-wpl/

  3. Jane, this is a brilliant post! I love it – now the challenge is to enable Learning and Development to know, understand and use these themselves in order to enable their business to do the same. Love love love the graphic and the tools. Just goes to show how powerful personal learning is. Thank you.

  4. Thank you very much Jane, keeping abreat of your profession being updated is vital to keep relevant, made so much easier by the plethora of tools you have listed,many free or low cost. It makes the case for a more advocacy /ambassadorial role of L&D. One thing we must remember MLP is for L&D too, not just the rest of the business

    1. Agreed Gerry, MLP is for everyone including L&D – and if they are going to be ambassadors, they certainly will need to show they are making the most of these tools themselves. I think many are – it’s just that their current role only lets them focus on tools/platforms like the LMS, webinar tools and such like. But they need to move to a position where they can enable and support ALL the learning that takes place at work – not just SOME of it..

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