As I've said before, cloud-based applications play a big role in my everyday computing and my classroom tech integration. Here's an annotated list of my seven favorite cloud tools.
Google Docs is a free, online office suite. Google Docs allows you to create, edit, share, and collaborate on documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, and drawings. It does lack some of the more advanced features and font choices that you'll find in desktop software like MS Office or OpenOffice, but the main features are reproduced very effectively. As a cloud-based application, Google Docs offers things desktop software doesn't like the ability to collaborate, store your documents online so they are accessible from any device with Internet access, and easily publish your documents to the Web. Google Docs is also part of Google Apps.
Google Sites is a free, online WYSIWYG website creation tool and hosting service. It allows you to easily create your own website from scratch or from a template. It's easy for people who have never created a website, but it also offers more advanced options and HTML editing for those who want a little more punch. Google Sites is also part of Google Apps.
Free Text Message Polling
Polleverywhere.com offers free accounts for educators where they can create multiple choice or text polls for students to answer via SMS messaging, much like the text voting on reality television shows. This offers a way for students to provide feedback to the teacher or the class since the poll results are listed in a graph that is updated in real time. It's also a great way to incorporate cellphones into the classroom. The free educator account allows up to 32 answers per poll, but unlimited polls that are super easy to create.
Basic Photo Editing
Picnik allows you to upload photos and perform basic editing functions like cropping, resizing, adding text, objects, and effects, and more. You can then download that picture in a variety of formats. You don't have to sign up to use Picnik, but registration allows you to upload 5 photos at a time. Paid registration opens up a variety of options not available to non-paid users, but the free version is more than adequate for everyday usage.
Image Editing and Creation, Music Editing and Creation
Aviary offers more advanced image editing than Picnik, and is more comparable to Photoshop or G.I.M.P. It also has an online audio editing tool that allows you to edit and layer multiple channels. Most recently they added a music creation tool with numerous instrument loops that you can use to create your own music.
JayCut offers multiple channel video editing in the cloud. Upload your video and edit it then store it in the cloud or download it to your device. It has an easy-to-use interface and includes many of the same functions as traditional video editing software including titles, transitions, etc.
Online File Storage
Dropbox allows you to upload and store files in the cloud. You can upload and download your files from dropbox.com or install the Dropbox software on your device, which allows you to add and organize files in the Dropbox folder that is automatically synced with your dropbox.com account. This software can be installed on multiple devices so that your files are accessible from any computer you use. The free account offers 1GB of storage that can be upgraded to up to 2GB by following a few simple steps. You can also purchase extra storage space for monthly or yearly fees.
There are many other free, useful, cloud-based services for teachers. Check out my list at bit.ly/21stCenturyTools (bit.ly and Google Bookmarks are also great tools!), check out my blog at www.teachthecloud.com, or tell me about your favorites in the comments.