11 Online Tools That Will Improve Your eLearning Process

11 Online Tools That Will Improve Your eLearning Process
Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com
Summary: In this article I will share 11 of the most popular and useful online tools you can use to improve your eLearning process.

Improving Your eLearning Process Using 11 Online Tools

We all want to learn easier and better. That’s why eLearning was invented to begin with. It is a tool that hugely simplifies learning by breaching distances and making it easier for people who are occupied during normal hours to classes after all. It doesn’t end there either. Obviously it’s a massive advantage for people living in disadvantaged areas, where they might not have access to standard education. It’s for this reason that so many of the eLearning trends are positive. And it is for this reason that we’ll continue to see the online tools surrounding eLearning multiply and increase in sophistication, both for the eTeacher and the eLearner. The problem is, how do you make sense of it all and what online tools work best?

Today we’re going to take a look at 11 of the 100 online tools listed by Jane Heart. For those of you who haven’t seen the list before, it was created by getting 2000 learning professionals to weigh in and give their opinions and its worth a look in its entirety.

  1. Twitter. 
    Now we all know about twitter. And yet, because it’s right at the top, we can’t really ignore it can we? The tool is so useful because it means that you can follow the most influential and aware people in the field you’re interested in and see what they find out about and share. In this way staying at the cutting edge and knowing what’s going on is made many times easier than it would otherwise be. It’s discussed in more detail here.
  2. YouTube. 
    Some things you can read about and some things are just better explained in a video. It’s for this reason that Youtube follows so close on the heels of Twitter, with it toggling back and for the between 2 and 3 for most of the years it has been up there. Yes, we all know about it, yes it’s obvious, but it still deserves to get mentioned. After all, there are so many dedicated film makers out there creating lessons on everything from chess to science experiments there is always something to learn here as long as you know what you’re looking for.
  3. Google search. 
    Similarly, we really can’t not mention Google. The search engine that continues to get 90% of the world’s searches and continues to be one of the truly phenomenal online tools for eLearning purposes. In fact, it’s actually getting ever more accurate with machine learning serving to make our searches generate better and better results. I’m looking forward to the day where it anticipates a search even before we’ve typed it in. It’s going to happen, you know.
  4. Skype. 
    This tool also deserves to get mentioned for the way it utterly revolutionized calling since its creation. Before that it was basically impossible to speak long distance for long periods of time unless you were paying an arm and a leg and they happen to be made of gold. Now this is standard. Skype did that. What’s more, they’ve continued to improve their services making it possible for groups to work together from any corner of the world through conference calling, as well as teachers to meet face to face with their groups and students wherever they may be. Now if they could only fix it so that it looked like they were looking you in the eye, instead of down at your chest.
  5. Evernote. 
    Evernote is the premier note taking tool. It really should be in every student’s repertoire, be it eLearning or not. I personally feel that it’s just because there is a slight learning curve and people don’t immediately know how to use it that it’s not up higher. Because once you become used to gathering all of your notes from all of your different lines of research and reading into one place, you’ll wonder how you ever managed to get along without it.
  6. Wikipedia. 
    I do not understand why Wikipedia gets such a bad rap. Yes, it might be slightly more left-leaning than Encyclopedia Britannica, but the effect is not huge and is more likely to be found on articles that are further off the beaten track than the ones most read by audiences. What’s more, as a tool to get a basic insight into topics, there is nothing out there that rivals it. The trick is simply to not accept it as gospel truth and check other sources. But then that’s something students should be learning anyway.
  7. Kahoot. 
    You might not have heard of this one. In 2014 it was at position 86, this year it has jumped up an impress 64 places to 17, which makes it the list’s biggest mover. The point here is to help people gamify their teaching – and we all know how well that’s working nowadays! Check it out here to get an idea of how you can use it. The great thing is that it isn’t just the teachers that can create games. Instead it’s been designed so that everybody can take part and thereby deepen their understanding of the material.
  8. Powtoon. 
    Sometimes a video of you in front of a chalk board will do. Sometimes you need a bit more. In the latter case, consider using Powtoon. Here the idea is that you can easily create cartoons to help make your message more engaging and interesting to your audience, wherever they may be. It takes a little bit of effort to get the hang of, but doing so can pay dividends in the years to come. Take a look at it here.
  9. Screencast-o-matic. 
    With this tool you can take immediate screen-capture videos of whatever you’re doing, thereby making it far easier for you to demonstrate tricks, tips, and lessons on your screen. Like how to use screencast-o-matic! You can download the software to your computer or simply use it straight from the website by hitting the button, which is a pretty nifty extra. Now the only thing you need to work on is not having a monotone and how to become more confident. Online tools can’t solve everything!
  10. Google Scholar. 
    It’s been out there for ages and yet not enough people know about the fantastic feature of Google to allow you to search actual peer-reviewed articles. The great thing is that many of them are even online and don’t require any special access to download. I think the only reason that this hasn’t really caught on is that you need to know some of the scientific jargon that people use in these papers which can make in immensely frustrating to find articles about your topic (and the to understand them). I’ve personally find that Wikipedia can help in that regard. Often doing the basic searches there and then taking the jargon and using it in scholar can get you some pretty accurate results. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out what the article says. Admittedly, that can be a challenge, but at least then you do have the research straight from the horse’s mouth.
  11. Videoscribe. 
    The highest new entry on the list, Videoscribe is great for making little animations without requiring you to have any knowhow. Now don’t expect any Hollywood quality videos here, but that doesn’t make them any less effective. The program is easy and quick to use and comes with a large library of basic elements that you can select and use immediately to further speed up the process.

Last Thoughts

Slowly more and more elements that distract students in normal class settings –such as social media, gamification, and videos– are becoming available for us to use in eLearning class settings. And that’s tremendous because students can use all the help they can get. After all, the world is not getting less complicated and those that are not getting an education are in ever more dire straits. So let’s use these online tools and make a difference!