Category Archives: free

Storyboarding Made Easy and Automagic by Amazon Storyteller

It looks like creating a professional storyboard from an existing script just got easier with the a href=”″Amazon Storytelling Service/a.

I’m curious to if and how filmmakers, educators and others use this tool to create content.

Please share your experience here in the comments.

Duolingo – Free Language Learning Curricula (Available on Web, iOS and Android)

I can’t begin to stress how learning languages opened my life to new opportunities, coming from the countryside of Brazil
There are several ways to learn a language for free online: Skype meetups, virtual worlds, video chats, chatrooms (I used to go to my sister’s house to get on ICQ chatrooms to practice English on her computer), applications, open curricula, and so forth… many of these discussed previously on this blog.

Duolingo is especially interesting because:

  • It helps translate the Web (in partnership with Google)
  • It contains gamification elements (rewards and levels are linked to how well you perform in the application)
  • The curricula are instructionally sound and well-designed
  • It is offered on the Web, for iOS, and for Android platforms
  • It is FREE for life (especially in light of major online language learning services like LiveMocha now charging for their services)

Duolingo currently (June 2013) offers courses in:

  • Spanish
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Portuguese
  • Italian

Look for Duolingo on your app store and download it for free.

Pick a language and start learning!


Duolingo on the go

Now on iPhone and Android.

Email a link to my device

Email a link to my device

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-05-31 11:37:44). Duolingo - Free Language Learning Curricula (Available on Web, iOS and Android). Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 19, 2014, from

TONS of Free Tutorials and Videos for Learning Designers

I came across this post on the Instructional Design and eLearning Industry Professionals group on Facebook. Whether you’re trying to learn how to use Adobe Captivate 6, how to administer Moodle, create content in Articulate Storyline, or even how to use Udutu, there’s a learning opportunity for everyone.

Visit for more “free video tutorials for Educational Technologies” and sign up.

55 Free Adobe Captivate 6 Video Tutorials

34 Free Flash CS6 Video Tutorials

105 Free Moodle Video Tutorials

21 Free iSpring Presenter Video Tutorials

31 Free eFront Video Tutorials

13 Free Udutu Video Tutorials

35 Free Articulate Storyline Video Tutorials

and much much more!

Free Stock Photography and Illustration for eLearning

Designing a cool learning experience in your favorite authoring tool and the built-in images such as PowertPoint (Office) clipart is driving you crazy?

There’s an app for that, I mean, a website (more than that, actually). Here are some that I use or have used in the past:

Stock Exchange: you can download photos for free here, they have quite a vast selection. All you have to do is register and agree to the terms to download images at no cost.

IconFinder: If you’re looking for icons for your courseware and materials, this place has all you need (unless you want to create your own from scratch – good luck).


Microsoft Images (Clipart, Illustration and Photos): This website offers a LOT of great images that appear in the Office Clipart Search funtion, the search here is more comprehensive and yields fantastic results. A tip, you can download clipart images in .wmf format, bring them into a Microsoft Office application like Word or PowerPoint and ungroup that image to edit portions of it to create a new image from it! 


Note: Everyone, I know there are numerous other services like these, but I find myself coming back to these specific ones more often. Please feel free to add your own suggestions with descriptions in the comments  below and I can incorporate more services onto this post later.

Skype in the Classroom

Skype has changed the way I communicate with my family (who lives in Brazil). When I was dating my wife long-distance, in between international trips to see each other, we communicated via instant messaging (Yahoo! Messenger), email, and expensive phone cards. That was mid-2000s, video chat wasn’t available, let alone video chat via mobile devices! Fast forward to 2010, and now Skype offers video calls on the iPhone: and since I’ve been living in the U.S. for years, I can not only talk to my family in Brazil for free but also show them where I live!

Now Skype aims at changing the way the classroom sees the world and interacts with it too.

Skype in the Classroom is a project that wants to connect teachers and students with professionals out there for live video conferencing sessions. It provides an online community that allows teachers to share projects and find people that want to contribute to them. Skype has also partnered with organizations to provide expertise, be it in the form of a quick Q&A with an expert at a certain field, tagging along a professional doing their job, or having an author perform a book reading for students.

