By Carrie Hopkins, from Top5OnlineColleges.org
The proliferation of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other forms of online education has changed the landscape of guided learning for both students and teachers. Professors who once stood in front of classrooms filled with dozens of students now stand in front of webcams in front of thousands or tens of thousands of logged-in users. Grading papers, scoring tests, and giving personalized feedback are all totally different pursuits in an online environment, and technology companies are rushing to build the tools that make online learning easier, more effective, and more enjoyable for teachers and their students.
Teaching Tools & Technologies
Videos, slideshows, games, and interactive group activities are all part of the online teacher’s toolbelt, and when a teacher is as savvy with technology as the students, amazing things can happen in an online classroom. These tools for online teachers and learners can improve communication between participants who may be thousands of miles apart geographically, but learning together in a shared technologically enabled space.
Articulate Studio is a tool for authoring eLearning course materials, and the company keeps a blog that updates on happenings concerning education and how it ties into technology. Posts highlight different innovations, as well as walls that people typically run into when trying to innovate in the EdTech community or work in online learning.
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The Sloan Consortium
Tap into Sloan-C for community, insight, inspiration, education, and professional resources geared specifically to online educators. A membership in this organization can provide numerous other benefits that can add clout to your resume.
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Online Learning and Distance Education Resources
Online Learning and Distance Education Resources is run by Tony Bates and is dense with tools for improving distance education around the world. With quality commentary and up-to-date news, the site is incredibly thorough and helpful for teachers looking to expand their breadth of knowledge.
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SmartBuilder is a suite of point-and-click authoring tools for elearning courses. Since building courses with SmartBuilder doesn’t require the user to write any code, it is accessible and easy to learn for any user with an interest in constructing their own online course.
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Udutu is an online learning solution built to distribute online training courses. Create interactive online courses quickly and easily, with a designer-friendly format and great support services that help you distribute, track, and report on your training.
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How would you like to use software that checks against plagiarism, reduces grading time, improves feedback to students, and engages those students? Turnitin offers all this and more to help make the online educational experience one to fully savor as it evaluates and improves student writing.
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Simply put, Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations so viewers can better see your ideas, understand them, and remember them. The smart folks are already using this too, from bestselling authors to business leaders and entrepreneurs around the globe.
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Create stories, games, and animations and share them online at Scratch with over three million other projects. Scratch is a project out of the MIT Media Lab; although designed specifically for ages eight through sixteen, it is a creative tool for people of all ages.
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Lose those three-ring binders and gain some LiveBinders, instead — the best way to collect resources and organize them online. This tool is great for students, too, and allows educators to share resources with peers or students with ease.
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Do rubrics make your head ache? Try RubiStar, a free tool that helps teachers create quality rubrics in short order. Save your rubrics online so you can gain access to them from any computer. RubiStar also offers free registration and a rubrics search engine.
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Face it — learning curves can be intimidating, and the worst fear is loss of valuable time in the process. myBrainshark can help you to create great online courses and presentations by taking the mystery out of processes such as adding voice to PowerPoint, narrating documents, uploading videos, and producing Podcasts.
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ClickClass is an e-learning authoring tool designed to help users deliver and manage online learning content. Use it for free to learn how easy this tool can be, and pay only after you acquire more than two active users of your content.
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Resources for Teaching Online
Resources for Teaching Online helps teachers build valuable courseloads for eLearning and working with students online. The site underlines different online teaching methods, advice for planning and building a course online, among other useful links.
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Penn State Learning Design Community Hub
Penn State Learning Design Community Hub highlights useful eLearning Conferences and Ed Tech innovations currently developing. They have a large list of Instructional Design Guides and Forums to help teachers and students alike better have content that is useful.
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If you haven’t met the eLearning Brothers, perhaps you can take the time this evening to sample their awesome eLearning resources. Andrew and Shawn (real brothers) have compiled a smorgasbord of eLearning templates, games and activities, graphic images and videos, and page layouts that can make your courses look like they were designed by hugely successful designers.
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Classroom2.0 is a dynamic social network for anyone who is interested in participative technologies and their uses in the classroom. Join over 70,000 participants in this community-supported network to share experiences, tips, and resources for digital classroom excellence.
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21st Century Fluency Project
Tap into this collaborative effort to create a project geared toward making learning relevant to life through digital resources that can advance online learning. Educators in this project can create, share, and collaborate to develop problem-based learning modules designed to cultivate ‘fluencies’ within the context of the required curriculum.
