Free Tools and Inexpensive Options

Programs by James Falkofske

Web applications can be used within your online and hybrid course sites to increase the engagement and the practice of course content. Here are some tools and their applications.

HTML Cleaner

Falkofske's HTML Cleaner (compiled May 2009)

Here is the computer program that cleans up the "accessibility mess" left by Microsoft Word's
SAVE AS > Web Page (Filtered).

This latest version fixes the error if you already have the file to be cleaned opened in another program.

Microsoft .NET Framework (must be installed first)

HTML_Cleaner Program (.zip - must be saved and unzipped to local computer drive/not network)
Version 1.9.1 - Expiration date is December 30, 2009 - versions "time out" to ensure users get most updated versions.

File Renamer

Falkofske's FileRenamer version 3.3 (compiled May 2009)

Here is the computer program that allows you to easily rename all those large sets of digital images and media. Add prefixes, suffixes, file number index, AND remove keyword/tokens from within filenames (great for removing those "IMGP" and "DSCF" tags inside your image names). Never again accidentally copy over precious memories with your latest batch of shots.
The newest features help Document Management - by allowing you to add the date the file was last modified into the filename as a prefix or suffix in yyyyMMdd format (MissionStatement20070728).

Microsoft .NET Framework (must be installed first)
JCF FileRenamer Program (.zip - must be saved and unzipped to local computer drive/not network)

 

Educational Discounts

As educators, what we lose in salary, we make up in educational discounts on software! (grin)

If you need to toss some outdated software, you can receive an educational discount on many popular software packages.

Here are a few sources that offer academic-discounts. I have no financial ties to any of these companies - I simply "like them" as good sources of information and products.

http://www.campustech.com/ - CampusTech currently has the best site that I've found. They have prices slightly lower than other vendors, and they have finally updated their website design to offer much more detailed product descriptions and hardware requirements.

http://www.academicsuperstore.com/ - Academic Superstore used to be my favorite site, and it is now #2 only because prices seem to be a few dollars higher than my #1 pick. This site has a long history of making fabulous efforts to provide full product descriptions and hardware requirements. The site also sells some specific hardware items too (such as digitizing tablets - for photographers and graphic artists to use a pen/stylus rather than mouse). I've personally shopped this site many times, and I have always been pleased with the transactions and speed of delivery.

http://www.studentdiscounts.com/ - This site has a very useful home page, providing current pricing for the most popular software packages used by faculty and students.

If you consult or use software in your business (in addition to teaching), make sure to carefully read the license agreements, as many times commercial use is prohibited under academically priced products (Adobe is GREAT! Currently, they allow commercial use along with academic use on their products.) Visit the software publisher sites directly for more information on any limitations of the academic licenses if this applies to you.

Free Web Technologies

 

What price is better than free? Here are we technologies that you and your students might explore.

Even More Free Software and Tools

The following information provides you with no-cost tools that you can use in your courses.  The lists are organized subjectively with most familiar tools near the tops of lists. 

NOTE for D2L Teachers

Many of the online tools featured below can be embedded in a D2L News or Content page using the HTML Inline Frames (<iframe src="http://...tool.html" width="100%" height="500"></iframe>).

 

Suites of Online Tools

  • Google > More > Even More: large array of free tools for document creation, communication, image creation and editing, and multimedia.  Tools include GMail (email), Docs (online wordprocessing and presentations), Blogger (online journals), Picassa (photo editing and sharing), Talk (instant messaging), Translate (one language to another), Calendar, Groups (collaboration and group work), Earth (3-D views of the planet), Scholar (special search results for academic papers), and Google Desktop (productivity tools).
  • Zoho: free online tools that allow you to author and share documents anywhere.  Tools include word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, web conferencing, notes, databases, planners, project management, wiki, chat, mail, polls, and challenge evaluation.

Web Browsing

  • Firefox: allows you to install add-ons which customize the features and abilities of the web browser (web development tools, photo and music tools, social and communication tools, interface customizations).  D2L Compatible
  • Mozilla SeaMonkey Suite: web browsing, email client, web page editing, contact management, and an IRC engine bundled into one application.
  • Opera: fast web browser designed with special features including voice (operate the browser by talking to it and have it read documents to you), notes (add notes to web sites for your later reference), and site-based security (block popups for certain sites and allow for others).
  • Del.icio.us: Social bookmarking site; set and share your bookmarks and access them from anywhere.

Document Authoring

  • OpenOffice.Org: free office suite that is Microsoft Office 2003 compatible.  Includes Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (PowerPoint), Math (math equation and formula editor), Draw (graphics drawing tool including ability to create Flash .swf files), and Base (database tools with compatibility to SQL, MySQL, and Microsoft Access).
  • Google Docs: free, online based tools for writing (Word), spreadsheets (Excel), and presentation (PowerPoint).  Invite others to view and co-edit your documents (great for group projects).  Export to Microsoft Compatible formats (.doc, .csv) and web (.html) formats.  Requires you to create a Google user account.
  • Zoho: free online tools that allow you to author and share documents anywhere.  Tools include word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, web conferencing, notes, databases, planners, project management, wiki, chat, mail, polls, and challenge evaluation.

WYSIWYG Web Authoring

WYSIWYG is an abbreviation for "what you see is what you get," or otherwise known as a "visual" editor.

