10 Best Writing Tools for Online Teaching (and how to use them!)

By Altiné Mni

The 2019 pandemic has changed how we work as ESL teachers, including the tools we use to prepare and present our lessons. 

What I found to be a good tool for us as teachers is any tool that helps us save time. And, more importantly, a tool that is accessible anytime and anywhere

Here are the 10 best writing tools for online teaching, including how to use them. 

1. Google Docs

Google Docs is my all-time favorite writing tool when teaching online. It is free and accessible everywhere. 

​​Google Docs is a web-based word processor offered by Google to allow users to create and edit documents while collaborating with others in real-time.

Google document is similar to Word, but hosted on the cloud. 

Here are three main things you can do:

  • Create a document
  • Edit and format
  • Share and work with your students or colleagues

2. Jamboard by Google

Jamboard by Google is a digital whiteboard that allows you to teach online. In other words, Jamboard is a collaborative whiteboard classroom with options to draw and add pictures, shapes, sticky notes, and text boxes. 

You can use:

  • Jamboard device
  • Jamboard on a computer
  • Jamboard mobile app

Jamboard allows you to:

  • Write and draw 
  • Do Google search
  • Insert images or webpages
  • Drag and resize text and pictures with your fingers
  • Present your whiteboard to your students remotely

3. Notes Writer

With Notes Writer, you can create, edit and organize all your documents and notes in a single place.

What I like about this app is that you can integrate with Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive, giving you access to your documents anytime and everywhere. 

4. Paper (WeTransfer)

Paper by WeTransfer is an excellent writing and drawing app that offers options to convert your imagination into reality.

Go with Paper (WeTransfer) if you like to sketch and draw. It is freely downloadable on Google Play Store and Apple Store. 

Furthermore, Paper uses the basic tap, swipe, and pinch gestures common in iPad and iPhone apps.

5. Bamboo Paper (WaCom)

Bamboo Paper is also a free writing tool for download on Android, iOS, and Windows. Bamboo Paper is excellent for those who like to use strict blank notes. 

Bamboo Paper is a kind of virtual notebook where you can email or print individual images or share them as a PDF.

6. Microsoft OneNote

OneNote is a free digital notebook that helps you automatically save and syncs your notes. You can immediately download and use OneNote for free; however, certain premium features can only be unlocked with an optional Microsoft Office 2019 or Microsoft 365 subscription.

With Microsoft OneNote, you can add information to your notebook or insert it from other apps and web pages.

Here is what you can do with OneNote:

  • Sketch your ideas
  • Utilize highlighting and tags to follow up quickly
  • Share class notes with your students

7. Evernote

Even though Evernote offers paid versions, there is a basic plan with decent features and services. Evernote is a little similar to OneNote; however, Evernote is known to be more user-oriented. 

Evernote is commonly known as a productivity tool that helps you create and organize digital notes and keeps your documents and notes synced across all your devices. 

Think of Evernote as a kind of digital filing cabinet where you keep notes organized.

8. Pages by Apple

Pages is an excellent word-processor that allows you to create incredible documents, and it is included in most Apple devices.

With its real-time collaboration, Pages is a good writing tool for online teaching. You can use it to teach online from anywhere, whether on Mac, iPhone, iPad, or a PC.

9. Microsoft PowerPoint

I know this one might be an obvious one, but I found that teachers often underutilize it. 

Microsoft PowerPoint is a good slide-show presentation program; I use it in every class. It is an excellent visual aid and keeps students engaged and focused, particularly when creating ESL lesson plans for kids.

Microsoft PowerPoint can use graphics, videos, or images to make a presentation more interactive and exciting. Most people know Microsoft PowerPoint as “PPT.”

10. Keynote by Apple

Keynote by Apple is the equivalent of PPT for PC users. The good news is that you can save Keynote presentations as PPT and open them on both Apple devices and PC. 

Like Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote makes presentations easy and helps produce captivating slides which will keep your students engaged. 

Written by Altiné Mni for TEFL.NET July 2022
Altiné is from Toronto, Canada, and currently teaches mathematics at a high school in Guangzhou, China. He has a master's degree in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University in Canada and is passionate about helping people worldwide through his blogs. He writes about TEFL Teaching and Health and Fitness. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, traveling, and anything that allows him to experience the beauty of nature. You can find him at altinify.com.
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