Technologies of 2009

Well, it’s the end of 2009 and I have some favourite technologies and applications to share with you. Obviously these are my opinions and based a lot on what I’ve had the chance to experience and use. Most of these are for personal use, but I’ve stuck in one category for educational use. See what you think – respond in the comments if you agree or have a different perspective.


  • Amazon MP3 store – Launched in the UK just before the end of 2008, it was only this year I really appreciated being able to download DRM free, high quality MP3s legally and easily! The downloading tool works on Ubuntu, so it’s been really easy to make it my number one source for purchased music, but…
  • Spotify – then along comes one of the best things about 2009! I managed to get in on the free accounts before invitations were necessary, and I’ve never regretted it. I can no longer think of an excuse to pirate music – it’s so much easier and quicker to stream an album (which makes it better than It’s also broadened my musical habits – the suggestions are starting to get quite good, although quite heavily weighted by the last week or so’s listening.
  • iPlayer – Not technically a new product, iPlayer has evolved over the last 18 months to be a much more useful tool. For the few thing’s I’ve not DVRed, it’s a good way to catch up on TV.

My winning media application has to be Spotify for the way it’s changed my music-listening habits in the past year and, as far as I can foresee, in 2010 too.


  • Twitter – I joined twitter late, I guess, not until April 2009. Not always an early adopter, see! I like the mix of people on my follow list and the effort that many of them make to be interesting. I don’t follow many “celebrities”, but rather friends and people intend to learn from.
  • Facebook – again, clearly not a new technology for 2009, but one that’s exploding – in fact as I’m writing this post I have been “facebooked” by my Dad. Hmmm. I like the stream of data from friends, having a little idea what’s going on for them even though we’re not in close touch. I don’t like Farmville or giving “presents”. And that’s what the “hide” button on the feeds are for!

Twitter wins – not for number of users, or “features” but for doing what it’s supposed to, and not having mafia wars.


  • – Prezi is a web app that allows you to create incredible zooming presentations. I’ve used it to teach topics at school, to leave instructions for students to follow while I’m away and also as a tool for pupils to use to structure and present their ideas. Prezi has a steep learning curve for the initial creation of something – it’s not at all like any tool you’ve ever used before – but when you’ve got it it seems dead simple and hugely powerful. The zoom effect is classy yet engaging for the audience and the limited styles available mean everyone who creates with prezi ends up with something that looks great. Unlike PowerPoint.
  • RM VLE – new to QEMS this year is a VLE. So my dabbling with Moodle has been packed away and a new tool is tried out. While a VLE should be fantastic news and a real asset in developing learning, ours is not at that point yet. Perhaps it’s too early in the adoption cycle to judge it, or perhaps I need to put more effort into materials. So far it seems to be important but not a sure-fire win.
  • Wordle – very popular with some teachers this year for creating posters of keywords and starting points for revision, wordle is a web app that creates tag clouds. A neat idea, a good application of it.

Without question, for me, Prezi wins my favourite educational tool for 2009. I’ve used it so much with some classes that they ask me for a link to the Prezi instead of slides from the powerpoint and they send me links instead of printing homework. Awesome tool – try it!


  • iPhone – again, not a new product, but with the 3GS, applications and multiple networks, this year has continued the march of the Phone to world domination! It seems about every other person now has one and it’s impossible to argue that iPhone has changed the way we use the internet on the move.
  • Android – As smartphones are on the up, all the big names want in on the action – Google included. Android has done what seemed impossible – making a linux splash on the little screen. With a decent app store and increasingly good hardware with the HTC Hero and the Motorola Milestone/Droid, Android are really taking the battle to Microsoft and Apple!

Erm. No winner this time – I bought the Nokia N900 – a different, linux-based smartphone with an awesome screen. There’s a lot more to come in this smartphone war!