Examples of using IT tools in ways not intended (for learning)

In my previous post I rambled on a bit too much about the Wombles before making the point that even if you don’t have the fanciest, latest software there is still a lot you can do. I promised some examples. I should have maybe given this article a cooler heading like “Hack your IT systems” but it didn’t quite seem right. Anyway here are the examples, not revolutionary, probably, but maybe they’ll give you some ideas and maybe you can share your ideas in the comments! I’m not sharing this as “best practice”. This is “real world practice”. What to do when you don’t have time or resources to do things the best way. When you have to do them good enough with what you have available.

The Wiki

Although very much yesterday’s technology our work Wiki is pretty new (and even a bit exciting sometimes). I’ve read lots of stories about how they can quickly get filled up with junk that nobody takes responsibility to maintain… we’ll see what happens here. But here are some ways I’ve used it for learning

Onboarding: Not a fancy personalised tool, not a solution in itself, but great to have a place to collect lots of getting started information, links to documents to read and useful courses. We have a lot of people and consultants coming in and out of projects so it’s a good helping hand to get them started.

Publishing courses and resources: Okay the courses are published elsewhere but with links to them included on the wiki as well as embedded training videos it’s easier to find and locate what they need for a particular project, without having to search through 100 e-learning courses on our LMS

Running courses: I don’t do much teaching anymore, but last time I did I put group assignments for my groups up on the wiki. They followed the resources and completed the tasks. They also had a reference to come back to after the course.

The LMS (Learning Management System)

The newest flashiest all integrated LMS systems seem to do everything. Ours doesn’t but can still do a lot more than just deliver classroom and e-learning courses.

Reading lists checkoff: We sometimes have to send out large technical reading lists to personnel. Using a quiz feature in the LMS and self assessment we can track who has and hasn’t completed it.

Using a course cover page to give ad-hoc updates: Our e-learning courses are gradually getting older and in need of updating. This costs a lot and sometimes isn’t worth the money when the errors are fairly superficial… by updating the course cover page in the LMS (it’ll depend on the system) we don’t need to update the e-learning and we can warn people what is out of date, what has changed and what to ignore. Not ideal but does the job.


Nanolearning seems to still be a bit of a buzzword. I’m lucky enough to have access to a commercial system for creating and publishing nanolearning (Junglemap). But I use it for way more than sending out little blocks of information.

Publishing software help & Intro guides: A nanolesson can give me a framework to wrap up and publish an intro along with getting started guides and embedded videos in a nice little package. It’s a great way to introduce a new piece of software and also becomes a reference manual that can be used when needed. (I also add links to them on the wiki – see above)


Everybody loves Powerpoint, lots of people hate it too because it’s often used to create monsters. But it has a lot of potential as a great learning tool.

Create and record short presentations: I’ve used it to create and record short presentations (using Office Mix). The presentations are then embedded into a nanolesson, wiki or email. They have to be good presentations! Generally short introductions to a topic or definitions are good uses of this. You can read my previous intro to Office Mix here.

Part 3

That was a little taster of how I use some of our software in slightly different ways than intented. In part 3 I will write about how you can combine free tools along with the recycling to open up even more horizons…


(Original background Banner Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash)

(Womble photo by Natalie Ingram)

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