• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Cool Tools Duel

Page history last edited by Roxann Nys 13 years, 1 month ago


Here are links and short descriptions of all the Web 2.0 "Cool Tools" and other resources shared by Roxann Nys and Theresa Neuser during their "Cool Tools Duel" in Fall of 2010.  In order to make our list, the sites generally had to be:

* accessible and easy to use for non-tech savvy users

* free-of-charge

* appropriate for classroom use

* completely browser-based with no download required


NOTE: Some new additions are made from time to time, so you may want to subscribe to the RSS feed for this page (found at the very bottom) so you know when changes have been made.


Get involved in using social Web 2.0 tools! Perhaps you've had some of the same thoughts at the beginning of this video?


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With so many websites requiring email addresses to access them, how can schools whose students don't have email accounts work around this issue? There are a couple of options we can suggest:


Wisconsin Connects (ePals) 

"Wisconsin Connects is a partnership between the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and ePals to link Wisconsin students with their counterparts in classrooms in over 200 countries and territories. Wisconsin Connects provides students access to high-tech tools that will provide entry to cultures around the world." ePals SchoolMail™ is the recognized leader in FREE school-safe email for students in grades K-12, providing easy-to-use multilingual electronic communications solutions to schools and districts worldwide in a protected, customized, and collaborative environment. You can set up a variety of levels of email access, including to the general Internet community, if desired.



Gaggle has two available options for setting up student email accounts, one free and one paid. The free option does have ads, but area districts that have chosen this option report that they are not a real issue or concern. In fact, students need to learn how to deal with (and ignore) the ads that proliferate the Internet. Gaggle does block offensive ads. If you would like to apply for the free version of Gaggle (they say they are still offering the free version to "selected schools and teachers") you will need to call them at (800) 288-7750. For paid subscriptions: You can purchase individual accounts for $6.00 each or as little as $3.75 per student on a district wide basis. The accounts are sold as an annual subscription service.


Setting up Dummy Gmail addresses

The link above will take you to information that was posted as a way to set up email accounts for use with your Animoto education account using Gmail. The "dummy" account trick doesn't work with most other e-mail domains. NOTE: I have not tried this option and don't know if it would work with other Web2.0 sites--please let me know if you have and if it works!


Some Web2.0 sites offer you the option to create classroom accounts from within the site.

PBWorks is one that does so. This option can be found under the "Settings" tab, then under "Access Controls" If you cannot find the option in a site that you would like to use in your classroom, consider contacting the website manager directly with your request. It never hurts to ask! Many Web2.0 sites have now created safe, educationally friendly options because teachers asked for it.


Cool Tools List


280 Slides

With 280 Slides, there's no software to download and nothing to pay for – and when you're done building your presentation you can share it any way you like. An online slide show presentation creator. You can import and export PowerPoint presentations.


Alphabetizer  Puts just about any list in alphabetical order! Alphabetize words, songs, titles, phrases, sentences. Lots of helper options included.


Animoto if you are want to create very professional looking videos without having to learn how to use complicated editing software, then Animoto is the tool for you. Animoto's Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology that thinks like an actual director and editor. It analyzes and combines user-selected images, video clips and music with the same sophisticated post-production skills and techniques that are used in television & film. It's free for educators and the creators are always adding new, amazing features! You will need to apply for an educator account, which may take a while to approve. It is good for 6 months, at which time, if you wish to continue using your account, you'll need to apply again. (Animoto will remind you when you're reaching your expiration date.)

For a great idea on how to use Animoto to promote reading in your classroom, check out this wiki called "Kickapoo Book Trailers" created by Jen Malphy, a Wisconsin LMS.  Great project!



All you need to access the myriad of resources available on BadgerLink is your library card. Supported by the state of Wisconsin, BadgerLink is free to all residents of the state. If your students tell you that they can't do their research because the sites are blocked, they haven't been searching via BadgerLink. Dena Budreki, Plymouth Schools' LMS, has created two short videos (part 1 and part 2) that take you through the basics of how to use BadgerLink.


New to BadgerLink this year is a full, copyright free music/sound library Soundzabound. Check out the pdf document about Soundzabound for more info about what's available as well as how to access it via BadgerLink.


