Saturday, January 11, 2014

Seven Free Online Whiteboard Tools for Teachers and Students

This afternoon through the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page I received a request for some free whiteboard apps. All of the following seven tools can be used to draw and type on a whiteboard in your browser. With the exception of PixiClip all of these tools can be used collaboratively for brainstorming sessions. While PixiClip doesn't allow for collaboration it does have a voice-over capability.

Sketchlot is a free collaborative whiteboard service that works on any device that has a web browser. I tested it on my MacBook, my iPad, and my Android tablet. Sketchlot is designed for teacher and student use. Teachers create their own accounts and then inside that account they can create a list of students. Each student is assigned his or her own password to use to join a drawing shared by his or her teacher. Teachers can create as many drawings as they like and share them on an individual basis. Teachers can share their drawings to one or all of their students at a time. Students can create their own sketches to share back to their teachers through Sketchlot. Update 2/9/2019: This site is no longer available.

Aww App is a simple browser-based application for creating drawings. To get started just go to AwwApp.com and click on "start drawing."  To invite people to collaborate on your drawing just send them the link assigned to your drawing board and they can join in the drawing fun. Aww App will work in the browser on your laptop, Chromebook, Android tablet, and iPad. If you would like to use Aww App on your classroom or school website and you have familiarity with editing the code of your site, you can install Aww App for free update: July 2015, embedding into your site now costs $10/month.

PixiClip is a great new tool tool for creating, narrating, and sharing drawings. PixiClip provides a whiteboard space on which you can draw, upload images to mark-up, and type. While adding elements to your PixiClip whiteboard you can talk and or record a video of yourself talking. In fact, you can't use the whiteboard without at least recording your voice at the same time. Recordings can be shared via social media and or embedded into your blog posts. PixiClip does not require you to create an account in order to use the service. However, if you want to save your recording to re-visit and edit you will need to create an account. Accounts are free and take less than thirty seconds to create. Update 2/9/2019: This site is now offline.

Stoodle is an online whiteboard service supported in part by the CK-12 Foundation. Through Stoodle you can quickly create a collaborative whiteboard space. On your whiteboard you can type, draw, and upload images. You can connect Stoodle to your computer's microphone and talk your collaborators while drawing, typing, or sharing images. Stoodle does not require you to create an account. To create a Stoodle whiteboard space just click "launch a classroom," name your room, and share the URL assigned to your room. Update 2/9/2019: This tool is offline.

Draw It Live is a nice little website that offers a free space for you to instantly create a collaborative whiteboard to use with anyone you like. To use Draw It Live just go to the site, click the "collaborative whiteboard" link, enter any nickname you want, then start drawing. You can invite people to draw with you by sending them the url assigned to your whiteboard. Draw It Live provides a chat box that you can use to talk to your collaborators about what each of you is doing on the screen. Update 2/9/2019: this site is no longer available.

FlockDraw is a simple service that allows people to quickly and easily collaborate on the creation of a drawing. To use FlockDraw simply visit the site, click the "start drawing" button, and start drawing. To invite other people to draw with you, just send them the url assigned to your drawing board. What's really neat is that anyone who visits the url after the drawing has started will see all of the drawing motions they missed unfold in front of them. You can embed your FlockDraw drawings into a website.

Realtime Board is a nice tool for hosting online, collaborative brainstorming sessions. I've featured the service a couple of times since its launch last fall. The service allows to work with any information and visual content on one board individually or with the team. You can draw, work with images, post videos, post and mark PDFs, write notes, and comment on materials through the use of colorful post-it stickers. Realtime Board supports importing files from your Google Drive account. Realtime Board offers a free education version. The education version provides schools with all of the features of the Pro version for free. That means you can create unlimited private and public boards, have an unlimited number of collaborators, and 3GB of storage space.

The Week in Review - Here Comes That (Freezing) Rainy Day Feeling Again

The only way to navigate
my road today.
Good morning from ice-covered Woodstock, Maine. Like a lot of the country we've alternated between epic cold and freezing rain for the last couple of weeks. With an occasional snow storm thrown in for fun. I actually love the snow storms, I hate the ice storms. How icy is it? My dogs and I came in from our walk this morning covered in ice. And earlier this week my friend Walter complained that "all these tar patches are messing up my ice road driving."

Wherever you are and whatever the weather is this weekend, I hope that you have a great, relaxing weekend. If part of your weekend includes getting caught up on reading your favorite blogs, take a look at this short list the most popular posts of the week on Free Technology for Teachers.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
2. Chart - A Comparison of Educational Blogging Platforms
3. Seven Free Online Tools for Scheduling Appointments
4. Three Good Tools for Building Flipped Lessons That Include Assessment Tools
5. Teach Your Monster to Read 2 - A Fun Way for Students to Learn to Read
6. Perfect Pitch - A Game for Learning About Musical Instruments
7. 7 Ways to Create and Deliver Online Quizzes

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Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Remind 101 offers a free tool for sending text message reminders to students.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.
Classmint offers a nice multimedia flashcard service.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

By Request - Flip, Flash, Study - 10 Free Flashcard Services for Students

This afternoon on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page someone asked me if I knew of any free tools for creating flashcards. This list is comprised of ten services chosen from the dozens of flashcard services that I've tried over the last seven years. The list is not arranged in any particular order other than the one in which these tools were pulled from my archives.

