Web Tools for Teachers and Students

This year, at the International Society of  Technology in Education (ISTE) conference (my absolute favorite conference when I was working in the K-12 environment), Adam Bellow, founder of EduClipper, and Steve Dembo, Online Community Manager for Discovery Education offered a quick run through of some favorite apps.

Here is their list of 13:

1.  Padlet used to be called Wallwisher, but it got a makeover and a name change recently. It’s essentially a virtual board with sticky notes that can be easily moved, shared and embedded. There are several views, including something that looks more like a scrollable blog and it’s easy to both personalize the experience and organize notes. The privacy and moderation settings make it easy for students to become members of a board where a teacher can post resources and encourage them to do the same.

2.  Ipiccy is like free Photoshop, but less complicated. It has intuitive editing control panels that allow for the simple things like filters, effects, cropping and resizing. It’s also easy to undo anything that didn’t turn out as imagined. But if the project requires a more sophisticated treatment, Ipiccy has layers that like Photoshop allow a user to make very professional final products. Best of all, it’s easy to upload projects to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks that a class might be using to house finished work.

3.  Thinglink allows a user to add content to images. For example, a student could display a map of Washington, D.C. and add a video explaining how a bill becomes a law over the Capitol building. And it’s easy. The user just clicks a spot on the image and adds text, a link to a website, or an embed code for video. It’s a quick and easy way to make a project more dynamic and interactive.

4.  Easel.ly is a fairly easy way to create an infographic, a visual depiction of information. The tool offers set themes that can be dragged onto a blank canvas to give students somewhere to start. A good example is a map of the United States with bubbles highlighting statistics about specific areas. Then icons can be added, sized, and edited to visually represent information. It’s good for those uncertain of their tech skills, but who want to begin integrating some digital tools into the classroom. It won’t do the work for you, and it forces students to represent what they know at the end of a research project, while giving some creative license.

5.  The Noun Project is making clip art icons for every known noun making it a perfect place to look for the images needed for a precise infographic. It can take a lot of time to find a perfect image of a cracked cell phone or a specific kind of dog and the Noun Project makes that a little easier.

6.  Infogr.am is another tool to visually represent information. It has templates that allow you to throw in your facts and build beautiful charts to represent the information.

7.  Poll Everywhere has been around for several years, and a familiar tool with many teachers. It’s built with HTML 5 so it can be used with any device and is responsive to screen size. Teachers can create both multiple-choice questions and open ended questions that student respond to via text. Students get excited that they can use their phones in class and teachers gain valuable feedback about how well students understand a concept.

8.  InfuseLearning is the student response suite challenger to Poll Everywhere. It’s a simple interface that’s free to teachers and it doesn’t require any advanced planning or setup. In real time teachers can send out questions, prompts or quizzes and have students respond in a variety of formats; true/false, multiple choice, open ended, even with a doodle. It also has an audio function that includes language translation, opening up more use possibilities.

9.  BigHugeLabs provides a great way to make posters and trading cards easily. Best of all, using the free education-specific login students won’t see any advertisements. It’s good for younger kids or an older kid who wants to put together a presentation fairly quickly. One great use would be a movie poster featuring themes and characters of a book.

10.  Sign Generator allows users to create their own clip art by changing the letters in photos of signs. The tool provides over 500 templates or a user can upload a photo of a sign and change the letters around. It’s a fun way to get creative.

11.  Delivr creates QR codes, the codes that a mobile device can easily scan and trigger an image or website. QR codes can be displayed interesting ways including as a way to engage students as they come into class or in a treasure hunt format. The nice thing about Delivr is that it will remember all the QR codes ever created and users can edit and change associated urls if to send users to a different website. That adds some unpredictability and suspense to the day.

12.  Aurasma is a free app that lets a teacher turn any object into a QR code, rather than just a square bar code, and plays with the idea of augmented reality. Students can hold a mobile device up to an image, such as a bulldog, and be taken to a website, a video or an image about bulldogs.

13.  WeVideo is a simple web-based video editing tool that turns video projects from a huge time sink to an easy and fun experience.  The tool allows users to upload content, save it in the cloud, and can link to other storage space like Google Drive. It can be powerful for making student-centered projects because it allows students to mute parts of the base video, record themselves and add that narration to the video. The video can be published using different file sizes, the smallest of which is free. The tool also offers a number of themes, effects and transitions to spiff up any video.

Although these tools are meant for K-12 teachers and students, they definitely could find a place in higher ed. classrooms (even in law schools.)

There is another even more comprehensive list entitled 101 Web 2.0 Teaching tools.  Many of them you have heard of but there even ones that I think will be new to you:

  • Grammarly:  online grammar checker that checks for more than 250 points of grammar.
  • Online Stopwatch:  a web-based stopwatch teachers can use for timed exams and other assignments.
  • Yugma:  free web conferencing,  also share their entire desktop in real-time with one student.
  • Vyew: online meeting service – The free version is limited to 50 pages, 20 participants.
  • Mindomo: highly productive method of visual brainstorming that you can use to plan projects or to map out a knowledge base.
  • Bubbl.us: online  tool for brainstorming and class discussions.
  • Edmodo: Extremely similar to Twitter, except specifically designed for educators
  • NoteMesh: collaborative wiki style class note taker. Users can post their lecture notes or contribute to existing lecture notes.
  • Prezi: non-linear alternative to PowerPoint
  • MultiURL: allows users to combine multiple links into just one shortlink, which can then be shared more easily.
  • bitly: shortens links
  • Zamzar: online file conversion tool
  • TubeChop: allows users to chop a specific section from a YouTube video and share it.

Feel free to comment if you have used any of the above or want to recommend a new.

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