Padlet…new school bulletin board

Name: Padlet
Cost: Free (subscription plans for $29/year)
Type: Internet (plus app)
Rating: 5/5

 

Padlet logoThere is something old school, yet appealing, with bulletin boards. Growing up, I remember looking forward to the beginning of the month since that was when the teachers would change their bulletin board content–new graphics, text, colors, and sometimes even new layouts. Some of the posters on the board might be funny, while other content might be a preview of what we’d focus on for that month. Ideally, the bulletin board would have “gold star” assignments posted for everyone to marvel at. I was always hopeful that mine would be up there, though I was more like a silver/bronze star student at the time, so my stuff was only posted if there was room or if it was parent/teacher conference week. Since I teach in a virtual environment and a college classroom on campus, I don’t get a bulletin board, which is probably fortunate since I’d obsess about what I would do with it each month. But, there are a few Internet options for creating a bulletin board sort of webpage, and Padlet is one of the more popular options. Padlet is an Internet tool that not only allows you to “post” text, graphics, and URLs, but also allows your users to add their own content. We used to get punished in school for “adding” to the bulletin board!

Goal: share text, graphics, and URLs in an engaging webpage (that would allow users to also post content, if I needed that feature)

Padlet workspace

This is a blank Padlet workspace. The “portrait” is just the icon that appears before the title and description at the top of your Padlet that you create. Wallpaper, Layout, and Privacy are the more important features under the setting icon.

Benefits:

  • Each “post” allows for a heading, whether the body of the post is text or a graphic. This allows me to label my graphics so the audience recognizes their significance.
  • There is a blog with insights and ideas.
  • The Padlet board can be exported to a file (e.g., PDF, JPG), which kind of takes away the appeal of the board, but perhaps it might make it easier for grading or offline distribution.
  • There is a Firefox add-on so that you can post Internet material to your Padlet boards as you explore the Internet.
  • Supports “audience participation” since you can allow users to post their own content to the board. For example, you can allow for classroom introductions, where students can post a photo and/or text about themselves; or groups can brainstorm ideas and post research for group projects.
  • The completely free-form, post-anywhere layout of a canvas makes me a little crazy, but some may like that chaos. Fortunately, I can choose a layout to be “stream” (one post under the next) or grid (lines them up in even rows). Even if you start with free form, you can change to stream or grid and the posts will be realigned accordingly.

Drawbacks:

  • This is just a reality of this type of tool, but you have to monitor what is posted since anyone can post anything (depending on the privacy setting). So, if you have students who cannot be trusted to act responsibly when posting, then you’ll want to have the “monitor” feature checked to approve additions before everyone can see them.
  • I can’t figure out how to change the font/style of the posts. I think it’s pretty much set for every type of Padlet to be the same. (There are some formatting options, but not as extensive as I’d like in the way of color or font style.)

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LiveBinder…no more paper hoarding

Cost: Free (subscription available)
Type: Internet
Rating: 3/5

 

LiveBinder LogoPlease tell me I’m not the only person who loves to collect information in actual (not virtual) binders. I’m a paper hoarder. I admit it. I love technology, but I still like to print things out or hang on to print items and punch holes in them so they can be included in a binder. Fortunately, technology has not only given me the opportunity to hoard less, but also share non-printed materials with students. LiveBinder is one option for sharing a variety of forms of documents and videos, without having to punch holes in anything. I had used LiveBinder first in 2013, when I needed to create supplemental materials for my students, but didn’t want to upload them to the classroom every term. LiveBinder was a way to create the collection of materials and just provide students with the relevant URL so they can access it on their own. Although LiveBinder seemed like a good idea, I wasn’t overly impressed with it’s appearance or functionality, particularly that I could not embed YouTube videos to play right from the binder page rather than just providing the link for students to click on and go to YouTube. Having started this blog, I decided to try LiveBinder again and happily found the YouTube issue resolved!

