Almost exactly one year ago I wrote a post detailing my top ten apps to add value to your blog site (original here). A year on it’s time to reappraise and update.
Most of the sites listed are absolutely free and I have used all of them in class.
Top of the list is a Creative Commons image search engine. Compfight uses Flickr as its image bank to search over 4 billion images. By setting the search to Creative Commons only, you get images that are free to download and use on your blog. I teach the children in my classes that this is the only image search engine that they should use, and if they are older (years 5 and 6) I teach them to copy the image URL as an image credit.
It’s logical that since Compfight uses Flickr, than that should be on the list, too. In last year’s list I opted for Photobucket, but unless you have a pro account (definitely worth paying for if you are a Photobucket regular) it has too many ads on it to remain in favour. Flickr is a much cleaner design and since tools like Compfight use it, the it should be on the list, too. For other excellent tools that use Flickr click here.
Dipity is one of several free online timeline tools. I particularly like this one because it works really well with lots of children logged in using a single account adding to the same timeline concurrently. Display the timeline on your whiteboard and refresh the screen to see what your class are adding. A previous post purely about Dipity can be linked to here.
Quikmaps is a Google Maps mashup that allows you to draw over the top of a Google Map. I use this in preference to Google Maps itself in most instances because it doesn’t display all the community content that Google Maps does. Once you’ve added a location tag, you can add a photo or evn a Google video to that location: fantastic for local area studies or field trips etc.
Since we upgraded Creative Blogs, previous restrictions on which slideshow creators could be used have now been removed, and practically every slideshow creator will embed into a WordPress blog. Picture Trails is just one of many possibles. I wrote an article showcasing some of these here.
Clustrmaps I regard as an indispensible widget. It shows a map with little red dots for the rough locations of each of the visitors to your blog. Since blogging is all about gaining authentic audience for your writers, then it follows that you need to be able to demonstrate this. For many children, clicking on the ClustrMap to see who is reading their blog is a powerful and motivational experience.
For instructions on embedding a ClustrMap widget, click here.
Still on from last year’s list is Slideshare, the presentation hosting service. Simply upload a PowerPoint to Slideshare and embed it into your blog. A powerful way of getting all those class PowerPoints that you have produced online. One neat little upgrade that they have added is the ability to group Powrepoints, so you don’t need to paste 30 different lots of embed codes to display all your class’ work.
Here’s a post on how to do this.
Also carried forward is the talking avatar creator, Voki. Children love creating Vokis and you can use them in all manner of ways. Record poetry reading, news broadcasts, MFL work etc and add the sound to your avatar. Fortunately, embedding the code is much simpler than it used to be – ignore the Slideshare I have done on Voki, it needs updating. Simply copy and paste the embed code that Voki generates.
Voicethread is one of my favourite tools for capturing student responses to an issue. Create a presentation on Voicethread using slides, images or video, and then allow your audience to add comments by voice, typed, or even filmed. A basic account allows you to try Voicethread out, but if you want to start using it properly, then you can purchase an educational account at very reasonable cost.
There are a number of different podcasting services on the web, some of which are very expensive for schools. There is no reason why this should be so and Solidcasts allows you up to 100mb of podcast hosting free of charge. Thereafter it’s cheap to add space as you use it. I find it easy to create and manage your own podcasts.
So, there you have my top ten tools that I’ve been using in my classroom. Some of the ones that have dropped off the list include Teachertube and Bubbl.us which are still very valuable tools, it’s just that I haven’t used them so much this year. Others such as Photobucket and Rockyou have been replaced by alternative tools.
What are your favourite tools to support blogging in your school?