Let's explore the idea that there is at least one excellent free learning tool (or site) for every learning problem, need or issue!

I want a FREE:

  1. Easy-to-use and secure Internet browser? Firefox
  2. e-Mail system? Gmail
  3. Social bookmarking tool? del.icio.us
  4. Social bookmarking tool with collaborative learning features (groups, forums, etc.)? Diigo
  5. Tool that enables me to capture, visualize, organize and share my bookmarks? SimplyBox
  6. Tool to translate text or a webpage? Google Language Tools
  7. RSS reader? Omea Reader
  8. Online RSS reader? Google Reader
  9. Online Calendar? Google Calendar
  10. Tool to aggregate all my resources, mail, RSS feeds, etc, in one place? Netvibes, iGoogle or Pageflakes
  11. Platform to incorporate all my favorite tools within one environment? Elgg
  12. Learning Management System (LMS)? Easy, Moodle
  13. Hosted LMS? Here are SEVEN!
  14. Tool to assist me in evaluating and selecting a LMS? EduTools
  15. Learning Activity Management System? LAMS
  16. Collaboration tool? Connect with Ning
  17. Social Networking tool? Tricky one! Facebook
  18. Tool to create study groups and manage group projects? GroupTable
  19. Tool to keep track of my schoolwork (assignments)? Soshiku
  20. 3D online virtual world where I can socialize, connect and learn? Second Life
  21. Content Management System (CMS)? Joomla
  22. Tool to create my own website? Webnode
  23. Virtual Classroom? DimDim
  24. Hosted Virtual Classroom? WiZiQ
  25. Tool to broadcast myself to the world? USTREAM
  26. Tool to make calls from my computer? Skype
  27. Videoconferencing chat service? Vawkr
  28. Content authoring tool? How about two? eXe & CourseLab
  29. Alternative to Microsoft Office? OpenOffice
  30. Online suite of office tools? Google Docs or Zoho
  31. Tool that accurately converts my PowerPoint to Flash (including animations)? iSpring Free
  32. Web authoring tool alternative to FrontPage and Dreamweaver? NvU or KompoZer
  33. Personal online notebook? Google Notebook
  34. Blogging tool? WordPress! Why aren't you using WordPress? Good Question!
  35. Blogging tool for educators? Edublogs
  36. Directory of edubloggers from around the world? International Edubloggers Directory
  37. Microblogging tool? Twitter
  38. Microblogging tool for education? Edmodo
  39. Microblogging tool for companies? Yammer
  40. Wiki tool? PBwiki
  41. Encyclopedia, which I can add to or edit? Wikipedia
  42. Community dedicated to collaborative development of free content? WikiEducator
  43. Audio recording tool? Audacity
  44. Tool to record and host my audio recordings online? Odeo Studio
  45. Tool to transform media into collaborative spaces with video, voice and text commenting? VoiceThread
  46. Tool for storytelling? Here are 50!
  47. Screencasting (recording) tool? Wink
  48. Hosted screencasting tool (more options)? Jing or Flowgram
  49. Mindmapping tool? FreeMind
  50. Tool to brainstorm and create mindmaps online? Bubbl.us or MindMeister
  51. Easy-to-learn 3D authoring software tool? Google SketchUp
  52. Alternative to 3D Studio Max? Blender
  53. Photo/image editing tool? GIMP or Picasa
  54. Online photo/image editing tool? Splashup
  55. Tool to create cool personalized images? Custom Sign Generator Widgets
  56. Image Resizer? Dosize
  57. Watermarking tool? uMark
  58. Screen Color Picker? ColorSchemer
  59. Tool to highlight text in a webpage? The Awesome Highlighter
  60. Tool to create flowcharts, diagrams, technical drawings? Gliffy
  61. Tool to create comics and cartoons? ToonDoo
  62. Tool to create animations? GoAnimate
  63. Tool to make screenshots from different browsers with one click? Browsershots
  64. Tool to create PDFs from any Windows program? PDFCreator
  65. Online file conversion tool (e.g. Word >PDF>PowerPoint)? Zamzar
  66. Tool to share my slides? SlideShare, SlideBoom or authorSTREAM
  67. Tool to share my videos? YouTube or TeacherTube
  68. Tool to share any type of file with unlimited storage capacity? Internet Archive
  69. Online science research sharing portal? SciVee
  70. Online community to share and discuss instructional teacher videos? TeacherTube
  71. Online community to share, discuss and learn about the uses of educational technology? EdTechTalk
  72. Online community to test my big ideas? Big Think
  73. Tool to download videos from any video sharing site (YouTube, Metacafe, etc.)? ClipNabber
  74. Self-publishing tool (books, papers, articles, etc)? Scribd
  75. Tool to share my pictures? Are you joking! Flickr
  76. Space to upload and share my files? eSnips
  77. File hosting solution that allows me to share files up to 250MB each? FileCrunch
  78. Online quiz tool? ClassMarker
  79. Tool to create interactive quizzes and puzzles? Hot Potatoes
  80. Tool to create web and print-based crossword puzzles? EclipseCrossword
  81. Inquiry-oriented lesson tool? WebQuest
  82. Multimedia flashcard software? MemoryLifter