Goal: create a “library” of documents for students to access online (without having to log in to the classroom)

LiveBinder workspace 1

This is what your library will look like. I have a few binders already created. From here you can create a new binder or work on an binder you previously created.

Benefits:

  • You can restrict who has access to the binder you create by requiring the user to insert a ID and Password you generate; the user does not need an account with LiveBinders
  • You can personalize it to a certain extent, with a graphic for the binder cover and colors for the background or tabs.
  • You can “lock” the binder so users need the link and password to access it.
  • Easy for users to navigate (not complicated)
  • You can easily reorder tabs.
  • There are multiple sharing options, including embedding the binder as a clickable icon to access the binder or as an “open binder.”
  • There is help.

Drawbacks:

  • It’s pretty simplistic…not very flashy, though it has improved since 2013.
  • If sharing a website that is protected, it only provides a link to the website and a button to click that takes the user to the actual website. I realize that copyright issues are not the tool’s fault, but it’s still a drawback that the page is not more appealing to look at.
  • Cannot include some special characters in the tab title (e.g., apostrophe)
  • It takes a few seconds for the embedded content to appear on your screen after inserting the code. This originally cause me to panic and delete/undo the first few times. Don’t panic. Be patient. It should show up.
  • You cannot open a dialog box (e.g., Settings) on a tab with an embedded video because the video overlays part of the dialog box.
  • The free-version only allows for two levels (i.e., main and sub), whereas the pay-version allows for three levels (i.e., main, sub, base).

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Haiku Deck…writing an actual Haiku is more fun

Cost: Free (pay versions are available)
Type: Internet tool or iOS app
Rating: 1/5

 

Haiku Deck LogoI’ve been on a kick with making single graphics that convey all the information needed, whether an infographic or just a JPG with an image and some text. But, there are times when I need to convey several related ideas and allow the audience to “click” through the ideas at their own pace. Yes, like a slide presentation. Okay, exactly like a slide presentation since I cannot (yet) afford the software that creates cool interactive training videos. I first encountered Haiku Deck as an app on my iPad. By “encountered,” I mean that I downloaded the app and then couldn’t figure out what I was going to use it for since I did all my work on my PC or laptop. Once I started my blog, I tracked down any presentation tool I could find with the hopes of finding the “perfect” tool. (There could be a unicorn out there waiting to be found by me.) Well, Haiku Deck is not my unicorn, though it’s simplicity might appeal to those who are easily distracted by too many options. While the name of the tool, Haiku, implies this level of simplicity, I find that Haiku poems have great depth and interest that is not constrained by the brief structure of the poem. I have not tried the app version yet, so this review is just the Internet (PC) version.

Goal: find an alternative presentation tool for online classroom announcements that needed more than one slide

Benefits:

  • No distractions from bells and whistles because there aren’t any.
  • There is an app version for those who prefer working with smaller devices.
  • There are a variety of share options (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, email, Pinterest, etc.) or you can get the link/HTML to embed it yourself.
  • It has a cool name and logo associated with the tool. (Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.)

    Haiku Deck workspace 1

    This is the workspace before you start adding content. You can choose a theme and layout from here.

Drawbacks:

  • There are few layouts provided, and you cannot modify them. For example, I had wanted a block of text that was left-justified, but took up the whole slide (not half the slide). I could not change the justification unless I chose a different layout, which would squish the text to one side or the other.
  • No undo button! I had to start over when I tried playing around with colors and couldn’t get back to the original coloring. I got in the habit of creating a copy of the slide I was going to change so that I could go back to the original if needed.
  • Free version allows public access and sharing of your slide decks.
  • There is a “sneaky” (technical term used in tutorial video) button at the top of the workspace for changing fonts, but I can’t find any specific button for making text bold, italicized, or a different color.
  • The Internet version does not always play well with Firefox (Flash), and may crash when going to preview the slides.
  • Cannot import PowerPoint slides directly as PPT files (you need to save them as images and put them in the Haiku deck)
  • There aren’t blank templates. Rather, you copy someone else’s presentation and swap out their text on each slide.
  • Haiku Deck adds a slide to the end of your presentation to advertise creating a deck and “featured decks” (which aren’t related to what your deck is focused on).

