Thursday, August 5, 2010

Top 10 Learning Sites for ________? Yours? #T10LS :)

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."
- Albert Einstein

"See, here's the thing, though. I don't want 99 mind mapping resources, tools, and tips. I want one. That works. Really well. "
- Stephen Downes

To cut the crap short, and get to the point... It is amazing how many educators (that I have crossed path with) until today (Yes, already 2010!), who are clueless or know little about the amazing world of Open Educational Resources (OER)/Open Courseware (OCW) and learning tools. There are probably many reasons for that, so I am not going to go into that.

But, what I find even more shocking and troubling is educators who are also clueless about the amazing learning possibilities (tools and resources) within their own field/area/specialization/learning domain. I just hope you are not one of them.

No doubt we can't know and do everything, and there will always be new tools and resources blazing through in an ever growing global learning sharing stream. But, we should have some idea, or be open to explore new and innovative learning possibilities within our learning domain(s), because our students deserve it (or they will eventually desert us...).

So, how can we motivate or inspire educators to find and explore these new learning possibilities?

Peer pressure? Peer recommendation? Now, we are getting closer (I think!). Of course mambo jumbo lists are useful (e.g. OER), but for a busy educator it might be.... No time for that! Stephen Downes's quote above makes sense!

But, what if we filtered out the juiciest learning resources and tools, and stamped our validation for use (or recommendation). Now, that would be interesting, wouldn't it? Instead of 1000, 100, it is narrowed down to digestible portions (unless you are Takeru Kobayashi!).

To set a digestible portion criteria, we could use the magical number of seven, but I am going to suggest no more than 10 for whatever... Anyway, we don't have to be too rigid on such things, but just be reminded that Less is often more (especially for learning). Look who's talking :)

For example, I am looking for excellent resources or tools to explore critical thinking, where to start? I know Stephen Downes is facilitating a Critical Literacies Online Course, and has published a widely used 'Guide to the Logical Fallacies'. So, wouldn't it be great to have a juicy Top 10 (or anything less, or perhaps a bit more!) list of excellent critical thinking resources recommended by Stephen Downes as a starting point.

Of course, there are many more sites to explore, but having a great starting point validated or recommended by an expert won't harm anyone (would it?).

So, let's think bigger! What if more experts shared their filtered and recommended learning resource lists for their particular specializations or areas. Imagine great contextualized learning start points for Psychology, Medicine, Biology, Law, English, Creative thinking, critical thinking...(perhaps a bit more micro) you name it. Now, wouldn't that be useful?

Here are 10 amazing learning resources to explore for personal learning, especially if you are into e-learning and learning (Not ranking, just numbering):
  1. Einztein
    A wonderful starting point to find free online courses with a bit of spice from top Universities. Also, the Academic Porthole is a great starting point, as it also includes OER guides to several learning domains.

  2. iTunes U
    Here you can find more than 250,000 free lectures, videos, films, and other resources from many of the top Universities around the world. Since I am using an IPhone (and IPod), it is such a wonderful resource to feed me with recorded lectures for my long traffic jams every working day.

  3. YouTube EDU and Academic Earth
    YouTube has aggregated all of the videos from its college and university partners - including luminaries like Stanford, Harvard, and Dartmouth - in one place. Academic Earth is an educational video website with the goal of enhancing the usability and expanding the awareness of OER, focusing first on video lectures. Since most of its resources are aggregated from YouTube, I have mashed both into one. Also, you can even grade the lectures (A to F) on Academic Earth. Cool!

  4. TED Talks
    Hundreds of inspiring talks by the some of the most innovative and amazing thinkers and doers the world has to offer. And 95.5% of these talks are 20 minutes or shorter, meaning they are perfect for mobile learning. How on earth can we ignore such a resource (after discovering it)?

  5. OLDaily (Stephen Downes)
    If you are looking for the latest news, trends, reflections, etc. in the (online) learning world, Stephen Downes is the ultimate synthesizer (that I have come across) of what is going on. I love the way he reflects and extracts the essence (or what he finds interesting) of all the articles, sites, tools, resources, etc. he discovers in his daily online newsletter (excluding weekends!). You might also want to also check out his homepage to discover all the other stuff he is doing, including his other excellent reflective blog (Half an Hour) and video recordings of all his presentations. While talking about Stephen Downes, we cannot ignore George Siemens and his elearnspace. He is the mastermind (together with Stephen Downes) behind Connectivism, the only learning theory that makes sense in the online learning world. His reflections and ramblings will keep you updated with e-learning, knowledge management, networks, technology, community development, and corporate learning.

  6. Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (Jane Hart)
    If you want to find or know more about learning tools and how to use them to facilitate online learning that sizzles, then this site will serve you amazingly well. Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day is awesomely useful, and you won't be disappointed with her Tools Directory and Top Tools for Learning 2010. In addition, I love the fact that she provides us with a weekly round-up of the new learning tools added to the tools directory. Besides that you just have to check out her social media guides:

    These social media guides are simply a goldmine for anyone who is clueless, or wants to learn how to implement social learning in their teaching and learning environments. Also, don't miss her 100 Featured Learning Professionals, which will provide you with information, inspiration and/or interaction on a range of educational and workplace learning topics from around the world - via their blog, on Twitter or on other social networks. A life time worth of learning!

  7. The Rapid eLearning Blog (Tom Kuhlmann)
    When you think about improving your rapid e-Learning, instructional design, PowerPoint or graphic creation skills, Tom Kuhlmann's Rapid eLearning blog provides you with a lot of great advice, tips, examples and short-cuts. Also, don't forget to get his free elearning ebook while you’re there. In short, this blog is easily my favorite 'Rapid e-Learning' learning blog! No doubt about that!

  8. ELearningLearning (Tony Karrer)
    It is not really a list, but an amazing aggregator of excellent workplace or corporate learning blogs and posts filtered out by Tony Karrer. Just subscribe to this one, and you are basically subscribing to tons of great corporate or workplace learning blogs out there. Actually, it is a blog post repository in itself, and you will find the indexing, Monthly top featured posts, best from.., etc. very exciting (Well at least I did!). It uses the Browse My Stuff technology to create this topic hub. Topic Hubs are sites that aggregates content from a variety of sources, organizes that content around keywords in the topic domain, and supports both manual and social curation of that content.

  9. Kapp Notes (Karl Kapp)
    If you want a blog that explores 3D learning, Second Life and learning games in general, this blog is certainly one of the best that I have come across.

  10. iLearn technology (Kelly Tenkely)
    This blog is dedicated to giving teachers practical tips for integrating technology into the classroom. The learning stories are short, sweet and digestible. Perfect for the busy educator. Kelly you rock!

Besides these awesome learning sites, there are tons of other outstanding bloggers, sites, tutorials, learning games and tools to explore, but having a good starting, or knowing what sites that consume most of my online learning time should not be any harm.

Alright, that was my top 10 learning sites for personal learning. What about you? Do you have any amazing sites to share from your learning domain? If you are interested to participate, simply share your Top 10 list through your blog, or using any learning tool convenient for you. Then, either blast me a comment with a URL to your list, or perhaps tweet the URL to the list using the following Twitter hashtag:


If many of you want to participate, I will setup a wiki (using Google Sites), whereby we all can collaborate to build. Actually, it would have been cool if someone like Jane Hart could use her magic to create something similar to the Top Tools for Learning 2010 for learning sites. Now, that would be awesome!

If no one is interested, too bad! At least you can enjoy my top 10 (personal) learning sites list above. Perhaps, whatever I have said, already exists. What do you think? :)

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