  83. Online polling tool with a bit of fizzle? Polldaddy
  84. Online survey tool? Click here to choose!
  85. Tool to create Flash games (templates)? ClassTools.net
  86. Investment Simulation Game? Virtual Trader
  87. Interactive 3D business simulator? INNOV8
  88. Game to understand cancer better? Re-Mission
  89. Game to understand the scientific method and 21st Century Skills? River City
  90. Game to understand variable manipulations for urban management? SimCity
  91. Game to understand social studies better? Quest Atlantis
  92. Game to understand world hunger and efforts to alleviate it? WFP Foodforce
  93. Game to learn more vocabulary and help hungry people? Seriously! FreeRice
  94. Range of interactive tools to help me understand maths concepts? Shodor Interactivate
  95. Step-by-step math problem solver? Mathway
  96. Tool to publish my data online and create comparison tables? Tablefy
  97. Tool to create my own search engine tailored to my needs? Google Custom Search Engine
  98. Human-powered search engine? Mahalo
  99. Metasearch engine with visual display interfaces? What! Here is KartOO!
  100. Search engine that groups the results by topic via automated clustering technology? Vivisimo
  101. Science-specific search engine? Scirus
  102. All-in-one research search tool? Schoolr
  103. Tool to help me collect, manage, and cite my research sources? Zotero
  104. Tool that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to my website? Google Analytics
  105. Tool to search, discover, rank and compare different sites around the world? Alexa
  106. Tool to search the full text of books? Google Book Search
  107. Tool to search for scholarly literature? Google Scholar
  108. Tool to search for patents? Google Patent Search
  109. Tool that sends me email updates of the latest relevant Google results (e.g. e-Learning)? Google Alerts
  110. Energy saving search engine? Blackle
  111. Online visual dictionary and thesaurus? Visuwords
  112. World digital library? World Digital Library
  113. Tool to build and distribute my own digital library? Greenstone
  114. Site to find and search across all OpenCourseWare (OCW) courses? OpenCourseWare Consortium
  115. Repository and learning network of Open Educational Resources (OER)? OER Commons
  116. Site to get the latest updates on OER and OCW? OER Blogs
  117. Portal to non-formal OER and training resources? Open Training Platform
  118. Encyclopedia of video tutorials to help me learn any software? Edumax or Wikivid
  119. e-Book to learn more about e-learning 2.0? Learning 2.0 eBook
  120. Site to learn more about rapid e-learning? The Rapid e-Learning Blog
  121. Site to learn more about Online Course Development? Hitchhiker’s Guide to Course Development
  122. Crash course in learning theory? Click here!
  123. Database of Learning Theories? Click here & here!
  124. Tool to help me understand and use learning styles effectively? Learning Styles Online.com
  125. Repository of creative and critical thinking tools? Mycoted to the rescue!
  126. Route to learn more about the 21st century skills? Route 21
  127. Repository of how everything works? HowStuffWorks
  128. Repository of lectures from the world's top scientists? Videolectures.NET
  129. Directory of academic open access repositories? OpenDOAR
  130. Site covering today's top social, political, and tech issues? FORA.tv
  131. Site to improve my learning skills? Study Guides & Strategies
  132. Gaming tool to help me learn ICT? ReviseICT.co.uk
  133. Tool to improve my typing skills? Peter's Online Typing Course
  134. Tool to improve my reading skills? ZAP Reader
  135. Interactive courseware to improve my workplace skills? ALISON
  136. Multimedia site that enhance our understanding of war and its history? Maps-of-War
  137. 3D human anatomy visualization tool? Visible Body
  138. Tool to learn languages? Mango
  139. Tool to explore the World? Google Earth
  140. Tool to explore the Universe? WorldWide Telescope
  141. Tool to visualize human development? Gapminder
  142. Tool to answer all my questions? Answer.com
  143. Site with talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers? TED is a good starting point!
  144. Article to reveal the secrets of the super-learners? Click here!
  145. Link to the most innovative web 2.0 (and 3.0) lab in the world? Google Labs
  146. Tool to stumble upon and discover great websites, videos, photos, etc. ? StumbleUpon
  147. Daily newsletter that keeps me updated with the latest news on online learning? Stephen's OLDaily
  148. Site dedicated to tracking the changes occurring in education today? Open Education
  149. Site to update me on the latest free instructional resources for Higher Education? EduResources Weblog & Educational Technology
  150. Site to discover delicious free tools, resources, and sites? ZaidLearn's Del.icio.us Discoveries
  151. Site to make you shut up? About time! Here we go:

