The following are some fantastic new resources I’ve stumbled across lately. Each has the potential to be very valuable tools for the teacher wanting to promote critical 21st century skills in the classroom.
GroupMap–Ease of use and high levels of collaboration make this mind-mapping tool a valuable resource. It does require registration to begin a map, but contributions can be added simply by sharing a link and password. The site also offers useful reports of participants’ contributions and activities. The image below is a screenshot of a GroupMap I started by simply posing a question, making it public, and sharing via Twitter.
Mural.ly–This site features a fantastic set of features for brainstorming, collaboration, and collecting and sharing resources. Mural.ly requires registration for all participants. A user creates a mural, adds content via click-and-drag (including images, links, media, documents, etc.). There are also text, shape, and sticker tools. A “spaces” tool allows the mural to be partitioned into separate sections based upon content. Collaborators can be invited by email or username. Think Pinterest, only with greater flexibility and collaboration and less nonsense, such as forced following. Murals can be shared via social media, embedded, or downloaded as images.
DoSketch–Just a simple drawing/painting tool, but with several key advantages over many other resources. First of all, drawings can be shared via link or downloaded. Many drawing sites do not have the download feature, particularly for free. Secondly, it is written in HTML5, not Flash, and works in any modern browser. Lastly, it requires no registration–just draw, share, or download.
DIY–DIY is a very cool site for kids that challenges them to do creative and innovative tasks. Students get a portfolio page to show off images or video of the tasks and challenges they have completed, and can earn kudos in the form of Skills. Projects can also be shared with DIY’s mobile apps. There is also a very useful parent portal, which allows parents to monitor their children’s activities and achievements. Challenges cover a vast array of subject areas, such as engineering, electronics, biology, cartography, astronomy, and many more. The site could be a valuable tool for teachers looking to give students more control over their learning or for parents wishing to provide valuable learning opportunities at home.
Easelly-Infographics are great tools for communicating ideas in a visual manner. They are quite challenging to design and require students to have a high level of understanding of a topic, if they are to be effective. Easelly is one of several recent tools that allow users to focus more on the content and presentation of ideas, and less on the creation of custom graphics. Users can create infographics using pre-designed themes, or by choosing their own backgrounds and graphics. Users can upload their own graphics and text or choose from a selection built into the interface. 11 categories of graphics are already available, including people, animals, icons, landmarks, and more.
Deeyoon–Deeyoon is a brand new site that allows two participants to take part in a debate via webcam. Each person offers opening statements, provides evidence of their position, and offers closing remarks. Viewers can vote on which point of view they most agree with. The interface is pretty straightforward–create a debate, open it up to the challenger (I’d have both parties registered and logged in so random challengers don’t jump in.), and start talking. Debates are saved for future viewing and discussion, and they are arranged into “rooms” by topic. This could be a fantastic tool for fostering critical thinking.