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Ed Tech / Instructional Design Tools

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This page will serve to highlight some of the tools that can be used to enrich the learnng experience afforded to students and their varied learnig styles.

Technology is changing rapidly with many tools being available on computers as well as on mobile devices.  The concept should be to encourage folks to use the tools that today are either Open Source or are available at minimal cost.  Of course, some tools can be even less expensive when pbtaining volume licensing.  Standardization can be good while it can also be not such a good thing considering the wealth of available tools.  As far as training on these tools...well that is individually determined.  Most of the tools (including cloud based tools) are used by millions of folks globally.  Most of the tools are such that you just log in (or download) the tool and use it.  Certainly, many provide great tutorials (like Camtasis, for eample).  Almost all devices today (maybe except for desktops..who buys those really) come with a microphone and a video camera. Many videos can be downloaded and included in a course, and, of course, many can be stored in the cloud where a link to the content is provided. Some examples: Vimeo, YouTube, SoftChalk Cloud, Prezi, and the list goes on.  Of course one can "share" content on the wealth of available personal cloud services.  Basically the options, as well as the tools are vast beyond belief (especially the Open Source tools).  There is no real answer other than it is 2013...use the tools.  They always said "A Picture is Worht a Thousand Words".  Now is the perfect time to put this into practice.

Image Editing

Including images in your document can make the world of difference.  The images import well into Canvas in a variety of ways.  In addition, you can include images in the content that you create (also in a variety of ways). Sometimes, however, you may want to crop these images or add some special effects. Or, you just may want to reduce the size of the image.  There is no need to go crazy over image size and resolution of an iamge placed in a course. CLICK HERE for some tips on adequate image sizes to use in a variety of applications.

Of course, as with anything else, a wealth of image editors exist.  First of all, you can take a look at the suite of products.  For your Mac, CLICK HERE to see some of the best products for 2013. For a reivew of other options, CLICK HERE.

Many of you have n Apple Mobile devive.  There are a wealth of photo editing applications.  They all work well, and it is quite easy to get your image over to your "personal file area".... or cloud storage area, or upload to your LMS.  Here is a list of 20 great imaging apps for your Applie mobile device.  There are a ton more. The cost is either free or marginal.  The resulting images are priceless.

Of course, a couple of personal favorite apps are Pic Collage and Camera+ - take a look. Thanks to the addition of the  FaceInHole app, one of the following pictures was genertaed:

Let's never forget abput Open Source software.  Take a look HERE at some of the free Open Source  image editing applications.  The most popular, and certainly most comprehensive is Gimp.

Basically, your options are endless as far as image editing software is concerned.  They are all very easy to use. Which one should you pick?  I say, you probably should have several.  The tools are excellent even just for your own personal photos.

Video Editing

Video editing tools abound.  Many Operating systems have these tools (basic) as a part of the sysem.  The work well.  In particular, iMovie from Apple is really powerful.  But, again, there are many tools available from zero cost, to very expensive.  Click HERE for the top 2013 video editing tools (for cost). And HERE is another list which includes some Open Source ones.  When creating video, always keep in mind the attenion span of students.  Keep them short and to the point.  Probably, a two hour video (or even an hour) will not be the best stratgey.  Who knows, maybe 15 minutes tops with a majority being several minutes?  Just do not make them too long.  Most likely they weill not be watched in entirety.

Screen Capture

The market is flooded with a myriad of free and for purchase Screen Capture software products. Thes product work great for providing simple screen shots to full blown demonstrations of "something".  Certainly, making use of some of these producs can enrich a course and the resulting learning.  They serve as a great opportunity to minimize the extensive use of text documents, explanations, and other forms of content.  The students have been requesting this for a long time, and now, the possiblities are near endless.  At preset, there is no "offical" site licensing of most of the products mentioned.  However, as with other products, a wealth of Open Source applications exist to accomplish the task.

It varies like the wind, but the most common software for screen capture and recording can be found at the following links: - Relatively expensive

Here are some others:

2013 Best Screen Capture Software:

The list(s) can go on. Do you want to just make screen shots?  Do you want to make video?  Do you want to do both?  It is certain, that both will eventually be the answer for a variety of application. I guess the best approach:  determine what you want to do, and then find what can do it best at a reasonal price (or free).  Be careful of products the output Flash files (like Jing).  The work great, but the results cannot be viewed on Apple Mobile devies.  Using mobile devices for courses will experience a sharp increase over time.

Some of the best results have come with Camtasia especially in conjuntion with a presentation tool like Prezi.  You can make your Prezi.  Then you can record the presentation with annotations (audio and video) using your selected screen capture / recording software (like Camtasia).  Right, you can mix and match all of the products / suggestions on this page.


Certainly there will be times when you wish to include Presentations in your course.  These can be just a mere set of PowerPoint Presentations from the text book, or they can be as fancy as you would like.  These presentations, of course, can be annotated with vouce if you would like (through a variety of tools).  In addition to providing course content, these presentation tools can be used by students to create a"slide show" for their final project...which, of course, can be submitted, or actually Presented through the Web Conferencing feature of Canvas.

Hereare some link to some of some the best available tools on the market (of course, Prezi is a favorite):

This site is a little dated, but here are some criteria you may use in the selections of online presentation software (or any for that matter):

Cloud Storage

Well, in this day and age, the use of USB Thumb drives is probably dead and inconvenient. And, of course, folks lose them all the time. Personal cloud storge solutions are so readily available that it could make your head spin. Most come with some free space to start, and the upgrade prices are usually minimal (relatively speaking).  However, with the ever falling prices of dosk storage technology, and the availability of solutions, there is really no need manage storage yourself.  Of course, security is a concern, but if you are wise, you just do not place "data sensitive" materials in the cloud (like your Turbo Tax files). The goal of all this:  your files are at your finger tips regardles of what devive you are on, and from anywhere in the world.  Of the many, certainly Dropbox seems to have been the most popular, but there are many more.  Some of the other favorites are:  Google Drive, Sky Drive, SugarSync, Box, and iDrivesync (of course, there are many others and the list can go on). For one area of comparison, tkae a look at this: Personal Cloud Storage Comparison.

It is very likely, that you will select more than one solution. Almost all of them provide an application for your favorite mobile device.  No more reams of papers that need to be printed.  Just open any needed file, from any device.  Of course, at meetings, folks will think you are just playing with your phone.  So what if you are, but you can also be viewing the files needed for a particular meeting. Need to edit a file and store it in the cloud, no problem.  All of your files are in the cloud and at your fingertips.  In addition, almost all have client applications that allow the folders you sync to be synced across all of your computers.  Drop a file in one of these synch folders, and there you go...the file is stored in the cloud and is updated on any device at your disposal.  Pretty great technology, and it will continue to get even better.  The competition is tough.

So, in addition to using these services for your own personal use, they are also a good source of sharing files to anyone.  A possible great collaboration opportunity.  You merely create a shared link to a file and folder, and share that link to others. When "sharing time" is over, you merely disable the link. Of course, for shring that requires more longevity (like from course to course, for example), then a more formal and permanent solution would probably be required: (streaming server, Content Management Server, FTP Server, others). It is har to recommend which one to actually pick.  Again, Dropbox is the leading contender (but may not have the bells and whistles afforded by other providers). Again, have more than one, and understand the advantages / disadvantages of each.