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Teaching With Technology eLearning Wikispaces
If you’re an educator who craves sharing and learning information about your career, then you might want to check out the Teaching With Technology Wiki. This site is growing into a comprehensive source of information about all e-learning aspects, from the beginning components of an e-learning course to assessing that course’s viability.
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E-Learning Council is a very dense site for compiling useful resources for eLearning teachers. They have annual symposiums, a forum, and a blog that all make it easier for teachers to increase the effectiveness of their teaching.
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Edudemic – The Teacher’s Guides
Edudemic is a colorful, captivating tool for teachers to increase the effectiveness of their teaching through useful tips. Aside from good resources and tips, they also have introspective articles that analyze different aspects of the teaching process and commentary.
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Digital Learning Now
Digital Learning Now! is a national campaign that works to advance high-quality digital learning environments. More than 100 leaders from diverse backgrounds work to develop a roadmap for educational reform, producing the “10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning,” as well as other tools for educators and students.
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e-Learning Faculty Modules
e-Learning Faculty Models is run out of Kansas State University and helps teachers who work with eLearning and online coursework to become better equipped to proficiently work with students to better the education process.
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New Instructional Designer Instructions
New Instructional Designer Instructions equips teachers with the resources to effectively design coursework for students and help set them up great eLearning courses.
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DML Research Hub posts an extensive variety of different resources for educating and better understanding what hooks students. They provide content on a great blog, webinar series, different videos, and more.
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eLearning Guild provides a great community for eLearning professionals to come together and be able to collaborate on different initiatives and explain what techniques or methods are currently working. Additionally, the resources provided on the site allow for teachers to make their own quality content, pulled from a variety of sources.
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Curriculumbits offers free access to a large and growing range of interactive multimedia e-learning resources, including links to recommended educational Apple and iPhone apps. You don’t need to register to use these resources, but you can enjoy added benefits if you do register for free.
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Use Planboard to save time by removing repetitive actions from your life — align your teaching schedule, create a template for all your lesson plans, and integrate and track educational standards into your methodology in one easy-to-organize space. You can share schedules with students or substitute teachers, attach notes and files directly to your lesson plans from any computer, and embed videos and other multimedia content into those plans to engage your students.
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authorGEN Technologies offers two e-Learning software tools that can make life easy for many educators. authorPOINT provides an easy way to share content across many platforms, and WiZiQ is a web-based platform to teach live and online through an easy-to-use free virtual classroom.
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The Perkins eLearning Portal
If you’re a parent, teacher, or caregiver who is working with children who are blind or visually impaired, then you might want to check out the Perkins eLearning Portal. This portal offers resources for activities and learning strategies that can help young people who suffer from limited vision.
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Kubbu is a free site for teachers and it helps facilitate teachers’ work and enhance the learning process through useful games, coursework development, and other features. Since it is free, teachers can find the resources they need to most effectively increase their teaching styles.
Respondus provides quality assessment tools for online learning systems and helps reinforce different educational aspects. Through their comprehensive products, they enable teachers to move into the 21st century with their teaching methods.
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Wikispaces Classroom is a content-based resource for teachers to manage the pace of their class through a newsfeed, effectively provide assessments, and keep their projects on track. The site is a fantastic tool for the evolving face of technology in education.
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Courselab is a great tool for authoring original eLearning content without having to worry about programming. Its intuitive nature allows for high-quality and interactive learning with facets of innovation that help differentiate it from many of the other competitors in the field. This is what makes Courselab such a great tool for teachers.
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Connexions is a place to collectively share educational material and smaller chunks, also known as modules. Not only is Connexions great for authors of educational content to build and collaborate with others but also useful for instructors looking to quickly build original content.
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Learning Tools outlines the best e-learning tools that are publicly accessible. From Timeline, Handwriting, Language Pronunciation, and Image Zoom tools, the site provides great resources for tailoring educational content to particular online courseloads.
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Learning Management Systems
The term “learning management system” could be ambiguous to someone outside the world of online education, but most often what it denotes is a suite of software tools for administering online courses, tracking student progress, distributing course material, and even scoring assignments. Different LMSs offer an assortment of features, so anyone who is designing an online course can tailor their content and presentation to their specific audience.
Inquisiqr3 Started out as a courseware development organization, but quickly adapted to the needs of their customers by developing a learning management system (LMS). The resulting software is streamlined, easy to use, and priced to fit budgets across the board — all resulting in four gold medals from Brandon Hall for their LMS innovations.
