This list brings together what I think are this year’s best nineteen 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.
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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.
Here are my ranked choices for The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2010:
Eighteen: CREATE MORE MUSIC: The American Heart Association has unveiled a web application that lets you create a “hand symphony” and send the link of your creation to a friend or yourself. It can then be posted on a teacher website or blog. It’s designed to promote the Association’s new hands-only CPR, and the site also has a one minute video demonstrating it.
Seventeen: DESIGN A DONUT: Dunkin Donuts lets you create your very own virtual donut and share it with others. Students can describe what they made and explain why they made it that way.
Sixteen: MAKE A TALKING PERSON: The Arby’s restaurant chain will let you take any image off the Internet and then make it talk by either recording a message on a computer microphone or using the text-to-speech feature.
Fifteen: CREATE OR COMPLETE A MADLIB: There is a new site called…Madlibs that lets you easily create your own. It could be a fun little filler if you have a few minutes leftover in the computer lab some day. You can then post the links on a teacher/student blog or website for others to complete. I could see creating them, and completing ones your peers made, could be a good activity. A caveat, however, is that it appears the most recent mad libs done on the site are posted on the homepage, and some might be a little off-color. However, the site’s owner tells me he is working to develop a way to deal with that issue.
Fourteen: COMPOSE LYRICS FOR A BEAVER ON A FIDDLE: You can compose lyrics to a song being played by a beaver that fiddles, and see them displayed as captions while the music plays. You can then post your creation on a student/teacher website or blog for all the world to see — lucky them….
Thirteen: CREATE A GAME OF HANGMAN: With the Flash Hangman Challenge, you can easily write a phrase, email it to a friend, and it will automatically be turned into a Hangman game that can also be posted on a teacher/student website or blog. No registration is required. I’m also adding it to The Best Sites For Making Crossword Puzzles & Hangman Games.
Twelve: MAKE A BOOK: With Picture Book Maker, you can easily create a…picture book (including text). It can be saved online or printed out. It’s super-easy to use, plus no registration is required. The url of your creation can be posted on a student/teacher blog or website.
Eleven: DRAW ON THE WEB: Slimber is a very simple online drawing tool that requires no registration. Once you go to the website, you click on “painter” at the top, and you can begin creating. Once you’re finished, you can click “play” and it will “rerun” the artistic process you used. After clicking save, you can write a description of your image. Next, click on “gallery” where you can see your creation and get a url address or embed code.
Ten: MAKE A JACKSON POLLOCK PAINTING: Drips let you paint like Jackson Pollock, and you can save it online. And you don’t have to register for it. Even cooler, it gives you a choice of painting it with either your mouse or your webcam and computer microphone. With your webcam, you can use your cellphone light or something else as a brush and your voice to change the color.
Nine: ANNOTATE ANY WEBPAGE: Bounce is a new app to virtually annotate webpages. Just type in the url address, make notes on it (perhaps students can demonstrate their use of reading strategies like making a connection or asking questions) and then post the link on a student/teacher blog or website.
Eight: MAKE A LIST: Thinkmeter is a neat new application that offers exceptional opportunities for educators and students. I’m going to repeat a somewhat lengthy description I wrote when I originally posted about it:
It’s designed as a survey-like tool, where you can ask a question and have people vote by clicking on the number of stars they want to give it. People can also leave comments when they vote. You can create these surveys, and vote in them, without registering. If you pick an item from Amazon, it will show an image of the item and, at least if you list a book, it will also show a description of it. In addition, if you insert the url address of an image from the Web, it will show it. You can post the link to your survey wherever you please.
Here are just two ways I will try using it:
* Having students pick their favorite books from Amazon and have other students rate them and leave comment.
* Having students use it for the same activities I list in The Best Social Bookmarking Applications For English Language Learners & Other Students, like listing their favorite games from my website and having others vote on them. In many ways, Thinkmeter can function as a super-easy bookmarking tool for students. As I mention on that “The Best…” list, students can also use a tool like this to create “picture data sets” — a collection of images they can grab off the web that fit into a specific category. On Thinkmeter, once you insert the url address of a photo, the entire photo shows-up on the list, and students can leave a description and justification about why they think it belongs into that particular category.
Seven: RECORD AN AUDIO MESSAGE: Audio Pal is a new tool that lets you easily record a message — either by using a phone, computer mike, or text-to-speech — and then add the embed code to your blog or website. Students can update it as often as they want, and get as many different ones that they want. It’s pretty neat.
Six: TURN A WORD DOCUMENT INTO A WEB PAGE: TxtBear is a new and very useful web application that allows you to easily upload and document and immediately turn it into a webpage. A site like this is one is wonderful for students and others who are not very tech savvy. All they have to do is create a document in Word (including easily copying and pasting images into it), which they might be more familiar with, and easily turn it into a website. Students can upload papers they’ve written, as well. Then, they can just copy and paste its url address into a teacher or student blog. For example, now I have students type essays in a Word Document and then copy and paste them directly into the comments section of our class blog. With TxtBear, they use Word, illustrate it if they want, and then paste the link into the class blog. It makes the document much more readable that way.
Five: MAKE A MONSTER: Grabba Beast will be a big winner in any ELL class. Students can easily and quickly create their own unique monster and then have several ways to share it. If they choose the eCard version, they can describe it and get a unique url address to post. If they choose “save to gallery,” it appears that they can get an embed code for it.
Four: CREATE SUBTITLES TO SOCCER & TV PROGRAM VIDEOS YOU CREATE: I’ve written several times about the incredibly useful and fun Bombay TV, where you can create your own videos from cheesy clips and write subtitles (it’s my number one rated app on The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Videos (Using Someone Else’s Content) list. Well, now it’s created sister sites where you can do the same with clips from old TV programs and from soccer games. They’re called Bombay TV 2, Futebol TV and Classik TV.
Three: MAKE A BABY TALK: etrade’s “Talking Baby” commercials during the Super Bowl are famous annual events. Now you and your students can create their own talking babies by either using the text-to-speech feature or recording their own voices. Their creations can be posted on a student/teacher website.
Two: ANNOTATE AND/OR UPLOAD…ANYTHING: Crocodoc is a super-simple application that allows you to annotate webpages with virtual post-it notes and drawings. You can also upload any document you create and immediate make it into a webpage.
First Place Is A Tie
One: ANNOTATE WEBPAGES SUPER-EASILY:WebKlipper lets you easily, without requiring registration, annotate any webpage with virtual post-it notes or a highlighter. You’re then given the url address of the annotated webpage. Crocodoc was formerly my favorite tool for web annotation. It’s still nice, but as they add new features they also increase its complexity. WebKlipper only does annotation, and does it very well.
One: MAKE A BOOK: Simple Booklet is a great new tool that lets you create online books and reports that can be embedded or linked to by its url address. It’s free, you can grab images and videos off the web, and extremely simple to use. No registration is required. What’s not to like?
Feedback is always welcome.
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You might also want to explore the 500 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.