Web 2.0 Toys

1. Edmodo: If you haven’t yet heard of Edmodo you probably will soon. What is it? It is a learning management system/social networking site all rolled into one. It resembles Facebook, but it is made entirely for learning. If your school or district already uses a system such as echalk or moodle, Edmodo may not be for you. However, many districts are encouraging teachers to set up their classes on it for several reasons: students seem to like it; it keeps everyone organized; it is easy to use; and it is free. Teachers can post assignments and supporting materials, such as Powerpoints, videos, handouts and links to websites, and the due date with an upload link will show up on the students’ calendars. Teachers can give self-graded quizzes from within the site, and the grades are posted to a gradebook. It doesn’t integrate with any of the major online gradebooks, nor does it import tests from software such as ExamView, but it is super for what it does. Hey, it’s free.

Edmodo Tutorial from Mr. Robitaille on Vimeo.

2. Trello This site has been around for a couple of years, but it was introduced to journalism teachers in 2013 by Michael Simons, a journalism teacher/yearbook adviser in New York. If you’ve yearned for a project management system that did not involve color-coded folders and endless checkoff sheets, this may be what you have been waiting for. The online software is made for managing large projects, and it is customizable to fit just about any kind of project. Bonus: It’s free. Here is the video Michael shared on the JEA listserv recently about how his staff is using Trello.

Trello for Publication Advisers — Overview from Mike Simons on Vimeo.


3. Thing Link: This is a cool tool to make images, charts, maps, etc., interactive. Add hotspots to an image on the ThingLink website, and you can add websites or videos to the image. It’s not as sophisticated as John King’s magic board on CNN, but it has possibilities. And it’s free, too.

4. Symbaloo When you assign a big research project to a class, sometimes it helps to give the students specific places to go. You can type out a list of websites–or you could create a Symbaloo webmix for your class, a bright and colorful way to give them links to the sites you have chosen for them. They can use the webmix as is, or they can get a Symbaloo account and add it to webmixes they create for other things. Yes, it is also free.

5. Quizlet: Students and teachers can create interactive “flash cards” to study terms and concepts at this site. After cards are created, they can be used as traditional flash cards or students can play games to learn the material.

6. Socrative Student response system which can be used on just about any device. Mobile apps are available, or students can respond via the Socrative web page. You guessed it, it’s free.

Animoto. PowerPoints are great, but sometimes you want something more exciting, more stimulating. Animoto.com lets you create movies from pictures (or even from PowerPoint slides saved as jpegs.) Educators can apply for a free six-month premium account for students and colleagues. This account lets the 50 people create an unlimited number of videos during that time. Otherwise, the service has a free tier that limits the user to unlimited 30-second videos with a limited selection of templates. The premium service for one person runs $29 a year and gives you longer videos and more templates. The pro membership is pretty pricy, going for $39 per month or $250 a year, and gives you more selection in templates. It’s easy and fun to use.

8. VideoScribe. Wow. This one is just too cool and rather than try to describe it, I’ll just post the video. It was developed by some folks in England and pricing is expressed in pounds, but shows the US dollar conversion. If you want it, it will run you about $15 per month.

9. Sokikom. On first glance, this behavior management tool looks like it would be more useful for elementary classes than secondary, but it is actually very flexible and customizable. It was originally designed for math classrooms and has some math games integrated into it. But as the video will show, there is much more to it. If you are using Edmodo, it is available as a free app and integrates fairly well into the Edmodo structure.

10. Edcanvas. This website is great for teachers and students. If you need to get a presentation together that includes a lot of different components–maybe some web sites, and image or two, a video–you can add to your canvas to include all of it. Then you just have to go to one web site to access it all. The students can use it for presentations instead of PowerPoint. It’s free.