Tag Archives: software

Quiz Software

Hot potatoes
http://hotpot.uvic.ca/
Has 6 question types, interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises.  Although FREE its project phase is now over and any quizzes created in this software can only be exported to SCORM1.2.

WebQuiz XP
http://eng.smartlite.it/en2/products/webquiz/
Has 5 question types multiple choice, multiple answer, true / false, fill-in-the-blank (text, whole number, number, mixed) and essay.  Although the fill in the blank was good, it wasn’t that flexible and not intuitive to use.

Seminar learning System
http://www.seminar.co.uk/
Has 8 question types multi-choice, Yes/No, True/False, Matching, Ordered, Typed, Free Text and Branch.  It’s easy to use and is a flexible tool in that you can embed questions into a ‘presentation’ and have video.

Respondus 4.0
http://www.respondus.com/
Supports 15 question types and has similar features to Questionmark and is very easy to use.  Also creates a ‘bank’ of questions which can be exported directly to many of the LMS’s on the market.

  • Convert exams from MS Word, including images, equations, and tables
  • Access thousands of ready-to-use test banks (free!), from dozens of leading publishers
  • Publish assessments directly to an online course, or print to paper
  • Migrate assessments from one learning system to another
  • Integrates with: ANGEL®, Blackboard®, Desire2Learn®, eCollege®, Moodle®

Only exports to SCORM1.2

Wondershare QuizCreator
http://www.sameshow.com/quiz-creator.html
Flash quiz which has 9 Question Types – True/False, Multiple Choice, Multiple Response, Fill in the Blank, Matching, Sequence, Word Bank, Click Map and Short Essay.  This software also allows you to embed .flv and .swf files, .mp3 and screen captures – which could be useful.  Publishes to SCORM2004 and is really easy to use, you can also ‘brand’ the output files (html) if you wish.

The interface is similar to Microsoft Office where all the functions are in the toolbar and you can set up a blank page at the start with instructions and embedded audio instructions if required.  Unfortunately, when I tried this it would crash, who knows why!

iSpring Quizmaker
http://www.ispringsolutions.com/products/ispring_quizmaker.html
Also has an interface similar to Microsoft office but I found I couldn’t add an audio track or instruction page.  It exports to flash only NO SCORM 2004 but you can embed the flash file.

There 10 Question Types – True/False, Multiple Choice, Multiple Response, Type In, Matching, Sequence, Numeric, Fill in the Blank, Multiple Choice Text and Word Bank – and it is easy to use and set up questions

It is a very basic, quick and dirty solution, easy to use and has the advantage of being able to embed Youtube videos into the questions.  It has a good fill in the blank question but as yet is not SCORM 2004 compliant.

Questionmark Perception
http://www.questionmark.co.uk/uk/index.aspx
This has 4 key areas, Analyses and sharing including export to excel; while the authoring tool allows you to brand the content and standardiise your quizzes.  There are other administration tools such as scheduling for managing participants.

The biggest difference between this and other quiz software is that there are 22 question types which can be created and stored in a ‘database’, it can be embedded into HTML/XHTML but it looks like you can’t brand it.

It can be embedded into the IBM WebSphere Portal, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, SharePoint, MediaWiki, Moodle, Google Wave, NING and it can also be delivered to an iPhone/iPod Touch.

“All question types can include graphics, multimedia, Flash, sound, videos, and URLs pointing to useful learning materials. Perception Authoring Manager allows you to use 22 different question wizards to create a wide variety of question types.”

After creating the topics, questions are created/added to them, mix-‘n-match if you like.

The 22 question types are Drag-and-Drop, Essay question, Explanation screens, File Upload, Fill-in-the-blank, Hotspot, Knowledge Matrix, Survey Matrix, Likert scale, Matching, Multiple choice, Multiple response, Numeric questions, Pull-Down List (selection question, Ranking (Rank in Order), Select-a-blank, True/False, Word response (text match), Yes/No, Adobe Flash, Adobe Captivate Simulations, Spoken Response.

