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  • Writer's pictureMichelle D Rogers

Cool Free Tools to Enhance eLearning Instructional Design

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

As a long-time instructional designer, I am always looking for free tools that help improve the learning content of the eLearning course. Following are some of my favorite free tools you may find useful for designing more interactive eLearning lessons.



Stuff that Engages Learners


These are tools that the teacher can use to create a more interactive and interesting experience for the learner, where appropriate:

  • ThingLink.com - this tool allows you to take any image and then insert interactive links to notes, terms, vocabulary, images, videos, and other learning content. It basically allows you to create an interactive mashup of learning content all one one image. It also has embed code so that you can insert the working interactive image into your eLearning course. See this video screencast I made on how to do that in a Blackboard Learn course (though the concept and process is the same for Moodle or any other LMS that allows you access to the HTML code of a given page in your course):

  • MarkQueed.com - This is described as ThingLink on Steroids. I am not sure about that, but one advantage to ThingLink that I noted in using it is that you can add collaborators on the same image markup. This could be a very useful group tool for student projects.

Animated Videos

There are several you can use with pros and cons to each.

  1. Powtoon.com - This is a very nice free cartoon and animated lesson maker. It has a lot of options and ways to customize. You can export your video to YouTube where you can use the YouTube embed code to insert it directly into your eLearning course.

  2. Voki.com - with Voki you can create speaking avatars, and use them as a learning tool. This is particularly useful in ESL courses where students need to work on listening skills. There is an embed code, so that you can integrated the digital learning object directly into your eLearning course (as with ThingLink above).

  3. moovly.com - create rather cool animated videos and lectures, and export to YouTube where you can use the YouTube embed code to insert it directly into your eLearning course.

  4. dvolver.com - This creates a very simple, free, and embed-able (like ThingLink) animated video.

  • Tubechop.com - If you have found the perfect video on YouTube for your class, but you only want to use a section of it, or some section of it is inappropriate for your students, then you can use TubeChop to 'chomp' out the section you want to use. There is an embed code, so that you can integrated the digital learning object directly into your eLearning course (as with ThingLink above).

  • Fur.ly - If you want students to have access to multiple URLS and weblinks or online resource link all from one link then Fur.ly is for you. You enter all the URLS, and it will shorten it to one URL that will list all the URLs together. This way rather than a cluttered list of URLs in your course, you just list one.

  • Vocaroo.com - This is a free voice recorder. You can record your message, lecture, note, tip, or advice, and then easily send it via email, share it on social media sites, or it has an embed code (like all ThingLink, TubeChop, and Voki) so that you can integrated it directly into your course. You could use this to create an audio-introduction to a new course, a welcome message for new students, etc.

Do you know of some cool free tools that create interactive digital learning objects and activities for eLearning courses? Please comment and share!

Image from ThingLink 'how to' website page.

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