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5 Free Tools To Liven Up Online Classes

Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, it’s been an endless stream of video calls and online messaging for not just employees, but for teachers and students too. Putting aside the fact that sitting for hours in video calls leads to something known as Zoom fatigue, it’s hard to deny that students are also extremely restless when on video calls.

When you are physically in the classroom with students, there is an energy exchange that happens which keeps students somewhat focused despite the dryness of some content matter. That exchange is eliminated when online (sigh) and makes for a boring experience not just for students, but for you as the teacher too. So, to keep your students focused on what they need to be learning, it’s time to bring out the big guns: interactive online apps! Here are some of the best online apps for teachers to use during this learn-from-home period.

 

1. Kahoot!  

If you haven’t heard of Kahoot! already, you’re missing out. This fantastic resource will get your students excited to answer quizzes and assessments, all while competing against their classmates. There are two modes that you can use: live hosting or student-paced challenges. In the former, you launch the Kahoot quiz live during your online class, and your students can answer on their mobile devices. For the latter, students can answer the questions anytime, be it in class or at home, at their own pace.

Kahoot allows you to mix and match questions of different types, which is very handy to keep things fresh in class. The question types include multiple-choice quizzes and true/false questions, and with a premium subscription costing about RM25 a month, you get even more options like polls, puzzles, and typing out short answers. Definitely a useful tool to have to spice up any subject matter!

Learn more at kahoot.com

 

2.Quizlet

Quizlet is a free resource available to teachers that not only allows you to create fun and collaborative quizzes/ assessments for your students, but also track their progress and provide instant feedback. Additionally, you can also gather inspiration from content created by other teachers teaching your subject around the world.

For an upgrade, you can opt for the paid plan which costs around RM16 a month which gives you the option to track the progress of your entire class as well as customise your quizzes further. Quizlet is a good alternative to Google Classroom if your students have stable access to the Internet and are willing to use the platform.

Learn more at Quizlet for Teachers

 

3. Padlet

Though fancy online apps for teachers are great if you teach in an urban area or an area where students have stable, uninterrupted access to Internet connectivity, the same will become a frustrating experience if your students don’t have the luxury. This is where a simple platform like Padlet offers a good option. This no-frills platform can be accessed even with limited Internet data, and is especially useful for when you want students to express their thoughts/opinions in writing, give students a simple platform to collaborate, and so on.

As a side note, Padlet does not require users to sign up to contribute to a padlet. This means that students can provide answers anonymously if they want. However, we recommend that teachers ask students to sign up so they can keep track of responses and avoid unsolicited profanity/unrelated prank answers.

Explore the offerings of Padlet here. 

 

4. Prezi

Prezi is a ‘richer’ version of Microsoft Powerpoint and Google Slides, which allows you as an educator to create nicer, more visually-pleasing slides for your online classes. Students will definitely stay engaged longer when the slides are attractive as well as dynamic, and not just blocks of text!

There are a variety of paid plans for Prezi, and though it’s not easy to find, you can actually opt for the free Basic version, which lets you create beautiful slides without paying (of course, there’ll be constant nudges to get a paid plan though). However, by only using the Basic plan, you will miss out on other functionalities such as offline access, presenter view, privacy controls, and more.

 If you’d like to try out the full functionality of Prezi, you can opt for the free trial of their EDU Plus package. Teachers who would like to keep the full functionality because it adds value to their lessons can pay as low as RM12 a month to keep using the premium offerings. 

Learn more about Prezi plan here.

 

5. Animoto

If there’s one thing that makes students stay razer-focused on your lesson (besides your amazing teaching skills), it’s video. The current generation of students grew up with YouTube as a staple in their life, and more recently, TikTok. Luckily, you don’t have to grab a camera like the guy in the GIF to make great videos; this is where Animoto comes in.

If there’s one thing that makes students stay razer-focused on your lesson (besides your amazing teaching skills), it’s video. The current generation of students grew up with YouTube as a staple in their life, and more recently, TikTok. Luckily, you don’t have to grab a camera like the guy in the GIF to make great videos; this is where Animoto comes in. 

Animoto is a free online app for teachers that allows you to make simple (often text-based) videos in a drag-and-drop manner. You can also record yourself in video form teaching or demonstrating subject content, and then later, add in relevant components to create easy-to-understand videos that your students will love. However, do ensure not to get carried away; keep videos short (around 5-10 minutes) is best to not bore your viewers. Animoto can also be used by students to create videos as assessments for your class. 

Learn more about Animoto here

Say Goodbye to Boring Online Classes

By using the above and other online tools to jazz up dull content matter, you’ll be sure that students can reduce the wandering of their mind and also actively take part in the learning process. Return that spark in their eye and sooner rather than later your lesson will be the highlight of their day!

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