Part of COPLACDigital's mission is for faculty and their students to develop their abilities to use digital tools and navigate the digital medium.

The following lists of selected tools is only a small portion of those available—however, as you choose tools, keep in mind that not every institution will have the same level of access or be able to provide the same level (if any) of support for particular tools.

Basic Toolkit  ·  Media Editing Tools  ·  Knight Lab Tools


This section highlights a sampling of basic but powerful tools useful for digital liberal arts courses and projects. Hovering over the images will take you to that particular tool's website.

Google Drive
Google My Maps


COPLACDigital's blogging and content management platform of choice

Google Drive

Great for collaboration and storage

  • Connects with Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides, and Maps
  • Supports other file formats as well

Google My Maps

Good tool for basic geographic mapping (vs. narrative mapping)

  • Draw lines and shapes
  • Add placemarks
  • Organize with layers
  • Import data
Knight Lab Tools
Voyant Tools

Knight Lab Tools

Northwestern University's Knight Lab has several great tools useful for digital liberal arts projects.

Jump to Knight Lab Tools section »

Voyant Tools

Powerful tools for analyzing text

  • Word clouds
  • Frequency charts
  • Surrounding phrases
  • Word groups
  • Comparative features

Tool for annotating textual content on the web, best used as a Google Chrome extension



RSS/Blog Reader

  • Online service
  • Read and comment on blog posts within the Feedly interface


Communication and messaging platform, good for building community

  • Multiple channels
  • Direct messages


Network analysis and visualization tool

  • Create multiple maps and views
  • Integration with Google Sheets


Like the Basic Toolkit, the section below provides only a glimpse of the media editing tools that are available, focusing on a few tools that are free and have a relatively low learning curve.

Icon of a landscape image with a sparkle on it.
Icon of a film production clapperboard.
Icon of a speaker emitting sound.

Image Editing

  • Pixlr – Online, free
  • GIMP – Application, free

Video Editing

Audio Editing


Northwestern University's Knight Lab has developed a collection of tools for journalists that are very useful for digital liberal arts projects. Each tool facilitates the creation of engaging, media-rich content, and the products are easy to embed in WordPress pages and posts. Knight Lab provides clear step-by-step instructions for each one of these tools, as well as FAQ.

Create media-rich, interactive timelines to visualize events

  • Allows embedding of several media types
  • Creative way to present information and media
  • Created in Google Sheets for easy collaboration and automatic updating
  • Video tutorial from Knight Lab


Create media-rich, narrative-driven maps in an easy-to-use interface

  • Allows embedding of several media types
  • Good way to help visualize a story with geographic elements
  • Choose from several different base maps
  • ADVANCED: Use a custom base (ex. image) and build a StoryMap using Gigapixel


Easy image sliders for a frame-to-frame comparison of images

  • Supports images from a file URL and Dropbox
  • Great for before/after visualizations


Inline audio players for richer textual content

  • Supports audio from an MP3 file and SoundCloud
  • Choose which part of the audio to feature


Images courtesy of WordPress, Google, Northwestern University Knight Lab, Voyant Tools,, Feedly, Slack, and Kumu.