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Audacity….forcing me to hear my own voice

Cost: Free
Type: Software (download)
Rating: 5/5

 

audacity_logoThis is an oldie, but goodie. I’ve been using Audacity since the very beginning of my digital media adventures (about 10+ years ago). Beyond just a free tool to record audio narratives, this software has had a more significant impact on my life. Ultimately, after creating and editing hundreds of audio files, this software helped me accept my nasally, mid-western voice as it is. Sometimes I sound like a smoker (which I’m not). Sometimes I sound sick (which I’m generally not). Most times, as students have noted, I sound like a documentary narrator…soothing, but not generally sleep-provoking (which I suspect is not entirely true based on my in-person lecture experiences). The software is easy to use, so I had no choice but to continue to create audio narrations to my videos without excuse. Its’ free, but it looks like software you might pay to use.

Goal: find stand alone software to record audio narration for my slide presentations (…this goal was set when PowerPoint was quirky with recording audio in presentation mode)

Benefits:

  • Totally free!
  • Easy to use….just have a mic and start recording. You may want to double-check sound levels at some point since I often record too low.
  • There is a wiki help website, though I have not needed to use it.
  • It’s easy to chop parts out of the recording, such as the beginning (when you’re taking a deep breath) or the end (when you’re saying something like, “Finally! I got through this without the dog barking.”). Just highlight the section to remove and press the Delete key on your keyboard.
Audacity workspace view

This is the workspace, where you can see a recorded file. I don’t know what many of the buttons do because once I set up my mic and volume, I didn’t have to fiddle with anything. Editing as I go is very easy so that I can quickly remove flubs, rerecord that section, and paste the revised version with the first version.

Drawbacks:

  • It glitches and crashes sometimes without saving the recording, thus you can start all over again recording that clip. The most recent version of the software has addressed over 50 bugs, so perhaps the glitch has been fixed. (Recent use has not resulted in crashes.)
  • It probably doesn’t have the audio fine-tuning and editing options as other software. So, if you are planning on submitting your vocal recording audition to America’s Got Talent, then you may need more specific software (and a recording studio).
  • Exporting to MP3 is a total pain the first time, since you need to download more software (plugin) from an external site, and that site often has misleading links, though the author has recently provided insights on navigating the site. Once you install the plugin, you shouldn’t need to do it again unless you move the file.
  • There is one extra screen that I don’t feel is relevant when I’m saving a file…I just dislike having to click more than I have to.

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Evernote….ever a believer (now)

Name: Evernote
Cost: Free (subscribe for more features)
Type: Download, app, Internet tool
Rating: 5/5

 

Evernote logoWay back when I first started my dissertation research, I was eager for tools to help me organize my thoughts and research. OneNote was my first choice, as it was free and already loaded on the PC I was using. It mirrored my existing concepts of note taking since the interface was designed to look like tabbed notebooks or a binder with tabbed separators. My description here is dated since I started my dissertation eons ago, and have since moved on to trying different tools to organize thoughts and research. While I liked the notebook view of OneNote, I would spend too much time color coordinating and otherwise personalizing the notebooks, much like I did in high school (e.g., well-decorated Chandler assignment planner, with few assignment deadlines actually listed in the calendar). Now, you’re starting to understand why it’s taken so long to write my dissertation. When I abandoned OneNote several years ago, I briefly tried Evernote, and didn’t like it. Honestly, I don’t remember why I didn’t like it, though I suspect it was cumbersome or did not fit my way of thinking. But, a few months ago, I went to a training workshop for Evernote, and was encouraged to give it another try, even if I just used it for my grocery list.

