Thing 13: Explore a Tool of Your Choice


Image by Matlock
Image by Matlock

Image by Matlock
Listed below is a "baker's dozen" (or so) of Web 2.0 tools -- by no means representative of all (or even a good bit) that's out there. Finding, experimenting with and evaluating new tools, determining whether they have value for us in creating, organizing, communicating or problem-solving -- without an instructor's explicit guidance -- is an essential 21st Century skill, part of lifelong learning, and certainly the sort of capability we want to foster in our students.

Discovery Exercise

Pick a tool (or two, or more if you are so inclined) below, see what it does and see what you can do with it. Depending on the tool you choose and your particular learning style or worldview, you may do more exploring than experimenting or vice-versa.

While you are exploring and experimenting, consider whether the tool may have a practical application for personal, classroom or professional learning or productivity. Also pay attention to any social aspects of the tool -- is it collaborative, sharable, does it allow comments, discussions, ratings? We will talk more about social features in Web 2.0 in upcoming weeks. (Flickr, which you explored last week, has many social features, including tags, groups and commenting).

Many of these tools are completely free, and all offer at least a free version. Also, most are embeddable in a blog, wiki or webpage. Feel free to experiment with further embedding in our sandbox wiki -- on your existing page, or on a new page!

Think of this "Thing" as focused play. Or think of it as miserable, frustrating work... it's up to you ;)

(HINT: To begin exploring a tool, look for demos, tours, an "explore" or "features" link, examples, galleries and/or FAQ pages).

The Tools

  • BeFunky -
    "Turn your photos into incredible artwork with one click."
  • Blabberize -
    Turn any photo into a talking cartoon.
  • (2.0) -
    Simple, elegant concept mapping with useful keyboard shortcuts, no-log-in required to make a basic diagram.
  • DoodlePoll -
    Create a poll that allows users to select one or more answers with results displayed in a grid.
  • Gliffy -
    Collaborative concept mapping tool (like an online version of Inspiration).
  • Glogster EDU -
    Create a digital "poster wall" to share images, text, music, video and links. This is not your Mama's book report!
  • Jing -
    Create narrated screencast video tutorials up to 5 minutes each and annotated screenshots. Store videos and images for free at or save them on your computer or network.
  • Many Eyes -
    "Many Eyes is a bet on the power of human visual intelligence to find patterns." Upload a data set (or use and existing one) to create one of 18 types of interactive visualizations. Browse the gallery to explore existing visualizations. Wordle was developed as part of this powerful IBM-hosted project.
  • MixBook -
    Create interactive books using original photos or artwork.
  • Picnik -
    Edit digital photos in your browser.
  • Pixton -
    Cool online comic creator with characters and backgrounds (I like this better than ToonDoo).
  • PollDaddy -
    Create custom polls and surveys to embed in any web page. Results displayed in a graph.
  • Quizlet -
    Create and share interactive study materials. Keep track of your progress automatically.
  • SlideShare -
    Upload and share Powerpoint presentations in an embeddable format.
  • Timetoast -
    Use text, images and links to easily quickly create a dynamic timeline.
  • TitanPad -
    TitanPad lets people easily collaborate on shared notetaking in real-time, each using a different color. No sign-up needed. Try it here
  • ToonDoo -
    Create and share your own comic strips using an array of characters, settings and custom speech balloons.
  • Wallwisher -
    Create a collaborative bulletin board using "sticky notes." Great for group brainstorming, or posting student questions, comments or quotes.
  • Weebly -
    Create a drag-and-drop website in minutes -- no technical expertise necessary!
  • Wordle -
    Create colorful, graphical 'word clouds' from text that you provide. Apply custom layouts, fonts and colors. Super cool.
  • Xtranormal -
    "If you can type, you can make a movie!" Use characters, backgrounds, props, sound effects and animation tools to turn your script into an animated movie.


PART 1: Create a blog post telling about your experience, providing a link to the tool you chose to explore. Include any ideas you have for using the tool to support learning or productivity. Also comment on any "social" features you may have noticed and your thoughts about their value. Be sure to include "Thing 14" in your post title.

PART 2: Visit the " Web 2.0 Tool Integration Ideas" page on our Sandbox Wiki. Under your chosen tool, add your ideas for using it to support learning or productivity. These should be brief bullet points, not dissertations. The idea here is to create a collection of ideas that we can all use.