Integrates and publishes to LMS, AICC, SCORM 1.2 and 2004, Web services API and LMS’s through Questionmark connectors (Publish to LMS, Printing and Scanning, AICC, SCORM, JSR-168 Compliant Portals, SAP Enterprise Learning, Microsoft SharePoint, Blackboard, Moodle and uPortal.

By far it’s the best one out there as it integrates with so many systems.

Question writer
http://www.questionwriter.com/
This has 9 question types Multiple Choice, True/False, Multiple Response, Fill in the Blank, Matching, Sequencing, Essay, Explanation, Partial Credit.  It’s licensed on a per-author basis. You need a license for each person using the desktop software, but you can allow as many users as you like to take the quizzes.

It’s OK but there are better ones available in my opinion.

Repositories

There are a number of off the shelf resolutions for a central storage system for all the resources that someone creates which may include images, audio, video and eLearning resources.  The key criteria for all of the repositories is that it supports the file types you use, has an easy web interface and is easy to search and, possibly, tag with metadata and above all it needs to be scalable.

Commercial Options

Media silo
http://www.mediasilo.com/
They offer a Cloud Based storage solution which will allow online access at any time with a batch upload facility.  Used mainly for video but could be used for other formats and has a very simple interface.

Packages available:

  • Home Package (FREE): 1GB monthly bandwidth, 1GB monthly storage, 1 workspace, 1 channel and 2 users
  • Studio ($79.00/month): 5GB monthly storage, upload files up to 100MB, 5 workspaces, 2 channels and 10 users
  • Hollywood ($99.00/month): 100GB monthly storage, upload files up to 2GB, ftp upload, 5 channels, 10 concurrent projects and unlimited users
  • Enterprise ($299.00/month): Custom branding and URL, final cut server integration and increased bandwidth and storage

Sendspace
http://www.sendspace.com/
No login and password required you just send the link for a direct download.  There are no tagging or search functions and it would only be used for a quick fix when sending the odd big file to someone.

There are a number of packages which give you unlimited uploads with no advertising pop-ups and a free hosting package.

Available packages:

  • 300MB for free uploads
  • $6.99 per month
  • $29.99 for 6 months
  • $39.99 for 12 months

Dropbox
http://www.dropbox.com
File sync from anywhere with a web interface and you can either download the app for your PC, use a desktop icon where you can “click and drag” files from your pc to the drop box for sharing, or just access the files from the web interface.

It works really well and any changes show instantaneously.

However, there are no tagging/meta data features and only users invited to the area have access to the files, but you can work on them locally and save them directly to the online drop box.

Functions avaialable:

  • Online storage
  • Sync
  • File Sharing
  • Online Backup
  • Web Access
  • Security & Privacy
  • Free Mobile apps

Open Source

Language Box
http://languagebox.ac.uk/
JISC funded system designed, built and run by the Faroes project team at the University of Southampton and the University of Portsmouth.

Used for storing, managing and publishing language teaching resources on the web.  This is free and has a very simple interface and categorisation system.

This free repository is for language teachers and students alike so they can share resources, learning materials and links on web sites.  These resources can be reused as is or to create new activities.

Fedora Commons (DuraSpace)
http://www.fedora-commons.org/
“The Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture is a conceptual framework that uses a set of abstractions about digital information to provide the basis for software systems that can manage digital information.  Developed by researchers at Cornell University as an architecture for storing, managing, and accessing digital content in the form of digital objects”.

Some of the categories are:

  • broadcasting and media
  • consortia
  • corporations
  • government agencies
  • IT-related institutions
  • medical centers and libraries
  • museums and cultural organizations
  • national and public libraries and archives
  • professional societies
  • publishing
  • research groups and projects
  • semantic and virtual library projects
    • university libraries and archives

Key features of Fedora Repository Software.

