Gaaa! This has been a hard year. Lots of experimentation using online tools; lots of time wasted, bugs encountered, and hair pulled out. But we’ve learned some things. Here, crowd sourced, is a list of teaching tools actually used by real faculty (not actors!) that they have found to be useful. The list has been compiled from a query and follow-up answers via the small college POD listserv. We can’t vouch for each and every one, but favorite tools that faculty at a variety of institutions have used are highlighted here. Thanks to Ann Tenglund (St. Bonaventure University), Alex Alderman (Kenyon), Tim Doherty (Rivier University), Tony Sindelar (MGH Institute of Health Professions) and Benjamin Haywood (Furman University). Many have recommended the same tools.

Adobe Spark: A web-based tool to make images, video stories, web pages and other media including posters, flyers and other social media marketing pieces. Adobe Spark is free and easy to use. Projects can be collaborative and stored in the cloud. Graphics and templates are offered permission free but with Adobe watermarks on some with some free version.

AnswerGarden: A “minimalist” tool for collecting student responses. AnswerGarden poses a prompt to students and then collects and displays responses in a word cloud visualization. AnswerGarden could be used in both synchronous and asynchronous ways for “muddiest point” style surveying of students. A graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentation, posters and other visual content. It’s similar to Adobe Spark. Both tools invite collaboration.

*Flipgrid: Online video message board/ discussion tool that allows for the easy creation of short videos students can share with each other. The ability to create and share quick videos on a mobile device is a powerful tool for social presence in online learning. Click here for details about how to get started with Flipgrid.

*Google Docs / Sheets / Slides / Drawings: You’re probably all familiar with Google’s tools. Google Docs are a powerful and flexible place to collect notes, questions, links, and other text into a central shared space that can be collaboratively edited. Google Sheets, Slides, and Drawings offer other ways to collaboratively create and share media.

*Kahoot: Allows for the creation of game like quizzes/survey that could be used as part of a synchronous Zoom session. Kahoot attempts to make assessment more informal by award points and playful graphics for multiple choice style quizzes.

*Mentimeter:  : Real-time virtual polling, quizzes, or live group response. Click here for a quick instructional guide for Mentimeter.

*MindMeister: Virtual concept mapping. Click here for information on how to get started with MindMeister.

*Miro: An online whiteboard tool that allows users to create a variety of visual designs for organizing and managing information. Miro includes templates for concept mapping, storyboarding, sticky notes, Kanban boards, and more. Miro boards can be easily shared with others but require accounts for collaborative edit

*Padlet: Real-time virtual collaborative group work; a web tool that allows users to build and share collections of links and media. Padlet can be used individually or in groups to quickly share collections of resources with commentary that can be organized and presented in a variety of ways.  Click here for a Beginner’s Guide to Using Padlet.

*PearDeck: An interactive presentation tool used to actively engage students in individual and social learning. Teachers create presentations using their Google Drive account. Combines slide presentations with interactive questions. Founded in 2014, the company’s goal is to foster inquiry-based learning and to bridge the gap between individual and social learning.

*Perusall: Asynchronous virtual collaborative document annotation (aka, a social annotation tool). Click here for information about using Perusall in Moodle (note: faculty have reported that it’s clunkier in Canvas). Here are a few recommended videos and blogs on using Perusall:

Poll Everywhere: A polling or classroom response system. Instructors can pose a question or series of question to students that are then collected and results displayed in real time. Polls can be used for knowledge checks or surveying. Poll Everywhere might be worth investigating for those who feel limited by Zoom’s built in polling tools.

*Screencast-o-matic: A simple, relatively inexpensive ($35 for three years) screencasting tool students could use for recording slides or other images on their screen with accompanying voice over narration. Screencast can be used for presentation style activities.

StoryMaps: Create and display interactive text, maps, and multi-media. For a brief tutorial on StoryMaps visit here or contact Mike Winiski.

Trello: A web-based project management / task management tool. It uses a visual interface modeled after the Kanban method. Trello is particularly useful as a web-based project management tool where “boards” for a given project can be shared with teams to show status of tasks for a given project.

Voiceover Narration in PowerPoint: Some “how-to” advice here and here – just to get you started.

* Virtual whiteboard that allows you to share, download, and create whiteboard groups for digital real-time collaboration. Click here for details about how to get started with

Zoom: Of course, you’re all familiar. Here are some takes on managing breakout rooms: From Zoom and a 3-minute YouTube video. Plus a 4-minute YouTube video on whiteboards on Zoom.

Not enough for you? For those intrepid souls with a lot of time on their hands, here’s a list of 131 “Tools for Distance Learning & Strategies for Student Engagement” from the “Albert Team.”

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