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Friday, April 11, 2014

Two Browser-based Noise Meters That Show Students How Loudly They Speak

Earlier this week on iPadApps4School.com I featured an app called Too Noisy that shows students how loudly they are speaking. The app measures the volume of the noise in a room and displays a meter indicating whether or not the the room is too noisy. If you don't have an iPad, you can find the same basic features in the following browser-based tools.

Bouncy Balls shows students the volume of the noise in your classroom by displaying a set of colorful bouncing balls. The higher the decibel level goes, the higher and more frequently the balls on the screen bounce. To use Bouncy Balls simply go to the website, click "begin bouncing," and then click the microphone icon to allow the site to access your computer's microphone.

Calmness Counter is similar to Bouncy Balls. The difference is that Calmness Counter displays a dial meter to display the decibel level in your classroom. You can adjust the microphone input sensitivity directly on the Calmness Counter screen.

Applications for Education
Projecting either of these meters for all of your students to see could be a good way to help them understand the appropriate volume for conversations while working on group activities in your classroom.

By Request - Ten Good Tools for Editing Images Online

Earlier today I received a request, via the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page, for suggestions for online image editing tools. My first recommendation was Pixlr from Autodesk. In the list below uou can read more about Pixlr and nine other good options for enhancing, cropping, and creating images online.

Pixlr is a great set of image creation and editing tools. Pixlr offers web-based image editing tools as well as image editing tools to use on Android phones and on iPhones. Pixlr also has Firefox and Chrome browser extensions for creating screen captures.Pixlr Editor is Pixlr's most full-featured image creation and editing tool. You can create drawings from scratch using the pencil and coloring tools that they provide. Pixlr Editor also has options for uploading images or importing images from other places on the web. The selection of creation and editing tools is huge. There are options for making multiple layer images, dozens of filter settings, and of course tools for cropping and resizing images. Your images can be saved to your computer or you can send them to Flickr, Picassa, Facebook, or you can save them in a Pixlr account.

Quick Picture Tools is a free service that offers twelve tools for editing and enhancing your pictures. Some of the things that you can do with Quick Picture Tools include cropping images, combining images, adding text to images, and creating calendar wall paper for your computer. Each of the tools provides the option to resize images and adjust the overall quality of your original image before you use it for a collage, calendar, or mini poster.

Picadilo is a free image editing service that offers a lot of useful tools. To use Picadilo you do not have to create an account on the service. To get started just upload a picture and start editing. After your image is uploaded you can re-size it, crop it, add filters, touch-it up, add text, and put digital frames around your pictures. When you're happy with your edited image you can download it and or share it on Facebook.

Picfull is a free online photo editing service. To use the service just upload a picture and select an effect to add to it.  Picfull offers eighteen basic sets of effects. After you select an effect you can customize it to your liking. When you're finished altering your photo you can download or share it via Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Cropp.me is a beautifully simple web tool for quickly cropping your images. Cropp.me is a little different than a lot of the other services in this market. What makes Cropp.me different is its smart auto-crop option. If you choose this option, Cropp.me will auto-detect the focal point of your images and crop accordingly. Cropp.me allows you to upload and crop up to five images at the same time. You can crop your images to one of nine predefined sizes or you can specify a custom size.

Fotor is a free image editing tool available in your web browser, as a desktop application for Mac and Windows, as iPad app, as an Android app, and as a Windows 8 application. Fotor can be used without creating an account. With Fotor you can crop images, apply filters, add picture frames, insert clip art, and add text to your images. You can also create image collages on Fotor. All of your work can be saved on your computer or mobile device.

Imageoid is a free, simple service for adding a variety of effects to your images. To use Imageoid you just upload an image from your computer then choose the effect(s) you want to apply to it. You can combine effects if you like. If you don't like the way your image looks with a chosen effect, just click "reset" to start again. Imageoid can also be used to resize your image. Imageoid offers twenty-two effects that you can apply to your image.

Picozu is a free online image editing tool. Using Picozu you can touch-up existing images or you can create new images from scratch. In the Picozu editor you will find tools for adjusting color saturation and clarity. The editor also includes tools for creating images containing multiple layers. And if you want to include text in  your image Picozu has options for that too. Picozu offers the option to register and join their community or you can use the editing tools without creating an account. If you do choose to create an account you can save your images on Picozu and add them to the community albums. If choose not to create a Picozu you can save your images to your computer, send them to your Facebook account, or send them to your Dropbox account.

Google recently added image editing options to Google Slides. You've always been able to re-size images in your slides, but now when you add an image to a slide you can crop it, apply borders to it, and apply masks to it. To do any of these things simply select the image then select an editing option from the new image editing menu. See the screenshot below for the location of the new image editing menu. Click here for Google's post with directions on using the image editing tools.

PicMonkey is one of my favorite online image editing tools. To get started using PicMonkey you can upload an image by simply dragging it from your desktop to the PicMonkey editor. From there you can change things like saturation, contrast, size, and sharpness. You can then add custom frames and special effects like "Polaroid style" to your images. Want to add text to your images? PicMonkey provides a slew of font styles for your use. And if you have just one tiny part of an image that you want to enhance or obscure, PicMonkey gives you tools for that too. Click here for a post about using PicMonkey photo collages as writing prompts.

How to Manage Classroom Digital Portfolios by Using Page-level Permissions in Google Sites

Earlier this week on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page I re-shared written directions for using page-level permissions in Google Sites to manage classroom digital portfolios. A couple of people have asked me to elaborate on those directions. I created the following video to demonstrate how you can use page-level permissions to manage a group digital portfolio.

Page-level permissions in Google Sites allows the creator of a site to share and give editing access to specific pages within a site rather than giving access to edit the entire site. To use page-level permissions open your Google Site editor then click "enable page-level permissions." With page-level permissions activated you can share and allow editing for each page individually.

Populr - Create Stylish PDFs from Elements of Your Digital Portfolio

Earlier this week I included Populr in my list of five good ways for students to showcase their best work. Populr is a service for creating simple webpages to showcase an example or two of your best work. On Populr you can quickly create a stylish webpage with pictures, text, and document uploads. Yesterday, I learned that Populr now offers of the option to export your webpage as a PDF while retaining all of the formatting that you see online. To use the PDF export option simply click the "PDF" icon while logged-in and viewing your Populr page.

Applications for Education
For students or teachers who want to be able to present a physical "highlight sheet" when someone asks for paper resume, Populr could be a good resource to have at their disposal. Populr offers the best of both worlds in terms of creating an online resume and a physical resume.

Visual CV is a similar resource that you might also want to try.

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