  • Store all types of content and its metadata
  • Digital content of any type can be managed and maintained
  • Metadata about content in any format can be managed and maintained
  • Scale to millions of objects
  • Access data via Web APIs (REST/SOAP)
  • Provide RDF search (SPARQL)
  • Rebuilder Utility (for disaster recovery and data migration)
  • The entire repository can be rebuilt from the digital object and content files.
  • Content Model Architecture (define “types” of objects by their content)
  • Many storage options (database and file systems)
  • JMS messaging (your apps can “listen” to repository events)
  • Web-based Administrator GUI (low-level object editing)
  • OAI-PMH Provider Service
  • GSearch (fulltext) Search Service
    • Multiple, customer driven front-ends.

Once the resources have been uploaded they can be searched through from a webpage.

intraLibrary
http://www.intrallect.com
It was originally developed for University practice about 10 years ago, it is now very much a commercial enterprise and although perhaps more expensive than the others it does offer a very extensive system for uploading and searching resources.

There are 2 licensing options as follows:

  1. “contributor” is aimed at small projects or cross-organisation collaborations.  Licensed for any number of users but limited to the amount of users who will actually be putting up the content
  2. “institutional” is designed for adoption by a whole organization and the number of contributors is not constrained, so that a large proportion of staff can contribute.

Can be used as an image bank and when searched thumbnails are displayed as well as a lightbox view while NISO z39.87 image metadata can automatically be extracted and populate the metadata fields using a template.  Digital objects such as video and audio are also supported as well as star ratings, advanced search, RSS feeds in a personal profile area, external resources either by download or by making the URL public, giving access to the resource to someone who does not have a user account.

Stores individual files, IMS and SCORM, existing elearning, portal and desktop infrastructure and file upload is through a web-based upload page.  It has a web-based metadata and classification editor tool and the administrator can configure which fields a simple search looks int.  It also supports the following metadata:

  • IMS and SCORM package manifest
  • IEEE LOM
  • IMS Learning Resource Meta-data
  • NISO z39.87 technical image metadata
  • ODRL rights expression metadata
  • Dublin Core metadata by allowing export metadata in Dublin Core XML format
  • Other types can be developed if necessary
    • Individual imported files can be exported as IMS content packages with any created metadata.

Metadata subsets can be created to allow only certain fields to be completed by the user/contributor.  Workflows exist so that a better quality of metadata can be created rather than non or poor quality information is provided.

Groups and collections with specific taxonomies or classifications for contributors to upload to can be set up and allow for different access.

Benefits:

  • Access to regular software updates
  • simple installation
  • inline configuration
  • painless upgrades
  • continuous improvement
    • long-term commitment

An alternative to intraLibrary is ePrints (University of Southampton)
http://www.soton.ac.uk/library/research/eprints/index.html
ePrints is a free software developed by at the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton.  A number of documents are supported including electronic copies of journal articles, book chapters, conference papers etc and multimedia and may include unpublished manuscripts and papers.

“Other institutions are invited (and encouraged) to set up their own open repositories for author self-archiving, using the freely-distributable EPrints software used at this site. The Southampton EPrints team can also provide hosting, training and consultancy services.”

DSpace
http://www.dspace.org
This is another open Archive initiative digital repository, similar to intraLibrary and ePrints and was developed by HP and MIT.  It is freely customisable and also allows for public files to be indexed on popular search engines such as scholar.

It can be set up to host and manage subject based repositories, dataset repositories or media based repositories.

Key features include:

  • Downloaded from sourceforge the open source software repository
  • Customise the interface, while the metadata (default is Dublin core) with MARC and MODS, tools required include crosswalk and some technical capability to map transfer of data.
  • Standards compatible – complies with OAI-PMH, OAI-ORE, SWORD, WebDAV, OpenSearch, OpenURL, RSS, ATOM
  • Configurable Browse and Search
  • Configurable database – PostgreSQL or Oracle, DSpace manages its metadata
  • Installed out of the box, on to single Linux, MAC OSX or Windows box (DSpace Demostration Site)
  • Supports PDF, Word, JPEG, MPEG, TIFF files – also has a simple file format registry

Conclusions

There were many possibilities for repositories, the best of which have been detailed above, it all comes down to Free, or paid for and if paid for how much are we willing to spend as this will govern the features and/or functionality of the repository.  Some of the more complicated systems such as intraLibrary will take a great deal of setup time and will need an administrator controlling access, metadata etc but in the long run when all of the resources are stored in one place, easy to search, download and re-use, the initial effort will be worth it.

