Allan Didier

Specialty Software and Platforms

There are an endless list of sites and software that teachers use with their curriculum. I list them separately because they are often used for something specific. For example, many teachers use Planbook for doing lesson plans online. Below is a list of a number of the ones being used nowadays.

Lesson Planning

  • Planbook: used for creating online lesson plans.

Password Management

Google Doc, Slide, and Word Processing enhancements

  • Hyperdocs: A mix between a Google Doc and a web page.
  • PearDeck: provides more functionality to Google Slides like controlling the viewing of the slide show, adding questions for the students to answer and more.
  • TextHelp. Provides the ability to modify and enhance pdf documents.
  • Quill. Interactive grammar and writing site. Quill training. 
  • Prezi. A different version of slideshows + video. 

Group work, brainstorming and student interaction

  • Jamboard: Google Meet add-on that allows students and teachers to collaborate through a digital whiteboard feature. This is Google’s version of Padlet.
  • Padlet: Think of it as a digital wall to post and share things. Padlet training.
  • Trello: An online corkboard where people can collaboratively work on projects. Similar to Padlet and Jamboard.

Video recording, editing, and sharing

Virtual Test and Quizzes

Classroom Discussion

  • Parlay: an online classroom discussion tool. 

Modified Learning Management Systems (Alternatives to Google Classroom)

  • Nearpod: A student engagement platform. Think simplified but good looking Learning Management System or web site with some inter-activeness. 
  • Seesaw: a resource hub like Google Classroom for use with younger students.

Messaging and Communication

There are many more, but I just got tired of listing them. Sorry.

My Usage

Generally, I only use these apps in a very limited capacity. If I can do something with a Microsoft or Google application (Docs, Slides, Drive, etc) or a web page, I use those first. I look at these specific platforms only when one of the other tools covered earlier doesn’t quite work or I am looking for something more specific or interactive. I also use one of the more “generic” apps, like Google Docs, to keep a backup of my information kept in one of these apps. Here is why I only use these apps sparingly.


Each app has their own learning curve for both you and the students. Most are relatively simple, but it will take time for you to learn it and time during class to train your students. If you are going to use them, my suggestion would be to pick one or two, dedicate a lesson to teach the students how to use each application (pick a simple project which is more a demonstration of the app not a demonstration of the your course content), and use it multiple times throughout the semester or year so that you get some use out of spending time training your students. 

Access for Students and Parents

This varies widely from app to app, but can be an issue. Some require special accounts and passwords. Most are designed to be fairly accessible, but you need to test them first before expecting your students to utilize them. I hate requiring people to have another account and password, especially students.

Updating and Modifying

This also varies from app to app. Most are designed to be simple to use, but it takes time to learn how to use them. Another thing to consider, can I move the information from this platform to another one easily? I can easily more information from Word to Docs to PowerPoint to Slides to a web site. I cannot move things easily from Jamboard to Padlet. 


This is one of the main reasons why I don’t use them unless necessary. Many of these are new and may not be around in a few years. They are good programs, but often they are bought out, replaced, or incorporated into one of the other programs listed before. For example, I think Jamboard was a separate program, was bought by Google, and is being incorporated into Google Meet. Jamboard might just become a feature of Google Meet down the road and not exist anymore. Over the past 25 years, I have seen many of these specialty programs come and go, being bought up by or put out of business by the larger companies (Microsoft, Google, etc). This is why I stick with the more “generic” platforms. If I put a lot of time and effort into creating curriculum materials in one of these platforms, I don’t want to lose my work when the company goes under. If I use one of these applications, I often use Docs or something else to backup the work so that I don’t lose it. 


This is another sticking point for me with these programs. Some are free. Some are free, but with limited access. Some cost money. The district pays for some, but that money can run out. What happens to all of my lesson plans if the school stops paying for Planbook? Don’t avoid them if they cost money and the district is paying for them, just be aware that the money may run out.