Skype in the Classroom also has a Resources section where teachers can share materials and articles to support lessons in a variety of topics. Content, can be searched and filtered by Age Group, Language, Country, and  Category.

Projects can be searched and filtered by age group, language, type of expertise, and category.

This is a great idea to expand the students’ world beyond the walls of the classroom by using a free tool!

Free Full Online Courses by Stanford University – Spring 2012

Several universities world-wide have made their courseware available in different formats over the years. A very popular format is that of podcasts on iTunesU or video lectures on Youtube. See, for instance, this broad list of “free courseware” offerings by major universities. Yale, for example, has made several past lectures available on their Open Yale website. The Open University lets students try course materials for free on their OpenLearn resources page, which. Often, these courses are nothing but pre-recorded videos and audio elements (not full interactive courses) made public by the universities as a form of community outreach (which is already great, don’t get me wrong).

However, Stanford University is blazing trails for open online courseware. Anyone (as long as they understand the recommended prerequisites)can sign up to take some of their courses online, free of charge in the Spring semester of 2012. The courses will consist of live lectures (which can also be see later in an archive), quizzes, and forums in which online students can ask questions.

The current Spring 2012 semester offerings include courses on an eclectic variety subjects ranging from Computer Science to Game Theory, from Anatomy to Linguistics:

Computer Science 101
by Nick Parlante

Software Engineering for Software as a Service (SAAS)
by Armando Fox and David Patterson

Game Theory
by Matthew O. Jackson and Yoav Shoham

Natural Language processing
by Dan Jurafsky and Christopher Manning

Probabilistic Graphical Models
by Daphne Koller

Human-Computer interfaces
by Scott Klemmer

Machine Learning
by Andrew Ng

Technology Entrepreneurship
by Chuck Eesley

The Lean Launchpad
by Steve Blank

by Professor Dan Boneh

Information Theory
by Tsachy (Itschak) Weissman

by Dr. Sakti Sirivastava

Design and Analysis of Algorithms I
by Tim Roughgarden

Making Green Buildings
by Professor Martin Fischer





List adapted from The Rohan Aurora blog.

No Texting While Driving (or Working) – DragonDictate Speech-to-Text

In my post, I always like to talk about useful tools that I personally use. Here is a lifesaver (literally, if youre the kind who cant resist texting while driving).
If you are always on the go and of course cant or shouldnt type while driving, here is a practical solution: use DragonDictate. This handy iOS app is a speech recognition tool that turns your spoken words into text. It is quite accurate too. I have made it a point to dictate this post through DragonDictate without any manual corrections.
With a simple one button interface, DragonDictate lets you speak your next blog post, e-mail, text message, tweet, or even a novel if youre that adventurous.
It also supports other languages, by the way. Did I mention it is free to download?

5 Free Online Visual Dictionary and Thesaurus Applications

Sometimes, when I need some inspiration and ideas for words to use in a project, I take the visual route and consult a “visual thesaurus”.

These handy Web applications can help you quickly find new words for a concept you’re working with, visualize its relationship with other words, and, of course, amplify your vocabulary and aid you in avoiding repetition, replication, redundancy, and echolalia, et &…

Here are a few online visual thesaurus applications that are free to use:

SnappyWords -Soon to have its open source code available for the public, SnappyWords can came in handy when you want to share a word’s connections with others: each entry has a unique search entry URL that takes users straight to its visual “network map”. This service also provides a built-in hover-over dictionary (when you hover over each word’s node, of course).

VisuWords -Very similar to SnappyWords, this application doesn’t seem to allow direct linking to specific words. Built-in dictionary.

WordVis - This simple visual thesaurus lets you filter words by different parts of speech and categories. Once again, no direct hyperlinking to specific words is provided. Built-in dictionary.


GraphWords – This visual thesaurus has handy (am I using the word “handy” too often in this post?), I meant “commodious” social media sharing buttons for quickly sharing your word maps with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Unlike the previous services on this list, GraphWords has a drawback: no built-in dictionary is provided.

Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary – This is a typical illustrated dictionary. Illustrations are available in different categories. The search mechanism (custom Google search) isn’t very effective, but the illustration work is quite comprehensive.



Free Language Learning Resources – KDE

For those looking for free language learning software, there’s always the online Rosetta Stone alternatives with a twist of collaborative learning such as: LiveMocha, Babbel, MangoLanguages, Bussu, and others (which I will discuss in another post).

For those who don’t care so much about the “practicing with a community’” part of it and just want to practice some vocabulary on their own, at the comfort of their desktop, you should try playing with the language learning tools. These tools are free to use and open source (as in freedom). They also count on a large community of users and entities (such as Vox Humanitatis) who create modules for them which are also free to download. The amount of languages covered by the materials is vast.

Parley (a vocabulary trainer) seems to be the most comprehensive of the tools on’s language learning page. It uses spaced repetition as it main guiding principle, a technique which is quite effective for learning concepts and storing them in the long term memory.



Para aqueles à procura de software grátis e livre para o aprendizado de línguas, há várias alternativas para o Rosetta Stone online  com um “quê”de  aprendizado colaborativo como: LiveMocha, Babbel, MangoLanguages, Bussu, e outros (os quais discutirei em outros posts).

Para aqueles que não se importam tanto com os aspecto de “prática com a comunidade’”  e simplesmente querem praticar vocabulário sozinho, no comforto do seu PC, experimente as ferramentas de prática de vocabulário do projeto language. Essas ferramentas são grátis e de código aberto. Além do mais, o projeto conta com uma grande comunidade de usuários e entidades  (como a Vox Humanitatis) que criam módulos para as ferramentas (que também são grátis para se baixar). A quantidade de línguas abordadas pelos materiais é vasta.

Parley (uma ferramenta de treinamento de vocabulário) me parece ser a ferramenta mais compreensiva do O Parley usa o conceito de repetição espaçada como seu princípio fundamental, uma técnica bem eficaz em aprendizado de conceitos que preza o armazenamento de informação na memória de longo.

Finding Alternatives to Software and Websites You Need

People often ask me how I know so many different tools and website off the top of my head. Normally, when someone says they have a problem I feel compelled to ask them if they know “such and such tool” right away. For one thing, I love gadgets, tools, websites. The useful kind, that is. Secondly, I love to stay in touch with the latest in technology. In order to do that, I often try new sites, sign up for betas, and visit sites that aggregate news and lists of tools and useful websites.

Here is a short list with some websites I visit regularly just by curiosity or when a need arises (e.g. “I need a free alternative to software [such]“). – This website lists software (and web applications) that are similar to other resources you may know. For instance. if you are interested in an alternative to Photoshop, you can search for Photoshop on the website’s main page and be redirected to a list of similar tools, all tagged with relevant keywords. Each tool you decide to find out more about has its own page with:

  • links to the developer’s website for downloads and documentation
  • feature set
  • platform (Windows, Linux, Mac, Web),
  • community ratings,
  • comments by other users that have the software,
  • whether it is open source, commercial, or free of charge.

See this sample search for Photoshop. – The name says it all: Similarsites lets you find alternatives to websites you already know. The search results and information provided here are by far less comprehensive than what’s seen on Alternativeto. However, it does provide a quite accurate list with links to sites that are similar to the one you searched for in their database. – osalt lets you search for open source alternatives to commercial software you may know, and vice-versa. – This website is a great aggregator for Web applications. The search is very comprehensive with very well-delimited tags. Even though the name is a bit dated with the “2.0″ designation there, their are constantly adding new websites to their database. – Very similar to Go2Web20, Listio keeps an excellent list of Websites and Web applications. The difference here is that Listio is more community-run. À la Digg, people post, vote, and comment about websites they find useful. When you find a Website you like, Listio shows you a list of similar ones.

KillerStartups – Another community-submitted, community-voted list of useful Websites and Web applications.


Tip: you can also just do a Google search with the name of a tool or website you know + “alternative.” For instance: photoshop alternative.



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