Course Authoring Tools - Part 3
by Logan Smith
I am always on the hunt for good tools that I can use for e-learning, editing courses, video, sound files, pictures, HTML, DVD's etc.
I personally have no problem paying for great products that make my life easier. I do not mind paying because if I find a great tool I want it to be around for more then one to three years.
I want to mention a couple tools for use on the PC and then finish up with a few photo editing / screen grab tools.
Classic Shell: Any time I rebuild a PC or use Windows 8.1 I cannot do anything until I first install Classic Shell. Since many of you are now upgrading to Windows 8.1 you may find it awkward to use the computer without your start button. Classic Shell brings that function back and has been around now for about 4 years. The program is free but the developer does ask for donations on his website.
TeamViewer This is a great program for viewing a remote PC or helping someone with a problem. It will allow you to remote control any computer or Mac over the internet within seconds and it is free for personal use.
If you are going to be creating courses then it is always wise to have some type of basic photo editing software available. The most common is Adobe Photoshop but this can be expensive for departments with small budgets. The other problem with Photoshop is the learning curve which is quite high. Most course editors are looking for a program that can do basic image editing such as shrink or re-size an image or do basic cropping. Two products you can check out are:
Pixlr.com Free photo editing product, this product is the most like Photoshop. It’s a straightforward photo-editing tool that allows you crop, size, and tweak etc. your image and it is free.
Serif Photo Plus The PhotoPlus Starter Edition is a free version of the paid software suite that gives users nice elementary tools to edit photos. The software covers the basics but if you want more advanced features you can pay and upgrade the product so as to access advanced photo editing tools.
Screen Capture Tools:
Snipping Tool is a great tool that many people do not even know exists. If you are using Windows 7 or above then you have access to this program. Click on your start button, you will see the Run or Search box. In that box type SNIP and a small program will open up that will allow you to take screen grabs from various portions of your screen and save them as images.
Snagit by TechSmith is another screen grab tool that offers more functionality than the snipping tool mentioned above. I often use this for posting screen grabs in admin manuals. The advantage of Snagit is that I get a bit more functionality when it comes to manipulating the screen grab photo.
EditPlus I love EditPlus because often I need to send copied text to some type of editor.. I use this tool for basic text, HTML or CSS code editing. EditPlus is like Notepad on steroids. It lets me edit my text in powerful ways and unlike notepad it has a very robust history that will allow me to undo / redo several entries. The other thing I like about EditPlus is that I can open several tabs and paste text into each of them. This is great when I am cutting and pasting a lot of text between pages, or I want to experiment or compare different bodies of text.
You can also download the free spell check dictionary from their site. It plugs right into Editplus. This is a nice feature that Notepad does not have.
I hope you are finding these articles helpful if you know of great tools you would like to share with the rest of us post them in the comment section below. In my next article i will be talking about some of the tools I use when screencasting.