Creating visuals or visualizations is an important skill for teaching or facilitating online. In general, visuals are used to capture interest, highlight important ideas, illustrate complex ideas or generate some kind of response from learners. Simple visuals include posters, annotated or modified images or series of images like cartoons. They can also include more complex data charts, maps or graphic organizers. Some of the digital tools that have been used to create interesting images for FLO courses are listed below.

Coggle logoCoggle –

a free brower-based collaborative mind-mapping tool (also listed under Engagement, Mapping)

BethCB and SylviaR used to summarize last week of FLO Apr2016

  • free accounts – can share (or embed)
  • NOTE: tracking of user information may concern some users. Check terms.
  • collaborate by sending link
  • download diagrams as image or pdf (export as .mm or text)
  • 3 private diagrams (unlimited public diagrams)
  • unlimited image uploads
  • can arrange the mindmap branches
  • easiest mind-mapping program to use (IMHO – sr)
  • attractive, visually appealing, did I mention easy to use? (>1600 icons)
  • you can search the parts of your mind map – very useful
  • the blog is called “bloggle” – a little cutesy but whatever
  • only $5/month for basic membership Types of accounts

Creately logoCreately –

used by SylviaR in FLO-Design

  • free use limited to 5 drawings; paid versions starts at $5/mo ($49/year)
  • free plan drawings are public but can have 3 collaborators
  • import/export only in SVG format
  • export as XML

Draw open source tool - –

web-based open source drawing tool

used as by Sylvia R and learners as a base drawing tool for FLO-Design 2017

  • free to use, save diagrams to your device or Dropbox, GoogleDrive, etc.
  • good tutorials available
  • flexible options for styles, quick cloning, can add additional figures/objects

GoogleCda-logo.pngGoogle Drawing – https://**drawings**.**google**.com/

free, web-based diagramming software

used as base drawing tool for FLO-Design 2017

  • requires Google account, available as part of GoogleDocs or GoogleSheets
  • Look under Insert menu
  • has shapes, lines, colours, text boxes
  • allows collaboration with others – can share open link so others don’t have to have Google accounts?
  • can embed images and hyperlinks

Gliffy-logo.pngGliffy –

web-based drawing tool

suggested by StephanieB FLO-Design 2017

  • free service allows you to create and download images of your drawings, or store them and link; paid service provides embed code and sharing
  • is pretty easy to use – good for flowcharts

Lucidchart logoLucidchart –

a collaborative flowcharting tool that integrates with others (e.g., Google)

used by Patsy and Nicole in FLO-Design Feb2017

  • sign up for a free account – no time limit
  • free acct limits – 5 documents, 60 objects per document (counts lines, shapes and images), 25 MB storage
  • only 2 collaborators per document
  • paid accounts $4.95 – $8.95 / month
  • saves out in Visio formats, integrates with Gdocs
  • various tutorials and help docs –

Mindmeister https://www.mindmeister.commindmeister logo

collaborative mind mapping tool

  • web-based – no download of software required
  • free, education and business account options – free account limited to 3 mind mapswith real-time collaboration
    (don’t see a limit – needs to be tested)
  • features include the ability to vote or comment (need to test if available in free account)
  • Check terms and conditions – Mindmeister has total freedom to use your maps for whatever purpose – Check section 13. Right to contents –
  • used by VioletP in May RRU FLO


a web-based or mobile app to capture and organize your ideas

tool used in Week 5 Looking Back, Looking Forward activity – Nov2014 (SylviaC)

  • free account
  • popplets are public
  • works like a simple mind-mapping tool
  • allows you to draw freehand inside a popplet bubble or embed an image – not sure of file size limits
  • collaborative Popplet Groups available for educators – $2 per person up to 50 people

Tagxedo –

a free word cloud service with styles

  • customize font, theme, color, orientation, and shape
  • save as images for printing and sharing
  • constrain the word cloud to selected shapes (heart, star, animals, etc)
  • use images as custom shapes
  • requires installation of Microsoft Silverlight – apparently Chrome browser is an issue?

Used in Apr2016 FLO (StephanieB used it as a summary tool 4 Week 3 Responsive Facilitation activity)

Text2mindmap –

a Web2.0 service (since 2008) that allows you to create mindmaps to visually depict a topic or organize ideas.

  • web-based (no app or desktop version available as of Dec 2015)
  • supports different colours / fonts and keyboard commands
  • free account – to save and store set up account starting at $5/month for up to 12 mind maps
  • no collaboration function

BethCB used to illustrate a summary of week 1 FLO Sept2015

Wordle –

contributed by various participants in ISWos

  • a Java applet toy created by Jonathan Feinberg
  • paste in a collection of words or enter the RSS (or Atom) feed of a web page and the site creates word clouds
  • the more times a word appears in the collection, the larger it will be in the word cloud
  • site provides options to vary colour scheme or font
  • can’t be saved (Java applet) by can use screen capture or print

SueN created a Wordle to summarize Week 2 mini-session – her example is in the Summary page on the Week 2 wiki (can’t be linked here as it is behind a password on the ISWo Nov 2014 course site.

MaryW used Wordle to summarize/analyze Week 1 journal entries (in Week 3 Choose Your Tools mini-session) Nov 2015 FLO.

Create Infographics

Canva logoCanva

a free web / iPad app – create graphics, presentations, documents

  • has extenstive list of photo effects – blur, filters,
  • Terms of use – you own your stuff – 4.1 BUT 5.0 – you grant them the rights to use it however they want, with your name, and shared to sublicensees
  • use your own images; they have icons, fonts, etc.
  • provides tutorials on how to use and sample lesson plans to use it in the classroom
  • free for educational use – students can use to share as view only or collaborate

Used by PatriciaMc in May2016 FDO – Intro


PiktPiktochart logoochart –

Easily create infographics to visually present information.

AndreaK comments: I used the $15/month plan pretty extensively and was surprised at the complete

lack of glitches or other technical problems.

  • good selection of templates and graphics
  • $15/month unlocks full selection of templates & graphics, $29/month for unlimited features (pro version)
  • easy to use
  • if you downgrade, you still get to keep infographics created with paid features