I believe that the 3 top open source options are intraLibrary, eSpace and DSpace and they are all worth a closer look, but there are many more commercial options available…basically you pay your money and take your choice.  In the end it comes down to what criterias will be best served with the money you have to spend 🙂

Rapid eLearning Tools

Adobe Adobe eLearning Suite
http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/elearningsuite.html
The Adobe suite of products is so flexible and intuitive it is the eLearning tool of choice and is one of my favorites, I’m always discovering new aspects and better ways of achieving the outcomes I need.  Unfortunately the prices to many can be prohibitive if you are self employed or worse, out of work and looking to improve your work prospects.

Luckily, you can purchase them individually or as a suite of packages which may work out cheaper in the long run.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Studio
http://www.articulate.com/
I use Quizmaker extensively as in Instructional Designer, it is very easy to learn and use has a number of question types available.  You can brand the player and create templates for how each question is displayed – very helpful that.  It can be published in a number of formats including SCORM and for the web.  Unfortunately, it is quite time consuming when changes need to be made as it needs to be republished each time and should you modify the HTML page produced to include other features, it is overwritten so you must remember to keep a copy (named differently) as a backup.  In one particular LMS’ case it had trouble with the same file name and would not overwrite it so the details of the quizmaker file had to be changed before the republishing exercise.

Raptivity
http://www.raptivity.com/downloads.html
Raptivity Himalaya Pack is good but quite ugly and clunky, but it does have a lot of flexibility in the resources you can embed in an activity such as flash.

Seminar learning System
http://www.seminar.co.uk/
It’s 8 question types of multi-choice, Yes/No, True/False, Matching, Ordered, Typed, Free Text and Branch is quite useful, most systems have something similar

When I initially looked at it, it took me a while to get familiar with the interface and work out how to create an activity, although this took longer than some other packages it produced some very nice activities, fluid and functioning and again, easy to brand and customise.  It also has the ability to be embed video and be added to Powerpoint as it appears as a plugin in the toolbar.

Captivate
http://www.adobe.com/products/captivate/
Part of the Adobe eLearning suite, it is a screen capture software that is most commonly used for training guides.  It can capture screens, mouse clicks and video actions and much more as well as easily embedded into articulate, Powerpoint and various other tools.

Unfortunately, it needs a lot of RAM to create but publishes to a small(ish) flash file that has a lot of flexibility in that an audio file can be embedded across the whole animation or ‘slide by slide’.  Captivate has an intuitive interface, a bit like Powerpoint, as each capture is seen as a slide which you can annotate with instructions, notes or other useful hints.

Branding and templates can be created up front then used indefinitely, but any changes to the template are not that easy to find and update later on.

I prefer Camtasia to this one as it gives you a lot more flexibilty and functions are either on screen or easy to find.

Camtasia Studio
http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.asp
“Record anything on your PC screen plus webcam and audio. Turn it into a high-quality, polished video.”

As it provides a timeline too it is much easier to embed an audio track over the top for backgrounds plus ‘a lecture’ so for example you can capture a software such as Adobe connect pro, youtube videos and the like then publish it on line.  Changes to a template are easy and can be set up at any time throughout the project, it also has various output options including SCORM, as a web page, MP4 and swf file and the license tends to be cheaper than Captivate.

