November 17, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
This annual post is always the most popular one of the year.
You might want to visit previous editions:
The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2009
The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2008
The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2007
(You might also find The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2010 useful)
In order to make this list, a site had to be:
* accessible to English Language Learners and non-tech savvy users.
* appropriate for classroom use.
* completely browser-based with no download required.
It’s possible that a few of these sites began in 2009, but, if so, I’m including them in this list because they were “new to me” in 2010.
You might also be interested in exploring the 530 other “The Best…” lists that I’ve posted over the past three years.
Finally, you might also want to subscribe to this blog for free.
Here are my choices for The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2010:
Twenty: Sitehoover is a new application that lets you create a personal homepage showing thumbnail images of your favorite websites. You can also organize them into separate “folders. It can be very useful to students doing research, or identifying their favorite language-learning site.
Nineteen: Since Etherpad closed down and open-sourced their code, lots of new companies have created their own versions of this great web-based collaborating tool. Here are a few:
They join Type With Me , Sync.in, and PiratePad.
Eighteen: clp.ly lets you very, very easily take a screenshot of a webpage that can be embedded in a blog or website — plus, the screenshot is an active link to the original page. You can also include a virtual “post-it” note with a message on it. It’s similar to kwout (though kwout doesn’t have the post-it note feature). However, kwout doesn’t work on Edublogs, while clp.ly does! I’m not sure if kwout’s issue is with all WordPress sites or just on Edublogs.
Seventeen: Flisti is a new and extremely easy application that lets you create a very simple poll. No registration is required, and you can post the link to the poll on a teacher/student website/blog, or embed it there.
Sixteen: I usually don’t post much about web applications that require the use of a webcam just because webcams are problematic for school computers for safety issues, along with needing to dowload its required software. However, if you can use a webcam, Send Shots has got to be just about the easiest way to send a video message to someone. No registration or download is required — just record and send. There are no ads, and there’s no way to access other people’s video messages. You can post the url address of the video on a teacher or student’s website.
Fifteen: Simple Guide Tool lets you create a video/audio/text chatroom for up to four people, and lets you talk and show Google Maps and its Street View of different locations of your choice. Boy, if you had a sister class somewhere, it would be a great tool for students from each place to show the others their town or city.
Fourteen: Copytaste is a super-easy way to create a simple website. It joins several other apps that allow you to create sites without necessarily having to register, and also let you copy and paste photos directly onto the page.
Thirteen: Twextra is a new web application that lets people create a simple webpage with an automatically shortened link for sharing in something like Twitter. That purpose is fine, but it works great for another reason — and that’s why I like it. Some lessons I do include having students create Picture Data Sets — putting photos into categories with them writing a short description about each one. Students can use something like Wallwisher for this activity, but for students new to technology I prefer to have them just copy and paste the actual image instead of doing the extra step of getting the url address (which is what you need with Wallwisher). Twextra allows you to copy and paste photos directly onto it, and it’s very easy to write text under the image. This capacity also makes Twextra a very attractive option for teachers who are new to technology — it requires minimal tech knowledge to use. Any teacher can have students copy and paste their work on Twextra, which requires no sign-up.
Twelve: Mappy Friends is an easy place for students to write their reviews and impressions of places they have been — whether it’s cities or towns around the world where they have lived, or parks or attractions in the place where they live. It’s a nice place to write something for an “authentic audience.”
Eleven: Explorra is a new travel site that appears to be designed to compete with the many others that allow you to create your own travel itinerary. I’ve posted many of those similar sites at The Best Sites Where Students Can Plan Virtual Trips. I wouldn’t add Explorra to that list, though — the others seem to do a better job at that. However, Explorra does have one feature I really, really like — the ability for users to create an online guide to anyplace in the world. After sign-up, which only takes a minute, you identify a city, country or state, and then start listing what you think are the most interesting places there. Explorra will search the Web for images of each location, and you can write descriptions.
Ten: LIFE has unveiled a neat new feature that lets you search for any photos in its archives and create an online timeline/slideshow that you can share with a unique url address. Their Photo Timeline lets you use their original captions or you can edit them and create your own, as well as writing your own description for your whole creation. After you log-in (you can do so using your Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, or Google accounts — it would be nice if they allowed on site registration, but I guess you can’t have everything!), it’s just a matter of searching and dragging the photos to your timeline/slideshow.
Nine: 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.
