Thing 26: Media Skills

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Image pixabay CC0 by FirmBee

Photos, graphics, GIFs, video – media is king these days! And many of us (and our students!) use media to communicate more and more.

Knowing how to use photos, take video, capture screenshots, annotate images, create collages, share images online and so on, are crucial skills that are as essential as knowing how to use a word processor or a spreadsheet. And it’s an important type of literacy, check out this article: Picting, not Writing, is the Literacy of Today’s Youth

This lesson is a hodge-podge of tips and tools related to images and video. There should be something new for everyone to explore and practice.

NOTE: Though I’ve tried to find services and tools that don’t stray into the NSFW (not safe for work) area, be aware that you never know what sort of graphics some services might display.

Photos in Education Before we get to the long list of tips and tools, here are some student photo project ideas to inspire you.


Since this lesson has such a long list of resources, we’re putting the learning activity here at the top. Remember, you don’t have to explore everything on this page! There’s a lot here to make sure everyone finds something new and interesting to do.


  • If there’s one skill you really should learn, it’s how to take a screenshot on your computer and mobile devices. Using the instructions below, take a screenshot from your various computers and devices. Share the screenshots in your blog post. Or use it to create some other media project. Lots of ideas below!
  • Already know how to screenshot? Explore something new to you. Or something familiar, but in more depth.
  • Or create a photo, video or other creative media project of some sort – simple or complex – you choose! Some more ideas listed below.
  • Whatever you choose to do, challenge yourself to learn something new and think about how you could use it with students, connecting with your school community, promote library services, etc.
  • Write a blog post about your experience. Embed your project if you can, or link to it so we can enjoy what you’ve done.



  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
  • Return to your Google Classroom, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.



Knowing how to take a screenshot is so useful.  Use screenshots to share tips on how to use a website, create a custom image to upload to Pinterest, capture an image for a presentation slidedeck, create posters, add images to web-based projects and much much more.

Windows Screenshot Tips

Take screenshots of your desktop, an application running on your desktop or in your browser.

  • Printscreen key on keyboard – creates an image of the whole screen and puts it in your clipboard, from there you can paste it into any software that will let you paste from the clipboard.
  • Alt-Printscreen – Takes a screenshot of the active window.
  • Snipping tool – Free tool built into windows, outline a freeform area, select a rectangular or freeform area, various options for saving.
  • Snagit from Techsmith – ($) Lots of features not available in free tools. Mac & PC desktop application. Free trial. Educational & individual pricing.

Macintosh Screenshot Tips

Take screenshots of your desktop, an application running on your desktop or in your browser.

  • Command-shift-3 – whole screen is copied to your clipboard
  • Command-shift-4 -portion of the screen is copied to the clipboard
  • Grab App – more options – one handy feature is a timer so you can set up what you want to show before the shot is captured.
  • Snagit from Techsmith – ($) Lots of features not available in free tools. Mac & PC desktop application. Free trial. Educational & individual pricing.

Browser Extensions – These tools capture screenshots of what you see in your browser screen. Some are specific to a particular browser and/or operating system.

  • Awesome Screenshot – Chrome, Safari, Firefox browser add-on. Options capturing whole web page, visible part or selected part. Includes cropping, editing, markup. Save online, in your Diigo account, Google Drive or to the desktop.
  • Lightshot – Another browser add on, with similar editing, markup and cropping option. Most unusual feature is option to search Google for similar images right from the screenshot editing window. Handy.

Mobile Devices and tablets

  • How to take a screenshot of your iPhone or iPad  – Push the Power and Home buttons at the same time. The screenshot will appear in your iPad photostream.
  • Taking a screenshot on Android devices varies from device to device. Do a web search for help on this one.

Misc Screenshot Tips

  • Saving an image – don’t forget the simple trick of using your mouse “right click’ to to download an image or save it to your clipboard when your on a desktop or laptop computer.
  • Snaggy – Copy an image, then paste to a box on the Snaggy page. Snaggy uploads the image to the web and gives you a URL to share the image. Very handy. (Web based only, not an iOS or Android app.)


Who needs fancy, expensive editing software when there are some great, free tools available, both online editors and desktop editors.

  • Pixlr – An amazing tool! If you’re familiar with desktop photo editors like PaintShopPro or Photoshop Elements, this free online editor will likely impress you with all it’s features. Also available for Android and iOS. (Pixlr also offers an Express version of its editor.)
  • Photoshop Express Editor – Free, iOS, Android & Windows editing app. And also available as a web tool.
  • Fotojet – Create collages, social media posts, graphics, Pinterest pins and more, simply and quickly. Start from over 700 provided templates.
  • Canva – Another tool for creating all sorts of graphics, posters, slides, Instagram images, Pinterest pins and more. More options than Fotojet.
  • The Noun Project – Fabulous repository of icons for anything and everything. Trust me, take a look, it’s an amazing collection. Free to use images if you give credit to creator. Also has a good discount price for educators. The paid account makes it much easier to recolor and download images. No credit needs to be given to images if you buy the paid account. I finally bought access and use the icons on web pages, documents and in Google Drawing projects.
  • Clipping Magic – Upload image, easy to use selection tools let you edit out the background of an image and save it as a transparent gif. (no longer free, but still a great tool.)
  • Background Burner – Similar to Clipping Magic, not quite as precise, but still free!
  • Some popular apps – Ripl, Prisma, Waterlogue
  • Snapchat and Instagram both have ways to share a selection of images and short videos to create a cohesive story.


Powerpoint and Google Slides are handy tools for making a bunch of photo/quote images quickly. Paste a photo into a slide & use the title area to write a quote over top. “Save As JPEG” will export each slide as separate image.

These online tools for creating quote graphics and word clouds benefit from having access to thousands of Creative Commons 0 licensed photos and lots of fonts.


Need an image digitized, use a scanner. Don’t have one? Use a smartphone or tablet app like CamScanner or the scanner built into the Evernote app. Check your app store, there are lots of scanning apps.  And take a look at the tips here: Free Range Scanning – tips from Joyce Valenza


The internet world is once again in love these animated images. They were hot in the mid-90′s when the web was new. And now they’re everywhere again. They’re made by either snipping out a short section of a video or by stringing together some still images and having them loop over and over.

Animated GIFs can be used to create a quick demo of how to do something as Kasey Bell demonstrates in How to Create Screencast GIFs.  They can also be used to create short digital stories. Upload a series of hand drawn and scanned sketches to make a little animated cartoon. Create PowerPoint slides with quotes and images, save them as individual images to create a short slide show.  How to Make an Animated GIF, explains how to create them with a free tool called Giphy. (my Giphy example)

There are lots of tools for creating gifs. Check the app store for your mobile device to see what is available.


This is a huge topic in itself. There are so many ways to take video now, with our smartphones, regular cameras, fancy video cams or perhaps a GoPro camera attached to your ski helmet or drone. This section lists a few tools and resources to experiment with. There are tons more!

Video Tools

  • Adobe Spark – This isn’t a video-recording tool. It lets you pull together images, video clips, music, voice-over and text to create a great video. Very easy to use and free! One of my favorite creation tools, so versatile.
  • Instagram – Video option built in for posting short videos. (iOS & Android app)
  • Magisto – I’m intrigued by this one and haven’t tried it yet. Apps, web and PC. “Magisto turns your everyday videos and photos into exciting, memorable movies you’ll want to watch again and again.”
  • 1 Second Everyday – Chronicle your year with 1 second of video every day. Strangely fascinating. (iOS & Android app)
  • Check out the iPad and Android app stores for more video apps.

Online storage

Editing, etc.


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