Category Archives: WebApps

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.

Getting Creative with Videos and Presentations for Learning (birthday parties too)

Death by PowerPoint is a myth. The true fatal diagnosis to millions of audience members that die daily in seats at training events, classrooms, conferences, and webinars world wide is the epidemic of poor design boredom.

With a little bit of creativity and just the right tool (and that includes PowerPoint), you can design simple yet effective visual presentations for concepts that are hard to visualize, or that you’d simply like to make more engaging, fun, eye-catching.

Here are a few tools I’ve used in the past that let you create live presentations and/or videos that won’t kill your audience and will keep their attention for longer than 5 seconds… oh, but again, the best tool is a creative brain that is not afraid to experiment, have fun, make mistakes… as much as we designers like to say humor isn’t universal, it is. Why not have fun and entertain your audience while they learn. Airlines have caught up to that idea


Sparkol / Video Scribe – While Sparkol is a presentation tool while Video Scribe is an animated, well, video scribing tool. I’ve always enjoyed seeing those videos that have artists draw on the screen concepts that are being explained in real-time, as the narrative progresses. This is exactly what Video Scribe lets you achieve without having to draw a single image. It recognizes lines in vector graphics (readily and freely available on websites like OpenClipart) to generate an illusion of a hand drawing the images progressively on the screen. Videos can be exported into various formats available (including direct publication to Youtube).

Prezi – Prezi has been around for a while. It allows you to create zoom in/zoom out presentations and videos on what they call an infinite canvas. Sequences created in Prezi don’t necessarily have to follow the linear nature of most PowerPoint presentations, and can be quite stunning. Prezi also lets you collaborate with your teammates in real time.

Spicynodes – This tool allows you to create non-linear and interactive mindmap presentations that can better represent your thought process or sequence.

Cite this article:
Silva E (2012-11-14 16:30:37). Getting Creative with Videos and Presentations for Learning (birthday parties too). Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 23, 2014, from

Youtube EDU

There is a vast sea of information out there. In fact, it’s hard not to avoid drowning in it if you, as an educator or learner (which we all are) don’t put strategies in place to organize content by aggregating it using different bookmarking and sharing Web applications (which are a dime a dozen. Tools like Diigo and Pinterest, for instance, are excellent examples of aggregation tools which employ bookmarking and sharing mechanisms.

However, content aggregation can still be an overwhelming task. That’s where content curation comes in play. Services like Smartbrief thrive at selecting target news for users by means of curators. Only the “best content” (at the curators will) are included in perdsonalized newsletters or news briefs which the users can select to receive via email.

Similarly, Youtube is launching Youtube EDU to solve what has been a major pain point for educators trying to use Youtube in the classroom for a long time: inappropriate and irrelevant content. A curation platform for educators, Youtube for Schools allows teachers to select just the right educational videos for their students.

According to Mashable, there are already over 400 playlists curated by Youtube itself in partnership with 600 Education venues including major ones such as the Smithsonian and TED, all organized by grade level, content area (such as Lifelong Learning) and subject matter.

Educators can learn more about producing and sharing their own Youtube videos in the tutorials presented here as well as submit their own playlists to Youtube EDU.

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.



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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