Monthly Archives: September 2015

Polarr: A Great Free Photo Editor For The Web & More

POLARR Editor for the web

With more and more companies harnessing the power of the web, our reliance on traditional desktop software is not always what it used to be. Photo editors are a great example of that. Photoshop is amazing, but infinitely more powerful than 90% of us need. That’s why free apps like Polarr are becoming so popular. It is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and the web, and it is easy enough for anyone to use. Here’s how it works.

The web version is available at www.polarr.co. It works in all modern browsers, as well as Chrome OS. You can upload images from your computer, or connect cloud accounts like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Flickr or Instagram and grab images from those accounts. There’s even a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome that lets you open any image on the web into the Polarr editor. While this is great for free images, it does have some obvious opportunities for abuse. However,  Polarr does remind you to respect the intellectual property of copyright holders.

The editor is very intuitive if you have used any kind of image editors in the past. In fact, if you have used Lightroom before, you will be right at home and be up and running in no time. It may be a little daunting for beginners, but it is easy to navigate and quick to get used to.

The left panel has a selection of image filters, as well as a History tab that lets you step back in time to reverse any edits you make. The right panel has a wealth of image adjustments. On the Basic tab you get access to sliders for temperature, tint, exposure, highlights, shadows, saturation and more. Further down, you will find a tone curve, HSL adjustments, split toning, sharpening, and other effects like vignettes and film grain.

polarr editor interface

There are also a number of tools available to help optimize your image to your liking. The cropping tool will be familiar to most people, but the radial or graduated filters are usually reserved for premium photo editors. With Polarr, you get those for free. There is even a histogram to help you see the true effect of the adjustments you make.

Not sure what the clarity slider is for? Need some help understanding curves? Fear not. Polarr has you covered. A simple help guide is available with jargon free explanations on each of the sliders and features that area available to you. There are before and after examples as well as a live preview of what happens when you apply a given effect. See the Polarr guide here.

vignette help

Is Polarr good for schools? Absolutely. It’s free, doesn’t require you to set up an account in order to use it, and it interfaces seamlessly with all your favorite cloud services. It is also available for iOS and Android devices, as well as the web, so the chances are very high that you will be able to use it in some form or another regardless of your device. Here’s a video of Polarr in action…

 

Turn Your iPad into a Document Camera with IPEVO

IPEVO Whiteboard App for iPad

The IPEVO Whiteboard app for iPad is a great, free solution for teachers who want the benefits of a document camera, without the added cost of new hardware. It is an extremely versatile app that gives you yet another way to use your iPad for teaching and learning. Here’s how it works.

Although you absolutely can use the app with a compatible IPEVO document camera, you really don’t need to because the IPEVO app can be used in three additional ways. You can use it with your iPad’s video camera, you can import an image from your camera roll, or you can use a whiteboard. An array of annotation tools (pens, text, and a pointer tools) are available for you in all of these modes.

IPEVO app screenshot

The app itself is very easy to use with intuitive icons and a self-explanatory navigation. However, if you get stuck, you can tap the question mark in the bottom left-hand corner to get an overlay of the functions that each button will perform.

To take advantage of an app like this, you really need the ability to connect your iPad to an LCD projector or an HDTV. In the camera mode, the projector allows the whole class to see something they may not all normally be able to see at once, and give the chance to annotate over a lab experiment in science, a piece of student work, an historical artifact or whatever else you want to show. You even have the option of recording live video while you annotate on your screen.

In the whiteboard mode you have a portable interactive whiteboard that you can use to teach lessons or pass around to students so that they can demonstrate their learning. However, you again have the option of recording while drawing on the whiteboard. This means you can create great looking screencasts quickly and easily. All of your recorded videos are saved automatically to the camera roll for future use.

IPEVO help menu ipad

Of course, if you do use your iPad as a document camera, a stand to sit your iPad on is very useful. However, it needn’t be an expensive outlay. Makeshift items like a spare locker shelf works just as well. Clint Stephens also has a great YouTube video on how to make your own for about $7 in spare parts. Document camera stands can also be great for more than just traditional uses of a document camera. They can also be great for making stop motion movies. Check out the example below from Tami Rondeau’s class and you will see what I mean, or get more ideas by reading this article: Using an iPad as a Document Camera.

IPEVO Whiteboard is an app I have been showing teachers for a little while now, and every time I demonstrate it, I get the same positive response, not least because it does so much for free. It deos the job of several individual apps, and it does it very well. So, if you haven’t tried it out yet, the IPEVO whiteboard app is well worth a look.