For more in-depth info about BagerLink, the BadgerLunch webinar series explores BadgerLink’s rich collection of information tools Thursdays at noon. For more information, please review the official BadgerLunch Webinar Series Announcement.



Comic Strip Creators abound on the Internet and are a great way for students to demonstrate understanding of a concept, prewriting, pre- and post-reading activities, response to literature, and so on.

Comic Creator, from ReadWriteThink.org is very simple and lets students create comics using characters and props from a gallery and then add their own text. Comics are printable but not saved online. This site also includes a number of lesson plans and other teacher resources outlining how to integrate the use of Comic Creator into the curriculum.

Bitstrips is an online only comic creator. You can use it to create your own avatar, tell a joke or story or comment on the world around you. You can connect Bitstrips to your FaceBook account, but you can't print them at this time. 

Pixton is a very full featured comic strip creator that will soon allow you to bring your comics to life with animation. Pixton is free, but there is pricing for classrooms ($1/student/month) if you want options like keeping students' work private, printing, and more. It's a bit more complicated to use, but there are many tutorials available on the site and you can end up with a pretty professional looking end product. 

Graphic Novel Creator: Comic Master  This is a very cool online comic creator, the intuitive interface is fun to use.  It is geared toward students (especially those reluctant boy readers,) has a great look and features an embedded music player.  The site's headline says it well: “Reading isn’t only in books, it’s everywhere!”  Using the Graphic Novel Creator, students can create their own multi-page graphic novels with interesting backgrounds, characters, props, and customized text.  The graphic novels can be saved and printed out. Read more about this great tool at the iLearn Technology blog.


Here's a great slideshow by S.Hendy, Elearning Educator, Art and Multimedia Teacher at Education Queensland highlighting some of the comic strip creators followed by strategies for classroom use:


Delicious is a social bookmarking tool. Great for tracking your bookmarks when you're on different computers, sharing them with others or just for personal research, social bookmarking tools are amazing tools and are an essential part of a good PLN. Here's a brief introduction to a favorite, easy (and free) social bookmarking tool. Roxann uses Delicious for all her bookmarks--check there first for the latest Web2.0 tools she's researching.


Diigo Education  Any annotations you make on a web page can be saved and sent to students or colleagues. This tool is popular among teachers because it offers the ability to create accounts for a whole class and it protects the students’ privacy. There are special premium accounts provided specifically to K-12 & higher-ed educators. Once your Diigo Educator application is approved, your account will be upgraded to have these additional features:

  • You can create student accounts for an entire class with just a few clicks (and student email addresses are optional for account creation)

  • Students of the same class are automatically set up as a Diigo group so they can start using all the benefits that a Diigo group provides, such as group bookmarks and annotations, and group forums.

  • Privacy settings of student accounts are pre-set so that only teachers and classmates can communicate with them.

  • Ads presented to student account users are limited to education-related sponsors.


Doodle Registration isn’t required, and it’s extremely easy to create a poll that can be embedded in a blog or website or be accessed via its url address.  Participants can leave comments, too. It appears to have been set-up primarily to organize group events, but it can be used as a poll for just about anything.



Since 2009, Etherpad has gone through many changes. The original Etherpad offering closed in April 2010. However, there are some options worth exploring. Etherpad is the only web-based word processor that allows people to work together in real time. When multiple people edit the same document simultaneously, any changes are instantly reflected on everyone's screen. The result is a new and productive way to collaborate on text documents, useful for meeting notes, drafting sessions, education, team programming, and more. Etherpad is a great way to give all your students a voice. Etherpad is open source software that can be installed on your district's own web server--that will require involvement of your tech folks.

Etherpad services:

Primary Pad (uses Etherpad software, which has been newly revised and updated) Although Primary Pad is a paid service, there is a 3 month free trial option available for educational use. Here is a page with info on costs beyond the free trial (prices are listed in British pounds-basic cost for up to 8 users is approx. $250/yr.) You can also create a free "public pad" to try it out without creating an account. The public pad is limited to just 4 users, but you could easily create multiple public pads and simply assign users to different pads with the same topic. Consider using the public pad option with student groups that are working collaboratively or to

Other free public pads:





Evernote "Chances are, if you can see it or think of it, Evernote can help you remember it. Type a text note. Clip a web page. Snap a photo. Grab a screenshot. Evernote will keep it all safe. Everything you capture is automatically processed, indexed, and made searchable. If you like, you can add tags or organize notes into different notebooks. Search for notes by keywords, titles, and tags. Evernote magically makes printed and handwritten text inside your images searchable, too." Discover more great ways to use Evernote on their blog or get a first-hand tutorial on their videos page.



