I sent out the following post in the last edition of the ALT Digest, but given that many spam filters will snag an e-mail with a lot of links in it, I thought I’d go ahead and post it here on the blog as well, just to make sure it is accessible.
Every once in a while I like to revisit and highlight some of the free, Web-based learning technologies I tend to run across in my work. All of the following are free – in the sense that they involve no fees – and all of them are hosted services, meaning you do not need to download them and install them on servers somewhere.
Course Authoring Tools
Udutu (https://www.udutu.com/) offers myUdutu, a free, Web-based tool for creating interactive online courses (https://www.myudutu.com/myudutu/main/admin/EditCustomer.aspx?uc=1). CourseLab (https://www.courselab.com/) is another free option.
PPT to Flash Tools
While higher end tools like Camtasia and Articulate are great, sometimes a free tool like authorPoint Lite (https://www.authorgen.com/authorpoint-lite-free/powerpoint-to-flash-converter.aspx) or iSpring Free (https://free.ispringsolutions.com/) might do the trick for turning your PowerPoint presentations into Flash movies that can play easily on the Web.
Slideshare.net (https://www.slideshare.net) remains the standard for sharing PowerPoint online, and there is still a free version. In addition to uploading slides and making them easy to share on Web sites and social networks, you can also upload a MP3 file and synch it to the slides – effectively creating an on-demand Webcast (see an example: https://www.slideshare.net/TagorasSlides/association-elearning-today)
Learning Management Systems
Educadium (https://www.educadium.com) and Latitude Learning (https://www.latitudelearning.com/) are two companies from our Association Learning Management Systems report that offer free versions of their learning management systems (for up to 25 users in the case of Educadium and 100 users in the case of Latitude). You might also take edu2.0 (https://www.edu20.org/), a cloud-based version of the Claroline open source LMS, for a spin.
Web Conferencing / Webinars
Yugma (https://www.yugma.com/) is a great tool for basic desktop sharing and Web conferencing – and it also plugs into Skype. AnyMeeting (https://www.anymeeting.com/) is also a full-featured, ad-based option for meetings with up to 200 people.
There are a variety of tools for creating free online quizzes and tests. Rather than listing them all here, I thought I’d just point you to a blog post that covers 12 of them (and be sure to check out the comments for more): https://www.quiz-creator.com/blog/2009/09/free-online-quiz-creator-tools-create-online-quizzes/
We used EventBrite (https://www.eventbrite.com/) for the recent Leading Learning breakfast, and it did a great job. Another good, full-featured option is Acteva Express (https://www.acteva.com/acteva-express.html). Acteva also has the advantage of an existing integration bridge with Moodle (though I am not clear on whether this is available with the Express version).
Twine (https://gimcrackd.com/etc/src/) is a free tool that enables you to create branching, interactive stories. You may also want to check out Cathy Moore’s post on creating a sample branching scenarios with Twine.
Social and Collaborative Tools
The biggest – YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and WordPress.com- are still available for free, and can be powerful tools for informal learning or for enhancing formal education. Suggesting other social tools is a bit like pulling a thread on a sweater, but here are a handful I think are of particular value:
Tumblr (https://www.tumblr.com) is a lightweight, very easy-to-use blogging platform. You can get started on it in minutes – and I did just that to launch a learning technology new service for the association sector at https://altdigest.tumblr.com.
TwapperKeeper (https://www.twapperkeeper.com) is a great service for archiving your conference Twitter streams and other hashtags (otherwise the tweets in them disappear eventually). Its search and export capabilities can also help turn Twitter into a real knowledge base and market intelligence engine. Twubs (https://twubs.com/) is similar and also offers paid services targeted at effective Twitter use for events. Finally, TweetChat (https://tweetchat.com/) is a platform that makes Twitter function more like a traditional chat room – it can be a great tool to enhance events, Webinars, or teleconferences.
Web Audio and Video
BlogTalkRadio (https://www.blogtalkradio.com/) provides a platform for broadcasting live audio or creating on demand podcasts. Similarly, UStream (https://www.ustream.tv/) is a free service for broadcasting live video over the Web. (KiKi L’Italien uses this for her Social Media Sweet Spot show: https://www.ustream.tv/channel/delcor-social-media-sweet-spot.)
Last but not least, there are many free options for wikis out there. Two good ones are PBWorks (https://pbworks.com/) and WikiSpaces (https://www.wikispaces.com/). Both have limitations for business use, but individual and small group use is free – and you may be able to qualify for an educational license.
All of the above are hosted options, but don’t forget about some great options you can install on your own servers or at a hosting provider (often with just a few clicks):
Moodle – the leading open source learning management system (https://moodle.org)
Elgg – an open source social networking platform (https://www.elgg.org/)
Mahara – open source ePortfolio software (https://mahara.org/)
WordPress.org – same software used at WordPress.com, but fully in your control (https://wordpress.org)
That’s it. If you have favorites I haven’t mentioned, please e-mail and let me know. Also, if you find this list valuable, I would be truly grateful if you would share this post with others who may also find it valuable.
P.S. – We have also just released our Association Learning + Technology: The State of the Sector Report. Be sure to check it out!