May 19, 2008
After much delay (sorry, been pretty busy), here are a few of my favorite Web 2.0 apps. Keep in mind that there are a number of issues that must be addressed before using any of these applications in the classroom. Discussing these issues up front will be critical to a successful project and the safety of your students. In particular:
  • Privacy: Take the opportunity before using these tools to discuss issues of privacy with your students. You will have little to no control over what they post on these sites, so you will be relying on each student's sense of what they should and should not post. It is your responsibility to plant a sense of what is OK and what is not in their minds. Safety should be your number one priority.
  • Policy: Be sure to check your district's policy with regard to posting online. Many districts have specific requirements prior to the use of online tools, such as permission forms, acceptable use policies, etc. Contact your site administrator or IT manager for assistance with locating these if you don't know where they are, and be sure to have parents and students sign them before posting anything online.
  • Practice: Decide on the rules for your projects up front. For example, what will be acceptable account names? Will students be allowed to post pictures of themselves, or should they create avatars instead? What will be the consequences of misuse of a system? How will their creations be assessed? Make sure you have a plan and specific academic goals before getting started.
  • Filters: Make sure that the sites you want to use aren't blocked or filtered. If they are, be ready to provide your IT department with detailed information on what sites you wish to use and how you intend to use them.
  • Licensing and Copyright: Another excellent learning opportunity. Discuss copyright and fair use with your students. Make sure they know what outside media and content they can and can't use in their creations. Show them the Creative Commons web site and talk about how they might want to license their content. Decide on a default license that will be applied to their work, should the sites offer that option.
  • Training: Be sure to set aside some time for the kids to learn to use the tools. Don't assume that they will all be able to "figure it out on their own." The digital native theory is a myth - don't make any assumptions about your students' technical capabilities.
Above all, be sure that you discuss what you plan to do with your site administrator. For some ideas on building your policies and guidelines, visit the Terms and Conditions and Usage Guidelines pages for this site. Once you've covered your bases, them you are ready to get started!

Bubble Share
Bubble Share is a great site for digital storytelling. It allows users to upload their photos, apply themes, add video and audio captions, and insert cartoon bubbles and clip art into their creations. Audio recording appears to only be available to Windows users, unfortunately.

Voicethread is a comprehensive tool for assembling a variety of media types into a story or presentation, with audio, video, collaborative projects, moderated comments, and online doodling. Extremely flexible, however the free version is somewhat limited. Free accounts are only allowed 3 voicethreads, a max file size of 25 megabytes, and no downloading. Also, the free version requires everyone to create an account and log in before they can view content, which can be particularly annoying when embedded in a blog or wiki.

A little clunky, but great fun, ToonDoo allows users to create their own cartoons. A huge variety of pre-created characters, themes, landscapes, and support for a number of languages make this a strong tool for short creative projects. The program is designed specifically for kids, and does not appear to have any ads.

Spresent is a powerful tool that allows users to create and edit high-quality Flash presentations online, in a similar fashion to Microsoft Powerpoint or Impress. Presentations can be sent via e-mail or published on a web site or blog. A great tool for students, because they can and it is entirely Flash based, so it is platform independent.

Posting presentations online is a snap with Slideshare. It creates an interactive player from Powerpoint, OpenOffice, or PDF files, which can easily be embedded in a web site or blog. It can also be used to set up automated presentations, complete with audio syncronized slide transitions through a very sophisticated interface.

Jumpcut is an incredible tool for creating and editing videos using individual clips and photos. The web-based editor allows users to rearrange the clips and photos, add titles, effects and lots more. If you ever wanted to create a video for the web, this is the tool for you!

Sketchcast is like an interactive whiteboard in a web browser. Record audio and commentary while "sketching", or drawing in an interactive space. The animated sketches replay in a web browser from the Sketchcast site, your website, blog, or wiki. Great for visually describing a complex topic.

Create amazing music videos using collections of photos. Animoto videos have the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer. Simply upload photos, choose background music from one of a number of genres, and Animoto does the rest. Extremely easy to use, and a great intro to Web 2.0. Users must be 13 years or older to create an account.