I haven’t used Evernote for a grocery list yet, but I’ve used it for keeping track of ideas that would otherwise end up on post-it notes, notepads, journals, notebooks, Word documents, emails to myself, Google documents, notes on my whiteboard (…an actual whiteboard, not an app), Notes app, or junkmail envelopes. This blog would not have come to pass without Evernote. I draft all my ideas in Evernote weeks in advance of posting to my blog. I also have individual notebooks for course ideas, creative writing ideas, publication ideas, feedback on courses that should be revised, and (of course) dissertation ideas/research. I can easily save Internet articles to any of the notebooks I’ve created. By far, this has been my favorite tool for organizing my ideas and research. Graphic showing fireworks

Goal: find a tool that takes the place of ideas on post-it notes that make my office look like it is a sit-in for square-winged butterflies

Benefits:

  • Cloud technology allows for updating on a variety of devices, but Internet connection is not required if the software is downloaded to your computer…I can put information in my app version and see it on my laptop and PC
  • Simple, no-frills organization of notebooks and notes. I can bounce between notebooks very easily.
  • You can share notebooks/notes….I don’t, but you can
  • Search function looks in individual notebooks or all notebooks or tags
  • Reminder feature will send an email on a chosen day to nudge you to work on a task listed as a note
  • In a note, you can insert a URL, table, PDF, or graphic. You can then annotate the attached PDF or graphic.
  • Web-clipper….allows saving URLs, whole articles, and screenshots of websites. I don’t have time to read all the interesting articles in my Facebook and RSS feeds, so I can save them in Evernote to read later (i.e., after graduation). LOVE THIS FEATURE…especially since I can use the Evernote app on my phone and read those saved articles when I’m standing in line at the Post Office (for example)
  • You can combine notebooks into a “notebook stack.” I have several notebooks for my blog (e.g., “to post,” “posted,” “random tips”), and each have their own notebook since there are many notes for each. I can create a notebook stack for my blog, and all the related notebooks (and notes) are organized together. Think of it like a main folder with subfolders with documents.
  • You can put notes in the Shortcut section at the top of the Notebook list. I put the notes there that I rely on most or that I don’t want to forget about.
Evernote workspace 1

Here is one view of my Evernote workspace. the note has a table (…I love organizing information with tables). These notebooks are not stacked. I started with a simple layout until I figure out how I want to organize my notebooks better.

Drawbacks:

  • Evernote sometimes freezes for a moment when syncing or otherwise saving content. You can change the settings to sync less frequently if the momentary freeze is bothersome.
  • Every once in a while I’ll get pop-ups that I should invest in the pay version.
  • The blog doesn’t entirely focus on Evernote insights, but also has articles related to a variety of situations (e.g., running a small business, writer’s block). I don’t like having to scroll through articles just to find the gems related to using Evernote. (With some scrolling, though, I did find a helpful post: Tools That Write Well with Evernote. That’s on my list to read in the future.) They have an email newsletter that you can subscribe to. Most of the emails are about the perks of subscribing, but I do find a good tip every once in a while, especially if it’s a newly added feature.
  • There is a monthly limit to the size uploads (60MB) and note size (25MB), but I haven’t run into the limit as of yet. I suspect that if you clip many articles from the Internet per month or you have a group working all in the same account, then it’ll be an issue for you.

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Kizoa…means “sweep” in Swahili(?)

Name: Kizoa
Cost: Free
Type: Internet tool
Rating: 3/5

Kizoa logoAlthough I’m an novice photographer, I’m not really big on using slide shows to share my photos, even though I’m quite proud of some of them. I guess I’m not sure who my audience for a digital media slide show might be since I print/frame my photos that I like, and torture friends/family by posting them individually to Facebook (I also force students to view my photos by including them in PPT slides or as my screensaver). Nonetheless, there are many many Internet tools to create these types of slide shows. Kizoa is one option, and judging from its templates, the tool is meant for those who want to share photos from a holiday or special event via a photo video. While this option is obviously better than inviting everyone to your house to watch a slide projector version (which you have to get on Ebay because they have been discontinued), I am still thinking about how educators might use this tool effectively. Perhaps it can be used for digital storytelling assignments as long as students are warned about distracting the audience with too many effects, animations, stickers, or blocks of text.

