10 Free Online Tools Teachers Can Use for Distance Teaching

Updated on March 28, 2020
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Dina is a graduate student of English language and literature and Philosophy with vast experience in tutoring and translation.

Boy using tablet computer.
Boy using tablet computer.

These are strange times we're living in. The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely changed our lives. Even going to the grocery store or walking your dog presents a challenge. All those easy, mundane things now require much of our attention and effort. There's no denying that the world is changing—for better or for worse.

Though the current health situation is irrefutably scary for all of us, it's also making us push our boundaries and discover new ways of living and working online. Teachers are no exception.

We are called to transfer knowledge in new ways with no or little direct contact with our students. There's no easy way to keep them in check and make sure they're paying attention. And if they decide to ditch the lectures altogether, there's really only so much that we can do.

Besides, students are only one click away from the endless well of novelty online. While we're diligently sending materials or giving lectures, our students could well be googling hottest new fashion trends for surgical masks (which, by the way, seriously needs to stop being a thing).

Here's the thing. The possibilities online are infinite, and there are so many interesting things to watch, hear, or read. But it's the contemporary teacher's job to cut through the noise and grab the students' attention.

To do that, you have to be open to novel online tools and willing to have a go at them. In fact, you'll probably be shaken by the mind-blowing resources that can be found online completely free of charge. You'll notice that students respond well to the digital way of teaching because technology is what they feel close to and are comfortable with. Students will actually want to listen.

10 Amazing Online Teaching Tools

Here's a list of 10 essential online teaching tools that are free and astonishingly fun to use. Introduce them to your virtual classroom, and you'll have no problems getting your students to pay attention and stimulating their curiosity.

1. Google Forms

Google Forms is a fantastic tool that offers many teacher-friendly templates.

By clicking Template Gallery, you can see all available templates. Scroll down, and you'll find those that suit your teaching needs to a T. Whether you need an assessment, course evaluation, or worksheet template—Google has it all.

My personal favorite is the Blank Quiz template which allows you to add questions and assign automatic points for correct answers. You can choose between different forms of questions, such as multiple-choice questions or short answers.

2. Quizlet

Quizlet has been a valuable ally of mine for a few years now.

This amazing tool lets you make flashcards that contain a word or a question on one side, and a translation, a definition, an answer, or something else on the other side of the card.

But that's not all. The reason I've been using Quizlet for so long is that it automatically generates tests and learning games based on your entries.

This makes Quizlet the only tool (I know of) that can guide the student from the very beginning of learning to the very end when his knowledge should be tested.

3. Canva

Canva is a visual tool with so many beautiful options.

Much like Google Forms, Canva has an array of templates you can choose from. You can create worksheets, mind maps, presentations, and more. Your students could even try Canva themselves, and maybe create a comic strip or a report related to your lessons.

The one thing Canva is kind of famous for is this spectacular thing called infographics. If you don't know what an infographic is, it's a vertically positioned visual that explains a topic in a fun (and colorful) way. It's like Canva was tailored to help teachers with distance learning.

4. LearningApps

LearningApps is a breakthrough. Seriously. The site allows you to create numerous interactive tasks suitable for any and all subjects. It can help your students test their knowledge while providing you with key insights into how they're getting on.

LearningApps functions much like other sites I've mentioned. It makes it easy for you to create tasks by offering a variety of templates to choose from. From cloze test to the millionaire game, it really has it all. Register and create your own apps for free or browse ready-made apps.

5. Google Docs

Mentioning Google at least one more time was inevitable. This digital giant has so many supreme tools, it would be a shame not to get familiar with all of them.

Google Docs makes it incredibly easy to share information online. You can write down your lessons or instructions in a document and share it with students.

Also, you can choose between sharing for viewing or sharing for editing. Allowing your students to edit the document could be a slippery slope, but it could potentially unite all your students' work in just one document.

One big advantage of Google Docs is that the document is stored online and can be accessed from wherever. No need to download and store anything on your PC.

Let's just briefly mention that Google offers you to do the same with Excel sheets (Google Sheets) and presentations (Google Slides).

6. Wakelet

Wakelet is a lesson-planning tool that helps you organize online material you'd like to use or share with your students. Create collections on separate topics and store images, text, videos, bookmarks, and more (storing tweets is an option, too).

Wakelet is also a neat online place for saving links to other websites and accessing them with ease. When you're done with your collections, you can make them public and share them with your students.

7. Poll-Maker

Considering this is a period of transformation and adjustment for both you and your students, it might be a good idea to check on how they're handling everything by creating a poll.

Poll-Maker is a free tool allowing you to ask all of those burning questions you have. Don't be afraid to include parents, too—they might have some interesting things to add.

8. Kahoot

If you haven't heard of Kahoot, it's about time you two are introduced.

Kahoot lets you create quizzes where the students have to decide which answer is correct or whether a statement is true or false or... you get the idea.

Unlike other forms of quizzes I've mentioned, Kahoot is played in teams or individually at the same time. A winner is declared at the end which makes this game extra fun.

Though Kahoot is usually not completely free (but can be played for free), the company announced that they want to help teachers organize distance teaching. Because of that, they're offering their premium version for free during the pandemic. Make good use of it!

9. OnlineChartTool

Need an entertaining way to present dull information? With OnlineChartTool, you can do just that. Save your students from yawning and turn statistics into bar charts, pie charts, and more.

10. LinoIt

Looking for an easier way to communicate and share with your students? LinoIt puts an end to your problem. This amazing virtual board lets you share important updates on sticky notes and pin documents, images, and videos.

If you feel lonely posting on the board just by yourself, you can always share the board with your students and treat it as a group project.

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