Wimba Create
http://www.wimba.com/products/wimba_create/
“Quickly and easily convert your Microsoft Word documents into content for your online courses.  Using a combination of special styles and dialog boxes, you can add interactive features…”

Wimba by far has the broadest interactions and once published looks very similar to a web page where the menus appear on the side and the content is displayed in the main area.  Features include Flashcards, Insert HTML, Java, and other code, Navigation, Table of contents, Formatting, Hyperlinks, Popups and many more and exports to WebCT IMS package, Blackboard package, Moodle SCORM, Microsoft LRN IMS, SCORM 1.2 package, IMS QTI Lite (assessment questions) and Set of plain HTML pages ready for web or CD delivery. It also exports to SCORM 2004 but I am not sure how well it integrates with Articulate or other similar eLearning tools.

Since Wimba Create is based on software that is already widely used (MS Word), users can create advanced learning objects with minimal training.

Pros

  • Easy to use – users need only to know how to format in Word and click a button to convert to HTML
  • Based on MS Word therefore available for all tutors to be able to create content for their courses (as opposed to having only people who can use the software)
  • Visually appealing – looks professional and sophisticated
  • Possible to embed quizzes, flashcards and multimedia (audio and video)

Cons

  • Problems with filenames – when Wimba Create generates its set of files, it puts them into a folder with the same name as the original Word file.
  • Formatting issues:
  • Picture resolution – pictures may not be as clear when converted to an HTML file
  • Tables with merged cells do not work at all in Wimba Create
  • Wimba Create does not support overlapping styles

Other software to consider include Lectora Inspire (http://www.trivantis.com/uk/lectora-inspire) and The Wild Thing Project (http://thewildproject.sourceforge.net/).

There is also a very good list of Rapid e-Learning tools available on KINEO’s website at http://www.kineo.com/authoring-tools/rapid-e-learning-authoring-tools.html

Voice Recording Software

NanoGong 4
http://gong.ust.hk/nanogong/
Nano GongThis free open source software is extremely flexible as it can either be downloaded and installed on the local PC with two clicks, embedded into a web page or into Moodle directly (see http://gong.ust.hk/nanogong/moodle.html#htmleditor for further details).  Installing directly into Moodle would kill two birds with one stone in that it can be used for both Picaro, Live Online – no need to record using Adobe Connect – and any other course on offer.

It’s a Java applet that can be used to record, playback and save a students voice and when the recording is played back, the user can speed up or slow down the sound if they want to while the teacher can asses their English skills from the uploaded file.

Features include:

  • The file size for the player is very small (around 200KB) and the recorder interface is only 180 x 40 pixels in size.
  • The applet loads quickly.
  • Play back at different speeds if required.
  • Playback any sound file created using the applet from a website.
  • Recorded voice can be saved as an MP3 directly to the user’s hard drive.
  • Can send the recorded voice directly to a Web server.

There are a number of MP3 recording software available as free-ware or shareware that would need to be installed directly to the users PC.

The best and easiest to install of this type are as follows:

MP3 Recorder
http://www.spgsoft.com/mp3-recorder.html
MP3 recorderThis is a free-ware application which can only be downloaded locally to a windows platform so this could be quite limiting.  This is bar far the simplest to install and the user can record directly to their pc or desktop then upload it as a file to the LMS if required, you would need to set up an assignment function in the LMS though.  But it does have some useful features including:

  • CD quality voice recording (MP3 format)
  • User friendly interface, with no editor (can’t beat Audacity for this) available to manipulate the audio – keeps it nice and simple.
  • Easy to record and played back on your computer directly in the MP3 format.

MP3 voice recorder
http://www.prvsoft.com/mp3-voice-recorder.html
(http://www.fileguru.com/MP3-Voice-Recorder/download)
MP3 multimedia recorderIt has many similar features to the MP3 recorder but also allows the following:

  • Adjustable bit-rate to improve recording
  • You can save recorded sound in many different formats including WAV, AAC, WMA, FLAC, M4A and AC3.
  • Choose the output file.