Kizoa workspace 1

This is what the workspace looks like after selecting a template and adding your photos.

Goal: find a digital media tool to create text + graphic videos with professional looking templates and transitions

Benefits:

  • It’s really easy to select the order you want to show the photos in. You just start clicking the uploaded photos one after another, in the order they should appear in the video.
  • When in “collage edit” mode, you can add clipart, animations, and the like to each slide, along with your photos.
  • You can see the website in a variety of languages.

Drawbacks:

  • It takes a minute or so to upload your photos, depending on how many you choose from your computer and the file sizes. (But, there is a progress page so you can see how things are going as you wait.)
  • Without taking the time to personalize the video, the tool will center the photos in the template’s layout, which may not be exactly what you want.
  • The edit mode isn’t always intuitive. I had to click around to figure things out. (If you’re paying attention, unlike me, then you may catch the prompts that suggest next steps.)
  • Every time you modify a collage (slide), it takes several seconds to save before you can move ahead. You have to click “validate” for every change, which adds more seconds to the process.
  • The template transitions are not always good options. The first template I worked with overlapped photos before fully revealing the first photo for the slide (so it was obscured immediately). When editing the collage, look at the timeline under the slide, click and drag the colored line that coordinates with the photo that is coming in too soon; dragging the line to the right will delay its transition.
  • The free version has some limitations: cannot remove Kizoa logo; cannot hide sharing options; cannot set the number of loops (times the video repeats); cannot download finished project. The only one that bugs me is the sharing option, but Prezi and other free tools have the same restriction.
  • The “guide” is all in the form of YouTube videos…I prefer a text version for the simple tasks.
  • The editing features are quirky in Firefox, where the audio catches and lags when reviewing one frame/slide, or the screens flashes and freezes.
  • An embed code is provided, but when I embed it in my blog, clicking on the video will take you to the Kizoa home page, not my video. I have tried editing the code to no avail.

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Voki….voicing a sad looking pink bunny

Name: Voki
Cost: Free
Type: Internet tool
Rating: 4/5

voki logo I’m not really an avatar type of person, which might be more personal information about me than you care about. But, this insight is relevant to the digital media tool I’m reviewing–Voki. With Voki, I can create an avatar to speak for me or with my own voice. Granted, we aren’t talking about super model quality avatars, though there are a few “realistic” options to choose from. Since I’m not an avatar type of person, I didn’t think I’d like this tool, but I quickly took to the humor that could be created through these characters. Voki kind of reminds me of Fotobabble, where it’s one image with audio, except that Voki’s images pretend to talk (kind of like Mr. Ed sort of mouth moving) and the graphics are already provided in Voki.

Goal: Try something different….create an avatar

Voki workspace 1

This is the workspace (with sad bunny already selected from the character list). Play around with the “Customize Your Character” options….pink bunny doesn’t have many variations, but other avatars can be modified.

Benefits:

  • There are multiple ways to create audio for the avatar, and not all require a microphone. You can phone in the audio recording or type text that is read by a “computer” voice (….think Speak-and-Spell if you’re as old as I am). If you type up text, you can change the language, though I have no idea if it’s accurate since I tortured the Spanish language enough in college that I’m banned from speaking it ever again.
  • I think it might be addictive to match up goofy characters with oddball voices or effects. My students may not think I’m funny, but I will.
  • You can adjust the avatar; not just hair, color, and accessories, but also body proportions and location on the screen can be adjusted.
  • There is a blog and help section for those who need insights on using the tool. Also included are classroom guides for teachers.
  • While I didn’t try it out, supposedly you can embed Voki in a PowerPoint. After finishing a project, there is an embed code provided (which is what I used at the end of this post).
  • I didn’t keep track of all the avatar options, but there seems to be a variety to try and represent different people, cultures, and situations. That said, there is a pay version that provides more options, but I opted for the goofy avatars to bypass any question of whether I’m represented by the graphic. (Note: sometimes I think of myself as a unicorn, but in fact, I’m not.)