Aniboom is a powerful animation tool in a web browser. Assemble basic objects into more complex combinations, then animate them using the surprisingly easy animation tools. Simple yet extremely powerful, Aniboom can bring out the animator in anyone.

circaVie, which means "times of your life", is a visual timeline creation tool. Timelines are highly interactive and embeddable. Uploaded photos mark key events, with captions describing each one. Great for history reports or any other project with milestones or series of sequential events.

Fleck is a social bookmarking tool that is extremely easy to use, and allows users to annotate web pages with "post-it" style notes. Great for students to use to demonstrate their reading strategies and information literacy skills.

Daft Doggy
Daft Doggy is definitely a work in progress, but is already a tremendously useful tool. Essentially, it allows users to save, annotate, and playback web browsing sessions. Fantastic for leading students from site to site in an information literacy lesson or web quest.

Show Beyond
Another incredible digital storytelling tool. Not quite as easy as Bubble Share, but more functional in that it works on any platform. Allows direct audio recording in the web browser, as well as a useful set of annotation and organization tools.

Digital image editing in a web browser. This incredible tool allows users to upload an image, apply a variety of Photoshop-like effects, and perform common tasks using a number of easy to use tools. Completed images can then be downloaded in any one of a number of available formats. Particularly good for scaling those huge images from digital cameras prior to posting on a web site or blog.

There are plenty of others out there that I'm sure I have forgotten. Please post yours in the comments and share with the community!


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  1. I'll add a few right now and probably some more later...Visuword - visual dictionary - - online word pronunciation guide (it pronounces words in other languages too) -
    ClipClip - browser tool and service for creating web scrapbooks -

    Keybr - keyboarding practice - - turn your browser into a radio station that YOU program -

  2. I took a look at some of these and had fun messing around with the various tools. Some of the ones that jumped out at me in terms of usability and application:Slideshare: I have used this in the past. It's a good resource if you or your students are looking for others' resources on a topic, if you're trying to get a Powerpoint out there for easy access, or if you're trying to get student Powerpoints out there as a webfolio.Sketchcast looks like it could be useful for creating quick tutorials for students. It would be great if students could create their own accounts (email hurdle). Then they could use the pad to demonstrate math concepts, post them to a blog, and get feedback. I'd like to try it with a decent sketchpad; using a trackpad or mouse was a bit messy.I really liked Animoto, but I would like it better if the movie could be narrated. I can think of several work-arounds to do this, but it would be great if it was a feature that was built in. Students could narrate a visual vocabulary list, for example. In its current form, I could see posting a movie with several images, and asking students to comment on what they know about the images (like if I threw together a movie of the Parthenon and kids tried to explain what was onscreen in a follow up post.I liked Showbeyond a lot. I can easily see individual students narrating a slideshow of their work, a photostream from a fieldtrip, or a photo album of visual vocabulary cards.I did not check out the photo editing site yet. Although there are advantages to doing that on the computer before uploading, I can see how this would be useful if your computer didn't have an editor or if you wanted students to use the tools.

  3. This one also gets a lot of use in my classroom:'s a set of interactive templates for student writing. The downside to these is that there's no saving your work. The upside is that they're very easy to use, and students can use the templates rather organically as part of a culminating alternative assessment for an independent/pair/group, short-term project (like in a center).btw- thanks for putting the list together. There's some awesome stuff out there.

  4. I tried to use spresent, but it said the registrations were closed until June. I'll check back then. Love the list. It's very helpful.

  5. Okay David,Here's a site that should keep you busy for a while. It's an entire directory of Web 2.0 programs. ;)

  6. Okay David,Here's a site that should keep you busy for a while. It's an entire directory of Web 2.0 programs. ;)

  7. Yes, I've been there. I was commenting on it to Jim. I go there periodically to continue my review, but there are more additions daily than I actually have time to review. ;(

  8. So maybe one day we should all sit down at our various locations and have a blogfest about all the Web 2.0 apps. We could create a huge page in Google apps with links and info about the most interesting and useful of those listed. ;)

  9. Arlene turned me on to this site: can use it to create a classroom map. Awesome.

  10. I like that idea. We coud divide up the workload. I think it might be handy to look at typical teacher/student tasks that are commonly performed in the classroom and find relevant apps to make those tasks more efficient.

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