By Teachers, For Teachers
With her award-winning Guide for Educators, Kathy Schrock has become the guru of online education resources. She is also an Director of Technology for Nauset Public Schools, a previous library media specialists, an Adobe Education Leader, a Google Certified Teacher, and a Discovery STAR Educator.
Kathy has been kind enough to share her Top 12 favorite free ed tech tools!
This suite of no-cost tools is available to all school districts in the United States via a simple application process. The best thing about these tools is the built-in collaboration function that is so useful for curriculum planning, student placement, scheduling of meetings, creating a survey, joint Web site creation, instant messaging, and shared video that is available only to your domain.
When users provide explicit usage rights for their materials, they assign a Creative Commons license to it. The most useful part of this search tool is the ability to search both Google Images and Flickr’s site for images that already have permission to be used for re-publishing, transforming, or are already in the public domain!
ZohoCreator allows you to easily create an online database for any number of uses. I use it for gathering information from the 8th graders for their technology self-assessment, registering teachers for professional development offerings, and entering curriculum materials. It is very easy to create the input forms, and, more importantly, query the database!
Dropbox is an easy-to-use online file storage tool. It can sync a local Dropbox drive from each computer you use, allow you to share large files for others to download, or simply be used instead of your flash drive to have your files with you wherever you are!
An intuitive site that allows multiple users to simultaneously post to a “wall” using little notes and a limit on the number of characters. No registration is needed, just the URL of the wall, and it is a great tool to start or end a lesson or professional development session.
This tool allows active screen capture with or without audio. It includes online posting of your “movies” and the code for embedding it in a blog or Web site. Great for creating how-to tutorials.
This micro-blogging tool should be a staple in every educator’s ed-tech toolbox. Think of it as instant messaging on steroids. The aspect that makes it so great is that it is a one-to-many tool, which allows you to both share and gather information from your entire personal learning network all at one time!
This online utility allows you to convert up to five files at a time from one file format to another. The interface is clean and easy to use, and you have a choice of tons of image, document, and archive file formats to convert from and to!
Creating a word cloud from a document or Web site has become very popular. The feature that is special about Tagul is the words in the cloud are linked to a URL and are clickable!
One really useful tool for educators is an online newsreader. Using one, you can have all of the information from the blogs you read sent to a single location to make it very easy to keep up with the posts. Both Pageflakes and Netvibes are online newsreaders (a.k.a. aggregators) but they each have tons of other widget plug-ins to allow you access to different types of information from a central start page.
For help integrating these tools, you may want to get some additional ed tech training because technology is only valuable when you know how to use it.
Need to create a slideshow on the fly and share it with others via email, IM, or Facebook or simply embed it into your blog? PhotoPeach is the tools to use! It is simple to upload photos, add text, and even includes music files for the background if you like.
This online suite of tools from Adobe includes some very useful components. You can create a word-processed document with Buzzword, a presentation, or a spreadsheet and easily share the documents with others as viewers or collaborators.
The suite also includes a real-time meeting tool, Adobe ConnectNow, which allows three users with cameras and microphones to share a whiteboard, distribute documents, text and audio chat, share notes, share computer screens, and much more.