Here’s a shortlist of 5 essential web-based tools that every teacher should have in their edtech arsenal. There are many more I’m sure but for this list I’m sticking to tools you can access via a web browser, rather than apps.
There’s another blog post brewing for essential iPad apps for teachers, but that’s something for another day. The tools in the list below can all be accessed by a simple classroom computer.
In addition to this list, I’d also add access to Google Drive/Apps for Education and/or Dropbox as a way of storing and sharing files. Being able to use these will depend on whether your school decides to block them or not.
Socrative is a free browser-based system that lets teachers set up quizzes and polls which can then be accessed by students on any device. It supports iPads, smartphones, laptops, iPod Touches, etc.
Teachers can set whether the quiz runs at the student pace or the teacher’s pace. Students’ results are visible on the Teacher’s screen or sent in an email. They can also be downloaded as an excel file which shows the students answers and overall score.
Setting up a group is very fast. With a pre-written quiz it’s possible to get a new group signed in and answering questions within a few minutes, and even faster once the class know the URL and room number.
As well as quizzes, Socrative can be used for quick polls – throw out a question and ask for yes/no or true/false responses. It can also allow words and phrases to be submitted as part of a brainstorm. Submitted answers can then form part of a poll to vote for the best answer etc.
Formerly known as Wallwisher, Padlet gives teachers a virtual board where you can post short text notes in the same way that you could put post-it notes onto a notice board in your classroom. But the great thing about a Padlet board is that it can be shared between people all over the world! If you want to. Or just stick to your class.
As well as text notes you can add images, video and links to other websites.
The ways this can be used are varied. Some teachers use it for brainstorming – collating ideas from the class. It could also be used as a way of collecting questions from children through a lesson without them having to disrupt the flow. Some teachers have used it for homework, opening up a padlet for the children to add notes to over the course of a week. Pads can be set to be moderated – so the answers children post will be hidden from each other until the teacher approves them. This is good for homeworks (they don’t wait until one child posts the answers) but also can prevent unwanted comments going out into the public realm.
For alternatives to Padlet, here’s 8 more online noticeboards.
3. ProWise Presenter
ProWise Presenter is browser-based interactive whiteboard software. Using it teachers can create presentations that allow student participation via the Proconnect app. This can include annotations, text and images.
It works in the same way as most of the software you would expect for an interactive whiteboard. This presentation can then be shared with the students who can view it on their devices and have the facility to add their own annotations and send it back to the teacher.
It’s free for basic use, with an additional charge for storage of more files.
Wordle is a very handy tool which allows you to convert chunks of text into attractive word clouds, a visualisation of the words used most frequently throughout the text. The larger the text, the more commonly it was used.
There are many creative ways to use a word cloud. They can be used to summarise chapters from a book or a speech and highlight the key words and phrases or children can analyse their own writing and see what words they overuse. You might even present them with a Wordle and ask them to guess the book/topic that was used to create it. Here’s some more ideas.
If you like Wordle, here’s 7 other Word Cloud makers for you to try out.
Russel Tarr’s classtools website has been one of my go-to sites for years. It’s always cropping up in my training sessions with teachers. There’s so many handy tools, from the Breaking News Generator to the Countdown Timers and The Random Name Picker. There’s also a fake Facebook page generator that many teachers will love.
Go take a look at www.classtools.net
So that’s my list. There’s more I could add, for sure, but these are the ones I keep going back to. If you’re just starting out in teaching, these would be the ones to master first!
So what are your essential tools? Please share them in the comments below!