Open Thinking Wiki

Various Resources compiled by Dr. Alec Couros

The following page was created to support a professional development event hosted by Halton Catholic School Board on November 18, 2011.


Slides found below:

Workshop Resources

Key resources outlined in today's workshop:

Communication & Collaboration

  • Twitter: The most popular microblogging service. While I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for use with students, I strongly recommend it for teacher professional development. See this list of educational hashtags for some common topics that educators connect through.
  • Yammer: A popular private Twitter-like network, used in many school systems as an internal communication tool.
  • Edmodo: Similar to Twitter, but with a lot of extra functionality. This tool is designed for teachers to bring microblogging to the classroom, but don't want to use Twitter. It is described as "Secure Social Networking for Teachers & Students".
  • PollEverywhere: Allows facilitators to create polls that can be accessed via web, Twitter or txt messaging. Free accounts allow 40 responses per poll.
  • Remind101: Allows teachers to create txt'ing lists to communicate with students using SMS/txt. An instructor creates a class, students sign up, and can then receive messages from the instructor via email or txt.
  • Socrative: A Student Responsive System service that allows teachers to create educational exercises and games that can be accessed through just about any web-based device.
  • scvngr: An iPhone/iPod/Android app that allows people to create challenges and treks based on location.
  • iEtherPad: iEtherpad is a free program that allows multiple authors to work on a document simultaneously in "really, real time". In other words, you can see the changes of all authors as they happen.
  • Google Docs: A full, free productivity suite from Google.
  • Kidblogs: "Safe and simple blogs for your students".
  • Dropbox: Excellent tool for sharing media, especially in conjunction with DropItToMe.
  • Diigo: A very popular and full-featured social bookmarking tool.

Media Resources

  • Creative Commons: Search the Creative Commons for copyleft (royalty-free) material.
  • Compfight: An excellent search tool for Creative Commons photos.
  • morguefile: The site contains high-resolution stock photography images free for either corporate or private use.
  • Excellent place to find classic, public domain audio files and video footage.
  • ccMixter: A community music site with files that you can sample, remix, or mash-up.
  • Jamendo: "The Number One Platform for Free Music".
  • JamStudio: "The online music factory".
  • SoundSnap: High quality sound effects, some free per month, but you need an account for unlimited downloads. There are educator's accounts.
  • WGBH Sandbox: A collection of high quality clips that are available under a Creative Commons license.
  • The Open Video Project: A shared digital video collection.
  • Finding Media for Your Story: A comprehensive list of media resources compiled by Alan Levine

Developing a Digital Identity

  • Wordpress - Excellent tool for blogging or that can be used to create a digital portfolio.
  • Posterous - Easy to use blogging tool. See also, Tumblr.
  • Twitter - See above.
  • Youtube - Most popular video-sharing site. Express yourself.
  • - Site for bringing together one's digital identity.
  • Mahara - Open source & free software used in many school ePortfolio deployments.
  • Digital Tattoo - Site from UBC discussing digital identity.

General Resources

Explore at your leisure, some are repeated:

Introduction to Personal Learning Networks:

"Personal Learning Networks" (PLNs) is a term commonly used by networked educators to describe the wealth of social connections facilitated through the use of Web 2.0 tools. Learners utilize social tools to create and nurture social connections for the development and dissemination of knowledge and support. PLNs can be particularly useful for educators in providing ongoing, anytime professional development opportunities, as well as for helping to connect their students to relevant and timely educational experiences. The illustration below is included as a possible model for a teacher's personal learning network. Other illustrations of PLNs and PLEs (a closely related term) can be found here.

Tools Used to Support Personal Learning Network & Connected Teaching:

There are many tools that can be used to support the development of personal learning networks and help educators realize connected teaching. Each tool listed is supported with tutorials and examples of how it can be used by educators.


Twitter, an important microblogging service, is one of the most frequently used tools for developing a personal learning network. Twitter is a free service that allows its users to send & read 140 character (or less) messages known as 'tweets'. While this may seem like a limitation, these characters can be used to carry on rich conversations, provide links to resources, send multimedia (audio, video, etc.) messages, or share links to live events. If you would like a more private microblogging experience, Yammer (enterprise) or Edmodo (educational) are excellent options. Also, if you wanted to set up your own social networking services, see Ning or as excellent options.

If you would like a quick overview of how to use Twitter, view this video from HowCast. Or, for a more education-specific overview of Twitter, see the following resources.


One of the most important aspects of social media is the ability to tag (or add metadata to) content. A tag is a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information such as a blog post, a bookmark, a photograph, or even a tweet. Frequent tagging my many individuals create a folksonomy (vs. taxonomy), and allows users to find information of interest quickly and more accurately. On Twitter, tags (often referred to as hastags due # symbol used) are incredibly useful to track events, conferences, or other streams of thought.
  • Folksonomy vs. Taxonomy: A short article describing the differences.
  • Tagging in Flickr: A help page discussing how tags are used in Flickr, a popular photo-sharing service.
  • Hashtags Wiki: A resource dedicated to understanding the use of tags on Twitter.
  • edchat: edchat is a tag-based Twitter community run by educators. Every Tuesday night, a new topic begins and participants use the #edchat tag to engage in the topic of the week. For more information on how it works, see this post from Tom Whitby.