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If you’re seeking a turnkey solution to online learning management system, DigitalChalk can help you build courses for sale or to train a staff — all online. Choose from a number of accounts, including a way to develop courses that can help you grow your own business.
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Edvance360 enables educators to create courses and lessons and teach distance courses that can span the globe. Grade tests and lessons automatically, and engage students with a secure social network and ePortfolios that can provide them with confidence with this online experience.
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BlueVolt’s Learning Management System (LMS) provides effective ways for training through video, email, and interactive courses live or on-demand. This product also tracks the course’s progress and shares results with easy-to-use dashboards and reports.
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All it takes is a click of a button in this LMS to create courses, set up quizzes, send award certificates, download user reports, and gain access to free add-ons. This is a WordPress LMS plugin that provides top-notch service and support, making LearnDash a leader in this field.
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If you’re an online educator, you already may have heard about Moodle or you may already be using these educational open-source software tools. Engagement with this resource is a great way to learn how to use the software as well as to build a solid network of people who love online education possibilities.
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Over the past decade, more than 500 organizations of all sizes have adopted Absorb LMS to help manage their learning initiatives. This learning management software is multi-purpose, easy to use, highly configurable, and adaptable to any online environment.
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Haiku Learning Management System (LMS) has the power to make teaching and learning online as easy as possible in blended or in virtual classrooms. This lightweight and streamlined software application is easy to use and requires little to no training…and, this company also provides a community setting that encourages information exchanges among teachers, parents, and students.
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Canvas by Instructure
Canvas by Instructure is a learning management system that offers support and resources for schools that adopt their system for blended learning environments. Canvas, launched in 2011, is used by over 400 colleges, universities, and school districts, and Cisco Networking Academy also chose this software to power “the world’s largest classroom.”
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Try out this free award-winning collaborative education platform, designed to obtain 100 percent student participation. Launch an e-learning site in less than five minutes, and use that platform to engage students in conversations, polls, debates, tests, and student-driven projects.
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My Learning Space
My Learning Space helps propagate a better learning environment for teachers and through their intuitive educational systems and tools. They offer a variety of leading products for educational management and other useful features.
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eFront Learning is great for teachers looking to streamline their educational curriculum and unify different aspects of their teaching methods.
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Pearson is one of the most well known names in eLearning and conveys an unparalleled level of effectiveness between teachers and students.
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Schoology is an innovative solution for teachers who want to improve their methods for teaching and to organize course content in a more effective manner. The site gives tools so that teachers may work from iPads and iPhones as well.
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Sakai helps better eLearning through collaborative efforts and open-source portfolios. They help better establish a community of teachers designed to improve the overall landscape of education.
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WizIQ makes online teaching easier through useful “virtual classrooms” and intuitive tools for designing personalized classwork. They provide a great blog and case studies to supplement the site as well.
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WebStudy is enabling learning to take place across the world with innovative eLearning methods that are increasingly intuitive allowing teachers to best incorporate the newest technological advancements in learning into their coursework.
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Skillsoft USA works to provide the most efficient eLearning technologies and helps teachers tailor programs to their specific needs to most effectively teach students.
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Blackboard Learn is one of the most recognized educational products in the country, with a large number of universities employing the software to best provide increased educational capabilities for the staff to transfer to students.
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Deskera Virtual Classroom
Deskera simplifies teaching and learning by making it much easier for teachers to design great content for student, as well as manage faculty and enhance the effectiveness of managing courses online. It allows for managing documents online and is overall a great tool for teachers who want to become more in-tune with 21st century teaching styles.
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EasyAuthoring allows for extensive customization, while maintain an ease-of-use so that eLearning coursework can easily be designed. It’s great for teachers who want to create their own content, but are not experienced with eLearning.
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eLogic Learning helps teachers navigate eLearning and allows them to create useful online coursework that effectively connects to students. With a large selection of coursework, it’s useful for anyone looking to expand their breadth of knowledge.
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Epsilen is changing how students learn by working with teachers to change teaching methods to be more incorporated with technology. The unique state of education, as it turns a crucial corner technologically, allows for sweeping advancements that Epsilen has been helping pioneer.
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Journals & Blogs
Online learning has become an academic field in its own right, and both researchers and practitioners of it are engaged in a lively conversation about what should come next, and how to optimize online learning environments for various purposes. These blogs and journals offer hard data, scholarly research, candid opinion, and everything in-between on the subject of online teaching and learning.
Journal of Online Education
Although JOE (The Journal for Online Education) isn’t a slick magazine, it’s filled with the kind of information that online educators need in this rapidly changing field. You can participate in this peer-reviewed journal by submitting your experiences in online teaching and research, or in cyber-enhanced classes worldwide.
