Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vital #3: Cool Tools

...and now, without further ado, Virtual Vital #3!
Now that you've set up an RSS reader, you're probably aware that there are a bewildering variety of technology tools being used in education. It's important that you remember these key points:

  • new sites, applications, and tools are being created daily
  • even the "experts" don't know everything
  • technology can be used to enhance knowledge acquisition, but it shouldn't drive the learning experience

How does this help me?
Tech integration, also referred to as "connected learning," is becoming increasingly important, as districts focus on preparing graduates for success in a digitalized world. Technology can also help to extend and enrich the services you offer to students, staff, and your community.

So browse our list, try an assortment of new things, and and add a few cool tools to your toolbox.

Stuff to check out

Saving and sharing
delicious - tag, save and share bookmarks
Diigo - bookmark, highlight, and share online resources
Dropbox - instantly save files to your computers, phone, and the Dropbox website
Flickr - online photo management and sharing
Goodreads - share book recommendations
Shelfari - create virtual bookshelves, have discussion groups online

Communicating and collaborating
Edmodo - secure social learning network for teachers and students
poll everywhere - instant audience feedback
Skype - communicate for free, anywhere in the world
Skype an Author Network - virtual author visits in your library or classroom
todaysmeet - create a "room" and interact with a group online
wallwisher - online interactive noticeboard maker

Creating and presenting

Animoto - create slideshows with photos and music
bighugelabs - make collages, posters, trading cards, and more
blabberize - create talking pictures
Glogster - online multi-media poster creator
Picnik - edit photos online
screencast-o-matic - online screen recorder
SlideShare - upload and share publicly or privately PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and Adobe PDF Portfolios
Stixy - online project bulletin board
tagxedo - turns words - famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes - into a word cloud
toondoo - create your own cartoons (no artistic ability needed!)
voki - create speaking avatars
wordle - generate word clouds from the text you provide

Vital Task

Choose a minimum of three tools. Spend some time checking them out thoroughly, including help files if you need them. Sign up if necessary, poke around, fool with the features, have fun!

Write a post on your blog titled Vital 3: Cool Tools. Reflect on how you think the tools might be useful to you (or not!). Could you incorporate them into a lesson plan? Share them with a teacher? An administrator? Some of the tools listed can be embedded into your blog--if you try one that can, try to embed it! Also, share any tips, tricks or other tools that you've used/discovered on your own.

Once you've created your own blog post, check out the other participants' blogs. See what they explored and make comments!

Just for fun: Want to hear about more tools? Here are two things you can check out:
Take a look at the links to the tools shared at Tech Smackdown at the NYLA/SSL Leadership Retreat on (itself a very cool tool!)
Watch the funny-but-informative Learning Tools Family Feud, presented by a group of librarians at this summer's ISTE convention.

"State Capitol Toolbox" by Minnesota Historical Society


  1. Hi Amy:

    I noticed that when I click on Participant Blogs on the righthand side of your blog and then click on my blog when it shows up on the lefthand side, it states that the blog is no longer available. However, if I go to the bottom of your homepage and click on my blog it comes up? Do you have any idea why it wouldn't show up? The problem is that if someone clicks on Participant blogs and then mine, they might think that I dropped out of this prof. devel.

    Let me know if you have any ideas!

  2. Hi Amy,

    I am having difficulty posting comments to other people's blogs. I try google account but get a message that I am not authorized. I tried posting to Tanner Talk several times but was not given the option of Anonymous or name. Even tried URL with my blog's address but had no luck...

    Any insight is appreciated! Thanks, Katrina

  3. Weird, Alison. I deleted the link and put it back in and it's working for me now. Let me know if it's working for you. BTW, #4 should be out tomorrow :)

  4. Katrina-
    Your comment got sent to the spam folder. I don't know why that is, but I'm just seeing it now. I'm not sure why other blogs aren't letting you post comments. I've been able to post to everyone's with my google account. If you have comments that you'd like me to post on your behalf, I'll be happy to, just email them to me at