I thought it would be fun to create a list of the 5 Moodle design tools I use every day in my work. I know we all have our favourites, and I’m looking forward to reading yours in the comment section below!

Here they are, in no particular order …


1. Greenshot

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Greenshot is a tool for PC computers that let’s me take quick, precise screencaps of anything on my screen. A screencap is just a little snapshot that appears as a jpg on your desktop after you snap it. Voila! Instant image. There’s one built into Mac computers already (Command+Shift+4) but you need to download one for PC. I use it CONSTANTLY.

Here is just a short list of the bazillion ways to use screencaps in your online teaching:

  • Quick illustrations for a “How to” tutorial (take little screencaps at each step)
  • Include annotations using the Greenshot Image Editor (see red boxes and arrows in above image)
  • Grabbing a snippet of a webpage I want to show in a lesson
  • Slicing up a larger image (then sprinkle them throughout the course)
  • Take a screenshot of a block of text with special fonts I don’t have
  • Take quick snaps of student slides in a Blackboard session or Powerpoint presentation

The list is endless. If you don’t have this great little free tool, go grab it.


2. Screencast-o-Matic

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I love Screencast-o-matic. I’ve already done a post about using a screencast in your online course, so let me just say this free tool is a life saver. I know there are fancier, more powerful screencasting tools out there, but this is lean and simple.

I use it for lots of things in my course including a welcome video, walking students through a difficult textbook passage and, of course, a narrated slideshow. Quick to film, then just hit the “Upload to Youtube” button. Done.


3. Google Docs and Slides

I never really got into the Google family of apps, because the one time I tried to make a nice looking Google Doc I nearly committed a homicide. I have to say that the image “arranging” capabilities of Google Docs leave a lot to be desired.

Google Slides (their version of PowerPoint) .. different story. It is terrific and you can do SO MUCH with graphics. I wrote an entire post about it called The Beginner’s Guide to Making Graphics WITHOUT Photoshop. It’s all about using Google Slides to create pro looking images and then taking screencaps of them to use in your courses.

It’s a must read (if I do say so myself!).

Here is an example of using layers to create terrific logos in Google Slides:


In addition to layers, you can also make images transparent, resize them, rotate, etc. It’s got every tool the average designer needs.

This year, I discovered the real power behind Google Docs and Slides … the ability to “share” a live working document online and work collaboratively with students.

I am now having my English students share a live writing journal with me as a shared Google Doc. I’m also creating a template in Google Slides for a novel study that I will link to Moodle but just edit in my own Google drive. I can link to it in 5 places in my Moodle course … but edit the single file where it sits on my Google Drive.

What a time saver.


4. Image Collections

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(Photo from Unsplash, although credit is not necessary)

I use three image collections for 99% of all my design work. Pixabay (free, with vector clipart), Unsplash (free, and gorgeous) and 123rf (pay site, millions of images). I actually go to each of them in that order, looking for the perfect image. I NEVER use a Google Image Search to find photos for my courses, because …

a) They aren’t “free” because you are an educator. It’s a copyright violation. Many of the places online that say “free clipart” have just stolen it from someone else.

b) It’s a total time suck. There are just too many results to be helpful.

I promise if you visit those three sites, in that order, you will find every photo you will ever need.

5. Symbaloo

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Symbaloo is a collection of links organized into cute little tiles. You can further organize them into “webmixes” or pages. The webmix above was for a presentation I did called RockStar Design and you are welcome to grab all the tiles I created for images, audio, infographics, sketchnoting (and more ..)

I use Symbaloo to link to:

  • My individual Moodle courses
  • Important websites I refer to all the time
  • Resources to offer people at presentations (way better than a handout …)
  • Resources to offer students (create a page just for your class)
  • Google spreadsheets I’m responsible for at work
  • All my social media accounts … etc.

It’s such a life saver to have them arranged visually. Scrolling through the bookmark list of death in my browser was always a sure fire way to lose important info.


So that’s my list! What are you using these days that’s helping your course design work? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

Thanks for visiting and talk to you soon.

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