Eight: 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. It’s quite easy to use. Students can use it to demonstrate reading strategies (visualizing, asking questions, making a connection, etc.).
Seven: ZooBurst, allows you to create your own “customized 3D pop-up books.” You can see a number of examples at their site.
Six: Fotobabble, is a neat application where people can post photos along with an audio description. It has gotten even better recently. Now, users can grab images off the web by just using the photo’s url address. Before, uploading images was the only option. It’s one of the best Web 2.0 applications of the year for educators, and is on The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English list. It’s a simple tool students can use to practice their speaking skills. It’s very easy to use but, just in case, Russell Stannard at the great Teacher Training Videos has posted a good video tutorial on how to use the app. You can see examples my students have created here.
Five: Tripline is a great map-making application. You just list the various places you want to go in a journey, or a famous trip that has happened in history or literature, or a class field trip itinerary, and a embeddable map is created showing the trip where you can add written descriptions and photos. You can use your own photos or just through Flickr. Plus, you can pick a soundtrack to go with it as it automatically plays through the travels. Here are examples of the ride of Paul Revere and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It’s super-easy to use, and the only tricky part is that you can’t add photos until after you create your trip and save it. That’s not a big deal, unless you couldn’t figure it out like me and had to contact the site.
Four: Story Jumper is a new site that lets kids create their own story books. Online versions are free, and you can pay for hard copies. Registration is quick and easy. You can create your books from “scratch” or use one of several templates they have (one or two of them didn’t seem particularly intuitive to me, but most were fine, and the “scratch” version was certainly easy). They offer lots of easy “props” to integrate into the stories, and you can upload your own photos and type your own text. Once you’re finished, you can email the link to yourself and post it on a student/teacher blog or website.
Three: 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.
Two: The Middlespot Search Engine has made previous “The Best…” lists. Their new version is like an even easier and embeddable Wallwisher. In other words, it’s a virtual bulletin board with virtual “stickies.” If you’re searching for an image, website, or video, though, you don’t necessarily have to copy and paste their url addresses (though you can) — if they are in the search results you just click on it to go into your “mashup” and it goes to it automatically. No registration is necessary, and you can collaborate with others.
One: 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? Coincidentally, it’s also designed by Middlespot.
Feedback is welcome, including additional suggestions.
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You might also want to explore the 500 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.
April 10, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo
Last month I posted The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration. I was exploring those tools more for my own professional development and professional relationships since, because of time zone issues with our International Sister Classes Project, it seemed unlikely any real-time collaborative work was going to work with my students.
At some point, however, I can see how our classes might consider doing joint projects not in real time (I believe that type of relationship is also called asynchronous. However, if I can’t spell it or pronounce it without a dictionary I’m not going to use it!).
I using the word “Best” hesitantly. I suspect there are quite a few other online tools out there, and I haven’t experimented extensively with any of them. If you have some suggestions, I’d be happy to hear it and put out a revised version in the near future. That’s one reason I’m not going to be listing sites in any kind of ranked order.
In order to make it on this list, the web application had to meet a number of criteria. They had to…
1. …be free.
2. …be accessible to English Language Learners.
3. …have specific collaboration tools. Most Web 2.0 tools, of course, have collaboration potential if you just email your password to somebody else. In order to make this list, however, the online application had to have a specific “value-added” and simple process to invite and work with others to develop shared projects.
4. … not require any downloads.
A number of sites on the “real time collaboration” list are also useful for working together not in real time. Rather than share them again here, I’m going to suggest you just explore that list on your own.
Also, wikis are online tools that should probably be included on this list. However, I still have not gotten around to using them, and still don’t really know how. I’ve posted in the past, though, about some good resources sharing how to use them in the classroom. You can check them out if you’d like.
While you’re at it you might want to review all of my other “The Best…” lists.
Here is my very tentative and unfinished list of The Best Online Tools For Collaboration — NOT in Real Time:
Mixbook allows you create a slideshow with collaborators. It seems fairly similar to Fliptrack — without the music — but I might be missing some differences.
Google Maps has a neat feature so you can create maps with others. The fine blog Free Technology For Teachers has a nice video showing how it works.
Zee Maps is another simple tool for collaborative map creation.
Shutterfly seems to have a special collaborative feature that allows you to make joint photobooks.
There are a number of online word processors that invite easy collaboration, and not the least of these is Google Docs. You can find others by looking at the list of sites I’ve made for real-time collaboration.
