Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review of Online Office-Style and Image Editing Applications

The technology side of our assignment this week in EDT 5410 Introduction to Educational Technology consists of a review of at least one online application each in two categories: Office Suites (Google Docs, Zoho, or ThinkFree) and Image Editing (Picnik, FotoFlexer, Phixr, Sumo Paint).

Rather than picking out just one of each, I ended up looking at all of them. Of course, a couple of them, Google Docs and Zoho, I have used for several years, so they really aren't new to me at all and I really didn't need to "review" them or get to know them. As far as the Image Editing programs, I hadn't used any of them, although I have read about them and some of my friends and colleagues have used them. So, after reviewing them, here are a few thoughts about them.

Office Suites
Google Docs

  • Great collaborative tool (if shared with a team, each team member can be on the document editing it all at the same time. I consider this one of it's greatest advantages over some other office suites/collaborative tools.
  • Ability to create spreadsheets, documents, and presentations, which can be downloaded as a PDF or as Microsoft Office document, spreadsheet, or presentation.
  • Ability to upload Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, PDFs, videos, and images.
  • Ability to create surveys, comment forms, and various other forms, which are accessible from Google Docs. I have found this to be a very useful tool. 
  • I love Google! I use so many of their products and I love that all of the ones I use are FREE!
  • I'm able to link Google Docs in the project management online application I use called Manymoon
  • I'm able to sync my Microsoft documents, spreadsheets, or presentations with Google Docs automatically or manually with the Microsoft-Google Docs plug in downloadable here: Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.
  • As much as I love Google, I still like some of the offerings that Zoho has, such as discussion boards, wiki, meetings, and projects, along with offering similar products such as Google Docs offers. Although I don't regularly use Zoho, I do keep my account active to be able to share it with others as appropriate. 
  • One of the things I don't care for as much in Zoho, is that there is a cut-off point on some of the tools where they are no longer free, which is different than Google Docs, but on the other hand, it's probably not much different in that Google sales a lot of different tools and products that aren't available through Google Docs. 
  • Zoho offers several business products that could be quite useful, but I think I find them less useful for education.
  • Ability to create spreadsheets, documents, and presentations, which can be downloaded as a PDF or as Microsoft Office document, spreadsheet, or presentation, just as Google Docs and Zoho.
  • Seems to provide collaborative ability just as Google Docs and Zoho, but I didn't actually try the tools in that way.
  • It seems like a fairly easy tool to use and it offers some options within the spreadsheets, etc, than Google Docs or Zoho provides, but it doesn't appear to be as robust, so I don't know that I would ever switch to using ThinkFree over Google Docs, particularly since I use so many Google products.
Microsoft Windows Live Skydrive Online Office Applications and Storage
  • Ability to create actual Microsoft Office Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and OneNote notes, along with being able to store up to 25 MB of files for free. 25 MB of storage is not a lot of storage, but more can be purchased if desired and it's sometimes kind of handy to create the files in the real thing, rather than a converted file; because the formatting doesn't change.
  • Provides the ability to share and collaborate online, just as Google Docs, Zoho, ThinkFree, and others.
  • If you want to try it, you can access it here:

Image Editing
I didn't spend a lot of time of any of the image editing online applications noted: Picnik, FotoFlexer, Phixr, and Sumo Paint, as I have PhotoShop on my School/Professional laptop and Paint on the laptop I use for more personal things, so I don't see where I usually need to use the online apps, although I appreciated some of the effects and card creations available with a couple of them and will use them in the future for those reasons.

Below I've noted a few pros and cons that I saw after trying them out for a few minutes.


  • Easy to use and easy to get started; don't have to register, just click on the "Get Started" button.
  • Allows you to edit photos, make a collage or even a fancy collage, a slide show, and a keepsake, such as a card, etc.
  • Allows you to quickly access your photos on your computer, Google's Picasa Web album, Flickr, and PhotoBucket. 
  • There are premium services available, but you do have to pay for them, although they look like they would be fairly reasonable.
  • Very similar in many ways to Picnick, particularly for being able to quickly and easily start just by uploading a photo.
  • Allows you to access photos from the many different sites where you might have photos stored.
  • Doesn't seem to offer as many options or be as robust as Picnik.
The Christmas Card I Wish I Could Send!
  • Again, just as the others, it's easy to get started and use. 
  • Although it was easy to use and fun because of some of the cards it offered and editing options, it didn't appear to be as robust to me as Picnik and FotoFlexer. 
  • I particularly liked some of their Christmas card designs and even made up a Christmas card with a photo of me and a friend of mine from this past March. Unfortunately, I won't be able to use it for my Christmas card since we aren't seeing each other right now and he might not appreciate my putting us together on a card, but it was fun trying it out and I've included the image to the left of this text as the example. I think I may use this application or Picnik to create a Christmas card from a different photo and then print off and send it to my family and friends. I like the idea of creating my own Christmas Photo card.
Sumo Paint
  • Although I looked up Sumo Paint and tried it for a couple of minutes, I've never liked "Sumo Wrestling," so I detest the "Sumo Wrestler" face looking at me all the time on the site and although it has a lot of similar options as does Paint, the downloadable image editor that is very similar to PhotoShop, I would never use it because of the name and the sumo wrestler face icon it uses on it's website. Also, since I have PhotoShop and Paint, I would probably just use them if I wanted to do that type of editing. I guess if I didn't have any of my computers available, which is extremely rare, since I have two laptops and two netbooks and always take at least one computer with me wherever I go, I might would use Sumo Paint, otherwise NO!
In conclusion, I think it's important to make time for trying out new tools and emerging technology if an Instructional Designer/Educational Technologist wants to stay ahead of the game and wants to truly provide the best learning experiences and outcomes for learners. In my personal network, I follow Instructional Designers, Educational Technologists, Techies, Web Designers, Graphic Designers, Social Media experts, Teachers, and many others related to the various roles I play as an Instructional Designer and I do make some time almost every day, but at least once or twice a week to read up on and try new technologies to see what technologies make the most sense to be part of an effective learning experience for learners.

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