 

Recordpad
http://www.nch.com.au/recordpad/index.html
Record PadThis provides a more intuitive interface and allows you to record directly to your PC.  It also has the following features:

  • Can be used on a Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Pocket PC, Smart-phone operation system as well as an app for the iPhone.
  • You can start a recording, save it, and replay the file in minutes.
  • It can be used to record voice or other audio to add to digital presentations, creating an audio book or to simply record a message.
  • Quickly and easily record audio notes, messages or announcements in either wav or mp3.

With its flexibility and the various operating systems it can be used on, anyone with a Smart-phone such as an iPhone where apps are extremely simple to install, will find this a very useful and easy to use recording device.

For mobile learning options, Record-pad is an option but it is not the only choice as there are a large variety specifically designed for each handset and it would be more appropriate to utilise as many of these as possible in the future.  Recordings could be instantly made, uploaded anywhere for instant feedback.

Collaboration and Sharing Software

Backboard
http://www.getbackboard.com/
Share and get feedback on documents (Word, Excel), Powerpoint, images (including Photoshop PSD files), webpages and free-form text. Backboard also features multiple versions of a project, email integration – you only need to send an email with the file for review – there is also the option for desktop upload and SSL encryption.

Box
http://sites.box.net/simple/
Share any content from anywhere, you can see versioning of docs, who did what and when and you don’t necessarily have to have a naming convention.  You can upload any file type, share individual files as well as folders and it has a really simple interface.  You can also access content on the move, on any device from the iPad to the Android which could be useful.  Password protected sharing, document sharing history and google apps integration are also included.

Diary
http://diary.com
Free software which organizes all your diary events and synchronises them as well as linking to google apps it can also synchronise with Outlook, Google calendar, Facebook and Twitter.  If you have a google app account you can use this with single sign on.

Dropbox
http://www.dropbox.com
File sync from anywhere with a web interface, download the app for your PC, gives you instant access from a desktop icon where you can “click and drag” files from your pc to the drop box for sharing.  Or just access the files from the web interface.  Upload files of any size or type, it automatically detects when changes have occured and keeps a history of every change that has been made to a file, allowing you to undo any mistakes and even undelete files. The default is 30 days of history for all your files.

Several people can collaborate on the same files and see instantly any changes that occur, it also has FREE Mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android to allow dropbox access on the move.

Similar to box.net but perhaps not as user friendly and there is a space limitation

Edmodo
http://www.edmodo.com/
This looks interesting as a very basic collaboration area, see what you think at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHtwgZEHzNs&feature=player_embedded?

Glogster
http://edu.glogster.com/
Is a type of blog where posters can be created and shared.  You can set it up for a group of students who can then embed it into their blog.  All you need to do is create an account, say how many students you need it for and it will create areas for each student to create their posters.  It’s private and allows students to embed any type of resource into their design.

NB:  for each account you would need a different email address!  (Guide available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80NISdsoouE&feature=player_embedded)

Manymoon
https://www.manymoon.com/auth/login
A Google Apps for project planning & collaboration, very cool and you get a lot for the basic package.  If you already have the apps then this is a very useful addition as you can create projects and assign tasks to different collaboators,clients or users.

Onstage
http://www.onstageportal.com/tour/
This could be useful as it is not only a file upload and collaboration tool but also a project planning tool as well.  It has an in built mail system where files can be sent as attachments to members of the team for discussion and annotation.  You can also allocate tasks and collaborators.

ProofHQ
proofhq.com
Like Backboard, ProofHQ has the ability to annotate a variety of document types – PDFs, PSDs, JPGs, Word, Powerpoint – and webpages. It also includes email integration, version control and the ability to create workspaces. You can customize the look and feel to give it some branding.

ReviewBasics FREE
http://www.reviewbasics.com
Upload different document types, review online, share, annotate and mark up images, videos and documents.

Stixy (Beta) FREE
http://www.stixy.com/
This is quite cool for collaboration and you can tag and sort images, unfortunately you can only load one file at a time.