And here’s yet another application I’ve added to this list. It’s called Panraven, and I’ve posted about it here.
I’ve added one more site — it’s called Dipity. You can read my post about it here.
Etherpad is the latest very, very easy way to collaborate in real time and not in real time. You just paste a bunch of text in a window and, without even having to register for the service, send others the url and everybody can edit it in real time. It also has a chat option. You can go back to the url address at any time to make further, adjustments, too, which is why I’m also adding it to this “The Best…” list. (Etherpad was bought by Google and is shutting down in March, 2010. They’ve open-sourced their code, though, and you can use Sync.in, PiratePad or Primary Pad instead now))
Here are a couple of site that I haven’t really tried yet, but appear to have some potential:
Protagonize is going to be a wonderful site for student collaboration, but not until they create a feature that allows private groups to be created. The site’s owner says that’s going to be coming soon. The site allows you to write basically collaborate in writing “choose your own adventure” stories that take you on different paths. ESL teachers also call them Action Mazes.
Kaltura is another site that seems to have some possibilities, though appears a little complicated to me. It’s a collaborative video-creation site, and you can either modify videos that are already on the web, or ones that you upload.
(Note: I’m adding The Broth to this list)
Yack All is a new application that lets you create a private chatroom. In one way Yack All is less convenient than most of the ones I’ve mentioned because it requires registration and sign-in (though it’s extremely easy to do so). One nice feature, though, that Yack All has but many of the others do not is that it saves the chat indefinitely.
Zoho Discussions is a super simple way to create “chatboards” that would work well for “sister classes.” There are a lot of alternatives, including ones that have the ability for users to participate in a chatboard by leaving audio messages. But I’m including it here just because it’s so easy.
Threaddie lets you create private chatrooms that you need passwords to enter. It could be useful for teachers who want to have some privacy protection. It’s very easy to set-up and to use.
Stroome is a nice online editing tool that’s on Not The “Best,” But A List… Of Online Video Editors list. They’ve added a feature called “groups” that lets you work with a….group of people to collaboratively edit a video. Because of that additional feature, I’m adding Stroome to this list. Thanks to 10,000 Words for the tip. Their post also explains other new Stroome features.
Folder Boy is a new site that lets you make notes and collaborate with others if you want. One of the nice things about it is that it allows you to copy and paste photos directly from the Web.
Draft is a new free collaborative word processor that looks pretty useful. You can read a lengthy post about it at TechCrunch.
Please share reactions and other suggestions!
March 2, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo
I’ve been experimenting with a variety of online tools for collaborating in “real-time.” I really don’t have much use for them in the classroom, since the different time zones of our various sister classes don’t make it logistically feasible. I’m more interested in exploring their use for possibly coordinating work with teachers of those sister classes if that project continues to expand, and for use in some collaborative writing I might be doing in the future.
Even though I’m thinking about these tools for my own professional reasons, since I’m still not particularly technically proficient, and because others might be able to think of other classroom purposes, I’ve used criteria similar to my other “The Best…” lists in deciding which ones to include here. They include:
* No software download is required.
* It’s free.
* No equipment is required other than, in some cases, a microphone. A webcam needs to be optional.
* Multiple users can collaborate at the same time.
* English Language Learners can use the tools easily.
* I can think of it having an education use.
Unlike my previous lists, I haven’t tried-out all of these applications extensively. Therefore, I don’t feel I can rank them the way I usually do. However, I have had a pretty decent, though limited, experience with all of them.
Also, in this list, unlike my others, instead of including links to the actual application, I’ve mainly included links to my original posts about the sites (that is, I’ve done that for sites I’ve already written about). I thought people might find the additional information they can find there useful.
There are quite a few other online collaborative tools, but I didn’t include them because they just seemed too complicated.
The ones I’ve found that meet my criteria include:
Neat Chat, Stinto and Chatzy are easy ways to create private online chatrooms. Wire Club Chat Room and Today’s Meet are similar sites, though Today’s Meet has a much more attractive interface.
Here’s an online word-processing applications that allow multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously Zoho Writer
Scriblink is an online whiteboard that can be used by up to five people at one time.
Skrbl is another online whiteboard. Skrbl lets you copy and paste text and documents — Scriblink does not.
Zoho Show and Google Presentations let you work with others on PowerPoint-like presentations in real-time.
