Gliffy.com mindmap tool: www.Gliffy.com
This is what I created with Gliffy:
Awesome Screenshots screenshot tool: Google Chrome add-on app
Believe it or not, Awesome Screenshots wouldn't take a picture of itself ;)! But the example below is from Awesome Screenshots. (A later version has some trouble with changes to Chrome -- awwww.)
Benefits: Awesome Screenshots is exactly what it is called: Awesome. Really. It is free. It does exactly what it says it will do. It takes pictures of anything on the web. It is profoundly easy to use. It is wonderful and I use it often. When using the Google Chrome we browser, the add-on goes on the top right of the screen, right under the white "X" in the red box. You just click on it and it works. Awesome!
Challenges: None. I have had the blissful experience of not being challenged at all using Awesome Screenshots.
Wikispaces Classroom: My site: http://engagingclassrooms.wikispaces.com/
This is what my version of Wikispaces Classroom looks like after creating six fictitious students to participate!
Wikispaces Classroom is free to educators, a wonderful gift. I think you can see from the screenshot and links above that Wikispaces Classroom can deliver a really attractive page on which to have a wonderful classroom discussion, perfect for collaborative online learning. It's fun for the teacher and students to each have their own individual avatar (photo) to identify themselves graphically. The layout is pretty and navigating between the pages works well. Constructing the pages is fairly self-explanatory, too. As they say in their About page, Wikispaces Classroom does perform the following extremely useful and
powerful online classroom functions, and performs them very well:
Create a safe, private network for your students
Connect and communicate using a familiar newsfeed
Monitor complete history of student discussions, writing, and file uploads (http://www.wikispaces.com/content/classroom/about).
I had this very strange experience with Wikispaces Classroom: no matter how hard I tried, I could not find the wiki option - and this option is why I chose Wikispaces Classroom to begin with. I found the possibility of creating tables within its limited internal word processing program but those tables collapsed very quickly and easily - and frustratingly! Another challenge, although minor, was the requirement to re-program the word processing every time I used it even though I always wished to use the same format. Another challenge was the way Help was set up; the directions rarely covered what I wanted to know and rarely matched what the program actually did! Once I did learn how to create it, the discussion board became invaluable, but it was a challenge to learn.
Google Maps: https://www.google.com/maps
Gliffy's ease of use, flexibility, and generosity were a revelation. Having tried other mindmap Web 2.0 tools, Gliffy was extraordinary. It's free, of course, like most Web 2.0 tools seem to be. It worked like it said it would; it worked like I wanted it to! The information flowed from the map in my mind to Gliffy's page with ease. That's it!
Challenges: I'm sure there are added bells and whistles on the paid version of Gliffy, but I don't think I need them at this point! It was a wonderful program for me.
Benefits: Google Maps is a beautiful mapping tool that is free, along with the other creative tools that Google provides. It's a very exciting way to learn geography. You can embed your map in a website. You can put markers on your map to indicate where you and your students live or were born, and you can describe things in your markers. You can change your map to look like the one on the left or like a regular map. Google Maps saves as you go automatically, on "Drive," which can be a very good thing. There are so many gifts in this Web 2.0 tool!
Challenges: It was confusing to learn to embed the map, and I couldn't repeat the process. And don't delete unless you're very, very sure that you want to, but other than that I'm not aware of any challenges to using Google Maps!
MS Word Table Feature as Rubric Builder:
In Microsoft Word Online, it's under the Insert menu on the left: In regular Word, it's the Table icon, circled in red:
Click here to see what the table feature can be used to easily create.
Blogger.com, we(b-log) or online journal: (www.blogger.com)
A graphic image doesn't begin to convey the wonders, but this example here does.
Benefits: Have been many. This blog is a dream to use, from set-up to follow-through. Simple, effective, easy.
Challenges: Haven't found any!
Vimeo.com library of self-created, uploaded films:
Benefits: Another highly intelligent and free website. It was actually really fun to use because it worked properly and easily! Wonderful for someone who's never uploaded (or even downloaded) a video before in my life. The films have a clean look, too.
Challenges: It takes about 45 minutes for the program to make the very short video (couple minutes) all shiny and usable online, but that's no problem if you have something else to do.
Windows Essentials film editing tool (downloadable here for free: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17779/download-windows-essentials:
Back last week when I had some time for this sort of thing I was exploring film editing web 2.0 tools. I had taken a beautiful tiny video of some lovely high-river-level Spring waterfalls around here but had filmed some people, not realizing I was actually going to successfully upload a video to the web next day and make them public! And I couldn't find any free editing tools. Then a magical thing happened after about 2 hours (don't worry, I was doing other things, too, having a good time): I actually found what I was looking for! Turns out there's this program called Windows Essentials, and it has a video editor inside it! And it's another free web 2.0 tool from Windows! What's the world coming to? It must be downloaded; I found it at the URL above.
Benefits: The film tool is brilliant. Simply upload your video (easy), clip the end and the beginning (easy) and even take stuff out of the middle (still easy!)!!! I was absolutely enchanted. I highly recommend this app. Help worked like it was supposed to. And get this: NO CHALLENGES!!! All was described well and accurately. Just make sure you find the Save tool before you exit the program.
Challenge: The only challenge for me is that Windows will stop providing support for the 2012 version in January of 2017. Hopefully they will have a new version available by then.
Website from Wix.com: (www.Wix.com) You are in the example!
Benefits: Wix.com has become my go-to website builder for its bright colors, gorgeous backgrounds and videos, free images, and ease of use. It has been working beautifully. Wix is free! I like this web builder very, very much. Once I got used to the ground rules it became a comfortable tool to use. Most of its web-building tools were standard; I had already learned them before elsewhere. I have found the possibilities are pretty much limited to my imagination! They save some of the best features for the paid website tool, but there is so much that is free there is no problem. The paid-for services are wonderfull, too. They even have a responsive Help section with real helpers! A wonderful, generous Web 2.0 tool.
Challenges: The challenges have not been many. It took awhile to learn the site builder, but that would be true anywhere. Actually, the Single Post sub-page that comes with the built-in blog doesn't make sense to me except to showcase the single most excellent blog; this could be wonderful in a classroom setting but took me ages to figure out. The Help menu could be a lot more detailed but WIX has been wonderful.
Having said all that, I am profoundly grateful for the Wix.com website builder. I have enjoyed using it tremendously!
Benefits: There are so many benefits to this blog option on Wix.com. I'd gotten used to blog terms from using my own blog, so it was fairly easy for me to set this one up. It works!
Challenges: Blog language is a world unto itself. I don't quite have all the terms down yet - like "RSS feed" - and it would be refreshing to have them defined. Having said that, there have been two real challenges: 1) the mechanics of keeping the blog on the web page properly. On the other hand, the Wix internal programming is doing a really good job of helping make sure that happens! and 2) it's still confusing to me how to access the blog from editing my web page, but WIX keeps on making it work anyway!
Click to see the class map, Where in the World are We?
Benefits: The Table feature of MS Word is almost magical. Once you've set up the columns and rows, which is very easy to figure out, the table expands and contracts according to how much content you type into it - which is really amazing! As a Word document it works just like any text document. Almost unbelievably simple!
Challenges: None that I can see! Really! It's a feature that really makes sense and is easy to figure out.