We’ve written a number of posts about both facilitation and the use of online tools for virtual and face to face events. See, for example:

“The Connected Facilitator: What’s in the Online Toolbox?”,
“Look Behind You! The Webinar Facilitator’s Non-Technical Checklist”,
The Two-Day Total Twitter Immersion: Using Twitter for Social Learning“,
“Knowledge at a Distance: Skype Video – It Works!“; and
“Create a Facilitator Role for Your Conference Calls and Webinars

In this two-part blog post, we are sharing (in part 1) some examples of tools that are either free or have a “freemium” model (you pay for increased functionality) and which we think can be usefully used in online facilitation; and (in part 2) some ideas about how you might adapt facilitation methodologies to an online environment using these tools (plus IRISnotes – as we haven’t yet discovered a lower-cost option…). We hope you find it useful, and that you’ll share your ideas and experiences too!

Twitter.com
● Contribute to / follow conversations in real time with short bursts of info: max 140 characters
● Hashtags aggregate related content
● Content can be ‘retweeted’
● “Follow” option
● Tweetdeck

Backnoise.com / Yammer.com
● Similar to twitter
● Private option

Skype.com
● Conference call diverse group sizes
● Option to add video (max 10)
● Screen-sharing
● Instant-messaging with chronological display
● Send files

Screenr.com
● Create screen-casts, recording screen and voice to share online

Slideshare.net
● Share presentations, documents and professional videos publicly or privately
● Create slidecasts (slideshow + MP3 audio synced)
● Create channels & favourites

YouTube.com
● Upload video content
● View video content online
● Create channels & favourites

Wikispaces.com
● Co-create documents collaboratively
● Track changes / contributions
● Password protection option

Docs.google.com
● Co-create documents collaboratively
● Similar editing to word / excel (and can export in these formats)
● Design surveys (google forms)
● Auto-generate survey reports with graphics

SurveyMonkey.com
● Design and manage online surveys
● Auto-generate survey reports with graphics

PollEverywhere.com
● Create multiple choice or free-text polls
● Collecting info in real time via text message, web, twitter, and smartphone responses which can be instantly combined
● Charts update instantly as people respond (online or embedded in ppt)

Doodle.com / MeetingWizard.com / TimeAndDate.com
● Propose dates / times and gather responses online to quickly and easily determine preferred options

MindMeister.com
● Co-create Mindmaps online in real time
● Working simultaneously and see changes as they happen

Wordle.net
● Generate “word clouds” from text with greater prominence given to words that appear more frequently

Smart Phone / computer video cameras
● Create short videos for sharing (by email if video-bites)

Smart Phone / computer audio / voice recorders
● Create audio files for sharing

DimDim.com
● Slideshow, chat function, audio for presenters, recording, private chat, whiteboard, video link for the facilitator, and more.

Online-stopwatch.com
● Keep time online, counting up or down
● Customize the visual (stop-watch, clock, egg timer, etc.) and sound (bell, alarm, laughing, beeping, etc.)
● Once customized, download the link to your timer. (Personally, I like the egg timer with applause as here: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/eggtimer-countdown/full-screen/?ns=../../s/3.mp3)

And here’s another one we love but that’s not free (you’ll need to make a small purchase):

IRISnotes
● A pen and mobile note taker
● Capture handwritten notes and drawings
● Edit, save and export them
● Convert handwritten notes into editable text

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