MeBeam is an online video conferencing site. It allows you to just use microphones for audio if you don’t have a webcam. MeBeam lets up to eighteen people participate.
Mind42 is a “mindmapping” tool that has tremendous collaborative features. I’m still having a hard time, though, figuring out more than one or two minor educational projects that students could create with it.
I’ve used the Authorstream web application to post several slideshows on my website. It’s quite easy to use. Now they’ve added a new feature called Present Live. You can quickly upload a PowerPoint presentation and then show it in real-time over the web. A chatboard is connected to it so you can communicate instantly. You can read more of an explanation on how it works over at Mashable. Authorstream itself also has a nice screencast about it.
Scribblar allows you to create a virtual “room” in seconds — without having to register — where you can collaborate for writing or drawing, with the ability to have a text chatboard or audio/webcam communication. It couldn’t be easier to use. If, and when, we can ever coordinate time zones, it would be a neat tool to use for collaborating with others in the International Sister Classes Project.
Show Document couldn’t be much easier for uploading a document and then having multiple people — in real time — editing it and using a chatboard to communicate. No registration is necessary — just upload, get a code number, send it to others, and then you’re all working together.
I’ve just added CoSketch to both The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration and The Best Art Websites For Learning English.
It’s an easy way for English Language Learners and anyone else to collaboratively draw a picture. There’s no real registration necessary, either. You just go to the site, are given a private “virtual room” in which to begin drawing, and then you email the link to whoever else you want to participate. While you’re drawing there’s also a text chat feature to communicate. You can then save the image and either link to it or embed it in a student/teacher blog or website. You can also upload a photo for sharing and discussing.
Students can develop their English skills by communicating via the chat room (for example, mine could do this project with other students in our International Sister Classes Project) and/or posting their image with a description.
The Broth is a similar application. The advantage with The Broth is that the chat messages remain permanently, while it appears with CoSketch that they disappear after you’re done. With CoSketch, though, since you don’t have to register it’s easier to use.
Twiddla is basically a whiteboard that allows text and audio chat for real-time collaboration. You can review websites within the application, and no registration is required.
Etherpad was a great way to collaborate in real time. You just paste a bunch of text in a window and, without even having to register for the service, send others the url and everybody can edit it in real time. It also has a chat option. You could go back to the url address at any time to make further, adjustments, too. Etherpad was bought by Google and was shut down in March, 2010. They’ve open-sourced their code, though, and you can use Type With Me , Sync.in, or PiratePad now, instead. QikPad is a similar nice online collaborative writing tool that has an embedding feature.
Tiny Chat is the latest addition to this list. It lets you, without registering, immediately create a private chatroom. You email the url to others, who can then participate either in real time . There are other similar tools already on this list, including ones that allow you to participate with audio and/or video messages. But Tiny Chat deserves to be here just because of its ease of use. They’ve also recently added many features, including a video capability. You can read more about the new features at Read Write Web.
Flash Meeting looks like a very impressive free application for video conferencing. It’s designed specifically for school use, and you can participate even if you don’t have a microphone (you can text) or a webcam.
Let me know if you are aware of other collaborative applications that would meet my criteria. Links to these sites, along with 8,000 others, can be found on my website.
Big Marker lets you create an online conference, and is free. It seems pretty straight-forward and usable.
Slideshare, the popular online slideshow site, just added a new feature called Zipcast. With a simple click, it allows you to create a public or private video and text chat next to the slideshare presentation you’re viewing.
I posted about Corkboard Me in January. It’s very similar to Wallwisher, but even simpler to use — and with fewer features (you can’t embed videos, nor password protect your content). You can, however, easily post images by just pasting its url on one of the virtual post-it notes. Corkboard Me recently announced some additional features, including real-time collaboration and a chat room for the people collaborating. I’ve certainly noticed a lot of quirkiness lately with Wallwisher, and I know quite a few others have experienced the same problem. So, I’m going to start having my classes use Corkboard Me.
NOTE: New Development: Wallwisher, the great virtual “corkboard-creator” tool, has just announced some nice improvements. They include making it even easier to create a corkboard and having immediate real-time collaborative abilities by seeing what people you invite are doing on it as they do it. They say there is more to come in the next few days. I’ve tried out both of those improvements, and they work very well. Wallwisher went through a period when it was very buggy, but they’ve come on strong over the past year to become a top-notch tool.