Drawbacks:

  • There are some ads on the site, so you have to be careful where you click. The sidebars are generally ads that will take you to a different site.
  • The title of the Voki you create is limited to 20 characters.
  • Not all the voice options for typed text work. For example, Dave seems to play, but I don’t hear anything. Perhaps, though, Dave is speaking in a voice audible to dogs or the like.
  • Unless you have a paid subscription account, the audio recording limit is 60 seconds (and 600 character limit for text to voice).
  • Playing the recorded Voki relies on Shockwave Flash, which can be quirky at times.

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Fotobabble….for 60 seconds of babbling

Name: Fotobabble
Cost: Free
Type: Internet Tool (or iOS app)
Rating: 3/5

Fotobabble logoI have an addiction, which I torture my students with. I like to make supplemental video content for my online courses. Students have access to text versions of instructions and rubrics, but I like to make videos that detail the requirements. As with any addictive substance, the problem is that I overdo it. What should take 5 minutes to explain, I will continue to layer on information until I run out of things to say 10 minutes later. I don’t even willingly sit through 10 – 15 minute YouTube videos, so I’m pushing my luck expecting my students to have more time/patience/interest. Thus, my desire to find a tool that compels me to keep it simple, yet engaging.

Fotobable is one option I’ve explored. It’s a single graphic with audio narration. With only one graphic, I know that I need to be brief since there isn’t extensive visual interest to keep the audience from straying to Facebook or the like. Personally, I like to use this opportunity to show off my amateur photos, which may not be relevant to the topic, but I think they’re interesting to look at for a few seconds. As noted in the Drawbacks below, I only use this tool for non-vital information so that I don’t get dozens of emails when the site goes down for maintenance at night.

Goal: Add audio to single graphic and embed the graphic in my classroom

Benefits:

Fotobabble workspace 1

This is the initial screen as you begin the process. You need to first upload a photo.

  • Very easy to click to record after uploading graphic
  • Embed codes available, either with or without Flash.
  • FREE, online tool that allows you to upload your own photos and record or upload audio.
  • Free themes are provided, which essentially serve as frames for your photo.
  • Pretty extensive collection of tutorials and guides to help get you started.

Drawbacks:

  • The site seems to go down nightly, so students accessing the graphic at night receive an error message.
  • There is a 5MB limit on the photos you can use, which is reasonable, but it’s not unlimited.
  • I’m pretty sure the “view” counter is off, since I highly doubt I’ve had over 3000 views since the post is marked Private and I haven’t had even 100 students to view the photo I recorded.
  • There is a 60 second time limit on audio recordings.

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Canva…a mostly free canvas

Name: Canva
Cost: Free (mostly)
Type: Internet tool (iPad app)
Rating: 4/5

canva logoI was recently in a faculty meeting with my amazing peers, and one professor shared how much she liked the “Minute Memo,” an infographic-style newsletter I created for students. At first I was going to admit that the Piktograph tool did much of the design work for me, but I just kept my mouth shut and let the praise give me a bit of a buzz. But, with that positive feedback, I got to thinking about whether there were other tools that might further up my credibility, either with peers or students. After a Google search, I came upon an option listed second in the search results: Canva. Canva can do more than infographics, and has many similar graphic design options as BeFunky. I didn’t want to like this tool when I first started because of the limited free graphics, but the ability to save the finished product as JPG, PNG, or PDF and not make the finished products public won me over. This review is a little longer than previous posts because I couldn’t help but really play around with it.

