Sharpest tools in the box

One of the longest running radio programmes on the BBC is Desert Island Discs. It has been on air almost every week since 1942, and it's remarkable to see that it has maintained its popularity for over 70 years. The secret of the programme is in its simplicity. Each programme features an interview with a celebrity, who is invited to bring a list of their 8 favourite music tracks and during the show they talk about why they chose them, thereby giving their listening audience an insight into their lives.

It would be easy to reproduce the same radio format using other favourite items. How about 8 favourite movies, or 8 favourite TV programmes? It would perhaps be interesting to hear about people's 8 favourite meals, or the 8 books they couldn't do without. What about technology? If I were to ask you what are the sharpest tools in your box, what would you say? What would be the 8 technologies you couldn't possibly do without?

Here are my 8 essential tools:

1) Twitter, because as I recently said in a YouTube video, it is immediate, social and personal. It connects me to my personal learning network (PLN) and is simple to use.
2) My laptops. I have an old, faithful laptop called Keith, which is now sadly in retirement, but still used occasionally to write a blog post. I also have a Netbook (known as Nigel), which is now on more or less permanent duty connected to my flatscreen television to display large screen live Twitter feeds in my home office. The laptop I now work on most of the time is my Chromebook (which has no name - it would be silly to give a Chromebook a name; they have no memory, they have no soul).
3) My iPad, which accompanies me on all my travels, keeping me in touch with e-mail, Twitter and other sites I visit regularly during a working day. It's all about connection.
4) Blogger, my blogging tool which hosts this blog and several more I run. My blog is my publishing tool, allowing me to get my thoughts and ideas out into the public where they can be discussed with others in my PLN.
5) YouTube. I discover so much great content on YouTube, and am also increasingly using it as a platform to share my own video blogs. YouTube is so simple to use, and so versatile and becomes a personal television broadcast channel for many. OK, there is a lot of rubbish on there, but if you use your digital literacies to discern the good from the bad, you'll find it is an incredible resource for learning and teaching.
6) My iPhone. I only use it for phone calls and texting and it's now officially obsolete, because it is an iPhone first edition. It may be worth something in a few years time, mainly as a museum piece.
7) Google. Many of the Google suite of tools have become quite important in my working day. Google Docs is great for sharing and collaborating on documents, and Google Scholar is good for keeping up with citations, publications and metrics. It goes without saying that Google search for me, is still one of the most powerful and far reaching tools I have discovered online.
8) My multi-standard power plug adaptor. It can be used in any country, and can connect any device to the power source of the country I am visiting. It has multiple interchangeable inputs and outputs. It even houses two USB connectors for my iPhone and iPad to charge up. I travel the world, and wouldn't be able to use any of the above tools easily if I didn't take it with me everywhere.

So those are my top 8 tools. Those are the 8 technologies I take with me everywhere I travel. Sure, I could do without most, if not all of them, but it would take a lot of adaptation, and I'm finding it hard to remember a time when I didn't have them, they all make my working life so much easier. What have I left out? Well, email and the Microsoft Office certainly, because Google tools can replace them easily. What are your 8 top tools?

Photo by Eric Bjerke

Creative Commons License
Sharpest tools in the box by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Zealman said…
Hmmm. My top 8.
Three screen pc.
Visual Studio, can't do much programming without it.
Lync for phone and instant messaging collegues.
SQL Server management studio for creating and managing databases.
Google, because you always get stuck somewhere.
Ipad for testing our web apps.
Android phone for the reason above.
Twitter to get ideas on software design and to convince management to think in new ways, (still fighting the vle crowd)
Sue Beckingham said…
1. iPhone (access to most I need but needs to be accompanied these days with reading glasses)
2. laptop (a weary Dell and ready for retirement)
3. iPad (bigger screen than my phone and yet still easy to carry about)
4. Twitter (constant source of rich information)
5. Facebook (not only to keep up with family and friends but selected pages provide news updates on a wide variety of topics)
6. Blogs (my private blog with tagged posts is my digital memory; my public blog a forum to share what I am learning)
7. (a way to gather information by topic)
8. Pinterest (a way to gather visual information by topic)
To add Slideshare and YouTube are also valuable resources for inspiration and opportunities for learning. The visual nature of many of these tools has certainly helped me explore new ideas in a way text alone didn't.
Bart Miller said…
Learning & Teaching Top 8
1 Digital Projector
2 Google Apps
3 Feedly
4 Evernote
5 Wikispaces
6 Kidblog
7 Meter stick
8 Twitter (@barmill)
David Hopkins said…
Thanks for this Steve. I will freely admit that my previous no. 1 is much further down the list now: ever since I bought my iPad my iPhone has been relegated to, well, a phone. The pity is that it's a pretty awful phone at that what with poor network signal strength and worsening battery life. The rest of my list reads as follows, and is probably quite predictable these days:

1. iPad - the screen, battery, and mobility of my iPad makes it my go-to platform at both work and home (and out and about).
2. Twitter - this is almost too easy to put at the top of the list, but without my iPad I wouldn't be as active as I am. I have a great network of followers and those I follow and respect on Twitter, and it is always a pleasure to converse and interact with them/you on a daily basis.
3. WordPress / blog - at times it is quite an onerous task to keep my blog going, and I often wonder why I do it, but then a comment comes in or a paper/book I'm reading, or something else that makes me think "write it up Hopkins!"
4. iPhone - now just a phone in my pocket but I do have an unhealthy obsession with Instagram and checking other online social networks wit it, even if I resort to whipping the iPad out to reply.
5. Flipboard - sometimes, and only sometimes, boards I follow and read have some great snippets of content and news. Sometimes.
6. YouTube - I am using this more and more these days as I am finding ways to filter out the absolute crap in order to (try) find a little bit of quality resources and guides.
Helen Whitehead said…
My top 8 (More detail here:
1. Evernote
2. Nexus 4
3. Google account
4. Feedly
5. Twitter
6. Moodle
7. Xpert attribution
8. Kaltura

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