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16 Great Educational Web Tools and Apps for Inquiry-based Learning

February, 2016
As a learning strategy, inquiry-based learning is all about learners constructing their own understanding and knowledge through asking questions. Unlike traditional learning methods that focus primarily on drills, memorization and rote learning, inquiry-based learning is essentially student-centered. It starts with posing questions and directly involves students in challenging hands-on activities that drive students to ask more questions and explore different learning paths.

In today’s post, we have assembled a collection of some useful web tools and apps that support the ethos of inquiry-based learning.  Using these tools will enable students to engage in a wide range of learning tasks that are all driven by a sense of inquiry and questioning.

Web Tools

VideoNotes is a free web tool that allows students to take notes on a video they are watching. The notes are synchronized with the video being watched. The good thing about VideoNotes is that it is integrated into Google Drive which means that students will be able to save their notes directly to their Drive account and access, edit, and work on them anytime they want. All the notes are time-stamped.

2-  Edpuzzle

Edpuzzle allows you to use only what you need from any video, insert audio notes or record over a video with your voice, and add questions at any point in the video .

3- PixiClip
PixiClip provides you with a whiteboard where you can add images,text, videos, drawings, annotations and many more. PixClip also offers a nifty recording feature that allows you to record your talk while working on the whiteboard. Once your PixiClip video is ready you can then share it through popular social media outlets lie Facebook or Twitter or email its link to your students directly. 

“The Animal Inquiry interactive is a versatile tool that can enhance student inquiry in research at the elementary level. The graphic organizer invites students to explore four facets of animals [basic facts, animal babies, interaction with others, and habitats (shown at left)]; the possibilities for extensions or adaptations, moreover, make this a a nice complement with inquiry-based projects.”

5- Hero’s Journey

“The hero's journey is an ancient story pattern that can be found in texts from thousands of years ago or in newly released Hollywood blockbusters. This interactive tool will provide students with background on the hero's journey and give them a chance to explore several of the journey's key elements. Students can use the tool to record examples from a hero's journey they have read or viewed or to plan out a hero's journey of their own.”

6- Hints about Print

“Hints about Print, included in an extended research skills unit which also employs the Fact Fragment Frenzy interactive, aids students in evaluating print resources that contain the facts they need for compiling their research. The tool asks prompting questions (shown at left) to guide young researchers in the process of their work. Having elementary students participate in this critical-thinking process early in their school experience promises to enrich further study and enjoyment of nonfiction texts.”

7- Amazon Storybuilder

'Amazon Storybuilder is a cloud-based writing tool from Amazon Studios that can be used to create stories . Amazon Storybuilder uses “notecards” to represent a single beat or event in a story, just as screenwriters have for years used actual physical notecards to represent story beats on corkboards around the world. Storybuilder notecards can include both text and images. You can string individual cards together into a sequence on a virtual “corkboard” to convey a narrative and tell your story. Unlike physical notecards, it is easy to share Storybuilder projects and it is easy to take them wherever you go with your laptop, phone, tablet or Kindle.'

8- YouTube Video Editor

YouTube Video Editor is definitely one of the best and easy tools you can use to edit and create new videos. It allows you to combine multiple videos and images you've uploaded to create a new video. Other features include trimming clips to custom lengths, select music to add to your videos from YouTube’s library, and customize your clips with special tools and effects. Video Editor also has an awesome interactivity feature that allows you to  add interactive elements to your videos.These interactive features can be annotations, links to other videos or external resources on the web, call-for action buttons and many more.

iPad Apps

Explain Everything is an excellent interactive screen casting whiteboard that students can use to create video tutorials and explanatory guides to share with others. The app is easy to use and offers a host of features that allow students to create and share their learning experiences.

2- Penultimate

This is a great note taking app that simulates the traditional pen and paper note taking. Students can use it comfortably handwrite or sketch their notes and capture fleeting ideas. The app supports Evernote syncing so students ca organize their notes in notebooks and access anywhere with Internet connection.

3- Ideament (Formerly Idea Sketch)

‘Ideament lets you easily draw a diagram - mind map, concept map, or flow chart - and convert it to a text outline, and vice versa. You can use Ideament for anything, such as brainstorming new ideas, illustrating concepts, making lists and outlines, planning presentations, creating organizational charts, and more! ’

4- Haiku Deck

“Haiku Deck makes it a snap to create beautiful presentations that will wow your audience – whether you’re pitching an idea, teaching a lesson, telling a story, or igniting a movement. Some of its features include:Edit your Haiku Decks online, or create online and present from your iPhone or iPad; Use your iPhone as a remote in presentation mode; Apply stylish, professionally designed fonts and layouts with one tap for a cohesive, polished look…”

5- Tellagami

‘Tellagami is a mobile app that lets you create and share a quick animated video called a Gami.A Gami can be an exciting tweet or status update. It can be a fun way to tell a story. It can be a thank you message or a vacation postcard. It can be a birthday greeting, party invite or cool way to share photos. The possibilities are endless!’

6- Aurasma

Auras is a powerful augmented reality app that lets you create and share your own AR experiences. Some of the things you can do with it include: ‘Bring tagged images, objects and even physical locations to life with interactive digital content, such as video, animations, and 3D. These augmented reality experiences are called Auras;Use the simple step-by-step creation wizard within the app to make your own Auras and share them with friends and other Aurasma users… ’

7- Book Creator

Book creator is one of the best apps students can use to create beautiful PDFs and comics. Some of its features include:  “Add text, choosing from over 50 fonts; Add photos and images from your iPad's photo library, from the web, or use the iPad's Camera; Resize, rotate and position content as you like with guidelines and snap positioning; Add video and music, and even record your voice; Use the pen tool to draw and annotate your book; Choose from portrait, landscape or square book sizes; Add super powers to your books with comic templates, stickers and styles; A quick tap and you're reading your book in iBooks!”

8- Shadow Puppet

This is a very good app for digital storytelling projects in class. Shadow Puppet lets you “Create custom videos that are easy to share! Combine photos and video clips with your voice and favorite song. Draw on screen, add emoji stickers, zoom and pan. Create videos to tell a story, explain an idea, or send a personalized message.“