Learning Tools – Do these really belong?

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My initial post was going to be on a completely different topic today, but I decided to shelve it for another week, because of something that I saw on Linkedin this week


First off, Jane Hart put this together from whereas folks voted for the tools they use for learning. As she stated to me, “this is their list, not mine.”  That said, I do appreciate all the hard work, Jane put into this, with the compiling of this data and its presentation of it. 

That said, there were some curious items on this list, which to me, doesn’t really fly in the world of learning tools.

A learning tool, should be well, a form of learning technology, not just a product that is for say e-mail, that is used because we send learning URLs in it, or we take courses on the subject or we can send invites to web conferences in it. 

Social Media is questionable too.  Can it be used as an outlet for providing learning? Sure, depending on how it is used.  I use Twitter, but there is no way, I see it as a learning tool.  Because it is not.

Higher education where social media tools could be utilized for their students. But HE has a very poor track record of using them when it comes to mobile learning. For example, how many colleges/universities have their students create projects and post them on an Instagram channel under the name of their school for that LMS?   I can’t recall any.

And there are a lot of businesses out there that block their end users from accessing any type of social media from the workplace.  Even when it is in an LMS or other types of learning systems.

And if we are going to talk about social media, why aren’t there any vendors from countries such as China?

  • Qzone – 970M users
  • Weibo – 360M users

Speaking of social media, why is VK missing? It is ideal for mobile, and has 97 million users (as of Aug 2018). 

When exploring this list, I must admit I am confused on the following

  • Slack

It isn’t something that see as a learning tool. It is a collaboration, communication tool – but who uses it in edu/HE?  For corporate, there are lot of folks who do not use it.  Their training tools – i.e. how to use Slack are awful.   To me, this is not a learning tool.

While I see Amazon Kindle on here, for ebooks I assume,  there are plenty of folks who buy books (hardcover and softcover), so why isn’t Amazon itself on this list? Heck, where are the textbook sites?

  • Google Docs and Microsoft Word

Again, just because you use them to write up Work Instructions or a list of items to learn, they should not qualify as a learning tool.  That is a stretch, just as folks note PowerPoint here.

PowerPoint is a presentation software.  Yes, folks create courses from it – and while that is what spins it as a learning tool, my sense is that more folks use it as presentation software than as a learning tool.  So if you slide it here, then I can’t see it as top ten.

One person who responded to a thread on this topic queried why there was so much of Google on this list.  I concur, especially since I do not see one item that is truly a learning tool – although some folks will argue that Google Slides is one.   If you are going to pitch Google, then Google Classroom.

  • Apple Smartwatch

Yeah, I’m lost here.  I must have missed the learning tech beyond a smartwatch whose sales are not great.   If I am Samsung I want answers!

  • iPhone

It is a phone first and foremost, then a smartphone.  Yet, Android OS has the largest market share, and again, Samsung does quite well. Google has their own phone, where is that?


Blackboard generates the highest amount of revenue/sales in the entire LMS space, yet they are in the last tier of top tools, along with Axonify and D2L, both of which combined do not even get close to the total sales ($$$) of Blackboard.

Say what you will about Cornerstone and SumTotal, but neither are on this list. 

No VR Headsets

Surely, Google Cardboard should be on there. Last year, they sold 76M units for it.  Oculus Rift – hello?  PlayStation VR headset has a lot of end users, where is that?

Speaking of PlayStation VR,  I use Playstation Vue (yes, a cord cutter), why isn’t that on this list?  I mean I watch programming that could be slid under learning, “The story of the Magna Carta”, that is learning I tell you!

As you can see, the list has many quality learning tech products, but it has a lot that is really not learning technology tools, let alone platforms.

Excluding my Top 50 Learning Systems, and my Top 10 Authoring tool list, I’ve never really compiled a list of learning tools, although I do keep track of plenty, just for the sake of it.

Here is a list of some learning tools, that slide under learning technology (excluding learning systems, except for one)

  • Questionmark – Assessment tool
  • Any of the 100 plus authoring tools on the market but here are my top tier ones, in no particular order
  1. dominKnow
  2. Articulate Storyline (latest version)
  3. Knowbly – a newcomer, suited best for ID and e-learning developers, has a content mgt component for those LOs
  4. Gomo
  5. Cenario VR Trivantis’s VR authoring tool.  I like it, but to say it is truly VR is questionable.  Still better than Adobe’s version.

Language Learning Tools (Top Three)

  • Fluenz –  I  have used it and like it, way better than Rosetta Stone
  • Babbel   Great on your mobile device, beats Rosetta Stone
  • Duolingo – When it comes to gamification and language learning, best one out there.

Tools you may have never heard of

Why post the ones you know, when there are so many out there that just may be off your radar, including a new video authoring tool pitched as “digital transformation” – no you are a video authoring tool that is robust.

Let this list of “Who are you”, but let me check you out list

  • Quizalize – Assessments that you change into games, for education and HE
  • Nearpod – Find lessons to use – education 100% here
  • Speach me –  Video authoring tool where you can add other types of media and yes, a table of contents – YEAH
  • Consensus – Create video demos, video recordings etc. – Gavin Hess, the guy behind RapidIntake (wonderful authoring tool years ago), is the person who created this product, formally known as DemoChimp
  • Koantic – Video authoring tool, can record video from mobile and has a chrome extension
  • Virtway – 3D Immersive Events and Training
  • Scootpad – Okay, I know it sounds like something you would buy your puppy; but excluding the name a practice- instruction-assessment, etc. type of offering
  • Tablo Since ebooks are technically a learning by-product, then how about creating your own workbooks, ebooks, etc. with this platform.
  • Showpad – Sales training software (yeah it is a learning system, but have you heard of it?)
  • WalkMe – What is it with “Digital adoption” and transformation hitting the scene for e-learning? The product is a built-in how to use solution that you can slide into any learning system for the most part as well as some net tools, etc.  – Instead of having your learners call you on how to do this, they can use this offering in your platform – “show me, tell me, let me do it” approach.
  • Audacity – It is a free, open-source audio tool.  Can match many you find in authoring tools.  Yeah, most folks know it, but a lot more do not.
  • iConnect – Video coaching tool
  • Masterplan – Video authoring tool, super robust – sort of a video learning platform, but still video authoring is the core of it.
  • etudesk –  Sells courses focused on developing and improving one’s skills
  • Fretello – Mobile app which teaches you have to play a musical instrument

Bottom Line

This is just a sample but shows that there are plenty of learning tech tools, that are not Google-related or Microsoft built or even a search engine.

But if you are one who feels otherwise, then here are two for you to check out

One is Zapier the best app automation product on the market (and some vendors use it), and the other is a search engine, called Boardreader, which pulls in information from message boards and forums.

At the end of it, a learning tool could be whatever you want it to be.

But, let’s be honest,

The only learning tools you should want are the ones built as learning technology,

not general sales.

E-Learning 24/7



  1. I think you should start taking a look at Opus by Epilogue Systems LLC out of Ambler PA. We rolled out this all Cloud solution in June with our first built in analytics in our August release.

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