As COVID restrictions are starting to ease and many children are back in school, face-to-face teaching is resuming across the country. But many families and teachers have realised just how powerful online tuition can be and are choosing to continue learning remotely despite lockdown ending.
Many great digital tools and platforms have emerged over the past year as the world has adapted to remote learning. So, we have rounded up some of the best tools used by our teachers that are designed to engage and enhance the learning of all students.
Bramble is a popular choice for many of our teachers. It allows recording of all sessions, a powerful whiteboard tool with sketching and annotating and has a built-in notebook functionality where you can drag and drop files in.
Students can also take a picture of their work through the webcam, which can be annotated and shared. You can also review lessons anytime and keep them organised.
The free version is more than good enough and comes with unlimited lessons, recording and reporting features. The paid version is £10 per month and comes with additional features, such as rooms and enhanced reporting.
With Explain Everything, you can combine sketches, images, documents and videos to make powerful presentations. It allows you to enhance PowerPoint slides with voice recordings and annotations and is great for brainstorming with students.
One of the brilliant features of Explain Everything is its ability to create videos and animations, allowing you to find alternative ways of explaining concepts to your students.
There is a basic version where you can create up to 3 projects for free if you’re just getting started. If you like it and want to create more projects, the individual teacher plan is only £24 for the year, with unlimited access to all features.
Microsoft has a great tool called Microsoft Whiteboard. This tool is easy to use alongside your lessons as a virtual version of the classic classroom whiteboard.
This is perfect for those who use Microsoft Teams – you just need to download the Microsoft Whiteboard extension – so sharing work and mindmaps becomes seamless. It’s worth noting, however, that it is limited in that you can’t use it alongside other video call platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts.
It is free for those who already have a Microsoft Office subscription (their personal plan costs £59.99 a year).
Like Microsoft, Zoom has a built-in Whiteboard functionality. This is great to demonstrate something that your words or text alone can’t explain.
You can easily add text and highlight areas to emphasise important points. Students can also annotate and draw on the whiteboard, and you can add new whiteboards and save screenshots throughout the lesson.
Zoom’s Basic plan is free and includes unlimited one-on-one meetings and Zoom Whiteboard. This is perfect for tuition with one student. You can upgrade to their Pro plan for £119.90 a year for added functionality.
Ideal for sharing ideas and collaborating, Padlet is a popular tool with our teachers. You can create an online post-it board to share with students. This makes it ideal for brainstorming, collecting questions and gathering your student’s work in one place.
They have different themes, including canvases, maps, timelines and shelves, which can help encourage your students to be creative and learn in a way that suits them
The free version allows you to create 3 padlets and includes 10MB of storage. You can upgrade to unlimited padlets and 250MB of storage for £8 a month.
Wordwall enables you to design interactive and printable activities and resources for lessons. There are many templates, such as quizzes, word searches, mazes and much more, and you can use it to set up and report on assignments.
This tool is great for creating custom resources, allowing you to tailor lessons to specific needs and learning styles. You can also save your own templates and build up a bank of resources to use over and over.
Wordwall’s free version lets you create 18 interactives and 5 resources. There is an option to upgrade to the Standard plan for £5 a month ($6 USD) if you want to create unlimited resources.
Jamboard is a very popular tool with our teachers. It has a whiteboard that you can utilise as an interactive canvas where students and teachers can add in images, notes and documents.
Ideal for visual learners, Jamboard makes traditional whiteboard-style learning fun and engaging, and you can save boards making it easy to go back over them anytime.
Most of our teachers use Jamboard as part of their school’s Google Workspace for Education account. If you don’t have access to this, you can also use Google Classroom using a personal Google account for free, as long as you’re not using it in a school.
Google Classroom is a well-known platform used by most teachers through their schools. Its functionality allows you to set up and run classes, as well as create work and communicate with parents.
Google Classroom has a built-in feedback and reporting function, meaning that marking is easy. It also has integrations with many other tools that allow you to get creative in terms of lesson structures and tools, so lessons can be tailored to individual learning styles.
If you are a teacher in a school, you most likely will be familiar with Google Classroom. Like Jamboard, it can be accessed through your school’s Google Workspace for Education account. And like Jamboard, you can also use Google Classroom using a personal Google account for free, as long as you’re not using it in a school.
Which tool is right for me?
Picking which tools and platforms to use in your lessons depends on your teaching style and your student’s learning style. If you prefer giving traditional whiteboard-style lessons, Microsoft or Zoom’s Whiteboard function may be for you, as it easily replicates an in-person, classroom-style lesson.
If you tend to give more interactive lessons to suit diverse learning styles, we recommend Wordwall, Bramble and Explain Everything. These tools are great for capturing the student’s attention in different ways and allows you to tailor lessons to individual abilities.
It may even be that using a combination of these tools is the way to go, with many of our teachers opting to use Zoom Whiteboard in conjunction with Jamboard and Padlet. And, don’t forget there are many more tools out there that can enhance your online lessons. We recommend trying various free tools before deciding on 2-4 of your favourite platforms
Have your say
What is your favourite online learning platform? Let us know what you think and what tools you use on our Facebook group.