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Distance Learning at a Glance
The University of Idaho provides an index filled with valuable free articles about distance education. The articles were gleaned from Dr. Willis’ books, Distance Education — Strategies and Tools and Distance Education — A Practical Guide.
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Illinois Online Network
Illinois Online Network is an example that many other schools could follow in developing viable and reliable online education muscle. This support network offers education, on-site presentations, faculty retreats, and programs that are resourceful — and many tools are available online even if you aren’t a member or in Illinois.
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Wired Academic offers a slick format for educators who want to stay on top of information and analysis about the online education industry. Seasoned journalists and academic officials reduce the fluff, saving you time as you learn everything there is to know about current changes in the online academic environment.
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Edmodo is for teachers to make more effective learning modules online. It includes analytics to help understand which teaching methods are the most effective, while not detracting from the learning experience. It allows for educational apps to be designed to help cater to any content-based needs.
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Technology Enhanced Learning Blog
David Hopkins is a learning technologist at the University of Leicester, and he uses this site to engage educators in the technology of eLearning, mLearning, and online learning software. As a ‘learning technologist,’ David welcomes comments and feedback as he winds his way through an ever-changing field.
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Susan Smith Nash is the queen of e-learning, if her time online counts toward this status. Susan’s observations on distance training and education and its effects on psychological, social, and cultural factors have been her focus since the early 1990s.
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Emerging Ed Tech highlights the rapidly evolving world of technology and how it connects to bettering the education community. Teachers will find the section on free resources eBook and other recommended ed tech books particularly useful, along with other free productivity resources.
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Online Teaching Methods
EWU Learning Services’ team provides educators with tons of resources and help in developing online teaching tools and methods. Their blog is filled with tons of ideas about teaching methodologies as well as training ideas, technology tips, and other useful and current e-learning tools.
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Quality Matters Program
Quality Matters Program is a quality assurance company for online educational materials and ensures that the content used online meets minimum requirements and helps make eLearning a higher quality experience for teachers and students alike.
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This government resource provides great tools for educators, including a section that you can share with students that explains the e-learning process and its successes. Educators also can tap into a section on how to plan, create, and facilitate e-learning tools that can engage students from the outset.
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Free Technology for Teachers
Richard Byrne’s site is true to its word — educators can use anything found on this award-winning site in their classrooms, including free apps, guides, and tutorials. Byrne, who is a firm believer in using technology in the classroom, is a writer and consultant, and a 2010 finalist for ACTEM’s Educator of the Year award.
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Elearnspace blog is a platform that offers intelligent and unbiased perspectives on eLearning spaces, events, software, and networks. George Siemens has been around the eLearning block and uses several social media tools to impart his knowledge about this topic. He is with the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University.
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Teaching Hacks refers to “hacking” the teaching process and “rewiring” it in a new, intuitive manner that is better, not only for students to learn from, but for teachers to convey knowledge in a better way.
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Ignatia Webs blogs about MOOC Research, eLearning worldwide, along with many other great resources for enhancing the evolving education landscape. Their posts typically highlight a particular aspect of eLearning, examine it in-depth, and work with teachers.
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E-Learning Journeys breaks down the most useful sites for new eLearning technologies and MOOC’s. The regularly updated blog also links to a great Twitter that consistently tweets useful eLearning and online educational tools.
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Lisa’s (Online) Teaching Blog
Lisa’s (Online) Teaching Blog is loaded with useful tools for fellow teachers and underlines useful tips for improving teaching methods, researching open education methods, among other programs for online teaching as well.
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Teaching Without Walls
Teaching Without Walls emphasizes the necessity for teachers to become “21st Century Teachers”, specifically from gaining the shrinking attention span of modern students, while using technology to make teaching more efficient as well.
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Journal of Educators Online
This journal offers articles about Computer Mediated Learning (CML), which encompasses distance, online, electronic, distributed, blended, mobile, and virtual learning. The articles are tested through an online double-blind peer review and are geared toward educators, policy-makers, and students interested in arts, business, engineering, law, sciences, medicine, and social sciences.
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If you’re engaged in e-learning for K-12 students, you’ll want to learn more about this journal that focuses on transforming education for those students. The Journal offers Webinars, resources, perspectives, and tools that can enhance your knowledge about your specific e-learning environment.
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eLearn Magazine offers tools and information on how to create more innovative and effective online education and training. The focus is on educators who teach at the corporate level and in higher education, with best practices, research, case studies, tips, and opinions about those online teaching environments.
