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A Picture is Worth . . .(Part 1)

Over the past year, we’ve witnessed a virtual explosion of visual tools perfect for use in our classrooms and libraries.  Allow me to illustrate a few of my personal favorites–in two posts because of the darn character count limit here!

ToonDoo, a cartoon strip generator, can be used to illustrate vocabulary, allow a literary character to speak, create a public service announcement, express a political message, or to add humor to student blogs.  You can customized the galleries of characters and backgrounds or import your own. Toons can be tagged and embedded into blogs.  They can also be posted for discussion.  This toon is courtesy of Lesley Edwards.

If you, or your school cannot afford PhotoShop or PhotoShop Elements, Picnik, an online image editing tool, will solve most of your image issues.  If offers tools for cropping, rotating, removing red eye, adjusting light, as well as tools for applying cool effects.  And it plays nice with the online photo sharing sites.  Also try or Phixr.

I don’t think a week went by this school year without me having some excuse to create a badge, a trading card, a motivational poster, a blog header, a magazine or CD cover using students’ orginal art or photographs.  We used Flagrant Disregard’s Flickr Toys to create movie posters of books, trading cards for mythological characters, to introduce new faculty with their words of wisdom, and to represent vocabulary visually on Flickr.

My presentations are now filled with little personalized messages I’ve made from the icon templates at ImageChef and Add Letters!  I also love playing with  Fodey Generators,, and the many links at Image Generator.  Because I can’t get enough of this stuff, Generator Blog keeps me up to date with emerging image generators.  Librarians might enjoy remembering the old days with CatalogCardGenerator.

Web-based concept-mapping tools, similar to the commercial product Inspiration, allow learners to create and share as they visually brainstorm, plan, organize, or take notes.  The very easy to use offers lots of color options and cool sound effects.  Gliffy is a full-featured Web-based drawing tool for creating, collaborating on, and sharing diagrams.  Its library of shapes facilitates the creation of flow charts, floor plans, and technical diagrams. ReadWriteThink’s Webbing Tool, is another easy-to-use for creating graphic organizers.  Also try Mindomo, which allows users to import outside images into concept maps.

Spell with Flickr makes it easy to create a personalized logo using Flickr’s images of letters. It’s very handy for creating blog headers.  For Halloween fun, try Spelling with Zombies.   Also try Graffiti Creator.  And, especially for librarians, amaztype creates words using piles of book covers from Amazon.

VoiceThread, mentioned in an earlier post, allows multiple contributors to analyze or enhance posted images or slideshows with voice and text.

More in the next post!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Thanks for the mention and description of Gliffy. We are very appreciative. If you have any suggestion and/or feedback please drop us a line at support @ gliffy dot com


    debik at Gliffy dot com

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