Zoho and google docs
http://www.zoho.com
Are very similar to drop box, but zoho and Google can be linked together.  The FREE Google account has a maximum file upload size of 1024MB and up to 50 users.

Alternatively, you can obtain a Google Apps for business http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html but there is an annual cost of $50/user/year with unlimited users.

Other sharing options

Wiki’s and Blogs

Others, more for personal use, like Facebook

FREE & Open Source Software

Office Equivalents

Open Office (PC) & Neo Office (Mac)
Both of these are great alternatives to Microsoft office, easy to use and if you like the office interface, these aren’t too different and have the main features.
You can open any existing office file in these packages as well as creating normal Word, PowerPoint or Excel documents, but be warned, when opening an old Powerpoint some of the animations may not work.  Also, any images that were saved as .tiffs will be a problem as they too will not display properly so it is best to reformat the images into .gif or .jpg formats.

Toms Planner
http://tomsplanner.com
Is a Project Management tool for the production of Gannt Charts online, these are printable, downloadable, save-able and sharable.

Graphics – Photoshop Equivalents

GIMP (PC, MAC, Linux)
http://www.gimp.org/
This Photoshop equivalent open source software is very popular and if you’re familiar with Photoshop you should have no problems using it.  It has all the normal features such as resizing, filtering and retouching and just like Photoshop, you can save your photo to a web friendly format.  There is also a type of layering system which is useful if, like me, you like to build a graphic using many images.  If, like me, you work with brochures and wish to use the same graphics for teaching material you can import them into Gimp and customise accordingly.

However, there is one small problem with GIMP in that the user interface is not as intuitive as it could be as you don’t get one window but several movable panels, which is a pane if you are using other packages at the same time, but this is just a small gripe for what is basically a nice graphic editing package.

Photo Plus (PC)
http://www.serif.com/free-photo-editing-software/php-se.asp
Another alternative to Photoshop is Photo Plus Starter edition by Serif but, unlike Gimp, the user interface here is much better with all the standard photo editing tools such as paint, resize, filter etc. that you would expect to have. But it does have some drawbacks in that, technically, you are only allowed one copy per person and it only exists for PC’s – sorry MAC owners!  There are a number of good features included in the free version but so much more is available with PhotoPlusX4 if you don’t mind parting with some cash, but its still cheaper than Photoshop and is a great alternative once you get used to the interface.

Screen shots software

Inkscape (PC)
http://inkscape.org/
An alternative to Adobe Illustrator, and there aren’t many of those, you can easily create vectors using pre-made shape tools and the pen tool.  One feature that was very impressive was that you could easily edit vector points/anchors, something quite difficult to do in illustrator.  The interface may be more ‘clunky’ but it doesn’t take long to find what you need.

Print Screen key (PC)
Most people have come across this at some point as it’s one of the easiest ways to grab a picture of the screen.  Simply hit the Print Screen (PrtScn) key on the keyboard, an image is created and stored in the computer’s memory, then open MS Word or other and click Edit > Paste.

Grab (MAC)
This piece of freeware is pre-installed in all MACs that have OSX. You can take shots of a screen, window or parts of the screen.  One of the best features is the fact that you can set a timer to take a screen shot in 30 seconds. This gives you time to set up the view you want to take.

MW Snap (PC)
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/mwsnap.html
This excellent screen capturing software for the PC lets you take screen shots, window shots or shots of parts of the screen. Unfortunately, it does not come with the timed screen capture feature that is included in Grab and some other software’s.

Jing (MAC and PC)
http://www.techsmith.com/jing/
Captures the PC screen as you use it and allows you to draw the dimensions of the capture area on the screen, record with Audio and saves only as SWF (Flash compressed format), it can only be 5 minutes maximum but you can pause while you are recording the screen if you need to make any adjustments.  It is easy to install, free and comes with a very simple user/help guide.  However, you can upgrade to Snagit for a few extra pounds which will give you more functionality and save options.

