I hope I never find myself in the position of this monk where I need to call in technical support to figure out how to read an object called a “book.” In my judgment there IS a danger, however, in becoming too dependent on “technology learning tools.” My favorite tools remain a # 2 pencil with an eraser, a Pilot G-2 broad ink pen, some writing paper, and my mind. Nonetheless, this blog post is a heart-felt mini-festschrift to an Internet visionary.

I’ve written numerous blog posts about the tremendous value I find from Jane Hart’s annual identifying top learning tools. I have unbridled admiration and respect for her vision, willingness to share, and thought-provoking ideas. As I wind up (or wind down) my teaching career over the next few years, I am making an intentional, concerted effort to use things I have learned from Jane (directly or indirectly) over the past seven years. Thank you, Comrade and Mentor across the Pond!

  1. I have incorporated into my Experimental Social Psychology class use of a Ning (or see Julie Lindsay‘s superb utilization of a Ning). If you would like to visit this Ning, especially if you are a former student or classmate of mine or are also an experimental social psychologist, let me know. I would welcome incorporating into the Ning your thoughts about the course or your thoughts about being a social psychologist or using social psychology.
  2. Jane has influenced (favorably) my extra-classroom university academic life (e.g. I maintain alumni contact through Linkedin, and by my cross-posting my WordPress blogs across Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Jane’s influence has transformed the way I conduct my committee work (e.g. I recently began a Planning and Budget Committee meeting which I co-chair with a screenflow screencast which explained to colleagues how to access budget and planning information).
  4. Jane has transformed my daily interaction with my student research assistants who annually pilot test all tools on Jane’s list.  Among the tools we currently use or are bench-marking for student learning utility are Google Drive, Class Owl, and WordPress. These research assistants continue to revitalize me with their intelligence, playfulness, eagerness to learn, and youth. I have invited this year’s S -Team to identify what Top Tools they find most valuable and which they’d like to learn. Stay tuned.

Posted by Professor David Simpson

Professor of Psychology, Carroll University (USA), Lover of Dogs, Reading, Teaching and Learning. Looking for ways to enhance cross-global communication and to apply technology learning tools. Interested in brain health maintenance, brain fitness training, and truth in advertising.


  1. Speaking of stretching the boundaries of higher education. I would love to hear your opinions on World Science U. http://www.worldscienceu.com/ It’s a website devoted to teaching the basics of Einstein’s theory of relativity and other cosmological quandaries to anybody, for free. I find it fascinating how it combines virtual face time with real physicists and engaging virtual lectures. In my opinion it’s a model of education to be experienced and possibly replicated.

  2. No, I didn’t find you “ranty.” We are on the same page.
    Alas, I don’t travel much (though I have a Minnesota nephew) and drink milk.

    1. The next frosty glass is on me! Thanks so much Dr. Simpson. Excited to work more with you.

  3. I think the question need to be not just about the online tools, but their nature of the learning environment too. Who is to say a class needs to be 15 weeks at 3 hours a week. Why not 1 week, 1 day or 1 year. Tools can complement the learning process, but never fully replace it. I think a blended experience is best, but too much of the move towards tech has been considered through the lens of trad learning. How do we extend the notion of the classroom? Or being a lifelong learner? I realize some of this is mandated by accrediting bodies, but all of higher ed could benefit from a holistic look at outcomes — and timelines and environments — as a means of creating a compelling, project driven learning exp. Which ultimately can be more portfolio yielding, individualized, affordable and satisfying.

    1. I am sympathetic to your thoughtful ideas, but I am presently constrained by the educational environment I have been in the past 36 years. Ideas similar to yours have been expressed by Cathy Davidson http://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2014/10/04/six-trulyradical-ideas-reinventing-college.

      1. Totally. I was ranty, but it was a sympathetic rant. Higher (and lower) ed need a refresh and tech will be part of it. Educators are stuck in the middle of it all. It’s daunting, but your work and effort to extend the boundaries of education are paramount to change actually happening. We should pull you to MN for a meeting and a beer. I could talk about this stuff for days.

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