Transitioning to Online Learning - Tools & Resources

As we dive further into uncharted territory, more and more trainers and instructors are turning to remote learning resources to ensure their students and customers continue to gain the valuable skills needed to succeed. With this increased need for remote learning, we thought it might be helpful to compile a list of tools and resources to help you on your journey in creating engaging and informative learning environments. There are many different solutions out there, all ranging from free to exorbantly expensive, and from user-friendly to those with steep learning curves. The remote learning and communication tools and resources listed below were chosen with this in mind, as each is either free or low cost, and requires a reasonable level of experience and skill to master. Without specifics of your hosting capabilities, cost restrictions, or any other limitations, we've tried to focus on solutions that are relatively easy to setup and use when you must rely on your own resources. Keep in mind, there are MANY other tools and solutions to accomplish your goal of creating an online learning environment. At the very least, these products should assist you in getting the ball rolling, and determining what you might need from each tool. Here are some of our suggestions:

Online/Cloud File Sharing:

The main things to consider when choosing a file sharing platform include: space limitations, cost, limits to the number or kinds of collaborators you can share files with (i.e. do your collaborators also need to have an acct with the provider), additional product features (i.e. workflow or approvals, collaborative editing, live-editing, downloading, cloud based and/or local storage, etc.) We all use a file storage solution, so picking one that fits your needs and style will increase your success if you need to incorporate a new cloud based file sharing platform:

Video Conferencing:

The main things to consider when choosing a video conferencing solution include: meeting time limits, number of participants, call-in options for those without video/microphone, screen sharing, recording options, and cost.

Video/Audio Presentations (when not through video conferencing):

The main things to consider when choosing a video or audio presentation tool include: cost, ease of use, web-based vs software install, hosting requirements, editing options, and security of the software installation.

  • Prezi & Prezi Video ( - This is a free online presentation option, and they now have Prezi video, where you can record yourself, and place lecture content over the video. Their individual free version should cover most needs. This is definitely something we hope to start trying out as it gives your presentations more of a personal presence, but also provides the text presentation content.
  • Camtasia ( - There are many different video and screen capturing platforms. One of my favorites for ease of use is Camtasia, however it does have a relatively steep price tag, and the content would then need to be hosted somewhere. It’s mostly for screen capturing and video editing. 
  • FlashBack ( - This is a free screen capturing program that is open source and has minimal limitations. This product has not been tested by our team, so no promises are made regarding it's ease of use, but it looks like a reasonable tool if you're looking for a free screen capturing program, and don't want to just use a Zoom recording (which can't be edited).

Online Learning Environment

Without a learning management system, or LMS, contract (we currently use Canvas, but previously used Blackboard), it can get tricky trying to create a course or classroom type setup. If you already have an LMS, then you should be good to go, but if not, there are several free options.

  • Google Classroom ( - This free solution only requires a Google account. If you’re looking to create full lesson plans and have students “attend” the course, this might be something to check out. This setup can help with streamlining assignments, creating collaboration, and provides opportunities for communication across the classroom. It also integrates with other Google tools (i.e. Google Drive & Google Docs).
  • Moodle ( - This is an open source solution that is used by some higher education institutions due to lack of expense and ability to create custom code within the system (not that you will want to go down that road!) Moodle allows the user to create a "classroom", setup assignments, and communicate with students like other LMS setups. 

Accessibility Resources

The ability to ensure all students are able to access and utilize your instructional content should also be at the front of your mind. With so many technological solutions, it can be daunting to navigate the complexities of universal design and accessibility. Here are just a few resources that might help you in your journey toward creating online instruction:

  • Zoom - how to make it more accessible?
    • Sometimes, learning through the lens of others can really make the difference in how we structure environments. With this in mind, it might be helpful to listen to this free audiobook created by someone who uses Zoom and has a visual impairment:
    • There are also JAWS scripts (for those who use this screen reader) which purport to make some features of Zoom more accessible. Note that the user interface for Zoom is generally very usable, however these scripts add some extra functionality. There are free and paid versions. These have not been tested within our office, but several colleagues have reported their value. Here is a link to the paid version:
  • 20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course - Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler has first hand experience with creating accessible online learning environments, and has taken the time to write down 20 simple considerations that can help in creating accessible online instruction. You can read her 20 tips here
  • Web Accessibility Testing - If you're considering hosting your content via a website, or you just happen to host a website that might not be for instructional purposes, it can be helpful to be aware of the free resources at your disposal for assessing how accessible your webpages may be. The WAVE (web accessibility evaluation tool) tool provides free add-ons for both Firefox and Chrome that can be installed quickly and with very little effort. Once installed, you can enable the tool to evaluate the page you are currently viewing, and it will tell you if the headings and text are in a readable format, if your color contrast is at acceptable levels, and any other areas for improvement that it detects. This can be a very valuable tool when attempting to view your webpages through the lens of someone with a visual impairment. Learn more about this resource here:

Recently Added: Augmented & Alternative Communication

  • Patient Provider Communication - - The Patient Provider Communication site provides access to a variety of alternative communication tools that can be beneficial in various situations. These resouces can be helpful when working with many individuals who are unable to comunicate. Many are designed to be printed, and possibly utilized in hospitals, but you'll find their versatility goes far beyond this limited scope.

If you have other programs, tools and resources that you rely on to create awesome online and remote learning experiences, we'd love to hear about them! Comment below so we can all up our game :) Good luck in creating your online classrooms and training tools!