Yes, FaceBook! And yes, it's a social networking tool that has had a great deal of press about privacy concerns. In spite of that, teachers and even school districts are using FaceBook Fan Pages to keep the lines of communication open to their communities. (Links can be found to some area school districts using FaceBook fan pages on my social networking tools page on this wiki.) Dan Reich, a direct marketing consultant, has written a useful blogpost called "How to Set up a FaceBook Fan Page that Works" Although it is focused on fan pages for businesses, many of his tips are also appropriate for educational business.


Glogster  Students can create multimedia online posters or “glogs which can then be shared on the internet. This tool can be used to assess both writing and speaking.


ImageIdeas  Imageideas offers high-quality, copyright-free digital images for Wisconsin educators. All of the images in the imageideas repository are free for educators to use within their classrooms.


iCivics (formerly Our Courts)- Great for teaching civics. It's a free computer game (and more) for teenagers created with the help of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has made its online debut. "Supreme Decision," the first of several planned web-based games, went online in August as part of a project called Our Courts. In it, students can play a Supreme Court law clerk helping a justice with a tie-breaking vote over a First Amendment case. The site also has a host of resources for civics teachers including lesson plans.


Maggwire See the latest, top articles from 100's of magazines online! Read what others are saying, reply to other users comments, start your own discussion and share it with others. NOTE: Lots of magazines available (including Esquire!) If you decide to use this with your students, it's recommended that you set up your own account, edit which magazines you want to be available and log in for them so they only have access to those you want them to see.


Markup.io Draw on any webpage with MarkUp to quickly share your thoughts. Share your ideas with colleagues, students, and friends. MarkUp works in your browser, so there’s nothing to download and install; just drag the Get MarkUp icon into your bookmarks bar. When you want to make notes on a webpage, click your bookmarklet to load the MarkUp toolbar. Publish when you’re ready to share your thoughts.



Penzu is a free online diary and personal journal with a focus on privacy. Easily keep a secret diary of thoughts or a journal of notes and ideas secure and on the web. Now with many new features including inserting photos, sharing (if you want to), instant search capabilities. A great alternative to the old pen and paper journals.


Prezi More like an interactive online white board, Prezi takes building a slide show to a new level. And now you can invite others to work on your Prezi with you, so students and teachers can collaborate in creating presentations that are amazing. It takes a little getting used to Prezi's creation tools, but the results are well worth it. There are MANY public Prezi's available for you to peruse--they are search-able via keyword, so you'll have lots of examples you can learn from. Prezi's policy states that it is for "adults only" so you'll need to create an account that your students will use to create their own Prezi's.


Preezo Create professional quality presentations right on your browser...no Powerpoint software needed! Access your presentations from any computer with an Internet connection and a modern browser. Reuse images or the content of entire slides from easy to use galleries. Save time and reduce headache by collaborating on a centralized web document. Distribute presentations without having to email huge PowerPoint files. Email validation is required for signup.  It's recommended that you resize your photos if you use some, as large files take a long time to load. You can import or export your creations or create a link to where it's hosted online. Here's a short show I created.


ScribbleMaps Draw on google maps with scribbles, squares, circles, and more!


Slide Different than Preezo in that the slide show you create is made from photos you upload. You can add music to them if you like. Other features of slide include being able to personalize pictures with stickers and graffiti, a very cool guest book where people can sign in, upload a picture and mark where they're from on a Google map, and some fun pets you can add to your website. Take a look at how Mrs. G's classroom is using Slide in a variety of ways on their blog, including their guestbook.



Verizon sponsored, Thinkfinity offers comprehensive teaching and learning resources created by our content partners – the most respected organizations in each academic subject and literacy. The easy-to-navigate K-12 resources are grade-specific and are aligned with state standards. If you are looking for safe resources to use with your students, start here! Thinkfinity has a comprehensive compilation of many of its Web 2.0 resources that you will find useful. You’ll find tools and resources for almost every subject!


