It’s that time of year again when I start posting year-end “The Best….” lists. There are over one thousand lists now.  You can see them all here.

As usual, in order to make this list, a site had to be:

* accessible to English Language Learners and non-tech savvy users.

* free-of-charge.

* appropriate for classroom use.

* completely browser-based with no download required.

It’s possible that a few of these sites began in 2011, but, if so, I’m including them in this list because they were “new to me” in 2012.

You might want to visit previous editions:

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2011

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2010

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 In 2012 — So Far useful)

Here are my ranked choices for The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2012:

Number Twenty-Nine is a pretty darn easy way to create a free website. Be sure to click “Get a Free Account now …” on their homepage.

Number Twenty-Eight is a very easy tool for creating a website. I particularly like the fact that you can grab images off the Web to insert in them.

Number Twenty-Seven

Kwiqpoll lets you easily create a poll — and no registration is required. You’re give the poll’s url address, but it’s not embeddable. It has no frills, but it’s easy as pie.

Number Twenty-Six

In Focus lets you, without any registration required, literally “highlight” a section of any webpage and provides a unique url address linking to it.

Number Twenty-Five

The free web tool Inklewriter is, without a doubt, the easiest way to write a choose your own adventure story. You can read more about it at Gamasutra, New, free tools allow any novice to make an accessible text adventure.

Number Twenty-Four

Pandamian is a super-simple — and free — tool to create an ebook. Sign-up takes a few seconds, and you’re given your own url address for all your future books. Click on “create a new book” and you’re off! You can easily copy and paste images, and readers can leave moderated comments. They can also subscribe to an RSS feed if they want to be updated on newer chapters and it can be embedded.

Number Twenty-Three

Quicklinkr lets you very easily collect websites, images, videos, etc — without requiring registration. They are shown with screenshots, and you can put them into “folders.” It appears you have to register if you want to come back to edit it, or to leave a comment about one of the saved links (registration is quick and easy). Unfortunately, that comment feature appears the only way you can add a text description to any link you save. There might be another way, but I didn’t see it.

Number Twenty-Two

Edcanvas is a nifty tool that lets you very easily add videos, images, website snapshots and files to create a grid canvass for students to access (teachers can also create virtual classes so that students could create their own). You can also type text on top of what you drag into the grid boxes — for example, instructions. A particularly nifty feature is that it provides a search box so you can search for videos, images and websites right from within the application. It has multiple uses, but I think it’s especially good for creating Internet Scavenger Hunts and Web Quests.

Number Twenty-One

Kl1P lets you create a webpage without any registration required. You can paste text or images into it, and is a great way to publish student work — you get a custom url address for your page and can paste that on a student/teacher blog.

Number Twenty

Check This is the latest in a long line of tools that let you create webpages quickly, without registering, and that let you also paste images into them.

Number Nineteen

Loose Leaves lets you write or paste images and automatically creates a webpage. You’re given two url addresses — one where you can edit it again and a second where others can view it. No registration is necessary.

Number Eighteen

QikPad is a nice online collaborative writing tool that has an embedding feature.

Number Seventeen

BeeClip.Edu lets you set-up a virtual classroom where students can create a “scrapbook” or other products using a very simple “drag-and-drop” interface. Text can also be added. One teacher with up to thirty students is free, but you have to pay if you want to add more.

Number Sixteen

ikiMap lets you easily create maps and, what I particularly like, is you can insert images off the web just by using their url addresses.

Number Fifteen looks good and is very similar to Animoto. You can search for photos online or use your own, and easily combine them with music to create musical video-like slideshows.

Number Fourteen

Google announced a new 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.  We were studying natural disasters in our ninth-grade English class, and students had a blast creating dialogues between people experiencing a disaster of their choice.

Number Thirteen

MentorMob lets you very easily create a slideshow. Webpages, videos and photos can be grabbed from the web and added, along with notes. It’s easy to use, very intuitively designed so just about anyone can figure it out, and attractive.

Number Twelve

Hello Slide lets you upload a PDF of your PowerPoint. You can then type in the narration and it will use a text-to-speech feature to provide audio to your slideshow.

Number Eleven

Themeefy lets you grab pretty much anything you want off the Web, and add your own materials, to create a personalized magazine that can be shared/embedded wherever you want. It looks pretty neat and simple.

Number Ten

Skqueak is a new free iPhone app I like a lot that lets you easily provide audio for photos. There are several other apps on various other “The Best…” lists,   However, I suspect that Skqueak is going to give them a run for their money. It’s very simple to use, it appears to have a very extended recording time (though I’m not sure what the time limit is exactly) and, most importantly, it makes it extremely easy to create sort of a seamless audio slideshow. None of the other similar apps have such an ability, or at least one that is as easy to use.

Number Nine

Though I’ve used clozes (fill-in-the-blank/gap-fill) for several years, this is the first time a free and easy-to-use site like LearnClick has been available (there have been other cloze-creation sites, but none that I thought were student-friendly). LearnClick makes it super-simple and free to create and post interactive clozes online so students from different classes — in fact, students anywhere — can try completing them. And they’re much more enjoyable to create, too!

Number Eight

Urlist is now my favorite tool for creating Internet Scavenger Hunts. You register, copy and paste the sites you want, easily leave comments/instructions/questions for each site (which students can see by clicking “expand,” share the link, and you’ve got your hunt. You can also “play” the sites like a slideshow, but that’s not necessary for scavenger hunt purposes.

Number Seven lets you drag and drop images and links (and the links appear as thumbnail images on the screen);it lets you write on it or add speech bubbles — it’s basically a super-duper-duper Wallwisher.

Number Six looks like a pretty easy tool for creating infographics that can be linked to or embedded. The selection of templates is pretty limited, but the site is still in beta. The main problem with the site is that you can only log-in using a social media site like Facebook or Twitter. That makes it usable for teachers, but, since those sites are blocked in most schools for students, they would not be able to create their own. (UPDATE: It appears that you can now register just using an email address)

Number Five  is hands-down the easiest tool I’ve seen on the Web to create infographics. You just “drag-and-drop” a variety of themes, type in your data, and you’ve got a great infographic.

Number Four

I’m a big proponent of the Picture Word Inductive Model as a strategy for English Language Learners to develop reading and writing skills (I describe it in detail  in my article in ASCD Educational Leadership, Get Organized Around Assets). It begins with the teacher labeling items in thematic photos with the help of students. The webtool Thinglink could be a great deal to help ELL’s maximize the advantages of this instructional strategy. Thinglink lets you upload or grab an image or video off the web and annotate items with the image or video super-easily. It basically looks like a photo in the Picture Word Inductive Model, just online. Thinglink’s recently announced for educators and students that you can now annotate fifty images free, and the cost for far more is next-to-nothing.

Number Three

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.

Number Two

MarQueed is like a Thinglink  on steroids and allows collaborative annotation.  You can read more about it here.

Number One

Meograph is a cool web tool that lets you create an audio-narrated digital story with an integrated map.  You can also grab images off the web, but have to remember to copy and paste the image’s url address in the YouTube field.  Just check it out!

Feedback is welcome.

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