Top Tools

Beck André, Sari Alshiekh and Suzanne Kissel                                                                          January, 2013

Free Course Development Tools

File Sharing

Dropbox – This is free up until 2GB.  It allows you to share files with selected individuals and groups; if Dropbox is installed on your mobile devices, you can also share files from that location.  This is a useful tool for sharing files and developing courses with instructors.

Google Docs – Allows individuals to collaborate on a single document.  This can be useful in both the classroom (sign-up sheets, groupwork) and when working with a faculty member.

Presentation Tools

BrainShark – Easy to create and compress presentations for optimal web viewing and sharing.

Google Drive – choose Presentation for a PPT-type interface. Files will be located with all of your documents in one place.

Prezi – A cloud-based presentation/storytelling tool for exploring and sharing ideas. Includes pan and zoom capability, and the ability to import media (PPT, images, video, YouTube videos, and PDFs).

SlideShare –  A free tool that allows you to upload and share PowerPoint presentations, Word and PDF documents, publicly or privately.

VoiceThread – Allows the user to upload or select online/offline images, documents, and videos, add narration to create an audio/video presentation. The final product can be shared with other users, embedded in webpages, or exported for offline viewing.

ZohoShow – An online presentation tool to create, edit, and share presentations.


Animoto The free version allows you to create unlimited high quality 30 second videos from your phone, photographs, and with your own music. Registration is required.

Voki – This allows instructors to create short (under one minute) recordings with an avatar of their own creation.  Upgrades allow instructors to use their own voices and to customize their avatar.  These are easy to embed within Blackboard and can be a fun way to start a unit.

wevideo The lite license is free; in order to have the ability to export more minutes of video at a greater resolution, you need to upgrade to wevideo plus for education.  This is only $19.99 for the year.  Wevideo is an online platform for collaborative video production in the cloud.  It allows folks to collaboratively edit video captured from mobile devices.  Everything is safely stored and accessible online.

Xtranormal – This turns your words into 3D animated movies – it enables storytelling within the classroom.  The basic version is free.

Student Centered Tools

inClass App – This is really for the student more for the instructor.  It is a free iPhone and iPad app that provides students with tools for taking text, audio and video notes.  Students can also use it as a task management tool to help students keep track of schedules and due dates.  It gives badges for homework completed.

Socrative – A student response system that allows face-to-face teachers to interact with their students through quizzes, games, and quick assessments.  It depends on allowing students to have their mobile devices in class, which many instructors discourage.

Poll Everywhere – Allows faculty members in face to face classes and presenters to quickly poll their audience (using mobile devices).  Again, the instructor has to be open to using mobile devices in the classroom.

Social Networking / Dedicated Workspace

Glogster – A social network site that allows you to create free interactive posters referred to as Glogs.

Podio – A social work platform that allows a group of people to work together inside a dedicated workspace. Podio includes a social activity stream that includes areas to make comments, likes, and status updates.

Screen Capture / Recordings

CamStudio Open Source – A free tool that allows you to capture your screen and record your voice.  You can access it from

Jing – A free screen capture tool that allows you to enhance your online conversations by creating images and videos of what you see on your computer screen and share your recordings.

Screenr – A web-based screen recorder that allows you to create and share screen recordings.  It is free, but produced by the people who make and market Articulate.

Screencast – A free tool that allows you to upload/share content and decide who can view your content. This tool can be used to collect/share feedback on a project.

Photo Editing

Aviary Photo Editor – A photo editing tool that is free to use on the web or mobile.

Audio/Video Conversion

Audacity – A free audio editor and recorder that allows you to record, slide, and mix audio. – (Video Conversion) – a free tool that allows you to convert videos to various formats to include AVI, MP4, WMV, MPEG, DVD, MP3, iPod, iPhone, Android, and more. – (Audio Conversion) – a free tool that allows you to convert audio to various formats to include MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AAC, M4A, OGG, and more.

Social Bookmarking/Research Tools

Diigo (Directory of Internet Information, Groups, and Other Stuff) – A collaborative and learning/sharing social bookmarking and research tool that allows users to share and collaborate on their research. Bookmarks can be recorded with tags, descriptions, and explanations with options to share among groups, email, and twitter.

Delicious – A free social bookmarking tool that allows you to save your bookmarks online. Used for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks. — users tell stories by collecting updates from social networks, amplifying the voices that matter to create a new story format that is interactive, dynamic and social. Discover meaningful social media from the best storytellers online, including journalists, bloggers, editors and people like you, too.

Other Resources

Live Binders

A course development tools and tips binder that includes several tabs with tools underneath.

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