Free tools for learning

Free online tools were discussed in a great presentation at ALT C conference in Leeds earlier this month. Jane Hart runs a website which tests and gets people to vote and comment on their use of these tools – as a result of which there is a league table of the most popular.

The presentation finally made me get on and do something about social bookmarking, blogging, a homepage which brings stuff together, mindmapping software etc etc. In fact life has changed since this workshop. I am now using igoogle as my homepage with lots of feeds from blogs, news etc (there is a design with sheep on it, so I am happy). WordPress.com is clearly a coming favourite as this blog has been so easy to create and maintain. PBWiki.com is a great simple and freely hosted wiki development tool which I am testing for groups which are meant to be leaderless. Delicious social bookmarking is a joy simply because you can group website bookmarks under tags and categories, making finding bookmarks much easier. And of course you can use different web browsers but still find your bookmarks over the web. Free mindmapping software from bubbl.us.com is very simple, not particularly exciting, but free so all my students can be encouraged to use it – rather than the mindgenius software I have used in the past which they would need to pay for and is not on student licenced computers on campus.

All in all, I’m having a great time with this stuff, setting up before term starts a lot of hopefully timesaving ways of keeping track and keeping in touch. One bit of software I have not yet used but am so pleased to have finally found, is VUE, which is presentation software – free again – based on use of images and short notes. I saw it used some years ago and loved it – didnt know the name. Now I know it, I am bound to find a use for it!!