(The 2008 Edition of The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education has also been published)

I decided to start putting together various “Best Of” lists for this year, and am starting out with my picks for the best Web 2.0 applications for education. I’m taking the broader view for this list, so I think these sites are the best ones for students across the board — not just for ESL/EFL students. I hope to create a separate list highlighting the best Web 2.0 sites just for ESL/EFL students, though the sites on that list must be accessible to Beginning English Language Learners. There will probably be some overlap between the two. I also hope to develop a list of the best sites with educational content for this year.

One key criteria I’ve used to compose this list is how easy the application is to use. I basically asked myself if an English Language Learner and/or someone who only knows how to write a web address and to email could use it. If the answer is no, then the application didn’t make this list. In fact, if the answer is no, then I don’t blog about it or post the link on my website.

I should point out that some of these sites may have started prior to 2007, but, since I didn’t start blogging until February of this year, for purposes of this list they all might as well have begun in 2007!

Unlike my Websites of the Month picks, I will be prioritizing this list. I’ll start off with the fourteenth best and end with what I think is the best one. Fourteen might seem like a strange number, but I just couldn’t reduce it any further. Please let me know if you agree, disagree, and/or have other suggestions:

I’ve chosen Vi.sualize.us as my fourteenth pick. It’s a “social bookmarking” site like del.iou.us, but for images. You can save, categorize, and write a description of images on the web. It provides countless lesson opportunities. (Editor’s Note: Since I made this list, Vis.ualize.us has been having problems keeping pornographic images from being posted there. The site’s creator is working on a way to fix the problem. If you go there and find that it still is a problem, I would recommend you go to oSkope instead. It doesn’t have all the same features, but it’s very similar)

My pick for the thirteenth best Web 2.0 application is Sketchcast. You can “draw” on a whiteboard and record an audio explanation at the same time. You’re given a url for your creation and/or you can embed it into a blog. Others can leave comments about your Sketchcast, too. It’s particularly good to demonstrate how to solve math problems.

Number twelve is Footnote. Footnote allows students to access thousands of primary source documents and photos, and easily create online history reports. Their urls can then be posted, and students can also leave comments on their peers’ reports.

My pick for the eleventh best are really two connected sites — SMILE and CLEAR. They’re both from Michigan State University, and allow teachers (and students) to easily create clozes, drag-and-drop exercises, and sequencing activities. They also allow you to use audio and video with the activities, and will host them as well.

The tenth best is CircaVie. I think it’s the easiest online application for creating timelines and incorporating images. It can be used in any number of lessons. (unfortunately, it appears that this web tool is shutting down)

ESL Video is the ninth best. It’s super-easy to take pretty much any video off-the-net and create a quiz to it. It’s designed for ESL/EFL students, but it can also be used by and for mainstream students.

Number eight is Fleck. Fleck let’s you take any webpage and create virtual post-it notes to “paste” on them. They’re great for students to demonstrate their use of reading strategies.

Number seventh is One True Media. It’s a very easy way to create slideshows on the Web, and add text, music and images.

My pick for number six is Community Walk. Students can put many sites on a map with descriptions and images (which can be easily grabbed off the web). Students can use this to describe field trips, report on historical events, and do other mapping applications. There are a lot of these kinds of sites, but I’ve found Community Walk to be the easiest to use.

The fifth site on my list is Daft Doggy. It allows you to create website tours — a series of websites where you also leave your own descriptive text or instructions on each page. You can use it to create Internet scavenger hunts. Visitors can also leave comments. The site’s creator has a different part of his site where you can easily make voice recordings, and plans to connect that ability up to the webtours soon so visitors can leave audio comments. When that happens, Daft Doggy should move even higher on this list.

The fourth-ranked site is called Show Beyond. This is similar to VoiceThread (number three) in allowing audio narration of slideshows, but doesn’t allow audio comments like VoiceThread. You can also add music and text. It’s particularly good in District’s, like ours, that block streaming media (like VoiceThread).

The third-ranked site is VoiceThread. You can upload pictures and create an audio narrative to go along with them. In addition, audio comments can be left by visitors. VoiceThread also provides a great deal to teachers by allowing them to get their premium services for free, including allowing them to create a zillion VoiceThreads for free. Happily, they’ve finally incorporated the feature of allowing you to include images off the web just by inserting its url.

Number two is Bookr. It would be difficult to create an easier application to make slideshows with captions on the web. The only drawback to it is you can only use images off Flickr, and not others on the Web, but that’s a small price to pay for such an accessible application.

And now, my choice as the best Web 2.0 application for Education in 2007 is Tumblr. This “micro-blogging” site upgraded their service this year. It’s a great place for students to easily post a whole lot of their work. Students can have individual or group “Tumblrs.” A student can also share their password with a small number of students who can leave comments.

There’s always plenty of room for agreement and disagreement with these kinds of lists. I’m looking forward to getting feedback on this and other lists I post over the next week.

(Editor’s Note: I have indeed compiled some additional lists you might want to check-out, including The Best Web 2.0 Applications for ESL/EFL Learners; The Best Online Learning Games; Best Internet Sites For English Language Learners, The Best Search Engines For ESL/EFL Learners, The Best Science Websites For Students & Teachers, The Best Math Sites For English Language Learners, The Best Social Studies Websites, The Best News/Current Events Websites For English Language Learners, The “Best” Articles About Education, The Best Reference Websites For English Language Learners, The Best Blogs For Sharing Resources/Links, and a post listing all of the winners called The Best Of The Best — 2007. You’ll also be able to access these, and some additional lists I’m making over the next few days, at Websites of the Year).

All these sites can also be found on my website, along with thousands of other categorized links.

Since this list was posted, I’ve also added The Best Health Sites For English Language Learners, The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship, and The Best Websites for K-12 Writing Instruction/Reinforcement.

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