When you start blogging it is important to start small and try to not be overwhelmed by what other people are doing. With time, support, perseverance and inspiration, your blog will continue to grow and improve.
When I first started blogging with my students in 2008, we wrote very simple posts containing text and images. From there we began to learn about different web 2.0 tools that can enhance posts by showcasing student work and creating a more interesting and interactive space.
When you are comfortable with using images in your posts, you might see the need to progress to a photo slideshow. A slideshow allows you to show more photos without creating a l-o-n-g post. It can also bring events alive by the use of captions, transitions and music.
The disadvantage of most slideshows is that they involve Flash so can’t be viewed on iDevices (I have found one solution to this if you read on).
Choosing a slideshow
I often get asked about the best and easiest tool to use for photo slideshows in blog posts. There are a number of options I use depending on what type of slideshow I’m looking for.
As most online tools are 13+, I generally just have a teacher account. This means I either have children help me make the slideshow, or have the students take the photos and I put the slideshow together.
Tip: if you want to use these sorts of tools for your personal photos, it’s best to have two separate accounts – a professional one and a personal one.
There are many options out there but here are just five free and effective slideshow tools:
This tool is very intuitive to use. You simply upload photos, add music and write some captions to create an effective looking video style slideshow. Find more detailed instructions on how to use PhotoPeach here.
This is a PhotoPeach that we made for our class blog last week after a visit from the Geelong Cats football players.
PowerPoint to authorSTREAM/SlideShare
If you want photos that readers can click through at their own pace, one option is to insert photos into a PowerPoint and upload it to a PowerPoint sharing website. You can find the instructions on how to add a photo album to a PowerPoint presentation on the Microsoft Office website here.
I like authorSTREAM because of its clean, uncluttered design but there are many hosting options. This is a photo slideshow we put on our class blog to show our classroom transformation over the Christmas holidays.
Flickr is a very popular photo storage and sharing site. The downside of Flickr is that you can only upload two videos and 300MB worth of photos per month, and only your 200 most recent photos are shown. Photos are also stored as lower resolution. Like many web 2.0 tools, there is a paid pro account available without these limitations.
I found out about Flickr slideshows from Shawn Avery, who often uses them on his class blog. Flickr slideshows are clean looking and easy to use. Sometimes you want a simple photo slideshow without music and transitions; this is a good option. Find the instructions on how to embed a Flickr slideshow here.
I made this sample Flickr slideshow to demonstrate what it looks like.
SlideMyPics uses HTML5 which allows you to create a photo slideshow that people can view on their iDevice. With a large number of people now using iPhones, iPods and iPads to access blogs, this is something to consider when putting slideshows in your posts.
To use this tool, you have to first upload photos to either Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa or SmugMug. You can add transitions and music from YouTube if you like.
I just made this sample slideshow to show what an embedded SlideMyPics slideshow looks like.
Animoto allows you to easily turn photos (and video clips) into videos complete with effective music and transitions. Animoto for Education gives teachers free access to premium features. Find an Animoto tutorial on Shawn Avery’s blog.
Animoto isn’t a tool I use overly often but my student bloggers love it. Here is an Animoto I made for our Ugandan Global Project in 2010.
If you are interested in a step-by-step description of how to use Picasa Slideshows, check out this post by Janet Moeller-Abercrombie on The Edublogger website. Her idea on how to integrate this tool in the classroom blog for parent access is excellent.