PDF Software (Acrobat Equivalents)

Scan Soft PDF Creator
http://scansoft-pdf-create.software.informer.com/
This is an excellent replacement for Adobe Acrobat contains most of the features that you would expect to find in Adobe Acrobat.  You can create PDFs from all Microsoft documents (Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.) add bookmarks, security features and page numbering.  However, one of the features that has not worked too well in the past was inserting PDF’s.  This option should allow you to combine two different PDFs into one, which it did intermittently but at other times it crashed the program.  However, this is only a slight complaint and overall this is a decent alternative to Adobe Acrobat.

HTML/ Web Page Creation Software

Page Breeze
http://www.pagebreeze.com/
Free HTML editor with a simple interface, similar to Dreamweaver and doesn’t take too long to become familiar with the interface.

Coffee Free HTML
http://www.coffeecup.com/free-editor/
May not be free but is a very easy to use HTML editor and like PageBreeze, the interface is similar to Dreamweaver so this too is easy to get use to.

Online HTML Editor
http://www.onlinehtmleditor.net/
Real time online with preview, really easy to use and you can copy the code into notepad and save as a HTML page.  It is great for checking code for errors and the look of a page before using it on a live site.

Free HTML editor
http://www.free-online-html-editor.com/
Is another free online HTML editor, similar to the Online Editor but without the preview function.  It has a really simple toolbar and is great for anyone who just needs to knock up a quick web page, it too has a very simple interface and easy to use by anyone.

NVue
http://net2.com/nvu
Has a WYSIWYG HTML editor and comes with prebuilt templates which make building your first website nice and simple.  The interface and toolbars are similar to word so finding your way around is relatively easy.  all in all this is definitely worth considering as analternative to say, Dreamweaver and is a very useful HTML editor.

Doteasy
http://www.doteasy.com
This web hosting and site builder is a great first step into web design as it provides the novice designer with a set of templates for some nice looking sites, where you only have to add your own content. The prices are reasonable and provide a simple solution for anyone who needs a site quickly.

ISpring
http://www.ispringsolutions.com
Creates Flash presentations from PowerPoint and is a useful piece of software that allows you to create Flash Presentations from PowerPoint.  Making them into Flash presentations means that they can be published easily to a number of sites such as SlideShare and the format also protects your work so that no one can edit, change or delete it. One of the unique aspects is that you can retain any audio and animation that you add to your PowerPoint and when ISpring is installed it works as a plugin in PowerPoint, appearing in the PowerPoint toolbar, just click on Publish to create the file.

Audio Software

AVS Audio Editor
http://download.cnet.com/AVS-Audio-Editor/3000-2170_4-10406673.html
This is a PC software which is easy to use for recording quick items.  You can save in different file formats such as WAV and MP3 but it’s no longer free.

Audacity
http://audacity.sourceforge.net
Simply the best audio editor for Mac and PC, enough said.

Flash MP3 Player
http://flash-mp3-player.net/players/multi/generator/
Play MP3 audio files in your webpages, choose colour, size etc, you just download to get the code.

Free MP3 to OGG converter
http://www.freemp3wmaconverter.com/
Brilliantly easy to install and use, such a simple conversion tool, any audio type can be converted very simply and run in the background…now all I need to find is an image converter that is just as simple!!

Convert Genius
http://www.convertgenius.com/
Free trial, converts any video format for popular output devices including DVD player, iPad, iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, Zune, PSP, PS3, Blackberry, 3G phones and many more.

Microsoft Sound Recording and Easy Screen Reader
http://www.any-sound-recorder.com/recorder-sound/microsoft-sound-recorder-easy-screen-recorder.html

Image Conversion

Advanced Batch Converter
http://www.batchconverter.com/
At last I have found a fairly reasonable batch image converter easy to use, it only took me about 10 minutes, it is very quick to convert EPS to JPG.  My only complaint is that you select the files in the right pane of the window the when you select add it shows them in the left pane, but that’s only a small problem which most people won’t even notice!