As regular readers know, for the past fourteen years I’ve been publishing about twenty-five different annual lists highlighting the best educational resources around (along with tons of other “Best” lists). You can see them all here.
I’m starting off this year’s lists by focusing on Web 2.0 tools. It’s possible that a few of these sites began earlier than this year, but, if so, I’m including them in this list because they were “new to me” in 2021 (or in late 2020 after I published that year’s list).
As usual, 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 (however, I’ve begun to make exceptions for special mobile apps).
You can see previous editions of these lists, along with all my Web 2.0-related lists, here.
I’ll review the tools on this list at the end of the year and only choose “the cream of the crop” for that final “annual” list.
I also posted two Web 2.0 – related Best lists this year: A BEGINNING LIST OF THE BEST RESOURCES FOR USING GOOGLE JAMBOARDS WITH ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS – PLEASE ADD YOUR OWN! and THE BEST TOOLS FOR MAKING ONLINE INTERACTIVE WORKSHEETS.
Here are my choices for The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2021. They are divided into three categories – Useful, Good, Excellent (though none made it on the final category):
Written Realms is a site where you can write and read text-based choose your own adventure games. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories.
Rapid Sketch looks like an easy way to make sketch notes.
Weje seems like a fairly decent Padlet-like tool. I’m adding it to The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”).
Decks is a new flashcard tool. It seems to stand-out from others because one of the features it offers is the ability to integrate flashcards with videos of your choosing. I’m adding it to The Best Tools To Make Online Flashcards.
I haven’t quite figured out Explain, but it seems like an easy way to make “explainer” videos.
Note Canvas looks like an intriguing new kind of online corkboard/bulletin board (sort of like Padlet). I’m adding it to The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”).
KnightLab has quite a few intriguing digital storytelling tools. There are so many that I haven’t figured out which “Best” lists I should add them to….
Holo AI is an intriguing writing site. You begin writing a story – or anything else – and then it uses Artificial Intelligence to give you two choices of what happens next. Then you write a little more, and the process repeats. I don’t think it can have much educational value in the classroom, but it could be something students could play around with if you have a few minutes left at the end of class.
Wick Editor looks like a nice and free tool to create animations. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Animations.
Fotobabble was one of the first online tools that let you easily upload images and provide audio narration. Unfortunately it went under. Now, it has been resurrected! Truthfully, it seems pretty basic now, and I’m not sure if it would be my “go-to” tool, but it still is quite easy to use. You can see what I created with it here.
Curate a Street View Art Gallery is from Google Maps Mania. I’m adding it to The Best Ways For Students To Create Their Own Online Art Collections.
Squigl looks like a cool and easy way to create videos. Read all about it at Create Content with SquiglCreate Content with Squigl by EVA BUYUKSIMKESYAN. I’m adding it to The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Videos (Using Someone Else’s Content).
Image To Sketch is a fun site where you can turn any photo into a pencil-like drawing.
Threadit is a new video tool from Google – it’s sort of alike email, but with video, and is FlipGrid-like. Richard Byrne has a good post and video titled 5 Ideas for Using Threadit in School. I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.
BeautyWords lets you create visually pleasing quote boxes for sharing. I’m adding it to The Best Tools For Creating Visually Attractive Quotations For Online Sharing.
Mondrian.fun lets you easily create abstract art. I’m adding it to The Best Art Websites For Learning English (that list has many art-creation tools that students can use and then write about talk about what they created).
Dotstorming is a Padlet-like tool. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”).
Canva is really becoming a “one-stop shop”! Now, they’ve added the ability to make one of those videos that include messages from friends or family and comic strip templates. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Make Comic Strips Online.
Quote Maker From QuotesLyfe is an easy way to make visually attractive quotations to share. I’m adding it to The Best Tools For Creating Visually Attractive Quotations For Online Sharing.
Scroobly lets you create online animations by turning your web cam on and moving around. I’m adding it to The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Animations.
Free Word Cloud Generator does what it’s name suggests. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About “Word Clouds”
Vodited lets you upload your podcast, creates a transcript, and then lets you edit the text. Next, it then automatically edits the audio. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Teacher & Student Podcasting.
Otter.ai: an Awesome Free App to Get Accurate Transcript from Audios/Videos is from Blog de Cristina.
Learn Hip lets you create an incredible number of games and online activities, primarily geared to help students learn English. I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games. Thanks to Blog de Cristina for the tip. Its Minimal Pairs Pronunciation Practice is particularly useful – it lets you speak the word you see and then tells you if you said it correctly or not (click on “speaking”). Because of that feature, I’m also adding it to THE BEST SITES FOR ONLINE PRONUNCIATION FEEDBACK – DO YOU KNOW OTHERS?
Google has announced a new exhibition at Google Arts and Culture called Music, Makers & Machines: A Brief History of Electronic Music. A particularly neat part of it is a tool that lets you create your own electronic music and share it with others. I’m adding this info to The Best Online Sites For Creating Music.
Dealing with PDFs (and graphic organizers) online has been a pain-in-the-butt to countless teachers during distance learning. There are some workarounds that can be found by searching online, including a few I’ve previously shared about (MY MIND WAS BLOWN TODAY AFTER LEARNING HOW TO COLLABORATIVELY ANNOTATE PDFS ON GOOGLE DRIVE and How Could I Have Not Known How Easy It Is To Use Graphic Organizers In Jamboard?). A new tool create by Dan Tanner, an ESL teacher in Italy, looks like it might make things easy for a lot of teachers and their students. It’s called Thinkio, and it’s free. It lets teachers easily make their PDFs interactive and lets you assign them to your students and see their work. It doesn’t have a Google Classroom integration – at least, not yet – but it seems like its ease-of-use still makes it a winner…. I’m adding it to The Best Sites Where Students Can Work Independently & Let Teachers Check On Progress.
Thanks to Katherine Schulten, I learned about Verse By Verse, a fun Google tool that uses Artificial Intelligence to inspire uses to write poetry. You first choose famous American poets you like, and then you’re given a choice of what kind of poetry you’d like to write. Next, you write the first line, and then Artificial Intelligence uses the works of the poets you chose to inspire you in the following lines. I’m adding it to The Best World Poetry Day Resources – Help Me Find More.
No tools have made it on the “excellent” category so far this year.