Boy, there sure are a lot of web applications that let you make free slideshows. Because of this glut, I thought it would be helpful to my students, readers of this blog, and me to do a quick review of many of them, and identify my picks for the best ones. So, here’s another “The Best…” list.
In order to make it on this list (there is one exception), a site had to…
* be free.
* be simple. There are a number of web tools that just have too many “bells and whistles” for me, and they certainly don’t improve accessibility for English Language Learners.
* allow you to grab images off the Web, and not just from your computer.
* not have content inappropriate for classroom use readily available, at least not during the multiple times I visited the site.
* allow for the creation of captions and other writing.
You can also find tools that let you create video-like slideshows at The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Videos (Using Someone Else’s Content).
With all these choices, I’m a fan of Google Slides for my own use and the use by students.
. The ability to combine audio narration (and comments) with the written word at VoiceThread , along with its ease-of-use, make this a great application. Combine that with the special free educator membership and its benefits and you have the best site out there, period, for English Language Learners.
Little Bird Tales lets you easily make slideshows where you can add text and, more importantly for English Language Learners, provide an audio narration. On nice touch is that you can virtually paint/draw artwork in addition to uploading images (unfortunately, the site doesn’t have the ability to grab photos off the web by url addresses). It’s free to use, but I’m unclear on if there will be an eventual cost to use the site. It appears to have an upper limit on the number of shows you can produce.
I also like Screencast-o-matic.
Presentious lets your create audio-narrated slideshows.
How to Quickly Create and Share Narrated Presentations is from Richard Byrne.
Slideator looks like an incredibly useful tool to record audio to accompany any slideshow – or even document – you’d like to share. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.
SITES THAT DON’T REQUIRE REGISTRATION
There are several slideshow creation sites that don’t require you to register and still meet all my criteria. I think for most classes, if you don’t need the audio narration feature and you’re okay just posting a link instead of embedding the show in a blog or website, these should work fine.
Big Huge Labs is a site that lets you grab any image off the web — not just Flickr. The interface is not as easy as Bookr’s, but you do have access to far more images.
Qwikslides is a super-easy tool for creating slideshows.
SITES WITH A FEW BELLS & WHISTLES — PLUS THEY LET YOU COLLABORATE
Here are sites that have a few easily usable bells and whistles, can be embedded, and let you create slideshows with others over the Internet (not in real-time, though). I was attracted to them because of the collaboration feature and the possibilities of using them with our international sister classes, but they are also excellent sites to use without taking advantage of that aspect of the site.
One is Mixbook, which I think is very accessible (though I wish their tool to write text was a little bit better).
Knovio might end up being one of the best Web 2.0 applications of the year. You upload a PowerPoint presentation, record a presentation with your microphone and webcam, and then it’s done! It’s free, and it is not open to the public yet, but I received an invitation about five seconds after I requested it.
I’ve never been a big fan of Prezi — I think my eyes and brain work worker with a more linear presentation. However, I’ve got to say that the new interface they unveiled recently makes it much more accessible for students, and everybody else, to use. You can read about it at TechCrunch at PowerPoint Killer Prezi Launches New Interface.
emaze is a new slideshow creation tool that looks neat and pretty darn easy. TechCrunch says it hits the “Sweet Spot Between PowerPoint And Prezi.”
Here’s a video describing the service:
slidebean is a new free tool for creating online slideshows.
It provides multiple formats and the ability to search the Web, within the application, for images.
Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip.
Sway is Microsoft’s new online slideshow tool. It seems easy to use.
Hstry is an online tool that has been on The Best Tools For Making Online Timelines list. They’ve rebranded themselves as Sutori and turned themselves into more of a presentation tool. It seems nice, and I’m adding it to this list but, unless I’m missing something, it appears that they lost the ability to easily create timelines in the process. I might just be missing something, though.
“ELEMENTARI” MIGHT HAVE POTENTIAL AS A STORY-CREATING TOOL FOR STUDENTS
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO GOOGLE SLIDES IN THE CLASSROOM is from The Edublogger.
WOW! “GENIAL.LY” HAS DEVELOPED INTO AN AMAZING MULTI-PURPOSE TOOL!
Pitch is a new tool for online slideshow presentations.
My Top Three Tools for Creating Audio Slideshow Videos is from Richard Byrne.
Phideo lets you easily create slideshows with music, and it’s free. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. Adobe Creative Express, previously called Adobe Spark, will still be my “go-to” tool for this kind of project.
Another Easy Way to Create End-of-Year Slideshow Videos is from Richard Byrne.
New Padlet Feature! Present Padlet Walls as Slideshows is from Richard Byrne.
All feedback on this list is welcome.
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The Digital Vault looks amazing.
Your resources always astound me and your willingness to share out, too.
Consider adding your Voicethreads to http://voicethread4education.wikispaces.com/ so other Educators can see your examples. 🙂
Thanks Larry, this is great. I hit a few brickwalls with trying to do a photoshow with the kids using smilebox (firewall preventing access) so magtoo is a great option. Off to check out the others!
I checked out magtoo. Do others question its appropriateness?
I’ve been using Mixbook of late, and have been pleased. The kids love it.
Great post, Larry! Thanks! I was not aware of ShowBeyond and the Digital Vault! I feel like I’ve been under a rock!!
Around the Corner-MGuhlin.org
Thanks for pointing out VoiceThread! That looks like a pretty great way to overlay voice overs on presentations, and to do it *easily*.
Larry – I like this list as there are several on here I have not checked out before and now will. VoiceThread is also my very favorite. However, I’m wondering why you didn’t include SlideShare? Do you think it is more difficult than the others?
Slideshare seems to be more designed for people to upload presentations that they’ve created using other applications, instead of actually creating them. The other tools that I include on the list that might be similar also provide another value-added benefit, typically it making it very easy to add audio to uploaded presentations.
But I’m open to hearing reasons why it should be included.
Larry – thank you for the clarification – your focus is on slide tools that are entirely web-based – now I have a better understanding of your list! I do really like Slideshare for all the reasons you listed above – especially how simple it is for students to use, edit, and embed. But it does require an upload from a slideshow already created somewhere else.
Although I am fortunate enough to teach in a 1:1 program, an unfortunate aspect of it is that the students do not get to keep the laptops after having them for 3 years in the program. For that reason I am trying to use as many web-based tools with them as possible and not rely on resident applications. That way their transition into life without a laptop will not be so difficult I hope. Your list will help me explore some other options!
I thought it was you who tweeted about faculte–if it was, thank you a gazillion times over, but if not, check it out–that has been my número uno tool of choice for professional but also personal needs. I haven’t used many on this list so I need to compare, but it is super easy and though it doesn’t let you upload just any picture from the web, it provides you with a ton of options from flickr.
Thanks for the post, definitely will try others out.
My choices for the best places for students to make online slideshows (with registration) would be OneTrueMedia and Empressr. The capacity to include music and video put them over the top. The capacity to edit the video in OneTrueMedia makes it even more appealing.
If there are other free ones that can do the same I’d love to know.
I did not find any free edocator account in Voicethread.
Has this post been updated since 2008? As I started reading in 2020 and before I invest in trying many of these out, I’m wondering if Google Slides (which most of my newcomers have been introduced to last year while we were still in the classroom) would be bested by any of these, especially considering that students are familiar with it already.
This post, like all my Best lists, is regularly revised and updated. In my teaching practice, though, I agree – Google Slides makes the most sense.