Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ten Tools for Cropping, Resizing, and Enhancing Images Online

This afternoon as I worked through a backlog of email I replied to a couple of questions about resizing images to make them fit under the size limitation for images in the new Socrative image-based question feature. I have tried a lot of image resizing, cropping, and enhancing tools over the years. Here are ten good ones to try.

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.

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.

GooEdit is a free image editing tool that operates as a Google Chrome extension. GooEdit allows you to edit images without having to leave your browser. You can add outlines, flip images, resize images, and do other basic image editing tasks in GooEdit. If you need a simple image editing tool for your students, give GooEdit a try.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Phrase.it is a simple service that anyone can use to add speech bubbles and some basic Instagram-like effects to your pictures. To use the service just upload a picture and choose a speech bubble. Drag your speech bubble into place then type your text. You can change the font style in your speech bubbles. Click the "add more drama" button to add one of four image shading effects.

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.

Monday, April 29, 2013

ExamTime - Create & Share Flashcards, Mind Maps, and Quizzes

ExamTime is a new service that middle school, high school, and college students can use to prepare for tests. I tend to like any service that offers a mind map option for students and ExamTime does so I had to try it out. When students signs into their ExamTime accounts they can create flashcards, mind maps, and practice quizzes to help them study. Students can arrange their materials into topics. All materials can be shared with other Examtime users. Learn more about ExamTime in the video below.


Applications for Education
ExamTime allows users to share study materials. You could have your students create accounts to share review materials with each other. Have students share their review materials with you so that you can make sure they're on the right track in their preparation for an exam.

Climate Commons - An Interactive Map of Climate Change Stories

Climate Commons is an interactive map developed by the Earth Journalism Network. The map features weather data and emissions data related to climate. The map allows you to compare baseline weather data with anomalies and extreme weather events. The map also features articles about climate change. The articles are displayed on the map according to location.

Applications for Education
Climate Commons could be a good place to find stories about how climate change could be impacted various parts of the United States. You could have your students compare the effects of climate change in their neighborhoods with other parts of the country.

Explore 20th Century World History Declassified

The Wilson Center Digital Archive recently published a new set of 73 collections of declassified historical documents. The documents contain memos and transcripts of communications between diplomats and country leaders. The collections are arranged into topics and themes. You'll find collections of documents related to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the origins of the Cold War, and Sino-Soviet relations.

Applications for Education
My first thought when looking at these collections of documents was to have students use these documents to fill-in the gaps in their history textbooks.

You could also give students some of the communications without the names of countries or diplomats showing. Then ask them to use their knowledge of the situation to determine which country or diplomat would have sent that communication.

H/T to Open Culture.

Wonderville - Collections of Digital Materials for K-5

Wonderville.com, not to be confused with Wonderville.ca, is a new site that is organizing educational videos, ebooks, pictures, and quiz sets into pre-packaged lessons for K-5 students. Teachers can register on the site for free to find these materials arranged by grade level and content area.

The TechCrunch article that I read about Wonderville made it sound like it was packed with features, but when I created my account and signed into it I couldn't get some of those features to work. The marketing for Wonderville mentions that materials in the galleries are aligned to Common Core standards, but I didn't see standards mentioned when I registered and signed into my Wonderville account. The service also has a "schedule" for teachers' classes but I couldn't get the schedule in my account to do anything other than show me the materials that Wonderville suggested. Finally, Wonderville allows you to send messages to your class. The problem with that is that students have to request to join your class which seems like a lot of extra work that could be saved by simply creating accounts for your students.

There appears to be an option to award badges to students in Wonderville. I couldn't figure out how to actually award those badges.

Applications for Education
Until all of the features of Wonderville are working (perhaps I missed a few things, but I spent nearly an hour trying to make them work which should be adequate to understand how a service's features work) it's just another place to find videos and related web resources aligned to subject areas.