3 Basic Tech Tools for Beginning Online Teachers

Ever feel overwhelmed by all the Web 2.0 learning tools available?  I’m crazy about technology; however, a PowerPoint presentation that covers 20 or 30 tools is just too much for my brain to assimilate.  This blog focuses on the 3 most basic tech tools that I use for online instructional design.  Plus, they’re free!  I have 7 more to share in a follow-up blog.

I.  Ever wish you could take a photo of your computer screen to explain something to a student?  Well, it’s actually quite simple if you want to snap the entire screen.  On a personal computer, the keys to use are Ctrl + Prnt Scrn.  It copies the picture onto an invisible clipboard; then you can paste the image into an email or wiki for discussion.  Is the image too large or not precise enough? Then you’ll have to use a drawing tool to edit the section of the screen that you want to capture with Paint or Gimp.  Paint comes with the purchase of Microsoft software.  Check your computer programs under the Start menu to see if you have it.  Otherwise, download these for free.  Once you teach this to your students, you’ll start getting lots of emails with images of what they’re getting stuck on. Here’s an example of my Ctrl + Prnt Scrn (and Ctrl C+ Ctrl V for cut-and-paste) of the TESOL website below. Don’t forget to add alternative text to images shared online for assistive technologies to read aloud for persons with impaired vision.

Screenshot of the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages international association's website

II.  Would you like to record your lecture or create a virtual tour for your class?  This could be used for student presentations, too!  Screenr.com has to be one of the easiest screen capturing tools.  You’ll need a headset with a mic to record clearly.  Headsets costs around $20 at Walmart.  A red recording button will appear along with the border for landscaping your video.  The border is moveable; just click and drag it to the desired area.  Screenr provides the option to save your file as an MP4 or upload to YouTube.  Don’t worry, it’s easy to delete if you don’t like what you create!  The basic free version doesn’t have editing features, and you only get 5 minutes talk time. In the following screencast, I introduce myself to a workshop session.  Students can use it for presentations, too.  Notice how I used some low tech ideas like typing on a blank MS Word document without speaking to add variety to my video.


III. How would you like to embed your PowerPoint into your website or learning management system (LMS)?  Don’t let the tech skill of embedding hypertext markup language (HTML) code scare you off.   Embedding is a simple cut-and-paste task.  With Google Drive, you can upload your PowerPoint or Word document, convert it to Slides or Docs respectively, and then share the content on your website by embedding the HTML code.  That way your students can simply review by clicking through the pages on your LMS  instead of having to download it first.


  • Pingback: Another Basic Tech Tool for Online Teachers: The World Clock | TeacherRogers

  • Besides “Ctrl+ Prnt Scrn” you can do “Alt + PrntScrn” -this second option will just capture the active window. This is very handy. Just resize a copy of the window you want, hold down the “Alt” key, then press the “PrntScrn” key and Voila! you only have what you want, not the desktop and other necessary visuals.


  • Thanks for the helpful information. The number of tools available can get to be overwhelming! I use the Windows Snipping Tool all the time. You can capture the whole screen, a rectangle or any part of the screen you select. It comes shipped with Windows Vista and Windows 7 so it’s free! I use it all the time to copy parts of web pages and documents into a Word Doc while conducting a Skype session. After the lesson, I send the document to the student along with the recording. It’s the easiest tool in the world to use. Here’s a link to check it out: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/snipping-tool It also has a few tools like a pen, highlighter and eraser. You can save, copy or email the snip.

    Keep up the good work!


  • Thanks, Leanne, for the blessings on my work with BrokeButNotForLong, Inc. Here is the link to our site and blog:



    We’re always looking for guest bloggers!



  • Hello Sandra & Susan,
    I had typed a lengthy reply yesterday, but my connection timed out (was at a local library) and I lost my message! So, I’m trying again today.

    When I read your post it triggered memories of how life-changing it felt when I first learned how to take a screenshot and send it to someone else! And of how often I try to teach that skill to others (it is often a poll question I use in professional development trainings/presentations). Almost always there are a smattering of folks who have not yet learned this magic trick.

    However, I also remember that when I was first shown how to take a screenshot and save it, I went home and excitedly tried to show my husband how it works.

    And was so frustrated. I failed. I did succeed in finding the “print screen” button on our computer, but forgot the important step of opening a Word document to paste the image to! I tried to put it in an email and this does not work.

    Since that time, I’ve learned that on some computers it is the function key and the print screen key that takes the screenshot, on others it is the control key plus the print screen key.

    I haven’t tried Gimp, will have to take a look one of these days.

    Thanks for sharing your tips and resources,


  • Hi Susan,

    Thanks for visiting my blog! It’d be great to assign a blog as an additional reading and ask participants to post comments or a “blog challenge” for the more advanced techies. For instance, I could invite them to share their own ideas. Links to their blogs would be added to a “challenge” blog on this site. Otherwise, they could email me the article they want me to post. For instance, they could read my blog about my favorite PLN platform, Paper.li. I was hoping to have them learn to use it when learning about Twitter: https://teacherrogers.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/how-to-use-paper-li-to-enhance-your-pln/



  • Hello Sandra!

    This is a great site and very informative. What can we use from it on our PLE PLN session?

    Susan 🙂


  • Hi Leanne,

    I’m happy to hear that you like my blog. Thanks so much for the detailed feedback. These three tech tools really are essential. You’ve inspired me to work on the next two or three. Perhaps I’ll write about Google Docs and Flicker.com next.


  • I was able to try the Print Screen feature for the first time after reading your blog! I have a Compaq computer and run Windows 7. On my computer, the instructions were identical to the ones you have described above with one exception: only hit the Print Screen (prt sc) button.

    I was able to watch your video on Screenr.com. I like the way you were able to showcase your blogs and add the voice over. The on screen typing feature was also a nice add!! I will definitely return to the Screenr site in the future.

    I had never visited Scribd.com before and was very impressed with the features and the user friendly navigation. I will also be visiting this site in the future. The scroll feature on the articles made them easy to read and the Scribd page seems to load quickly. I have seen the Scroll Down feature added to blog posts, but I am not proficient with adding HTML code to my blogs. Scribd does it for you!!

    Thank you for blogging about the three basic tools. I look forward to your blog on the seven other tools you have used.

    God bless you and the work you do with “Broke But Not For Long” featured in your Screenr video!


Thanks for visiting my blog! Please leave a message.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.