10 Ways To Learn In 2010

There are so many cool ways to learn online now. The whole world is a school. This list is meant for continuous learners and for procrastinators looking for distractions in the coming year.

1. Learn through Visual Search Engines

How would you like your search engine to show results in a collage? Spezify does just that. It’s a visual search engine that draws content from all over the Web, particularly social media sites. Your collage might show a book from Amazon, a YouTube video and a page from a blog or web site. You drag the results to navigate the page and then click the graphic to view the media. Although the results might not be as robust as with conventional search engines, it’s a lot more fun. Other visual search tools include: viewzi, Kart00 and search-cube.

2. Learn from Word Clouds

How can you search for something on a site when you’re not sure what’s there? Though Word Clouds aren’t new, have you used them as a learning tool? If you go to Wordle and enter a site’s url or feed url, you can use the word cloud as an index to the site. Look for words of interest and then search for those articles or pages.

You can also use word clouds as the basis for writing a poem, for studying another language and for comparing two pages of information. Janet Clarey compared two articles from this site using word clouds. You can also create tag clouds with TagCrowd and you probably figured there had to be a tweetcloud.

3. Ask a Question

Although Question and Answer sites aren’t new on the Web, we’re now at a point where there are enough experts online and enough Q&A sites to make finding an answer more feasible. Some sites crowd-source the answers while others use mentors to answer questions in their area of expertise. These sites are also great for browsing through when you’re in procrastination mode.

Here are a few: Amazon’s Askville, Yahoo Answers, Answerbag, Gotta Mentor, BlurtIt, and WikiAnswers. For answers to eLearning related questions, try one of the LinkedIn eLearning Groups with a high membership, like The eLearning Guild or Instructional Design & E-Learning Professionals’ Group. FYI: You can always shoot me a question through the contact page and I’ll answer or crowd-source it.

4. Think Visually

One of the best ways to learn is to look at things from a new perspective. Prezi can help you do this. It is one of the most innovative tools for creating nonlinear presentations. Check out their Showcase.

Expressing and organizing your ideas in mind maps is another approach to expanding or changing your perspective. Try these free online mind mapping tools, some of which are collaborative: Mindmeister (check out their Public Mind Maps), Xmind and Mindomo.

5. Hang Out with Professors

We now have lots of options for taking free online college courses. Imagine a great lecture with no tests, papers or deadlines. That’s right. Check out UC Berkeley Webcasts, which has a mix of video and audio lectures and MIT’s Open Courseware, which consists of PDF lecture notes and some multimedia presentations. OpenLearn has a Learning Space with lecture notes and discussion forums. You can also reuse and remix their content to create your own courses in their Lab Space. Other open university courses are at Carnegie Mellon and Tufts University. Don’t forget the lectures from University of Oxford and Stanford on iTunesU.

6. Watch Documentaries

If you like to learn from documentaries, you can catch some free ones at Get Docued, Free Online Documentaries and Free Documentaries.

7. Tune In to Big Ideas

Discuss, watch and get inspired at some of the sites that promote new and innovative ideas. You’ve probably seen the videos at Ted, but what about Big Think, Fora.tv and Ideas Project?

8. Learn through Twitter

Do you ever search through tweets to discover the latest resources and conversations? Real time search is very now. For example, I just searched for ‘elearning’ (I know I’m boring) and got directed to a great discussion about how to help learners get the most from eLearning. You can search directly on Twitter, but they say the results are less than stellar. Other real time search engines that get better reviews are Twazzup, Tweetzi, IceRocket (searches other social media too) and TweetScan.

9. Hop Into a Debate

Learn about all sides of an issue through online debating. Debategraph uses a visualization tool to show the complexity and multiple aspects of world issues. You can start at the Gallery to pick an issue. Then select Stream View (the small print below) to see the visualization. You can then explore the issue and add your own viewpoint. Also, check out Debate.org, where you read the debates and vote on a winner.

10. Create a Mashup

Mashups let you combine and remix information, media, content, web applications and services. Making a mashup helps you perceive information in new ways and is a learning experience in itself. Two mashup platforms are Pipes and Scrapplet. Pipes is an aggregator tool for manipulating and remixing content and data from around the web. Scrapplet uses a drag and drop approach for mashing up content, particularly from social media sites.

How do you plan to learn online this year?

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  1. Veronica says

    Thanks for this fantasitc list. As a teacher new to using edtech in the classroom I am pretty excited, as this will give me and my students a great place to begin. If you have no objections I would love to use this as a basis for a tech research project for the coming year. Will feed you the results. Again, thanks for sharing.

  2. Sahana says

    A wonderful list! I am trying out each of the tools and each one has its respective benefits. Thanks a lot for compiling this one.

  3. learningquranonline says

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

  4. Cheryl McNeil says

    Nice article. Thank you for the Twitter resources. You are not alone; I have also done an e-learning keyword search on Twitter. You are right — real time search is very right now. You can also subscribe to e-learning tweets through Google Reader. This will alert you to industry tweets as they are happening. So you would never miss a tweet about e-learning. You can follow me: http://twitter.com/graphik1

  5. Abdulrahman Alzahrani says

    Actually, great resources were mentioned in this post. In point of view, browsing the internet considered a learning tool. Checking emails, forums, blogs, or any social networks are ways of learning that we do almost everyday without paying attention that we are learning. Moreover, elearning became easier eapecially with new technology of mobile devices and the wireless internet connections almost everywhere.

  6. Marilyn says

    Thanks for the good advice for 2010. I have used the UC Berkely webcasts and they are great. You can sit in on lectures given by some of the top professors on topics ranging from brain anatomy to ecology. It is a great way to learn something new without paying for the tuition or buying the book.
    I think Twitter still has a way to go before it is used in a learning environment.

  7. OffCampus-Student says

    Hopping into the debate is without doubt one of the best ways to learn. As an online student, I notice that I do best in subjects where online (and offline even) discussion and debate are encouraged.

  8. starpath says

    Where we are heading for sure. Service providers (health and education) take note that Gen Z are highly mobile and their needs and characteristics are different from Gen Y.

  9. LaDonna says

    These are some good ideas for learning online. I will give them a try. Thanks for sharing


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