Digital thnkingFew professions have been as utterly transformed in the last ten years as teaching. And, while many tenured instructors still prefer utilizing tried and tested teaching aids, blackboards and such, there’s a ton of technology out there for the more digitally aware educator. Whatever arena professionals want to test, monitor, engage, and/or assist their students with, 2012 technologies offer a unique and never before heard of selection of resources. What is possible online and via mobile and other conduits, now exceeds what was once thought impossible, maybe for the first time.

In essence, the edges of imagination are now illuminated by such powerful new innovations as iBooks for the iPad, to the Open Source wonder of Moodle, teachers and students have never been so empowered. The following five simple and inexpensive tools  are absolute ‘musts’ for the educators. These and myriad other academic solutions will hopefully pave the way for many more this year.

Plagiarism Checker

Of course, and teacher might like to think they may never have a need , but the reality is that there is nearly always one or two students who think they can avoid work by copying that of others. Plagiarism was for years, one of the biggest problems for teachers at any level to deal with, but not so anymore. There’s actually a plethora of programs and platforms like Plagiarism Checker to help keep students on the fair and square. Clean looks and simple style top the list of features that make this particular tool shine. Simply copy paste any text into the box, click the button and Plagiarism Checker will automatically scan the web to see if it exists anywhere online.

YouTube EDU

There’s tons of stuff on YouTube, but not so many students or teachers know about YouTube EDU. To save teachers the bother of spending hours and hours trying to find lesson material, YouTube have gone and compiled thousands of hours of classroom teaching material. No matter what the subject is, there’s sure to be plenty of entertaining video and numerous novel ways of presenting it via this powerful tool. Far more entertaining than some dusty old textbook, the YouTube gem promises to hold a kid’s attention for much longer, YouTube EDU is a veritable goldmine of resource.

ProProfs Quiz Maker

Students will hate you for it applying it, of course, but the enevitable test is something that simply cannot be avoided. However, making tests and quizzes has always been a point of pain for educators. The digital revolution has seen life get easier for many teachers though. Fabulous software entries like Quiz Maker from ProProfs, enable not only academics, but business and non-profits as well. What used to be a laborious task can now be achieved in less than half the time. Quiz Maker offers not only creation simplicity, but distribution and reporting aspects too.

Citation Machine

Not so much a classroom teaching tool, but a fantastic resource for both students and teachers alike, the Citation Machine is to literary or scientific esearch what the calculator is to math. Saving hours of your time and allaying plenty of frustration to boot, the Citation Machine allows students to focus on what they’re learning, rather than worrying about how they’re supposed to credit things appropriately. If you recall the total time needed to process bibliographies, notations, and so forth, the last time you wrote a paper, therein is the value for tools like Citation Machine.

Super Teacher Worksheets

With an enormous database of thousands of free worksheets covering just about every single grade level and subject known to man, Super Teacher Worksheets is a powerhouse resource for the classroom. This database is contributed to by real teachers, and carries dozens of superb illustrations, and in many cases, teaching plans to boot. In addition to the worksheets, teachers can also find an array of other useful tools, from certificate templates to report cards and much, much more. A mouse and a click can now replace shuffling through a ton of dusty workbooks and worksheets to find outdated worksheets.

The list of useful technologies for academia for 2012 is extensive, to be sure. These “must have” solutions are either free, very inexpensive, or in some cases developmental in nature. We will try and bring more wonderful educational and business tools of a sort to your attention later on, but in the meantime also check out the brands; BigBlueButton, Freemind, storyjumper, and symbalooEDU just to name a few.

Photo Credit: Digital education mashup via the author by permission germina – Fotolia.com