Cool Free Tools

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This article offers some free or demonstration software available on the Internet that instructors or students might find interesting.


The article below from Educause discusses the issues to consider when linking third party applications into sites. You might find it helpful to point out some issues you may not of thought of.

Educause - Policy as an Enabler of Student Engagement
EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 45, no. 5 (September/October 2010): 104–105 by Merri Beth Lavagnino

Institutions are now struggling to accommodate pedagogical advances without putting the institution at risk for lawsuits. This article discusses the complexity of instructors adding third-party tools and social media for student engagement into their course-sites. Considerations about issues such as privacy, security and intellectual property or copyright implications are explored and some guidelines are suggested. Additional links to other sites discussing the issues are available in the Notes section at the bottom of the article.

Cool Free Tools

Please forward information about your favorite resource(s) that you've found in your journey using the web to so we can share with each and build this resource. Here are a few of our favorites with their links under some categories we've started. If your resource doesn't fit into the categories we've set up, please feel free to let us know where you think it might fit. Make sure you've tested your resource first before recommending it, and if you have any cautionary notes about its use, please let us know. In the future, this page will be able to be updated by members of the University of Windsor campus directly, so stay tuned!


  • Open Office is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.
  • Google Docs Create and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Store documents online and access them from any computer. Supports sharing and collaborative and concurrent editing.


  • Doodle provides an online scheduling tool that you can select out mutually agreeable times amongst a number of people and times, to help making meeting or event planning smoother. It is free of charge and doesn't require registration.
  • Dipity A free tool that helps you find, create, share and embed interactive multi-media timelines.

Multimedia / Screencasting / Video

  • Screenr Instant screencasts, and ability to use a web-based application for creating and sharing screencasts. Free 15-day trial. Upgrades available.
  • SoundCloud Sounds to share and listen with friends and fans. Build your audience. Post music and audio.


  • Symbaloo can create bookmark collections of web links for display wherever you can display a web page within CLEW. You can share your collection with your friends, or with the world if you want. One place this may benefit you is in the Home -> Options location. You can create your Symbaloo collection, copy the link of your share-able collection and put it into the URL text box.


  • Google apps Google Apps Education Edition is a free suite of hosted communication & collaboration applications designed for schools and universities. See the top 10 reasons to switch your school to Google Apps.

File Sharing

  • DropBox Up to 2 GB of free online file storage space. You can share files with friends and software will map a network drive to your computer which will synchronize when you save your documents.


  • GIMP The volunteer developers of The GIMP have been working hard to develop a polished, user-friendly, and freely distributed image editor.
  • Irfanview IrfanView is a very fast, small, compact and innovative FREEWARE (for non-commercial use) graphic viewer for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003.

Assistive Software


  • PB wiki Online collaboration tool. Provides hosted wikis so no need to install or maintain your own.
  • DiRT The Digital Resource Tools list. Full of suggestions of tools to let you do all sorts of things: analyze data or text, create mashups, mine, search, share, annotate, visualize, collaborate, etc.

Online Web, Presentation or Interactive Tools

  • CoMapping (or Cayra or Comapping is online mind mapping software to manage and share information. Use it to take notes, plan and organize. It's a way to have one set of notes. One set of files. For everyone.
  • This is a free tool with code that you can embed into a webpage that allows multiple people to share a whiteboard, with basic editing tools. It will give you the code to embed that particular whiteboard into a webpage. To use in CLEW, you can create a html page in Resources, click Source to access the html code, and then paste that script into the code. Then you continue on with your html coding. To make that page accessible beyond those in your site, you can set the permission of that resource to public and then share the URL from the Edit Details option of that resource.
  • HotPotatoes Create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the web. Freeware.
  • Poll Everywhere (free for up to 40 participants) and Socrative (limit 50) are two free polling tools that can be used for interactivity in class where high stakes assessment is not a factor. Students can use their own devices to respond. We do not recommend these tools if you are using the interactivity for grading purposes, but they could be very helpful for increasing engagement and group work during classes. These tools are featured in a video done by DePaul University where two professors discuss using them
  • Wordle Wordle is a toy for generating word clouds from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.
  • xtraNormal Create videos using prefab sets, characters, and videos. Free account includes enough points to make 1-2 videos. Free upgrade to educator account by request.

Concept Mapping or Brainstorming

  • Google Docs or Google Draw - it's in a familiar format, and online, and you can just as easily share and collaborate on projects in real time. Now that students have Gmail accounts, both applications are accessible when Google Drive -> Create is selected.
  • MindMup - Zero-friction (accessible from any device) online open-source, productivity mind-mapping software. Can save to Google Drive or save as image, html table, text, email, post to Twitter or Facebook.
  • SpicyNodes (

Social Media

Software Applications

  • CNET Find the software you're looking for at CNET, the most comprehensive source for free-to-try software downloads on the Web.

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