25 (must-have free) Tools: Professional Development Programme (Jane Knight)

In short, for every learning problem (or issue) we have today, there is probably a free tool or site out there that enables us to solve it. If not, I am pretty sure some genius out there is constructing it right now. If no one is doing it, perhaps we can do it.
Another challenge is to integrate all our learning tools efficiently and effectively into our learning spaces. On the positive note, more and more tools are creating integration modules to widely used systems like Moodle and Facebook, so it might not be so difficult after all. Also, with OpenID we can increasingly login to all our favorite websites without much hassle. Single-login to all our learning tools! Now that is something we all can appreciate! Remember one password! Tough one!

If you want to experience my learning adventure as I discover, perhaps you should subscribe to my Del.icio.us Learning Adventure! Otherwise, you could always wait a week or two for the updates in this blog. Have fun 'Socratic Tooling' to solve your learning problems and issues :)

Blogs and Wikis for Beginners
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Web 2.0 Tools in Your Classroom
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SlideShare is still my favorite free slide-sharing site, but SlideBoom is quickly becoming my next favorite one. What do I mean? I will be using both from now on. For the sake of giving SlideShare a wake up call, here are five things I like about SlideBoom, which SlideShare currently lack (hopefully they will upgrade soon!):

  1. First, you can upload PowerPoint 2007 files (.pptx), meaning you don't need to convert to PDF or .ppt before uploading (if you are using Microsoft Office 2007).
  2. Your original presentation keeps its features after conversion, including content style, animation effects, transitions, embedded audio and embedded video. This is a major weakness in the existing version of SlideShare, which really annoys me. To keep my presentations intact, I have to upload them as a PDF file.
  3. The uploading process is faster and more pleasant (well at least from my notebook and network). I suppose they have fewer users and uploads to manage. It will be interesting to see SlideBoom tackle this, when the user/viewer tsunami comes.
  4. The presentation seems to run smoother in the browser, and you can even create annotations (using pen, highlighter, eraser, etc.) to any SlideBoom presentation to point out its key ideas.
  5. The heart of SlideBoom is based on iSpring (An add-in PowerPoint to Flash converter), which enables you to convert PowerPoint to Flash offline, speeding up the process, while retaining the presentation's original effects better.
Having said that, SlideBoom's presentation size is currently limited to 30 MB (easy to upgrade!), while SlideShare enables 100 MB per presentation. In terms of users and presentation views, SlideShare still rocks big time! For example, the most viewed presentation (as of today) on SlideBoom is only 3100+, while SlideShare's most viewed presentation is a whopping 1.6 million+.