  • Google Groups Page Editor:  create and publish web pages online.
  • Mozilla SeaMonkey Composer:  Free, all-in-one internet application suite, including browser, email client, IRC chat, and HTML Editing.
  • Trellian WebPage:  Freeware application, including color highlighting of HTML code, WYSIWYG, and support for PhotoShop Plugins.
  • Amaya Web Authoring: Free, web browsing environment developed by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).
  • KompoZer:  Free, open-source, complete web authoring system with WYSIWYG, FTP site manager, CSS editor, and visible object marks.

Communication

  • Skype: online phone conferencing (with up to 10 phones at a time conferenced), and also web-cam conferencing between users.  Computer-to-computer use is free; contacts to "land-line" phone numbers requires fees.
  • AIM (America Online Instant Messaging): Instant messaging (IM) software with voice and video capability (up to 20 users at once), email (2GB storage), and photo sharing capabilities.
  • Microsoft Messenger: Instant messaging (IM), sharing of folders and files, voice and video chat, and text message to phones.
  • Yahoo! Messenger: Instant messaging (IM) software that allows swapping of files and photos, voice calls, and webcam video.
  • Meebo: online instant messaging (IM) that works with most popular IM clients (America Online AIM, Yahoo IM, Google Talk, MNS).
  • SpringDo: Create audio and video "email" messages.  User receives an email with a link to your message.  Record audio up to 10 minutes in length; record video up to 3 minutes in length.  100MB of total storage space available.
  • Vyew: Online web conferencing; free and for-pay services available.  Good for conferencing with students and project groups.

Image Editing

  • GetPaint.Net:  Paint.Net - freeware program for editing photographs, including advanced features like layers, filters, curves, etc.  When used with screenshots, the canvas will automatically expand to the size of the current clipboard image.  Thumbnails of images under edit appear in the top set of menus.
  • GiMP (Graphic Image Processor):  Free, open-source tool for photo editing with features similar to PhotoShop (layers, filters, curves, etc.)
  • InkScape: Free, open-source multi-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) graphics editor for drawings (similar to Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw).
  • FontForge: Free, open-source outline-based font editor (TrueType, PostScript)
  • Google SketchUp: Free 3-D drawing tool for architecture and virtual landscapes
  • Picnik: Free online based photo editor

Media Editing: Video and Audio

  • JingProject: downloaded tool that allows screen capture, video recording (webcam), and sharing of content online.  Useful for web-based video content.
  • Audacity: free, open-source, multi-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) sound recording and editing software.  Multi-track ability (record and mix multiple sources for music production).  Also install the LAME library for MP3 output.
  • CamStudio: free, open-source program for Windows that allows video screen recording and annotating, and allows output as AVI or Flash SWF files.
  • ToonDo: Site to easily create cartoons for your classes

Media Hosting (Store Your Content Online)

  • Flickr: 100MB of free online space to upload and share your photos, edit your photos, and then create photo products (calendars, books, stamps/stickers, etc.).  Requires a Yahoo user account.
  • TeacherTube: Upload and share educational videos.  Free hosting for videos up to 15 minutes in length and 100MB or smaller.
  • YouTube: Upload and share your videos.  Videos can be up to 10 minute long or 100 MB in size (whichever is smaller).  Create video playlists and subscriptions.  Requires a Google user account.
  • Google Video: Upload and share your videos.  Videos can be up to 100MB in size (larger if using a special software application) and can be in AVI, MPEG, QuickTime, RealPlayer, or Windows Media formats.  Requires a Google user account.
  • PhotoBucket: 1 GB of space for images and video clips, plus video and photo editing tools.  Pro account (paid) allows 5GB of space.
  • DailyMotion: allows unlimited numbers of uploaded videos (videos can be up to 150MB or up to 20 minutes). 
  • ODEO: audio podcast and MP3 hosting service. 
  • GarageBand: Free MP3 hosting for up to 200MB of content.
  • Blip.Tv: Free site to upload and manage your own videos (100MB file size limit).
  • SlideShare: Upload and share your presentation (PowerPoint, etc.) files.
  • iMeem: online community for artists, musicians, and fans can share blogs, photos, music, and video.  No current limits on number of files shared.
  • PodBean: Podcast hosting.  Free and paid accounts. 
  • MyPodcast: Free podcast hosting, unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth.  Advertising connects to your podcast, and you can earn some money based on traffic and popularity.
  • PodcastAlley: Information on how to create podcasts, edit podcasts, use podcasting software, and get podcast hosting.

Blogs and Wiki Hosting

  • Google Blogger / Blogspot: Free online blogs, including group authorship and RSS feeds.  Requires a Google user account.
  • EduBlogs: free education blogs for teachers and students
  • WikiSpaces: free and paid sites for Wikis.
  • 21Publish: set and manage your private multi-user blogs (each user up to 2MB of content)

Social Networking

  • eFolio Minnesota: multimedia electronic portfolios available to all Minnesota residents
  • MySpace: Social networking for a broad, youthful audience - with music, television, movie, and survey content.
  • FaceBook: Social networking geared toward a college audience.

Resources

Free Courses and Course Materials

 

Free Tools

 

Blogs

Other Resources