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The Top Ten Learning Tools Of 2009


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Note: In order to qualify for most of Larrys lists, a site has 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.


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Edublogs is a great blog-hosting site for teachers and students alike. It's specifically designed for educational use and is incredibly responsive to user needs, suggestions, and problems. They've also begun Edublogs.TV, a video-hosting site dedicated to education." You can upload videos -- such as educationally useful ones from YouTube -- and Edublogs.TV does magic to it, so schools can access the videos when the original site might be blocked.

Google Reader: RSS seems like magic to me, and I switched to Google Reader because it seems so much more reliable than other RSS readers out there.

FeedBlitz makes it incredibly easy for people who don't use an RSS aggregator (the majority of people on the Internet by far) to receive blog updates via e-mail.

VoiceThread: You can upload pictures and create an audio narrative to go along with them. In addition, audio comments can be left by visitors. VoiceThread also provides a great deal to teachers by providing them with premium services for free, including allowing them to create a zillion free VoiceThreads. You can include images from the Web just by inserting a url.

Vocaroo is a super easy way for students to record a message -- of any length -- and then place a link or an embed code on a student or teacher Web site. Its got to be one of the simplest ways for audio recording out there -- no registration is required, and you just click record."

Posterous is another great blogging application. Users can e-mail what they want posted on their blog and its automatically posted with the subject line as the title and the body of the e-mail as the content. You can copy images off the Web and paste them in an e-mail, along with a written description, and it all immediately appears on your Posterous." You can e-mail attachments and some embeddable applications. You also can post directly to your blog without e-mailing.

Mozy gives me peace-of-mind because I never having to worry about backing-up anything ever again. It automatically backs-up everything on my computer every few hours.

Imagination Cubed is a free Web application that has an incredible number of uses. Students can create original designs, do scientific work (my students have drawn models of the solar system), write text, and draw pictures for inclusion in online stories. The urls then can be e-mailed and posted, and remain hosted at Imagination Cubed. Even better, when you visit the design, you see it as it was being created (in fast-motion), so you almost can see the student's thinking process.

Bookr: It would be difficult to create an easier application than Bookr to make slideshows with captions on the Web. The only drawback is that you can only use images from Flickr, and not others on the Web, but thats a small price to pay for such an accessible application.

The Search Me is an excellent search engine that shows snapshots of the Web pages in addition to text information, making it very accessible to English Language Learners. In addition, you can create stacks" of categorized sites, images, and videos; embed them in a blog or Web site; and/or e-mail them to a friend or teacher.

If you found this article useful, you might want to check out Larrys entire Best Of series, or consider subscribing to his free blog.

Larry Ferlazzo
Education World®
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02/26/2010