Author: Marshall Beyer | Read Time: ~ 10 minutes | Publish Date: December 28, 2021
As the calendar year comes to an end, it is always a time for reflection. As I look back over the past 12 month, I wanted to share some of my favorite ed tech tools from 2021. This can be a new program or application I discovered or updates to an existing application.
One of my favorite applications has always been Wakelet. If you have never heard of Wakelet, it is a platform that really has an endless amount of possibilities of ways that you can use it. The best thing is there is really no wrong way to use Wakelet. Wakelet started out as a great platform to collect, organize, and categorize content. You collect content, save and organize it into collections. You can add all kinds of content to these Wakelet collections like links to YouTube videos, PDFs, website links, text, and images.
Something that has recently been added is the ability to organize content in a collection into columns. This has been an amazing new feature. I used it to create my Digital Citizenship Week Resources that you can find here.
Another feature added this year to Wakelet is their Classroom feature. The classroom feature makes importing classrooms from places like Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, or Clever a breeze. To import an existing classroom into Wakelet simply click on the Classrooms section. This will show you all of your active classrooms in Wakelet. If you want to import a class, click on the green import group button in the top right-hand corner. Then choose the platform you would like to import from (in my case, I would be importing from Google Classroom). Sign in and choose the class to import. Once you have imported students, they can log into Wakelet using single sign-on with the same credentials as their LMS login. Now, they can create their own collections and you can add them as collaborators to existing collections.
Clicking on a classroom, you will see all of the students that are enrolled as well as any co-teachers. Clicking on a student’s name, you will be able to see all of the collections they are part of, any bookmarks they have saved, as well as any Group Collections they are part of.
Wakelet is always keeping safety front and center when it comes to students using Wakelet. The fine people at Wakelet know that privacy and safety is the top priority for educators, which is why they are fully compliant with GDPR, COPPA, FERPA, NY Edlaw2D and CSPC. Another great safety measure Wakelet has implemented is the fact that students that are imported via Classrooms do not have public profiles and are not visible to users outside of the groups they are members of. Additionally, Wakelet has disabled a few features of student accounts that are imported through Classrooms, including the Unsplash and GIPHY photo libraries as well as certain social media integrations. Wakelet says:
At Wakelet, we do everything we can to monitor content on the platform but we can’t monitor content on external platforms and as such these integrations have been disabled.
They have mentioned that they will be adding the ability for educators to toggle these permissions on or off on a per student basis in the future.
Wakelet is doing some amazing things and if you haven’t checked them out, now is as good of a time as any to do so!
For years, I have used so many different tools when it comes to taking notes and tracking tasks for work. I ’ve used things like Google Keep and Google Docs. These optioned worked perfect fine for what I needed. Recently, my district got access to Office 365. With this, I thought it might be a good idea adn time to try something new. This would also allow me to expand my knowledge in other programs and applications outside of what I have used in the past. So this year, seeing that we use Outlook for email, I have started taking all of my work notes in OneNote and managing my tasks with To Do.
There was a little bit of a learning curve but now about 5 months in, I am really enjoying the integration between the three applications (Outlook, OneNote, and To Do). One integration I am enjoying is the connection between Outlook and To Do. One way thought I am using the integration is when I am processing emails, when I need to follow-up on an email or if there is an action that is required in the email, I flag the email. In the past , it would just get flagged. Now, those flagged emails, by default, show up in my To Do list under the Flagged Email section. I can also flag an email as “Today”, “Tomorrow”, “This Week”, “Next Week”. You can also choose “Add Reminder”. This will bring up a dialogue box where you can choose the way in which you would like to flag the email, a start date, due date, and when you would like to be reminded. Now, that email will not only show up in my Flagged emails section in To Do, but now it will show up in my Planned section in To Do.
Something that I am starting to do with To Do (wow that was a bit of a tongue twister lol) is utilizing the “My Day” section in To Do. Something that I am embedding in my morning routine is looking at all of my tasks in To Do and planning my day by dragging them into My Day. I feel like this helps me focus on just a few tasks instead of getting overwhelmed with all of the tasks in my task list. I also have this widget on my phone so I can easily see at a glace.
Another integration I am enjoying is the connection between OneNote and To Do. When I am in meetings, I often have tasks that are assigned to me. In the past, I would write these down, but then have to remember to go back into the note and manually add them to my task manager. Now, using One Note, when I am tasking notes in a meeting and a task is assigned to me or I am just jotting down things I need to do, I write the task out and then flag it with OneNote’s Outlook Tasks flag. I have the same choices that I do in Outlook to flag. Now, when I flag a task in OneNote, it will show up in To Do.
Speaking of OneNote, a killer aspect of this application is it’s Quick Note feature. In OneNote, if I am on my work computer, I can simply hit the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + Alt + N and I am greeted with a small dialogue box. I can simply start typing my note. When I am finished, I can just close the note. This note will then by saved in my OneNote under the Quick Notes tab. The really cool thing is OneNote does not have to even be open to activate the Quick Note! I can then go into OneNote and move those Quick Notes into their proper section.
If I am away from my computer, I access OneNote on my phone through the app. I have the Quick Note section open so that is the first section I go to. I simply click the plus sign, add my quick note, and it is added to my Quick Note tab. I can then organize those notes when I return to the office.
So Canva has quickly become one of my favorite tools to use in 2021. If you are unfamiliar with Canva, it is a graphic design platform where you can create visual content like posters, presentations, social media posts, documents, and much more! Not only that but you are able to collaborate on designs as well! Not only is it an amazing platform, but they offer Canva for Education free for all educators and districts. Canva for Education gives you the following:
Access 420,000+ templates and learning resources
Use 75 million+ premium stock images, videos, and graphics for free
Access to an extended library of 3,000+ fonts
Classroom space to invite students and teachers to share and review work
Share activities and homework on Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and Remind
Integrations with all your go-to classroom tools — from Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Canvas, Schoology, and more coming soon
Canva is providing all of this for FREE! Learn more about Canva for Education here.
With Canva for Education you can create classrooms, invite students, and have students either create their own individual projects or collaborate on a group project. You can also create and assign assignments all right within Canva. You are able to view, provide feedback, and mark all assignments all without having to leave Canva. Learn more about how to get this all set up here. If you are wanting to connect Canva to an LMS (at the time of this article, Canva supports connecting to Blackboard, Canvas, Schoology, and D2L), you can do that as well. Learn more about connecting Canva to your LMS here.
Also with a Canva for Education account, you can create groups for teachers where you can share templates for designs. Teacher can also create their own groups where they share templates either within their own site or across the district. Canva is an amazing tool that really has endless possibilities.
So, I could go on and on, but there are just a few of my favorite applications for 2021. Go check these applications out and let me know on Twitter what you think! What are some of your favorite ed tech applications for 2021? Let me know on Twitter!