When I first started blogging with my class, I simply used text and images in blog posts. As my skills and confidence grew, I started using different forms of media to make the blog posts more interesting and interactive. Using a range of online tools is a great way to showcase student work.
- Go for free: There are so many free tools out there. I very rarely use a web 2.0 tool that isn’t free.
- How to embed: These tools give you an HTML embed code which you can paste into the HTML editor of the post/page editor, or into a text box widget.
- Under 13s: If you look in the terms and conditions of many tools, you will find that children under 13 are not allowed to create accounts. Read more about this and how to work around it on this post.
- Don’t lose your tool: When working on Edublogs/Global2 blogs, you shouldn’t switch back to ‘Visual’ after pasting a code in ‘HTML’. Sometimes the tool you’ve embedded can be lost if you do this.
- Keep it clean: Sometimes embedded tools come with titles or links above or below the main media. I like to remove these for a cleaner look (simply use backspace/delete).
- Choose the right size: Preview your post with your embedded media before publishing. Embedded media that is too big or small for a post looks messy. There are two ways to adjust the size of your media. Sometimes the tool lets you choose the size you want. If not, take a careful look at the HTML code. You will see where it says width/height/scale. Try changing these numbers (sometimes they will appear numerous times in a code).
- Think of iDevices: Many embeddable web 2.0 tools use Flash which means you can’t view them on iDevices. This is something to keep in mind if a lot of your readers view your blog on their iPhone or iPad etc.
- Web 2.0 tools that you can’t embed: Occasionally you will find that some web 2.0 tools can’t be embedded. These could be anything from comics to word clouds to artwork etc. You can always take a screenshot using Snipping Tool in Windows 7 or other screen capturing software. Then you can simply upload the image like you would a normal picture.
Below is a collection of some web 2.0 tools that you can embed into blog posts.
PhotoPeach (free for basic – login)
This tool is very intuitive to use. You simply upload photos, add music and write some captions to create an effective looking video style slideshow. Find more detailed instructions on how to use PhotoPeach here.
This is a PhotoPeach that we made for our class blog after a visit from the Geelong Cats football players.
PowerPoint to authorSTREAM/SlideShare (free for basic – login)
If you want photos that readers can click through at their own pace, one option is to insert photos into a PowerPoint and upload it to a PowerPoint sharing website. You can find the instructions on how to add a photo album to a PowerPoint presentation on the Microsoft Office website here.
I like authorSTREAM because of its clean, uncluttered design but there are many hosting options. This is a photo slideshow we put on our class blog to show our classroom transformation over the Christmas holidays.
Flickr Slideshow (free for basic – login)
Flickr is a very popular photo storage and sharing site. The downside of Flickr is that you can only upload two videos and 300MB worth of photos per month, and only your 200 most recent photos are shown. Photos are also stored as lower resolution. Like many web 2.0 tools, there is a paid pro account available without these limitations.
Flickr slideshows are clean looking and easy to use. Sometimes you want a simple photo slideshow without music and transitions; this is a good option. Find the instructions on how to embed a Flickr slideshow here.
I made this sample Flickr slideshow to demonstrate what it looks like.
SlideMyPics (free – login)
SlideMyPics uses HTML5 which allows you to create a photo slideshow that people can view on their iDevice. With a large number of people now using iPhones, iPods and iPads to access blogs, this is something to consider when putting slideshows in your posts.
To use this tool, you have to first upload photos to either Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa or SmugMug. You can add transitions and music from YouTube if you like.
I just made this sample slideshow to show what an embedded SlideMyPics slideshow looks like.
Animoto for Education (free – login)
Animoto allows you to easily turn photos (and video clips) into videos complete with effective music and transitions. Animoto for Education gives teachers free access to premium features. Find an Animoto tutorial on Shawn Avery’s blog.
Animoto isn’t a tool I use overly often but my student bloggers love it. Here is an Animoto I made for our Ugandan Global Project in 2010.
Google Docs (free – login)
You can embed all sorts of Google Docs into blog posts including presentations, documents and spreadsheets. Putting photos into a presentation is a simple way of creating a photo slideshow on your blog.
Simply go to “file” and “publish to the web” to get started. Here is a presentation about apostrophes that I embedded on my class blog.
Kizoa (free for basic – login)
Kizoa‘s free account allows you to make a photo slideshow with special effects, music, text and transitions. Completed slideshows can be embedded, emailed, saved or shared online.
Here is a sample Kizoa.
Scribd (free – login)
Scribd is a document sharing website where you can post documents of various formats and embed them into blogs and websites. This is a really versatile tool for embedding all sorts of things on your blog. Read a full tutorial on how to use Scribd here.
This is what an embedded Scribd document looks like.
Fotobabble (free – login)
Fotobabble allows you to upload a photo and record a narration to create your own talking photo. There is also an app so you can create Fotobabbles on your iDevices. Here is a Fotobabble that a student in my class produced for our Collaboration Corner blog.
Page Plugin (free – no login)
This site allows you to create all sorts of Flash tools such as clocks, calendars, countdowns, glitter text, banners, tshirt pics, photo puzzles etc.
Make It Share It (free- login)
Create a drawing or animation to embed or share.
Here is a sample from a user on the website.
Voki (free – login)
Create a personalised speaking avatar with Voki. These are great on a sidebar to introduce readers to your blog.
Check out this example from the 4KM and 4KJ blog (press play to hear the Voki speak).
VoiceThread (free for basic – login)
Here is a Father’s Day VoiceThread that we embedded on my 2011 class blog.
Wallwisher (free – login)
Wallwisher is a virtual sticky note builder. It’s a great way to have your class add their thoughts and opinions on any topic.
Here is a Wallwisher we made to celebrate Miss Kelly Jordan’s birthday on my class blog.
Here is a Readers’ Theatre video I made with my students which we uploaded to SchoolTube and then embedded on our class blog.
YouTube and Howcast are also very useful places to find videos to embed on your blog. It’s important to note that these sites need to be monitored for inappropriate content. Find the video you want and simply copy the HTML embed code into the HTML section of your post editor.
Polls are a fun way to make your blog posts interactive. You can make a poll on Polldaddy, Blogpoll or many other sites. Personally, I’ve found PollDaddy to be a little temperamental. student blogger, Skye, introduced me to another tool called Xat. It’s free and no login is required.
There are so many free online tools out there that are fabulous to use in the classroom and embed on your blog. These tools can potentially allow your students to create, collaborate, communicate and express themselves in a multitude of ways.
To find recommendations of tried and tested online tools to use in the classroom with step-by-step instructions, visit my other website Tech Tools for Teachers.
If you have any more recommendations or if any of these tools become outdated, please leave a comment and let me know.