Learning Technologies

JISC RSC Scotland North & East

There are a lot of great online photo editors out there. One main advantage is that there’s generally nothing to download, assuming you have a flash enabled web browser. Some don’t even require registration like picnik. Picknik’s great for quick adjustments like rotating and resizing – if you can live with the ads on the free account.

One particular application I’ve used recently is splashup (formerly fauxto). If you’re familiar with Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements you’ll feel right at home with this interface. It’s certainly more like Photoshop than Adobe’s Photoshop Express, their free online photo editor. You do get 2Gb of space to store and share your images with Express which is good to have.

Splashup’s got advanced features such as layers and layer effects. When you’re in fullscreen mode it feels almost like a full desktop application. Here’s a quick demo. I briefly show how to open an image, rotate it, add text including a drop shadow layer effect, resize it then save it.

SlideShare is an online presentation sharing tool. You can add your own presentations in PowerPoint, Open Office or pdf format. And you can share these documents publicly or privately. In common with other Web 2.O applications you can tag your presentations with keywords of your choice and post comments.

This is also a great tool for digital storytelling. SlideShare have added the ability to add your own audio files to your presentation and it provides you with an online sychronisation tool to match up your audio with individual slides. One slight niggle is that you can’t embed the audio with your presentation. The audio file has to be hosted elsewhere.

I’ve made a quick example showing you how it can be used for instructional purposes. I took some photos with the camera on my mobile phone. Transferred the pictures over to my laptop. Stuck them in PowerPoint. Plugged in a mic and recorded an audio track in Audacity (open source audio editor). Uploaded the PowerPoint to SlideShare. Uploaded the audio mp3 file to our webserver - this can be any publicly accessible place on the web. Clicked on the edit button on SlideShare to add a “SlideCast”. It then took me to the synchronisation tool so that I could line up my audio with my slides. Then clicked on “publish”. And that was it. This could be great tool for digital storytelling. And it’s also easy to share your newly created slidecast on your own blog. I’ve copied and pasted the code provided by slideshare and pasted it below. This is slidecast details my portable field recording/podcasting setup. Click the play button to hear the audio. You can aslo skip through slide-by-slide using the forward and back buttons.



Microsoft Photo Story 3 is a free tool that lets you create slideshows. You can add your own voice narration, soundtrack, captioning and motion effects. It guides you through a series of 5 or 6 screens explaining what each section does along the way. It’s very straightforward to use and the final file - a wmv video file can be uploaded and shared on site such as YouTube and Blip.TV.

Here’s a typical example of a Photo Story. I added some photos from a trip to Campbeltown, added some captions and some audio from Magnatune - you can licence music from here for free for non-commercial purposes. I then uploaded it to Blip.TV. I then copied the code provided by Blip and pasted it into this post. Blip also converts your video file over to flash format. This can be useful as you don’t need to worry about your viewers having the right video player installed. Most computers have a flash-enabled web browsers.


So how can Photo Story be used for education? It could be used for reflection. As an icebreaker at the start of a course to introduce each student - many have mobile phones with cameras or they could download creative commons licenced photos from flickr. The finished Photo Stories could be uploaded to a VLE or one of the many video sharing sites. With sites like YouTube you can restrict viewing so that it’s not publicly accessible. It could be used for evidence as part of an ePortfolio. What would you use it for?

Related Posted: Creating a Title Slide for Photo Story 3

A colleague asked me how to create a title slide for Microsoft PhotoStory 3. There are a number of ways to do this. One of the quickest ways, if you’re familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint is to create a slide, change its background colour and export it in .gif format then import it into PhotoStory.

What’s PhotoStory? It’s a free, easy to use digital storytelling tool from Microsoft. If you’d like to know more about it or would like to arrange a workshop for this please get in touch.