Name: Wideo [UPDATED: This is the new link]
Free for 45 second videos [UPDATED: no free version available]
Type: Internet tool
As mentioned often on this blog, there are many more options than PowerPoint when presenting text and graphics (and audio) in a video format. To be honest, if I am pressed for time, I still go old-school with PowerPoint and Camtasia to create videos based on slides saved as graphics and transitioned together. This is especially useful for longer videos since most other tools require subscriptions for videos over a minute or so. Wideo provides templates so that I don’t have to put thought into the overall design or animation/transitions when creating videos.
I am forced to keep my stunning and enthralling messages to 45 seconds (for the free version), which is probably appreciated by my students.
UPDATE: Ugh! Wideo is no longer available free. Which is disappointing, but even more so that the videos I created are now gone unless I pay for the subscription option. So, my review hasn’t changed except that it is no longer is as accessible for those of us who rely on free versions of software. Considering there are other options that are partially free on the internet, I’d suggest playing around with a free option than investing in Wideo unless you have a budget you need to spend. I’ve edited some of the review content to reflect the change.
Since the free version is no longer available, I thought I’d provide the list of prices and features.
For those of you who can prove you’re in education (teacher or student), there are cheaper options. Again, I’m not a big enough fan of this tool to even pay the cheaper prices.
Goal: Create videos with some text (not much) and visual interest that look (almost) professionally designed.
This is what the workspace looks like when using a template.
- Blog and newsletter provide tutorials and insights.
- Templates are provided to get you started.
They seem to be within the 45 second (free) time frame.
- Templates have guides built in (e.g., Insert Image Here)
- Provides photo editing tools, including special effects, frames, lighting, resizing, touch-ups, stickers, and meme.
- Guidelines appear when moving textboxes so that you can line things up.
- Upload your own voice over files or choose from three background music options.
Limited to 45 second videos, which might actually be a benefit if you’re like me and tend to cram too much information into one presentation.
- Wideo.co watermark appears throughout video
- Editing can be a bit tricky. You have to slide the marker on the time line to see all the items in a template slide. So, if five items are animated on the slide, you may only see the first three when editing, but you can reveal the next two by adjusting the timeline.
- Without watching any tutorial videos, I can’t readily figure out how to animate graphics I add to the video. They appear in place (rather than flying in like the template’s text).
Cannot download the completed project in the free version. This means the video is shared on the web (can be reused and seen by the public).
- Cannot change the color of objects from the icon library (e.g., a light bulb icon only appears in black outline).
Type: Internet (plus app)
There 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)
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.
- 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.
- 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.)
Cost: Free (mostly)
Type: Internet tool (iPad app)
I 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.
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
- 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.
- 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
Cost: Free (pay version provides many more options)
Type: Internet tool
My 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Cost: Free for some features ($25/year for full features)
Type: Internet tool
The first draw towards this tool was the title: BeFunky. I’m not really the funky type, though I sometimes accidentally hit on funky and claim that it was intentional. The second draw was the website’s slogan: Photo Editing and Graphic Design Made for Everyone. Since I’ve spent more time as a student than not, I’m all for gaining ground on other careers without going back to school. The photo editing aspect is like PicMonkey, though perhaps with a few other options, such as adding mustaches to your photos. The tool allows you to create collages to bring together several photos (and perhaps add text), along with a “Designer” mode that provides templates for a variety of situations (e.g., creating a menu or invitation image). I am not at a “social” point in my life, where menus, invitations, and thank you cards are needed, but I’m realizing that perhaps my blog could use a bit of help. I generally let my photos and graphics speak for themselves, but the design aspect of this tool allowed me to consider how text can enhance the photos.
Like PicMonkey, there are themes and overlays you can add to your photos. Here are a few options.
Goal: Find an easy to use tool for creating graphic design like projects or graphics (with text) to use in the classroom.
- There is a brief tour when you first get started, though the tools are fairly intuitive. As you use the tool, there are pop-up windows with further insights, so just start clicking if you need more tutoring.
- No login or registration is required.
- There’s an app version.
- Really easy to use. Start with a design template. Swap out the photo for your own (even adjust the photo coloring, etc.), if you don’t like the one in the template, and then modify the text as needed. Done.
- Your completed photo can be saved as JPG or PNG to your computer or you can upload it to various social media options. Quick and easy.
- Slightly addictive. There are several free templates and other features to play around with, so be prepared to drop into the abyss and lose hours at a time.
- If you are even a little experienced with graphic design (and related tools), then this tool is too simplistic for you since you don’t need to start with simple templates to edit photos and add text. (But if you’re pressed for time, then see the Benefits listed above.)
- Related to the previous point, the infographic templates are simple, yet tedious to swap out the existing information in the template. I would not use BeFunky for these types of projects. (See Piktochart instead.)
- If Flash crashes while designing, your work is completely lost.
- In order to access some graphics, you need to create a login. (But, the “free” options are pretty nice if you choose Pixabay.)
Cost: Free (limited options)
Type: Internet tool
I love the infographic trend! Okay, I’m a little behind since that trend has been around for a several years, but since infographics often are based on numbers, it took me a while to understand them since I’m an English major. Granted, infographics can be used for evil, especially on unsuspecting English majors who have to do math in order to figure out if the statistics are even logical. But, I still think they’re cool and I want to make them myself. Actually, my quest did not begin with the idea of making an infographic (again, because I don’t want to deal with numbers), but rather the need to create one-page newsletters and cheat sheets that are visually appealing. I tried using a table in Word to create a newsletter that I could swap information in and out of like a template…yeah, tragic. Then, I moved on to Scribus (think InDesign or Publisher desktop publishing)…yep, epic fail. But, Piktochart lets me create a streamlined and interesting looking one-page newsletter without much fail or epic involved.
After logging in, you can choose the type of document you want to create and then the template.
Goal: create a one-page newsletter like document to briefly review the unit’s highlights
- I only partially paid attention to the brief tutorial, and was still able to figure the tool out.
- As you maneuver textboxes and graphics around your workspace, guidelines appear so you can easily line each feature up prior to placing it. (e.g., all icons can be lined up in a row)
- Great selection of backgrounds, graphics, and icons to choose from (even in the free version)
- The phrasing of some of the tools and features is a little confusing. E.g., adding a “block” is adding a whole new page, whereas I think of block as a textbox or module on the page
- Some of the TEXT FRAME options are really interesting, but you can’t edit the color or font size for most.
- You can’t make text changes to single words in a textbox…it’s either all bold or not at all. It’s also single-space.
- PNG and JPG are the only file download options, unless you “level up” (i.e., pay), then you can download as a PDF….I have Adobe Acrobat Pro, so I can convert the JPG to a PDF
- I can’t seem to reuse my completed projects as templates for new projects. Right now, I’m just cloning a page to appear at the end of the document; when I download the whole JPG, I can download each page (block) as separate files.