Let’s just jump right in because I cannot wait to share these tools with you!
I use Canva for literally everything – EVERYTHING! I use it to make promotional flyers for our events & workshops, to create presentations for my class and to make all of my instagram posts and various social media promos. The best part? It’s free – mostly. You can, as with most things, pay for the premium version but the free version comes with so many features and templates that the pro version is not really necessary. Don’t believe me? Look at some of my creations:
A presentation on active listening I created for my course Options in Healthcare
If Canva ain’t your thing but the templates in Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides have outlived their coolness, try Slides Carnival. You can download free templates for either PowerPoint or Google Slides.
I have found Padlet to be very useful in the classroom to provide students an alternate method of participating in class. I have used it when I want students to have the opportunity to share their honest thoughts with the class without having to say it out loud or even identify themselves. Students submit their answers via their phone or laptop using the link you provide and the Padlet shows it in real time on the screen. I have also used it for one of my classes as the primary method of participation because the students in it were particularly shy. At first I thought they were just disengaged. It turns out, they just did not want to share their thoughts out loud. As soon as I provided the Padlet as an option, they felt comfortable sharing. Padlet also allows the users to like and comment on each other’s responses. Below is an example of a Padlet I created for this blog in order to share journal articles I’ve found useful.
Mentimeter is another tool very similar to Padlet in that students can share their thoughts and they will populate on the screen in real time. But with Mentimeter, you can provide different formats from quizzes, word clouds and rankings to open answers and more. I usually use this when starting a discussion on a topic. You create a presentation beforehand by going to mentimeter.com. Students will then be able to submit their responses by going to menti.com and entering the code that automatically populates on the presentation when you open it. Below is an example from a discussion my class had on health disparities.
Okay, so Kahoot is technically geared towards k- 12 but I use it with my college students anyway. It’s a fun alternative to regular class discussion and can serve as a great way to, not only test their knowledge on a given topic, but also to break the ice. Students can either answer individually or you can let them form teams. With this tool, you create the presentation beforehand. A pin number populates when you open it that students will input to join the game. There are multiple formats you can choose from including quizzes, true/false, matching and more. I’d show you an example of this one but I most definitely can’t remember my login information…whoops!
Loom is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to record your computer screen along with audio and video. I have found this most helpful in my advising practice. I have used this to create video tutorials, on how to submit transcripts for example, that I can then easily send to the student via email. I have also created an entire video presentation on parallel planning using only my voice and screen recording of the powerpoint. Below is a quick video I made to show a student how to use a particular website. Because it’s a browser extension, this literally took me 30 seconds to make and send back to the student. Sometimes that’s much easier than trying to write out the steps.
One word: emojis. I know that sounds weird but beyond grammar and spell correction, Grammarly also lets you know the tone of whatever it is your writing. This works particularly well with emails. I have literally rewritten some of my emails because the little emoji in the corner got really angry.
Momentum is another browser extension. It honestly doesn’t do much other than look pretty. Basically, each time you open a new tab, the default will show a beautiful landscape. Additionally, you can also set an intention or goal for the day that will show up each time you open a tab. So if you love inspirational, goal setting type thingies (very eloquently put) or just pretty landscapes, this one is worth a download.
If you’re like me and you always end up with 50 tabs open, then you need this extension. One Tab operates as a little icon on your toolbar. Whenever you end up with a ton of open tabs, you can click the One Tab icon and it will collect all of your tabs onto one page on one tab. From there, you can still access all of the websites you had open but without the clutter.
What are some tools you can’t live without? Don’t be selfish and please share them in the comments!