I’ve been posting annual lists of the Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly for seven years.
I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones. 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.
* able to provide a learning opportunity.
* 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.
Here are my choices for The “All-Time” Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly:
Pinwords allows you to create attractive illustrated quotes and lets you grab images off the web to use. Quozio is a similar site. And you can find others at my recent post, The Best Tools For Creating Visually Attractive Quotations For Online Sharing.
Phrase.it lets you easily add speech bubbles with your text to photos. You can upload your own, or choose a random image from the site. You’re then given a link to your creation.
Google’s Peanut Gallery lets you create subtitles for a variety of old silent movies. The special twist, though, is that you create the subtitles by speaking into a computer microphone and they will then magically appear. You have to speak very clearly though, so it may, or may not, work well for English Language Learners. One negative, however, is that it only works in the Chrome Browser.
I Wish You To lets you easily draw and create your own Ecards, which you can post, embed, and/or send to someone — and no registration is required.
Google has a tool called “Story Builder.” Without having to register, you can create a “dialogue” of sorts, add music, and end up with a link to a video-like presentation that you can share.
I Fake Siri lets you create a fake conversation — in text — with the new iPhone voice feature Siri. You can then link to, or embed, your creation. It’s just another fun opportunity for ELL’s to practice writing, reading, and speaking.
QikPad lets you write collaboratively with anyone you want, and you can then link to, or embed, whatever you come up with….
Our Mother Tongues is a very impressive site that’s designed to support and preserve Native American languages. It’s very engaging, and includes a “language map,” videos and more. One of its very neat features is that it allows you choose a virtual audio postcard with a Native American greeting that you can send to someone. You can also write a personalized message on it. You’re given a unique url address, and it can be posted on a student/teacher website or blog.
With News Jack, all you have to do is paste the url address of any website and you’re immediately given the tools to easily transform its homepage into looking however you want it to look. Without having to register, you can make the New York Times highlight photos and articles of your great basketball-playing ability; have CNN focus on covering what was happening in 1776, or The Huffington Post reporting on the first Thanksgiving dinner. You can easily grab images off the web or your computer to insert, as well as text. You can then click “publish” and you’re given the url address to your creation so it can be shared with the world.
Croak.it lets you easily record a thirty second message with a computer microphone. You then get a unique url address that you can share. No registration is necessary.
Try out Google Docs new demo that lets you write collaboratively with your favorite dead famous writers. Then you get to save and share your creation. As Next Web explains:
A “famous writer” will start typing and then it’s your turn. Once you’ve typed in the next line, the writer takes over
tildee lets you very easily create a simple step-by-step tutorial for just about anything. You can add text, maps, videos and photos.
Cardkarma is a neat eCard site for many occasions. Without registering, you can search Flickr for any photo and turn it into an eCard you can send and post.
Fakebook is a tool over at the excellent ClassTools site (Russel Tarr is the creative genius behind the site). Teachers and students can use it to:
- chart the career of a historical character
- create a timeline of important events
- outline the main plot of a book, play or film
and so on!
At Isle Of Tune, you create music by creating a city. Yes, that’s right, you “drag-and-drop” different parts of a city — homes, cars, trees, etc. — and each one has a musical tone. Then click “Go” and the car prompts the different elements to do their thing. No registration is required, and you’re given the url address of your creation to share. As a bonus to English Language Learners, the different parts of the city are labeled, so students can pick up vocabulary at the same time. Plus, they can describe their musical creations.
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.
Bounce lets you 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.
Five Card Flickr Story lets you pick five photos from a group of pre-selected images from Flickr and then write a story about them. It saves your selection and story, and provides you with a link to it. No registration is required.
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.
You can use the Propaganda Film Maker to combine images and audio to try convincing the public to support World War II.
Many ESL Teachers are familiar with Bombay TV, Futebol TV and Classik TV, which let you create subtitles for various clips (you can guess what kind of clips by each of their names).
Szoter doesn’t require registration, you can upload or grab images off the web (just insert its url address), and the final product looks just like an image would look like using the Picture Word Inductive Model (learn more about the PWIM at The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons).
Bubblr is a super-easy tool to use for adding “speech bubbles” to online photos.
Create a slideshow with Bookr.
The Art of Storytelling is a site from the Delaware Art Museum that allows you pick a painting (they don’t use photos, but the site is so good I decided to include it in this list anyway), write a short story about it, record it with your computer microphone, and email the url address for posting on a student website or blog. It’s extraordinarily simple, and extraordinarily accessible to any level of English Language Learner. No registration is required.
PixiClip is a neat drawing tool that lets you make a drawing and record either audio-only or a video to go along with it. It also lets you upload an image from the web and “mark it up.” The audio-plus-drawing capability could really come in handy for English Language Learners. .
Here’s an example:
TxtBear is great — you can create a document using Word, for example, and upload it to the Web for free. TxtBear create a url address for it.
Testmoz is an app that lets you create an online, self-correcting quiz without having to register.
Jeopardy Labs lets you easily create an online Jeopardy game without having to register. Maybe I’m the only teacher who feels this way, but I’ve always found that playing Jeopardy the way they do on TV — giving players the answer and then they have to come-up with the question — to be overly confusing for students in the classroom. When I’ve played it in class, I’ve just given the questions and had students have to say the answers. Given my feelings about this, even though it’s super simple to use this tool to create the game, I tell my students to ignore the site’s instructions and just write the questions first and the answers second so that the board displays the question.
Padlet (formerly Wallwisher) lets you make a virtual wall of “sticky notes” where you can include images, text, and/or videos. Inductive learning is a key part of our teaching at Burbank, and we use what are called “data sets” as a major component of those lessons. After students categorize the info in these data sets, they can summarize them and use them to create Padlets, as our students did in our Nelson Mandela unit. You can see many examples of their creations in our class blog.
My students have been completing Internet Scavenger Hunts, which are basically a series of questions along with links where they can find the answers. We’ve just been grabbing ones we find on the Web and putting them on our class blog for students to complete, but there’s no reason why students now can’t start making their own. Their classmates can then complete them. Even though there are relatively simple sites that are solely devoted to the creation of scavenger hunts and more sophisticated Webquests (see The Best Places To Create (And Find) Internet Scavenger Hunts & Webquests), I think, for our purposes, just having students come up with a few questions, then list a url address where they can find the answers, and then list a few more questions, etc. would be sufficient for what we want to do. For that purpose, I don’t there’s anything easier than a site like Copytaste ( Others include Loose Leaves, Dinky Page, Just Paste It, and Page O Rama ). Students just have to make the list of questions and websites and the page is automatically converted into a website whose url address can be pasted on our class blog.
Create an online poster with Tackk. They’ve just announced a special education page with class-related templates and examples.
Use Dvolver Moviemaker to create short animations with text bubble dialogue. You can see many examples of these films on my Examples of Student Work page.
Create a cartoon at MakeBeliefsComix and the Toronto Public Library Tell-A-Story Builder.
Zee Maps lets you create maps, mark places, and add media.
Scribble Maps is a neat application that lets you create maps — with markers and images that can be grabbed off the Internet — and you can draw on it, too. Plus, no registration is required.
Let me know if you think I’m missing ones that should be on the list. I’ve posted about many more, but just included the ones that I thought were the very best….
You can see all 1,200 “The Best” lists here.