Canva workspace 1

These are the options you have, though some have similar templates. Clicking the + More… and you’ll find more unique options not seen in other tools, such as book covers, gift certificate, magazine, and resume. I choose the template based on the final size I want the graphic to be, rather than the use. I sometimes end up choosing a template that is way too big, so I will resize (reduce pixels) in Windows Photo Manager.

Goal: evaluate other design tools to see if it’s worth paying for Piktograph

Benefits:

  • iPad app available
  • It’s free….well, nothing is entirely free in this world, but they don’t require subscriptions. Premium images with watermarks cost $1, which is paid when you Publish.
  • Their blog and tutorials are called “Design School”….given how much I invest in graduate school tuition, I like the idea of going to school for free
  • There are many free templates to choose from.
  • Finished documents can be saved as PDFs or graphics. The quality is clear (as compared to little bit of blur that Piktograph has).
  • You can choose to not make the graphic public, which is generally a feature reserved for pay versions.
  • The documents/graphics you create can be copied. This is helpful for me since I make weekly infographics in newsletter form; I want the same style, but need to change the content.

Drawbacks:

  • It crashes (or freezes) Firefox. If your work was not automatically saved recently, it’s gone. Ouch!! If you want to save as you go, click on file and select Save.
  • There are hidden fees. If you choose a $1 template, then there are often other graphics in the template that you need to swap out or pay $1 each. Choose wisely. If it isn’t marked “free” then it isn’t free.
  • Search doesn’t provide filters to limit the results. Also, the free and pay versions are combined so you have to scroll all the way through when choosing a free graphic.
  • You can’t select and move multiple objects. When I wanted to move a graphic and its associated text, I had to select an move each individually, which is cumbersome if you have a graphic, heading, and two sections of text to be moved
  • When editing template text or free font styles, the tool was a bit quirky….if text is overlapping, you have to move the textboxes around in order to edit the template text.
  • Adding shapes and lines is not intuitive. You have to click “search” and then choose a category. Other tools like this one instead have an icon in the standard menu (along with text, layout, background).
  • Resizing provided shapes, lines, template text, and graphics can be limited; sometimes you can only resize horizontally or vertically, which makes it a challenge to fit the object into well-defined areas

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infogr.am….a few more features than a telegram

Name: infogr.am
Cost: Free (pay version provides many more options)
Type: Internet tool
Rating: 1/5

Infogr.am logoMy Piktochart post already revealed my hidden desire to be a graphic designer in my next life. While I like Piktochart, I still am on the hunt for other infographic tools that provide different templates that are easy to modify for my needs. I’m also trying to figure out if Piktochart is my favorite, thus worth investing in a yearly subscription. I don’t know what it is about infographics that really engage my interest beyond the combination of text, color, and graphics (as compared a black/white text document). Perhaps it is a love for movie and concert posters, which draw me in emotionally as I follow the sort of story being told visually and textually. Maybe it’s because infographics allow me to cram a lot of information into one graphic without experiencing the guilt I feel with 10 PowerPoint slides with the same information.

Infogram workspace view 1

This is where you start….the templates look pretty much the same except for font and colors since you can swap out the information for your own.

Goal: Find an infographic tool with more (free) options to create how-to and brief concept overviews for students.

Benefits:

  • After logging in, an Infogram support chatbox pops up. So, if you don’t like to feel alone, you can chat with their support right away. (A quick browse of the website didn’t reveal tutorials, so perhaps the chat is needed.)
  • The various chart options are pretty good looking. Some allow color and size modifications to the content you add/edit.
  • Embed code is provided for final version.

Drawbacks:

Infogram share options

These are the “share” options for the free version.

  • Cannot use “rich text editing” without upgrading, which means you are stuck with the font style provided in the template. This is a big deal for me….I don’t like being constrained this much, especially since some of the template options don’t have enough contrast for the visually impaired (or those who just don’t want to put their reading glasses on).
  • No graphic or shape library to choose from. You need use your own graphics or use the pay version to add that type of visual interest.
  • Need to upgrade to download the completed file. The only option is to share the completed file with everyone on the web.

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