Cacoo is a very simple tool for creating diagrams, charts, and sequences for any graphic organizer. It is also allows users to collaborate during the creation process. Once products are finalized, Cacoo enables users to easily insert the resulting diagrams into online documents. Later modifications will appear instantly, making sure the document displays the most recent version of a diagram—a useful feature.
Signing up for a free account only takes a minute. The free plan lets users build up to 25 sheets; each sheet can have up to 15 editors. Priced plans include an unlimited number of sheets and editors and vary in price if the account is for an individual (student or teacher), small group (professional learning community), or large group (school). Cacoo also has an education plan that allows students and teachers to use the priced plan free for a year (note: this offer may be subject to change). Cacoo also offers installation as a browser extension or application.
After registering with Cacoo, a blank diagram page will appear. On the left side of the screen are user folders, account settings, and control settings. To start a new diagram, click on the button in the top right corner. Users can also design new stencils and templates for future access, as well as browse through the Cacoo store for more options.
At the top of the screen are the control features common to graphing programs like Cacoo—including "undo," "redo," "copy," "cut," "paste," "text," "shapes," "free hand," and "insert image." To the left of the zoom control, are four features worth exploring: "stencil," "chat," "inspector," and "edit history" (the last only available to paid plan users.) Clicking on these buttons will open new boxes onscreen that allow for collaboration and finer adjustment, including determining the color and thickness of a line or starting an online chat with another diagram user.
To insert shapes or characters onto the canvas, click and drag an object. Once an object is on the canvas, users can edit, arrange, resize, or color it by using the top navigation or by right-clicking the object. Users can also insert images onto the canvas by uploading a picture file from a computer, entering an image's URL, or taking a snapshot of the computer screen.
Finished products can be kept private or made publicly accessable online [note: free plans only allow users to export charts as a PNG file]. Embedding a finished product on a class blog, wiki, or other web publishing format is simple. When in viewing mode (not edit mode), click on "link" and copy the embed code or diagram URL and paste it where you wish it to display. Cacoo also makes it simple to post to a Twitter, Facebook, or Google Buzz account.
Cacoo provides history teachers with a variety of stencils, shapes, freehand options, and character designs that allow efficient creation of diagrams and charts. Multiple users, such as a classroom of students, can share and edit one diagram at the same time. Like Google Docs, edits take place in real time. These features can help students (or teachers co-planning curriculum) to be creative, productive, and more efficient as they work in cooperation.
As a tool for group activities, Cacoo's functionality and simplicity allow teachers to spend less time teaching technology and more time applying it to history instruction. For curriculum planning, Cacoo can also help teachers construct specific graphic organizers for lessons and units. Because modifications appear instantly, Cacoo can make graphic organizers move beyond paper worksheets to visual displays on a class website, wiki, or blog.