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The Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education

Here are my thirty picks for The Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education. In order to make this list, a site had 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.

Number thirty is Webon. It appears to be one of the easiest Web site-builders Ive come across. Its very easy to grab images off the Web and write captions. One feature I like a lot is that images automatically become a slideshow. It doesnt have all the bells and whistles other slideshow creators have, but it seems to work well enough. Its an excellent site for students to display their online work.

Number twenty-nine is Jog the Web. It allows you to easily create a slideshow of Web sites or images, and you can leave comments on each page. Its a nice tool for categorization -- Ill be describing that instructional strategy in the context of other Web tools on this list.

Number twenty-eight is a bookmarking site called Sitemark. Like a couple of similar applications on this list, its a great tool for students to apply categorization skills -- an instructional and learning strategy that requires higher-order thinking. You can read more about how I use technology for that purpose at The Best Social Bookmarking Applications for English Language Learners and Other Students.

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Number twenty-seven is Selfcast. It lets anyone with a Webcam immediately broadcast over the Web for free. In addition, anyone can watch (without registering) and participate via live text chat. The presentation also is recorded and can be watched in the future. This is an ideal way for students to record presentations.

Number twenty-six is The Broth. It lets users create password-protected private rooms," where people can cooperate on creating a piece of art. In addition, it has a chat component that lets you talk with people who are in the room at the same time. With our International Sister Classes project, its unlikely that we can make that happen because of time zone differences. However, the chat messages remain, so students can leave messages about what and why theyve contributed to the community art work.

Number twenty-five is My Jugaad, a new Web tool that allows users to easily make slideshows of Web pages and post/share links to them. Youre also able to write descriptive notes about each slide. Im always looking for new applications that can provide ways for students to use higher-order thinking and categorization skills, and this could be another one. I especially like that its extraordinarily easy to use, and that images from the Web can be included without any problem. A number of other tools are trying to fill the same niche, but many are more complicated to use.

Number twenty-four is Book Glutton, an intriguing Web application that allows groups of people to read books over the Internet and chat" and leave comments about what theyre reading. Thats okay, but I think its the uploading" feature that will really be useful. You can upload your own materials and have groups chatting and leaving comments about it. I could see that really having potential for online discussions of short articles between classes in the same school that meet during different periods, and with sister classes in different parts of the world.

Number twenty-three is, a free online polling application that lets you easily add sound, images, or video to your polls and surveys. It offers a variety of ways to see your results; and many different formats to show your survey. Creating polls and analyzing the results certainly can be educational activities.

Number twenty-two is Tokbox. Its a free tool for a video conference call that can be used to allow students in different cities or countries to communicate. You can participate with a Web cam or with just a mike. They used to have a limit on the number of people who could participate in a call, but they say they dont have that anymore. You do have to sign-up for an account, though.

Number twenty-one is MeBeam. It allows you to have up to eighteen people on the same video conference call, and its all browser-based. But you can participate in the call if you only have a microphone, too, so a Webcam is not necessary. Its free and doesnt require any pre-planning with the site -- you dont even have to register. All you do is go to the site and give your virtual" room a unique name. Then others can log on, too.

Number twenty is an online comic-creation site called Pixton. Here, you make a series of comic strips and then put them into a virtual book." The site also seems to have a very overt and pro-active (at least it says it does) policy on ensuring that only appropriate content remains on the site.

Number nineteen is Wix. Its a fairly easy site that lets you use Flash to create a Web site, or content that you would like to embed into a Web site or blog. The final product can look pretty neat. You can create so much here, I think it would be a little overwhelming for English Language Learners. I also suspect that my mainstream students would want to spend far too much time using it to make their creations look cool, and too little time on the actual content. However, I think teachers might want to use it to create content their students could access.

Number eighteen is Yola, another Web-site-building application that seems very similar to Wix, but just a little less complicated to use.

Number seventeen is Zunal. Its an easy way for teachers (and students) to create WebQuests. I know there are some specific parameters involved in using the term WebQuest," so you also can use Zunal to create much simpler online scavenger hunts." At its most basic, you can create a series of questions students have to answer, along with links to Web sites where the information can be found. Zunal also acts as the host for the WebQuest or scavenger hunt after its been created.

Number sixteen is ZeeMaps. You can make maps without registering, though its slightly more complicated to use then some of the other map-making tools that dont require registration. However, unlike the others, ZeeMaps lets you insert images, in addition to text. Students, for example, can write about different natural disasters that have occurred around the world.

Number fifteen is Nile Guide. Ive posted before about online sites that allow you to decide where you want to go, search for things that you would do and see there, and then easily drag and drop" an itinerary that can be posted on a Web site or blog. Nile Guide now appears to be the most accessible of them all.

Number fourteen is Graspr, a site where users can upload (and watch) how-to" or instructional" videos on how to do just about anything. One of the features that makes Graspr a little different from the others is the ability for the viewer to write online notes about what they see -- while theyre watching. I help my students learn reading strategies (asking questions, making connections, etc.) so they can become betterreaders. We also talk in class about how we can become better listeners by using the same kind of strategies in conversations and while watching movies. This site is an interesting, and challenging, way for English Language Learners to try that out.