Today's Meet

TodaysMeet helps you embrace the backchannel and connect with your audience in realtime. Encourage the room to use the live stream to make comments, ask questions, and use that feedback to tailor your presentation, sharpen your points, and address audience needs.


Twitter a microblogging tool that has recently become a huge hit with millions of people all over the world. The link on this page will take you to a whole page of info about Twitter on this wiki. It's a very important part of my personal learning network. Another tool that works with twitter is Screenr. This allows you to create screencasts of your computer with your audio and send a link out to twitter. Nothing needs to be downloaded or saved to your computer.


Url Shorteners Long URLs are simply hard to pass along. The links tend to sometimes break in email, are harder to verbalize in a conversation, and they are difficult, or in some cases near impossible to remember. There are a number of them available including:

Bit.ly (one URL at a time) 

Fur.ly (multiple URLs at a time) 

Doiop allows you to do is actually define your own keyword so you can give your short link some context, something simple which many URL shortening services just don’t offer.

Ow.ly one of the shortest URL shorteners-can connect directly to your Twitter account. Part of the HootSuite set of tools for social networking posts.

NOTE: You don't usually have to create an account to use URL shorteners (great for messages in Twitter) but if you do create an account, most will allow you to track clicks on the links.


Ustream-You're On! onsists of network of diverse channels providing a platform for lifecasting and live video streaming of events online. The website has over 2,000,000 registered users who generate 1,500,000+ hours of live streamed content per month with over ten million unique hits per month. The service is free, supported by advertisements.

Ustream makes it easy to express yourself, connect with friends and make new ones, but please remember that what you post publicly could embarrass you or expose you to danger. You can set up your broadcast so that people would be required to enter a password to view if you want it to be more private. If you decide to use Ustream with or for your students, it's recommended that you go in first and set up your own channel and direct your students there.  If you don't want the ads to appear, Ustream does offer a pay-as-you-go version of their service.


(Ed.)Voicethread is a secure K-12 network for teachers and students to collaborate and share ideas with classrooms anywhere in the world. A single account for educators is free and you can use the free account with your students. For just $10 a month (or $60 a year) you can use VoiceThread with up to 100 student accounts. Pricing options are detailed here. Check out the Ed.VoiceThread homepage for a video explanation of using a VoiceThread.


Voki Build your own talking Avatar using Voki and use your newly created Voki on your website, wiki or anywhere on the web, as the site will generate the embed code for you. On the site you can sign up to get information about their new offering, "Voki for Education." Don't know yet what the cost might be for ad-free Voki's, but we'll update this info as soon as we learn more. The site promises unlimited tech support with their education version.



Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, launched this web site designed to gather and organize educational videos for students ages 3 to 18. WatchKnow has indexed over 15,000 online educational videos for children, putting them into a directory of over 3,000 categories. The videos are available without any registration or fees to teachers in the classroom and to students at home 24/7. You can dive into our innovative directory or search by subject and age level. Video titles, descriptions, age level information, and ratings are all edited for usefulness. The site invites broad participation in a new kind of wiki system, guided by teachers “Think of it as YouTube meets Wikipedia, filtering out everything but quality educational videos,” Sanger said. “WatchKnow.org links together content from traditional sites, and also allows users of the site to improve the organization of the video categories, which makes finding the video you need much easier.” The site, which features videos from National Geographic, YouTube, and Google Videos, among other sources, is intended to complement and enhance the learning experience for students as they study concepts that are traditionally hard to learn. “Many of our country’s educators are unaware of the enormous amount of good video content available for free online,” said Chareen Snelson, an advisory committee member and professor at Boise State specializing in online educational videos. “Having a central repository of organized, quality videos is a blessing for busy teachers and students.” WatchKnow.org is funded by the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi. The site offers tips for video searching, separate pages for students, parents, and teachers, and a guide for contributors. 



Wordle is a tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.  Kelly Hines, in her wiki littlekidsbigpossibilities has a link to a great list of 43 Interesting Ways to use Wordle in the Classroom"  CAUTION: When using Wordle with your students, we recommend that you take them directly to the "Create" page to avoid possible unsavory Wordles that my show up on the home page.


Related to Wordle, Shelley Terrell has created a nice list of links for alternatives to Wordle. She also explains the differences which is very helpful.


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