The Eight Web Tools I Use Most – plus a late addition for the future

by Mr. Sheehy

Readers come and go, and lists are always the most popular posts, are they not? So here’s a little list reiterating things I’ve said before about what web tools I like best and use most. Perhaps a little list will consolidate a few of the tidbits I’ve mentioned over the past few months.

My blog – I moved my personal blog to WordPress from Edublogs a couple years back, but I still use Edublogs for all my classroom sites.

Wikispaces – My classroom website is actually a Wikispace wiki, though I use a state hosted space as a type of false-front to it. Whenever students click on a unit from the state hosted site, it takes them to the wiki. I love Wikispaces – they are astoundingly reliable, and the tools are overwhelmingly powerful. Consider this a virtual hug to all the developers and support specialists at Wikispaces. I love you guys!

Del.icio.us – If I could figure out how to tag my keys and coffee cup in del.icio.us, my life would change so dramatically I would barely recognize myself. This is how I share with students, how I archive great things, how I function when the web is as big and as great as it is.

ccMixter – I have been making videos and tutorials and podcasts and such, and the ol’ radio dj in me likes having a sweet music bed underneath it. I find them here in the ccMixter community. May this little venture thrive and teach the music world a thing or two about the power of creative commons.

Flickr – We use it for family photos and can keep them private; I use it for school pictures, students’ work, and grabbing and sharing other folks’ pictures. Sites like this are why I became a computer geek. (I usually, by the way, use the FlickrCC search engine.)

Vimeo Heather Armstrong started using Vimeo on her blog, and when I checked it out I dropped every other video site I had ever used and went exclusively with them. You can make videos private, and you can make videos full screen from the embedded site. It’s reliable and fast, and when you play it in the embedded spot, it makes the controls disappear so all you see is the movie.

Slideshare – This “YouTube of the Presentation world” gets better and better. I use it often and especially like how powerful it can be when you synch up a slideshow with a music track.

Zotero – I use this one for grad school, and while I am sure I’ll use it little once I finish, I still like it.

Here’s the late addition, added two days after declaring my eight tools: While it’s not a web tool, I feel I should add that I use Camtasia quite a bit, since it’s such a slick way to explain software to students and colleagues. There is a web tool for this kind of thing, however, called Jing, and it has wowed me. It is astoundingly powerful for showing people how to do something with your computer. I can tell I’ll be using it a ton, since I’m not always on that one computer that is licensed for Camtasia.

In the category of tools I like but admittedly don’t use that much or nearly to their potential – Twitter, my iGoogle start page (aside from the Reader widget), Google Docs, and Google Maps.

The greatest part about so many of these tools is that they continue to improve, and I don’t have to do anything to make them improve. Just hang around and keep your eyes open, and suddenly Wikispaces or Slideshare or Flickr will have added some fantastic function that wasn’t there a week ago. I add, by the way, that these are tools I use, not necessarily tools I ask my students to use. Too often the communities around such sites uphold garbage and inappropriate content, and I am careful about how I share them.

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