Online Tools

A list of e-tools


  •  Creative Commons Licenses (Copyright Protection) Creative commons licenses allow the creators of a work (Picture/ text / graphics / videos / slides etc) to protect it and license it for use. It is predominantly used for online resources. For those wanting to use a copyright work, the creative commons license explains how it can be used legally. (Incidentally, cut and paste is a form of copying!) It is a common misconception that if it is on the internet, it is free to use but everything online is copyright. Under UK law, copyright is automatic at the time of creation of a work The copyright usually belongs to the person who created the work, although this right may be passed on or sold. Even with sites like Youtube, the video belongs to the person who created it, not to Youtube 

Dashboards (personalised)

  • Netvibes Netvibes gives you a customizable home page on the internet. It uses 'widgets' (Mini programmes) to create windows for any data you like. This means you can build a home page with all of the things you are interested in, or that you follow, and it is constantly up to date. It is free to use. So, if you use multiple social networking sites (Twitter / Facebook / Linked in) or have multiple e-mail accounts (Hotmail, gmail, etc) use a calendar, have sites you follow, want to follow RSS (rich site summary) feeds to keep up to date with a site ( eg: the BBC's technology page) you can have all of these on one page, that update constantly. This means you don't have to go to each site separately to see your own information. 
  • Symbaloo (Dashboard / site collection) This is a free site that allows you to create a homepage with tiles.  


  • Google Books (Electronic Books) Google has been converting paper books to electronic books, and if you want to look something up, you can often find it in Google books, and will be able to read sections (not the whole book) Usually you can access enough information. 

Essential tools

  •  Evernote (Electronic notebook) Works with a desktop application, a website and can be accessed from a smart phone. All accounts auto sync. You can create separate notebooks, and it is easy to search.  Great for students, or administrators. 
  • Pinterest (Electronic Pin board) Pinterest is a kind of electronic pin board. It can be used to create a mood board for decorating a room, for event planning - collect ideas for a party or wedding, or of course images and ideas for an assignment. You can install an add on to your internet browser so that you can 'pin' items while online.
  • Time Management Ninja (Time Management tools) This is a fantastic website all about time management and getting yourself organised. What's good is that it has both general and specific advice in areas such as keeping your e-mail inbox organised, or making more time to read for fun. There are lots of helpful articles and they are all searchable from the homepage. I, for one, have recently benefited from an article entitled "10 Reasons Your Emails Are Too Long". Whatever your organisational issue might be, see if Time Management Ninja can help you work on it!
  • Tiny URL (Shortens a URL) URL shorteners overcome the problem for people who would otherwise have to type in a long & complex URL (web address) from a written source.  
  • Youtube time allows you to create a link to the part of a Youtube video that you select.

Free images

  • Pixabay (Image site) Photograph /illustration website, which provides images you can use for your work. Many of them are free for commercial use, but always check the terms before downloading.  

Information & Research

  • Gartners Hype Cycles Gartner is a global research firm specialising in information technology. It produces a number of 'hype cycles' each year, which show what trends we can expect to see in areas like content management, mobile phone capability and more. Although the full reports accompanying the cycles are expensive, you can garner a lot of useful information from their website's free content (including webinars on emerging technology). This can help us think about what learners of the future might be like, and what their expectations for us will be. Gartner's spot on prediction, made more than 10 years ago, that smartphones would flood the market allowed libraries, amongst other groups, plan to support learners in a more flexible way.  
  • Wolfram Alpha (statistical information) A search engine which is really good for statistical information. It returns the answer to a search providing graphs, and also allows for comparative data eg: population of the UK vs India. It is an invaluable resource for assignments, largely because of how the data is presented in graphs, or visually.
  • Mendeley (collect and organise your research documents, notes and citations) Mendeley is a free online app which allows you to collect all of your notes for research projects and assignments. It offers facilities to read an annotate documents, document sharing options, and options for creating bibliographies and managing resource lists. The app does need to be downloaded and installed, but it can also be used as a web service / cloud hosting. It is more suited to FE and HE than school use. 
  • Zetoc Journals Database This online database created by University of Manchester using British Library records can be used to search for a comprehensive range of journal articles.  

Presentation  Tools (Alternatives to Powerpoint)

  • Powtoon (Animated presentations) An animated slide show presentation tool that is far more interesting and versatile than Powerpoint.
  • Prezi (Presentation tools )An alternative slide presentation tool I(like Powerpoint) - more of a poster approach. I tend to find the movement on this one makes me feel seasick!
  • Smilebox (Online scrapbook)  You can read my blog about this tool here/
  • Slideshare (Presentation Sharing Site) Slideshare does what it says on the tin - it is a site for sharing slide presentations. People share their powerpoint (and other) slides on the site. It can inspire and help with presentations when you see what someone else has done. 

Quiz Creation Tools

Most e-learning platforms (Blackboard / Moodle) incorporate Quiz and testing tools. These are others you can try:

Typeform allows you to create simple, interactive Quizzes

Google forms is usually the tool I use. It is easy to create a form, and the results are collated into a report with graphs and a spreadsheet. However, it is not free for commercial use. 

Survey Monkey - this is a survey tool that can be used for Quiz creation. The free version allows you to have up to 100 people responding to your 'test'

Mailchimp is another survey tool that has a free option you can use for creating Quizzes and tests. 

Search Engines

  •  DuckDuckGo (Search Engine) A search engine that does not track your activity online, or use your info for advertising. If you are concerned about privacy, then this is a vital tool.
  • Ngram Viewer (Literary Search tool) This tool searches Google Books This fascinating site indexes the words in the books that Google has digitized. This means if you want to track the popularity of a word, or when it was most likely first used, you can search with Ngram viewer to see the frequency of the word appearing in Google books.
Social Media Tools
  • Buffer (Social Media Tool)    If you have multiple social media accounts (Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Google Plus etc) and don't want the hassle of regularly updating all of them, you can use 
  • Hootsuite (Social Media Tool) Like Buffer, Hootsuite allows you to manage your social media. The advantage is that you can  manage multiple Twitter accounts through Hootsuite. 

Teaching & Training Resources

  • A Google a Day  (teaching information literacy & Search strategies) Google has a site called 'A Google a Day' There is a timed challenge to answer a question by researching on Google. Points are won by returning the correct answer as quickly as possible. If you're really good, you can go on to try other questions.
  • Dvolver (movie maker /Animated Video Clip site) - This site helps you create simple cartoons that you can use to teach, or illustrate a point or demonstrate a conversation. Easy to use, and fun. 
  • Glogster (poster making site) this site allows groups and individuals to create posters for their projects and assignments. 
  • Screencast (Screen capture software)  This 'films' the screen while someone uses the computer. It's great for demonstrating how to use programmes and software, and to create training tools.
  • Symbaloo (Dashboard / site collection) This is a free site that allows you to create a homepage with tiles. It can be used for a research skills session, creating a web page with all the links the learners need for the session, or as an information page. We could create one with links to all of our electronic resources, and users can then click on the tile for each resources to go directly to it. Effectively it is a customizable web page, that uses a bright visual format. 
  • Timers (Timer tool) Great for timing an exercise in a lesson Looking for a fun way to time a teaching activity - this site has a range of different timers which can easily be set to any time period.
  •  Voki Create an animated person which says what you want it to. Creates a speaking avatar (on screen character). Can be used to create a short video.   
© 2018 Denice Penrose
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