In a slideshell, I will not give up on SlideShare just yet, but you never know in the future. Anyway, why not use both! Perhaps I should consider a third free alternative. Got any suggestions?

You might be wondering why I bother taking the effort to visualize a bunch of juicy links. After doing four collections, I have come to realize that I am using 'A Whole New Mind' more effectively. Okay, I am just playing around with last year's buzz phrase and book by Dan Pink. But I did read this book recently, and I have to say that I have a long way to really grasp and nurture the kind of senses (skills, behaviors, competencies, attitudes, beliefs, etc.) required for the 'Conceptual Age' (at least that is what he calls it). But by increasingly nurturing both our left and right directed brains (One brain! I think!) we can evolve into more productive innovators, empathizers, problem solvers, designers, story tellers, bla, bla, you name it (Be creative!)... Why only three dots? Lets' add a couple more, and play with the colors and sizes ..... (Is this an innovation or what!).

Did you watch and listen to Oprah Winfrey's 2008 Stanford Commencement Address (30 min)? An interesting and inspiring speech! Though, what really got me thinking was not the three magic lessons in life, but that she talked about the conceptual age and promoted Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind book (Yeah, every graduate got one copy, too. Now, that is cheap, but creative marketing!).

So, what is the fuss about this book? Let me ask you three questions:

  1. What are the three major future trends in the global business economy?
  2. What are the three crucial questions we need to ask to succeed in any business?
  3. What are the six essential senses needed to succeed in the future?

Let me see: 3 trends + 3 questions = 6 senses. Is that correct?

Let's say you don't want or have time to read this book, here are a few brainless reflections to these three questions (Source):

But, first you need to know that Dan Pink outlines four major 'ages':
  • Agricultural Age (farmers)
  • Industrial Age (factory workers)
  • Information Age (knowledge workers)
  • Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers)
In short, we Asians should stop babbling about becoming knowledge workers, and swoosh towards becoming innovators and empathizers. If we can swoosh our left-directed brains with the right side, we will be amazing. We are already hardworking and have stored tons of facts in our brains, and by nurturing our creative mind, we can actually use all this stored fuel (knowledge) to innovate and become greener. Game on! Are we up to the challenge? Wake up! Get up! Don't give up the fight (I mean learning adventure)!

Question 1 - What are the three major future trends in the global business economy?
  • Abundance (consumers have too many choices, nothing is scarce)
  • Asia (everything that can be outsourced, is) and
  • Automation (computerization, robots, technology, processes)
Yes, even creativity will eventually be outsourced to Asia (I am not joking!). Today, you can even find 1-2 year old kids being sent to brain development programs such as Shichida method to stimulate their creative senses. Amazingly, you will even find mothers and fathers worried that their 2 year old kids are not progressing well (If no progress, I will change school/method!). Some are even nurturing their future kids in the wombs with brain exercises and Mozart. Never mind that Einstein could not speak until he was four. It will be interesting to see how these super geniuses will evolve into becoming the Asian Einsteins. Give the kids a break, and let them play (at least until they are 3) :)

Question 2 - What are the three crucial questions we need to ask to succeed in any business?
  • Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
  • Can a computer do it faster?
  • Is what I'm offering in demand in an age of abundance?
Think about it! Yes, Yes, No, and you are in big trouble. Post it on your business wall, or it might collapse!

Question 3 -What are the six essential senses needed to succeed in the future (Source)?