Meetin.gs is a new site that lets you organize virtual meetings that also let you share documents and media. It’s looks pretty simple and easy to use. It’s not open to the public yet, but I received an invitation very quickly after I requested it.
AOL has just begun AV By AIM, a super-simple video chat room. You just go to the site, say you want to start a chat, and you’re given a unique url that you can use to invite up to four people to join. No registration is required.
Face Flow lets you create a video chatroom for up to four people. It’s free to use, and registration is fast.
Buddy Meeting lets you easily create an online conference room for up to twenty-five people where you can also share your desktop. It seems pretty simple and it’s free.
Concept Board is very easy to use screensharing tool. After registration, you can create up to twenty-five Concept Boards for free. You click on “new Concept Board” and you have one — you can upload presentations, make comments, draw on it, etc. All you have to do is share its url address to others so they can gain access to it, too.
Join.me lets you share your screen with up to 250 people and provides text chat (they seem to be having some technical troubles — at least during the last update I’ve made to this list).
Any Meeting is an online meeting tool that also records the audio. Up to 200 people can participate.
I posted last year that Skype In The Classroom was going to begin soon, and it apparently has. You can read more about it at Read Write Web’s post “Skype in the Classroom” Launches to Connect Teachers & Students Worldwide. And you can join it directly, too.
And, speaking of Skype, Sra. Spanish has written a helpful post titled Classroom Skype: Do’s & Don’t's .
Skype Announces Free Group Video Calling for Teachers is an article in the School Library Journal describing a new program Skype has for teachers (thanks to Justin Baeder for the tip).
Draw It Live lets you create virtual “rooms” where you can collaborate with people of your choices to draw. It also includes a chat window. You can save the image to your desktop, but it doesn’t appear to let you save it on the web. Thanks to The Center For Applied Second Language Studies for the tip.
AWW lets you draw with others or on your own, and does let you save the creation on the web. It doesn’t have a chatboard, however. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.
Live Minutes is new online conferencing app that is entirely browser-based and it doesn’t even appear you have to register in order to use it. You’re immediately given a unique url address for your conference that you share with the people you want to connect with — and you can share audio, a virtual whiteboard, documents, etc. You can’t share video right now, but they say that feature is coming.
Keep The Record is an online audio-conferencing tool which can include up to ten participants and provide a permanent recording. I learned about it from Nik Peachey.
Simple Meet Me is another in a long line of easy tools to quickly stet up online chatrooms.
This is how Read Write Web describes Spreecast:
Think of Spreecast like a multi-person video chat service mashed up with a traditional, text-based live chat feature. It allows up to four people to appear on camera at one time and invites an unlimited number of viewers, all of whom can make comment and ask questions of the participants. Alternatively, sessions can be held privately.
Screenleap “allows as many people as you like to see your computer screens at once without needing to set up an account.”
Three Ways To Watch Videos and Discuss Them In Real Time is a useful post from Richard Byrne.
Speek lets you very simply organize conference calls. The number is unlimited, but they say the quality begins to deteriorate after ten people. You quickly register and then you’re given a url address for your call. You email that out, people click on it and enter their number, and that Speek immediately calls them. It’s pretty easy. They say you can upload files to share, but that didn’t seem to be working for me. I suspect they’ll work out that kink quickly.
FlockDraw, with no registration required, lets you create a virtual room where up to ten people can draw in addition to being able to “chat.” You can save your drawing on the Web. It can’t get much easier than what they’ve set-up.
Vidquik is a new tool that lets you easily make a video call to someone. It’s free and, after registering, all you have to do is type in the email of the person you want to call. They click on the link and the two of you are in a web-based video call. For now, at least, you can’t record the call, and it appears to only allow two people on at the same time.
RealtimeBoard is a new online whiteboard that seems like a decent tool for real-time collaboration. It’s easy to use, and lets you upload images from your computer or by its url address.
Watchitoo has created a “Playground” video service that lets you have up to eleven people on a video call at one time for free. You can pay for expanded services.Unfortunately, all the participants actually have to register on Watchitoo in order to be on the call, as opposed to other services which just require the initiator to be registered, but it’s still a decent service.
Meeingl is a super-easy tool for creating online conference calls. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.
Reflap is a free tool for online video chats. You can have up to five people on the same chat.
MashMe TV lets you create a free video conference with up to ten people. In addition, you can all watch a video and/or draw together.
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You can also see 660 other “The Best…” lists here.