Quizlet is a popular flashcard service that students can use in their web browsers or install as apps on their iOS and Android devices. Quizlet offers some helpful features in addition to the standard options of creating and sharing sets of flashcards. Quizlet offers a text-to-speech mode in eighteen languages. Second, they launched a new study mode that they've name "speller." Speller mode plays words for you that you then have to type correctly into the space provided. If you misspell the word that is read to you, Quizlet will show you your errors. Quizlet flashcards can be used without an internet connection if you have the Android or iOS app installed on your mobile device.

Cobocards is an online and mobile flashcard system that I first reviewed about fifteen months ago. Cobocards is available to use in a web browser as well as an iPhone and an Android app. Cobocards has a gallery of public flashcard collections that students can sort through to find flashcards for the topic(s) they're studying. If students create their own flashcards on Cobocards, they will be provided with PDF copies of their flashcards that they can print to study offline. Of course, they can also study flashcards online. When students study their flashcards online or through the mobile apps, Cobocards will keep track of their results for them. Finally, Cobocards allows students to share flashcards publicly or privately.

Easy Notecards is an online flashcard service that allows you to create flashcards that are text-based and create flashcards that utilize images. Like many other online flashcard services, Easy Notecards provides a gallery of public sets of flashcards. Some of the flashcard sets in the public gallery are connected to textbooks. This is accomplished when users creating flashcards opt to enter information about the textbook from which they are working to create flashcards. For example, if I was creating a set of flashcards about the American Civil War and using the textbook The Americans, I could enter the book title and chapter that matches the flashcards I am creating. Then when others search the gallery of flashcards they could search by topic or search by textbook title.

Faux Flash is an easy-to-use flashcard service. On Faux Flash you can create your own flashcard sets or browse for sets created and shared by other users. All flashcards that you create with Faux Flash can include images in the questions and answers. You can register for Faux Flash using your email address, Twitter account, or Facebook account.

ExamTime is a free service that middle school, high school, and college students can use to prepare for tests. I tend to like any service that offers a mind map option for students and ExamTime does so I had to try it out. When students signs into their ExamTime accounts they can create flashcards, mind maps, and practice quizzes to help them study. Students can arrange their materials into topics. All materials can be shared with other Examtime users.

Cram is a free online flashcard service that used to be known as Flashcard DB and Flashcard Exchange. The latest version of the service keeps the same concept as earlier versions, just with a different name. On Cram you can search through a database of more than 50 million online flashcards. As you browse through the flashcards you can add them to sets that you create and store in your account. If you cannot find the flashcards for you in the Cram database, Cram gives you tools to create your own flashcards. You can create flashcards on an individual basis or in a group by importing a CSV file.

Flashcard Stash is a free vocabulary flashcard service for teachers and students. The service makes it easy to quickly create flashcards and sets of flashcards. As a registered user of Flashcard Stash when you type a word into a blank flashcard suggested definitions and sample context sentences are provided to you. You can then choose to add one or all of those definitions and sentences to your flashcard or you can write your own definitions and sentences. When making your own flashcards you can include images. If you don't have time to create your own flashcards you can choose to work with some of the pre-made lists of flashcards. Teachers registered on Flashcard Stash can create flashcard sets to share with their students. Teachers can create and manage multiple class lists within their accounts. Sharing class lists can be done by inviting students to view the flashcards via email or by posting a password-protected link to the lists on a class blog. The second method requires students to remember the password that you have created to access the list. Word lists can also be embedded into blogs or websites.

Flippity is a free tool for creating flashcards from data in a Google Spreadsheet. Flippity provides clear directions for the simple steps to take to create your flashcards. To create your flashcards use the Flippity template, enter your data, publish the spreadsheet to the web, then grab your Flippity link. Your Flippity link will take you to a Flippity page on which you and your students can flip through your flashcards. Flippity includes a shuffle function and an option to remove cards from your deck of flashcards as you flip through them.

Classmint is a free online flashcard service. Like other services similar to it, Classmint can be used to create and share sets of flashcards. A couple of aspects of Classmint make it different from some other flashcard services. First, Classmint will read your flashcards to you. Second, in addition to supporting the use of images in your flashcard, Classmint allows you to annotate those images on your flashcards.

Card Kiwi is a flashcard service whose appeal is its simplicity. Flashcards on Card Kiwi are text only. As you flip through your flashcards you rate your understanding by simply clicking thumbs up, thumbs down, or thumbs sideways. Card Kiwi will show you the cards that you rate with a thumbs down or thumbs sideways more often than the others until you're using the thumbs up on every card in your set.

Disclosure: Classmint is currently an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. 

Wolfram Alpha Examples for Students and Teachers

Colleen Young's Mathematics, Learning and Web 2.0 is a good blog to subscribe to for practical, do-now mathematics instruction ideas. When you visit her blog make sure you click the "Wolfram Alpha" tab under which you will find seven slideshows containing examples of how students can use Wolfram Alpha. The examples correspond to questions posted on her mathematics blog for students.

If you haven't used Wolfram Alpha before or you're trying to introduce it to people who have not used, take a look at the following Planet Nutshell explanation of how Wolfram Alpha works and what makes it different from Google search.

An Animated Overview of the Earth's Climate History

Last fall I shared a list of a half dozen resources that help students see the effects of climate change. This afternoon I Stumbled Upon another good resource to go along with that list. The BBC News offers this short overview of the history of the Earth's climate changes. The two and a half minute animation does a nice job of combining graphs and images along with narration to explain three major eras of the Earth's climate.

Applications for Education
The BBC's animated journey through the Earth's climate history could be a good resource to use as part of a larger introduction to broad themes in a study of climate change.