Quick overview: These two tools are great for teachers and students that work in lab where the computers are “locked down” with administrator privileges and do not allow you to install additional software. Need to quickly record a sound file and export to MP3? No problem! Want to add effects or crop a digital photo without any fancy software? Easy! These two web 2.0 tools allow you or your students to do all this from any computer with a web browser.
How can “RecordMP3.org” be used in the classroom? RecordMP3 is a free, on-line sound manipulation tool. With this little simple website, you’re only presented with just one single button – the record button! Click the button to record your voice and when you’re done the site will give you an MP3 audio file to download back to your computer. This is great tool if you’d like to create a sound byte of your voice (pronunciation, sound clip, etc) to insert in a program like PowerPoint or the SMART Notebook. While offline tools like Audacity have much more flexibility, you need administrator rights on the computer you wish to install the software. RecordMP3 works in any standard web browser. Here’s a one minute video tutorial that shows you how to use it.
How can “Pixlr.com” be used in my classroom? Pixlr is a free, on-line image manipulation tool. One can use this tool to crop and rotate images, add special effects, text, borders, and so on. What I like about Pixlr is that there are three ways to use it. If you’re not a techie person, you can use the basic playful mode to apply a few simple effects on an existing photo, even if you’ve never retouched a photo before. Need more options? Pixlr also has an intermediate mode called efficient which offers you a bit more flexibility. Lastly, if you or your students are familiar with Photoshop, you can use the advanced mode which is basically an on-line “clone” of Photoshop. The main limitation of this tool is that your students might spend more time focusing on the bells and whistles (i.e. – making a photo pretty) rather than focusing on the learning objectives of the project. My advice? If you make your students aware of this tool, a good suggestion is to ask them to limit the amount of time they spend doctoring up images.