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Journal of Interactive Online Learning
The Journal of Interactive Online Learning (JIOL) is a space that educators and dive into to learn more about perspectives related to higher-level learning outcomes. Read and submit your own thoughts to this journal, which offers a venue for manuscripts, critical essays, and reviews about interactive online education.
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The team at Getting Smart includes teachers, advocates, and entrepreneurs who are learners as well. They are in the process of building a community that is passionate about learning innovations, especially personal digital learning fields in K-12, post-secondary, and information learning arenas.
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MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching
MERLOT’s Journal of Online Learning and Technology (JOLT) is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication that publishes high-quality publications pertinent to the advancing of eLearning and online technology.
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Hybrid Pedagogy combines different elements of education with contemporary technology to create a useful eLearning environment, intuitive to both teachers and students.
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Tech & Learning
Tech & Learning is an extremely comprehensive site, covering areas from useful eLearning blogs to magazines, tech forums, webinars, and more. Additionally, they review different eLearning software and illustrate their usefulness to teachers and students.
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Teaching ‘E-learning and Digital Cultures’
A teaching team on “E-learning and Digital Cultures,” a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) sponsored by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Coursera, offers this blog with insights into the university’s digital education distance learning program. The blog focuses on the teaching and participation experiences, and educators can learn how this team operates and about the tools they use for this program.
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Christy is an instructional designer who develops engaging e-learning and blended learning tools. Her blog focuses on sharing her experiences, resources, and advice to other educators who are just as passionate as she is about enhancing the e-learning experience for students.
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Technology Tidbits: Thoughts of a Cyber Hero
The author of this blog has worked in technology and education for over a decade in a school setting, acquiring tips, tools, and perspectives on a variety of learning systems and teaching skills. Follow this blog to gain insight into current and constantly changing environments in e-learning technologies.
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E-Learning Environments team blog
London’s Global University’s E-Learning Environments team offers a blog that helps to explain everything you’d want to know about teaching online. They also provide information and updates about their own developments, including resources such as case studies and personal experiences.
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Cat’s Pyjamas helps teachers from around the world explore education technology and increase their understanding of innovative eLearning techniques. The site regularly posts about different EdTech pieces and how to most efficiently incorporate the new technologies into learning.
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The Tech Savvy Educator
The Tech Savvy Educator helps make integrating technology in the classroom much easier by providing great tools for subject-specific content, along with commentary on different news posts pertinent to technology and education technologies.
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Educational Origami is a blog that regularly publishes the connections between technology and learning through a variety of sources, commonly connecting teachers with the best ways to improve classroom content.
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EduTech by WorldBank
EduTech is the official blog of The World Bank and gives a face to the ever-changing face of education. Posts typically tackle how to best approach teaching, managing, and designing coursework online.
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Teaching and Learning
Teaching and E-Learning blogs about the most effective ways to teach concerning online classwork and how to create great EdTech content. The blog breaks content down into numerous subjects and is great for teachers.
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Hack Education is an awesome blog run by an education writer who regularly posts on education news and many times tying in to how education is increasingly connected to technology. The site has a very useful Ed-Tech Guide as well that teachers will find very useful.
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Custom Training and eLearning Blog
CommLab specializes in e-learning systems that are customized to serve the businesses that use their tools. They specialize in translation, localization, mobile learning, and custom solutions in a learning management system that serves over 30 Fortune 500 and Global Fortune companies and organizations.
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International Society for Technology in Education
ISTE is a membership association for leaders in education, helping to improve learning and teaching by advancing the effective use of technology across all education levels. This organization offers education, advocacy, resources, and community that can cement educators worldwide, as well as offering a way to build a global community among peers.
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Instructional Design Team
Meet an eclectic and diverse group of instructional design team members who concentrate on course and faculty development projects. This group works with faculty members across the globe to create online courses in a variety of disciplines as well as teach those faculty members about how to teach online through high-quality interactive educational experiences.
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Association for Educational Communications and Technology
Thousands of educators who are focused on e-learning have joined this professional association to engage in an international forum about ideas geared toward its members and their target audiences. AECT is the oldest professional organization for this field, and it is the most recognized association for information concerning instructional and educational technology.
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Gary Stager hosts forums on how to change education through technology and he has published numerous books on integrating technology into education. He’s an active figure in the EdTech and eLearning communities, frequently speaking at symposiums. His wealth of knowledge is particularly useful for teachers wondering how they can innovate new integrations with technology in learning.
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