"When these three questions above are present (question 2's questions), creativity becomes the competitive difference that can differentiate commodities. Pink outlines six essential senses:
  • Design - Moving beyond function to engage the sense
  • Story - Narrative added to products and services - not just argument. Best of the six senses.
  • Symphony - Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
  • Empathy - Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
  • Play - Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.
  • Meaning - Immaterial feelings and values of products."
Educational point(form)-of-view:

  • Next time we design a course, we should do our best to simplify the complexity (not the other way around!), and engage students to learn beyond memorization (Is thinking and doing aloud?).
  • Also, we should not just stimulate the logical mind, but instead mash-up the boring stuff with stories (real stories, real people, happening in the real world! The Y-generation especially, loves the reality thingy!). If you are lazy, just link them to real case-studies or stories that you believe are relevant to the student's learning and course. There are tons of them on the web. If you cannot find them, be creative. Why just reflect real stories, why not act them out in class (offline or online), or convert them into a learning game on-the-fly. Have you ever wondered why you can watch a movie for 2 hours without trouble, but fall asleep within minutes during a lecture. On both occasions the learner is simply watching and listening. Why?
  • If symphony makes no sense (another sweet jargon like blue ocean), think synthesis (Another jargon, but I suppose you are familiar with it). Yes, we need to nurture the students ability to synthesize (in addition to analyzing), or the ability to see relationships, patterns, connections and linkages from multiple sources. In short, big picture thinking or or making sense of many sources, and then putting them together in new and innovative ways. How do we do that? Think!
  • Spice up your students learning with short videos, pictures, quotes, jokes, stories, etc. that challenge and provoke them to think. It should only take you a few minutes to find something on the net to spice up your teaching and learning space a bit. Show some empathy to how boring your lectures/tutorials might actually be. Imagine how you like to learn? Not surprisingly we often don't like to be taught, but we love to learn. Empower and engage your students to participate in the learning adventure. They might do a better job than us (teaching their own learning).
  • Yes, there is no harm with a bit of play, or having fun while learning or teaching. Why not spice up the learning events with a bit of humor and engaging activities. Take your course seriously! Take your students seriously! Take your curriculum seriously! But, don't take yourself too seriously! When you loosen up, students will probably join you, and learning will be more fun and engaging. We mostly know this, but we somehow forget when reality creeps in.
  • Finally, we need to find meaning in what we facilitate and teach. Students should know why they are learning whatever they are learning. Especially the Y(Why)-generation wants to know 'Why', or why bother! Oh, that makes sense! Now, I know why it is important to know this! I can use this knowledge to...! Why learn something which has no meaning to me? Or why teach something that has no meaning to the students? These things are not obvious, but if we can persuade and make sense to them why they are learning this and that, I suppose they will be more actively embracing it with their thinking minds.
That was a few brainless (or right-directed!) reflections.

Overall, Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind is a conceptual age mind awakening book, which I don't regret spending my time and money on. I really enjoyed his conversational light and easy writing style, which engaged both my logical and emotional mind. Did you know that he was previously a speechwriter to Al Gore? Now, you do!

Why not?

"And then you take a look at Spaces, there is this great innovation that came out of nowhere. We have the number one blogging site in the world because of the innovation that's there."
- Steve Ballmer

After spending the last year (Since July 2007) blogging about learning and connecting with great edubloggers (and educators), I can't think of another learning tool that has been so enriching in facilitating my own learning and enabling me to make sense of the amazing learning innovations popping up everywhere. Blogging is a wonderful tool to capture and reflect your learning, and share your thoughts and ideas to the world (or whoever is interested).

Since there are more than 112 million blogs (tracked by Technorati) out there, surely we are going to struggle a bit to find juicy educational blogs or EduBlogs (if that is what we are looking for!). However, since I have found a few really juicy ones, why not share them with you in a visually attractive manner? So, if your logical mind is not triggered to explore, perhaps your right (or creative) mind will assist you. If you haven't slammed their blog URLs in your RSS reader already, you might enjoy this final (for now!) link visualized presentation. Nope, this time around no quick links. Let's enjoy my effort to stimulate your learning and connect you to new windows (beyond Microsoft) of learning. -http://zaidlearn.blogspot.com

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Creative Web 2.0 Learning
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101 Free Learning Tools
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