Top Tools for Online Learners

Top Tools for Online Learners

I recently visited a few websites that provided links to some of the top tools for online learners. We plan to feature these in our upcoming student newsletter, “Going the Distance,” and have already updated the Online Community and Orientation to include links to some of the top tools, and featured them on our Facebook and Twitter. I thought you all may also be interested in learning more– the tools featured are not only great to share with students, they are also great to keep in mind for personal and professional use!  


  • Notemesh
    A great tool for collaborating with classmates. You can share notes with other students around the country and world.
  • TodaysMeet
    Here you can create private or public online meeting rooms for outside class discussions, collaborations, and study groups.
  • Jing
    Another way to visually show what you’re talking about online. Similar to screen sharing software, this tool allows you to show images of what you’re working on, and lets others verbally comment on that work. A more interactive IM conversation.


  • Mindomo
    This mind mapping system is designed to help you clarify your goals and objectives, identify key concepts, organize your work and more! Mindomo offers a free trial, so you can decide if it’s a good fit for you, and a low-cost premium subscription rate of $6/month!
  • Co-mapping
    Online mind mapping software to manage and share information. You can use it to take notes, plan and organize. It’s an easy way to create one set of notes!


  • Spreeder
    An online speed reading tool designed to teach you how to silence your inner voice while reading. You can gradually increase the WPM counter to speed up your reading abilities.
  • Evernote
    A free online tool designed to allow you take notes and clip certain websites from your computer or your cell phone. It comes with a search tool so you can find photos and notes from your desktop.

Staying Organized

  • Toodledo
    An online to-do-list for organizing tasks and improving productivity.
  • Notely
    For students looking to improve their grades with better organization, this is a great tool to utilize. Perfect for arranging your schedule, calendar, note-taking (if you need it), and homework planning.
  • Treepad Lite
    Writers can keep track of their notes, e-mails, texts and reference materials with this all-in-one organizer. The program is easy to use and can be a great way to keep everything you need for writing in one place.
  • Time Tracker
    A to-do-list with a clock. This tool lets you know when you’re spending all of your time on one item, and alerts you to re-allocate time wasted to other efforts.
  • Password Hash
    Have problems remembering all your passwords? This is an excellent tool that stores your passwords for you, and can auto populate them when you visit that site for login.
  • Dropbox
    This is a virtual file storage unit. Just like google docs, it’s free to use, but this tool is great because you can access it from anywhere; your mobile phone, smartphone, laptop, desk top, any computer away from your home. It makes your documents mobile because they’re stored in a private area on the internet.
  • Wridea
    Keep track of your brainstorming ideas, places to send work and anything else you need to remember on this remote access site.


  • Citation Help: Son of Citation Machine helps students and professional researchers properly credit the information they use. The primary goal of this tool is to make it easy for student researchers to cite their information sources.
  • Instapaper
    If you want to save a web page to read later, this is a great alternative to just bookmarking it. After signing up, you simply click on the “read later” button, and you can read the article/site/post later from your computer, paper, iPhone, iPad, or Kindle. Chrome users can add it to the browser! This new addition will add offline article syncing, save where you left off in an article.
  • CiteuLike
    A free service great for managing and discovering scholarly references. It offers automated article recommendations, stores references you find online, and stores PDFs.
  • iCyte
    An amazing research tool. You can mark, make notes and organize your thoughts on a topic on a webpage, or a few keywords in an article online. This tool stores the information for you so when you visit the site again, it pulls up the information you keyed in.
  • Diigo
    A powerful research tool and a knowledge sharing community. You can annotate, archive, and organize. With this tool you can highlight and add sticky notes to web pages.

Tools for Classwork

  • gDoc Fusion
    Suppose you have several documents in different formats and you want them all wrapped in one PDF. Combine scanned pages and electronic documents in seconds. gDoc Fusion allows you to create a single merged document that would have taken hours to assemble the old way. Drag the documents you want into Fusion, flip through them quickly using the Flick View interface, pick the pages you want and arrange them in any order you like, add annotations, make small text edits, or redact information. Save the finished documents in either Word or PDF format. You can purchase a student license for just $10!
  • Writing.Com
    Writing.Com is free resource community designed for writing projects and writers. You can join this community for free of charge, and get access to an online portfolio, email services, writing tips, writers workshops, and more.
  • Wordweb
    One of the better tools you can use for writing papers. It’s an online, or offline, thesaurus and dictionary. After downloading it you simply press and hold down Ctrl+Alt+W and it puts the word you’re looking to replace in context and gives you helpful suggestions. Available for download for Windows and Mac users.
  • PDF Creator
    Need a way to create PDF’s but don’t have the software to do so? This tool is great for creating PDF files.
  • Zotero
    An add-on that helps a student keep track of all sources while writing a research paper. It will help prepare a bibliography for Open Office or MS Word. It’s a Firefox extension.
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