(You might want to also read The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2009)
This is the second of several year-end “The Best…” lists I’m writing. The first one was The Best Online Learning Games — 2008. As with that Learning Games list, I’m experimenting with a reader’s poll at the bottom of this post. The Learning Games poll closes on November 1st. The poll for this list will close a month later on December 1st.
This list brings together what I think are this year’s twenty-six best ways to create online content easily and quickly. These web tools are excellent ways for English Language Learners, and others who might not be very tech-savvy, to have a good experience working with technology.
In order to make it on this list, web tools must be:
* accessible to English Language Learners.
* available at no-cost.
* able to be used to easily create engaging online content within minutes.
* willing to host user-created work indefinitely on the website itself.
* appropriate for classroom use.
* accessible without requiring registration.
You can read here how I have students easily display their work online.
A very small number of the applications that have made it on this list are viral marketing tools. You can read this article about how I use these in the classroom.
Unlike the vast majority of my “The Best..” lists, I have not ranked these twenty-six tools in order of preference. I’ll leave that to teachers, students, and other readers of this blog to vote in the poll and determine which ones are the best. It was just too difficult for me to rank them in any kind of order. The poll lists the sites in the same order as this post. I’ll also be encouraging my students to participate in the poll, and hope that other teachers will do the same in their schools.
I’d like people voting in the poll to select no more than ten of the twenty-five tools on the list. Please note that voters will only be able to participate in the poll one time, and (at least theoretically) will be prevented from voting more than once.
If you’re reading this post in an RSS Reader, you’ll have to come directly to my blog in order to vote. For some reason, the poll isn’t included feeds from this blog.
(Editor’s Note: On a different matter, subscribers to this blog who use Google Reader and Bloglines to get updated RSS feeds, and who subscribed prior to January, 2008, might have recently stopped receiving new posts. If that has happened to you, you can re-subscribe using this newer Feedburner feed. This issue only relates to people who subscribed prior to January — anyone who has subscribed since then is already using the Feedburner feed and shouldn’t be having any problems.)
Here are my choices (again, not in any order) for The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly:
My Great World is a newer site that lets you choose a place on a world map and access images from that location. The key feature of the site, though, is that you can then (without registering) choose an image, write a fairly lengthy message, and mail them both as an E-Card. The url address of the card can then be posted on an online journal or blog. It’s an easy online application that can be used by English Language Learners for a multitude of lessons, particularly geography.
Wordle lets you either copy and paste or upload text. It then produces a word cloud that give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently. You choose from different formats about how you want your word cloud displayed, and then have them displayed on the website with its own url address.
Tag Cloud. is similar to Wordle. The advantages Tag Cloud has over Wordle include it makes it easier to upload a file, and you can also have it analyze a url address. The disadvantages seem to be that it provides an embed code but not a unique url address for your creation, and it only provides one option for a a display — one of the great things about Wordle is that you have several options and it’s shown in color.
BBC’s Blast Poetry Tool “lets you put together your visual interpretation on a poem using images, video and sound effects that have been provided by the BBC and other Blast users.”
Flash Paint is an online art application. I have some other very good ones on my website under Student Paintings. However, what makes Flash Paint stand-out is that there is a place for the “painter” to write about their creation and you then can save the painting and the writing to the gallery. You’re given a url for both that can be posted on an online journal or blog.
OneSens is an extraordinary web application for English Language Learners. You write a sentence, pick a picture that goes with it, and then the words are mixed-up on top of the picture. There’s a built-in email feature, so you can just email the link to a teacher or friend and post it on a blog or online journal. Then others can try to put the words back in order.
Phreetings lets you search for an image (it appears to use Flickr, but I can’t be sure), drag and drop it on a virtual card, and then write something below it (it looks like you can write a lot there). You’re then given the url to copy and paste. During our study of natural disasters, for example, I can see my students finding an image labeled “Katrina” and writing a short report on what they’ve learned so far about the hurricane.
Picbite is a site where you can easily grab an image off the Web and insert a speech bubble of your choosing. You’re then provided with the url address and embed code.
Captioner also allows you to type in the url of any photo on the web, create some talk “bubbles” to position within the photo, type text into the bubble, and then you’re given a url for the photo with your bubble in it.
Flash Earth lets you quickly find a satellite image of a location and then gives you the url address of that image. English Language Learners and other students can then post the address on a blog or online journal and describe it.
This Language Of Flavor viral marketing site is a perfect-fit for English Language Learners. Users first write a word, or a series of words in a sentence. Then they mix the letters up, while also writing the correct words elsewhere. Then, the link is emailed for posting on a website or blog where other users can try to figure out these word and sentence “scrambles.” When they give up, or they want to check if they’ve got it, they just have to click to get the answer.
Using this Vacation Time Machine viral marketing campaign, you can pick a geographical location, use the text-to-speech feature, and email a url address talking about your make-believe trip. It’s a good language-development activity, as well as serving to reinforce some geographical info.
Gabsight is an application that does require a microphone. It’s actually a tool designed to send a video email, but you can use it for audio-only, too. Just record, then copy and paste the link for posting in the body of an email or on a online journal or blog.
Anyone can Sing with Juanes. Upload your photo, and choose one on the site, play the song, and sing along via telephone or computer microphone. Email your performance to a friend and post the url on a website or blog.
Qlipboard lets you grab the url of an image off the Web, leave a voice commentary (it has a few other features, too), and you get an embed code and a url. Others can leave comments, too.
The KakoMessenger Singing Telegram lets you write a short song that is then sung by your choice of cheezy lounge singers. You can email it to a friend or teacher, and then post the url address on a website. Not only is it fun, but it’s good for English Language Learners because the words are displayed when they are sung.
Nokia has a Picture Poetry tool that lets you write a short wish and then the application will find appropriate images that go with the words. You can then email your creation to a friend or teacher for posting on a website or blog.
You can upload your own photo or choose from a variety on PhotoFace. Then, you can “age” it, make the person heavier or lighter, and make a number of other edits. You can then post the link.
You can use the Propaganda Film Maker to combine images and audio to try convincing the public to support World War II.
At Talking Cards you get to choose from a variety of designs and characters and, using their text-to-speech option, have it speak whatever you want. You can use the “free” option for the cards, and the site just says your message will include some advertising. However, the ones that I’ve tried just includes advertising for the the Talking Cards site itself.
Viscosity lets you create an amazing piece of art. You can do far more things with it than I had ever thought. I’d encourage you to view this short screencast from DemoGirl to learn how to take advantage of all it has to offer.
Choose among thousands of U.S. History images from Picture History, write about it, and then send it as an E-Card to a teacher or to yourself. The link can then be posted on a blog or online journal.
Wildlife Filmmaker at National Geographic lest you make an online video. As the site says: “Make a custom nature film with animal clips, sounds, and more. Then share your masterpiece with your friends.”
Pictaps lets you draw a person and then turns your drawing to a bunch of dancing people having a good time. I’ve had students use it and then describe in writing what their person looks like and what’s going on in the animation.
Dress-up a Dark Ages Character from the Middle Ages (Viking, nun, knight, peasant, etc.) with all the accessories.
Help The Honey Bees not only provides accessible info on disappearing bees who are needed for pollination, but it also lets you create your own cute little bee that can give a message of your choosing.
Below you’ll see the poll. Remember, people can only vote once.
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You might also want to explore nearly 100 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.