Number thirteen is Awesome Highlighter. I often have students use sticky notes in class when were reading something to demonstrate reading strategies (summarize, evaluate, predict, connect, etc.). Awesome Highlighter is easy to use and no registration is required. It would be rated much higher, but my students and I periodically find that it doesnt work very smoothly, and a fair number of the Web pages weve wanted to use arent compatible with the application. However, even with those drawbacks, it definitely deserves to be on this list.

Number twelve is Middlespot. Its sort of a combination search engine and a little bit of a social-bookmarking application. After you enter your search term and click Enter," search results appear both as images and as short text blurbs. Obviously, showing the screenshots benefits English Language Learners, and several other search engines Ive listed on my Web site under Search Engines have that feature. The unique tool offered by Middlespot is called a workpad." You can drag-and-drop Web pages onto your workpad, give it a title and description, and Middlespot will give your workpad its own url, which you then can post on a blog or online journal, or e-mail to someone else. The site is planning to add the ability to search and save images. They also are planning on adding an embedding option, so you wont just have to link to the url of your saved screenshots. This is another tool that can be used for developing higher-order thinking skills -- like categorization.

Number eleven is the site formerly called Fliptrack, which recently changed its name to Moblyng. It appears to have kept all its attractive features while making it even more accessible to English Language Learners (and others). It seems even easier to make a slideshow, and it continues to allow you to invite others to collaborate on your creations. Plus -- and this is the best addition -- you dont have to register on the site any more to create slideshows. The only negative with that last change is that, if students are using a public or school computer, they need to click Clear Your Personal Info," so others dont have access to it.

Number ten is Rock You. It has many of the same features as Moblyng; its easy, has lots of options, doesnt require registration, and seems just a little easier to use.

Number nine is Quikmaps. That site recently added the ability to draw" lines on your map between various markers. You can write on the markers, and also write a general description of your map. Then, youre given an embed code as well as a unique url address. And you dont even have to register to use it! There really isnt a mapmaking site out there thats easier for anyone, including English Language Learners, to use. The only disadvantage is that it doesnt appear that you can import images in your marker descriptions.

Number eight is The Digital Vaults, an entry into the vast resources of the National Archives. The site allows you to use the National Archives resources to create your own movies, posters, and what it calls Pathway Challenges" to challenge others to find connections between a series of images, documents, and other resources you put together.

Number seven is Tikatok. Its a new site thats a real find for English Language Learners (and lots of other students). Users can write and illustrate online books (they can also use lots of images available on the site). The site offers a number of features that really make it stand out. You can make a book from scratch, or you can use one of many story frames that contain prompts" to help the story writer along. In addition, you can invite others to collaborate online with you to develop the book. Once the book is done, you can e-mail the link to a friend, teacher, or yourself for posting on a blog, Web site, or online journal. You can create the online version for free, but you have to pay if you want to print a hard-copy version.

Number six is Edublogs.TV, the newest tool from Edublogs, the best educational blogging tool in the world. Edublogs.TV is a video-hosting site dedicated to education." You can upload videos -- such as educationally useful ones from YouTube -- and then Edublogs.TV does magic to it, so schools can access them when the original site might be blocked.

Number five is My Studiyo. I believe it is, without question, the best way to create online tests and quizzes. Its easy to use; you can include multimedia, and others can add questions (that are moderated before they appear).

Number four is 280 Slides. Its the newest and best addition to my The Best Ways to Create Online Slideshows. I especially like the feature that lets you search for Web images and videos right inside the slideshow creation process. Except for the wonderful Bookr tool -- which is still by far the easiest way to make an online slideshow -- all the other slideshow sites Ive seen require you to open a separate window to search for images before you plug" it in to get their url address. This feature just makes it easier for English Language Learners and everyone else, to create slideshows. And 280 Slides has far more bells and whistles" than Bookr.

Number three is Posterous. Its definitely the newest addition to my list of The Best Sites to Easily Create and Display Online Projects. Basically, users just e-mail what they want posted on their micro-blog" (its similar to Tumblr) and its automatically posted with the subject line as the title and the body of the e-mail as its content. I was able to copy images off the Web and paste them in my e-mail, along with a written description, and it all immediately appeared in my Posterous." You also can e-mail attachments and some embeddable applications. Theres not an easier application out there for blogging and keeping an online journal.

Number two is the Search Me search engine. Its an excellent search engine that shows snapshots of the Web pages, in addition to text information, which makes it very accessible to English Language Learners. In addition (and this is why its so high on my list), 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. You also can write some kind of description, or tag, for each site. This kind of application is great for categorization activities, and teachers easily can create stacks" of Web pages, videos, or images they want students to review.

My pick for the number one Web 2.0 application for education for this year is Book Goo. Its a new tool that lets you upload documents or Web pages and then annotate and share them. Others can annotate the same document. You can draw on the documents as well. I have students use the notes to demonstrate reading strategies on Web pages. The sites staff is very responsive to user feedback. And its always worked whenever my students or I have used it.

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Larry Ferlazzo
Education World®
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