Social Bookmarking/Reading:

Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to organize and share bookmarks. Social reading is the accompanying phenomenon of reading, bookmarking, annotating, commenting on, and sharing particular posts with a group of interested peers - in a sense, reading and sharing knowledge with others.
  • Delicious: Delicious is likely the most popular social bookmarking tool used by educators. The use of Delicious is greatly enhanced by installing appropriate plugins/add-ons for Firefox, Internet Explorer or other browsers. An example of how Delicious can be used to form a reading list can be seen at (where the tag 'eci831readings' is shared by all students to form readings for a grad course).
  • Diigo: Is a powerful social bookmarking service that is growing in popularity. Diigo allows for shared annotations, sticky-notes and group development/sharing. It is preferred by individuals who want to take social bookmarking to a more active level.

There are many other resources that are similar to social bookmarking sites. For instance, Digg, Reddit, and Stumbleupon are great sources for viral news (good, but often inappropriate content). Services like Evernote & Clipmarks are great for clipping information & notetaking. With some experimentation, you will find both the tool & network that suits your needs.


Blogging first became popular when it was realized how easily one could publish to the web without having to bother with HTML editors or FTP. Blogging has developed into an incredibly useful tool for classrooms in sharing student work around with the world. Additionally, blogs (or blogfolios) can be an easy way to create a personalized web presence and develop a personal portal to the world.

For those wanting something that falls in between blogging and microblogging, there are several new options that are available. Tumblr and Posterous are great tools that make 'blogging' very easy and are ideal for braindumps and simple resource sharing.

Photo Sharing:

There are a number of photo-sharing services available that allow users to upload, manage, and share digital photographs with private or public groups. Flickr is likely the most popular of these sites, but other popular services include Picasa (from Google), Photobucket, and ShutterFly.

Beyond the social connections gained by photo-sharing, there is a wealth of freely available content (often copyleft) that can be used by educators and students. Understanding how to tap into these resources is really important. See Flickr Creative Commons Search, FlickrStorm (see advanced), morgueFile, or compfight.

Video Sharing:

In 2005, Youtube was born and easy video sharing became a reality. While Youtube itself is often blocked in schools, there are other services available and Youtube content can be downloaded so it is available offline. And, besides this new ease of sharing, quality video is also now easy to create. Video is going to be increasingly important in the classroom in the years ahead.

Other good video sharing services include Vimeo, Blip, and TeacherTube. Additionally, sites like KeepVid and Zamzar can be used to download videos from Youtube and convert them to different video formats.

Audio/Video Conferencing:

Audio and/or video conferencing allows us to connect real-time with individuals and groups for presentations, discussions, or collaboration. These tools are easy to use, generally free of charge, and offer advanced options for innovative use. Such tools are becoming indispensable for educators in many classrooms.
  • Skype: This is the most popular of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that allows for audio or video conferencing.
  • YackPack: This tool is web-based and allows for audio/video messages so it can be used synchronously or asynchronously.
  • USTREAM: This tool allows you to stream events from a video camera or webcam for others to view around the world.


A wiki is a website that allows easy creation and editing of pages. Wikis are ideal for collaborative projects, where individuals or groups (e.g., teachers, students) build shared content. There are a number of active wiki projects worth exploring, but as well, wiki services are available for personal or professional use.


RSS or 'Really Simply Syndication' is one of the most important social media tools as well as often the least understood. RSS is a format that allows you to subscribe to updates from various sources such as blogs, wikis, social network updates, etc. It saves individuals the time it would take to go to each news source (e.g., webpage) and helps to organize information. RSS is easy to understand once you begin to use it, and is very powerful.
  • RSS in Plain English: Another useful video from Common Craft explaining how RSS works.
  • Google Reader: Reader is and example of an RSS aggregator, a way of subscribing to multiple feed sources. The tool also allows you to comment on and share posts using other services. You can even bundle feeds to share with others (e.g,. share class blogs). Other popular RSS aggregators include Bloglines and Netvibes.
  • Setting up Google Reader: A tutorial by Liz B. Davis.

Anytime ProD:

Professional development is moving to an anytime, anywhere model. At any given time, an individual can participate in open courses, conferences, or social networks that contribute to professional learning. As you become connected, you will see the many opportunities available and rethink your own professional learning.
  • K12 Online Conference: This is an annual, free conference for K12 educators. Sessions are prerecorded and available for viewing. The conference has been running since 2006, and there are dozens of presentations to choose from.
  • TED Talks: TED Talks are a growing collection of presentations from some of the most brilliant people on the planet. There are many to choose from, but here is a list of '15 TED Talks to watch before 2010' (OK, it's already 2010, but it's a great list).
  • Classroom 2.0: This is a social network of 1000's of educators from around the globe working together and learning from each other. This is a great place to start if you are looking for help with technology in the classroom
  • Social Media & Open Education: Every year I teach an open graduate course that is available to anyone in the world.

To explore any of these topics in great detail, see the Emerging Technologies and the Digital Citizenship section of this website.