iPad PhotoYesterday, we shared tools for finding great images to use in classroom projects and work. While knowing how to locate images that are free and legal to use is important in a world that requires more visual literacy, it is even more important to give students the tools they need to shoot and edit their own photos. The popularity of tools like Instagram alone reminds us how important it is to people today to express themselves visually, to create photos that not only capture the physical reality of a moment, but also the emotional content of that moment. Without question, today’s world demands that we develop skills related to capturing and composing digital images to help tell our stories.

Fortunately for us, the tools we have available to us make learning these skills accessible and easy. We no longer need to have a deep understanding of complex software like PhotoShop to create stunning and unique images. Instead, we can use any number of simple and free web tools and mobile apps to make the photos we take more visually compelling.

Getting Started

If you are new to the world of digital photography, I would encourage you to begin by reading this blog post as an introduction to the basic skills related to shooting and editing photos. So many of our students are walking around with smartphones that enable them to take high definition photos, it seems a shame not to encourage them to grow as photographers. Teaching them even a few tricks will help ramp up the quality of the digital projects (presentations, websites, avatars) that they create. Also, whether they use their own photos or Creative Commons licensed photos that allow them to make changes, learning to edit photos strengthens our students’ skills in terms of visual literacy in the same way that learning to edit writing enhances our verbal literacy skills.

Thankfully, we have a cornucopia of digital tools to explore, and many of them are free and easy to learn. You can explore this list as a great starting point. Then after that, I hope you will take a longer look at my favorite, BeFunky.

BeFunky

BeFunky Tool BarThere are a lot of reasons why I like BeFunky. First off, I love the palette of tools that BeFunky provides. I can always find a filter, frame or tool that gives me the look I am trying to achieve. These tools take me beyond simple cropping, exposure and red-eye reduction, but I can also rely on BeFunky when that is all that I need to do. Simply working your way through the toolbar to the left will give you a sense of just how extensive this tool kit is.

Another reason I like BeFunky is how easy it is to learn to use this tool. I find the interface to be very intuitive and that is important when I am working with kids. Additionally, it is super simple to share an edited photo from inside BeFunky via download, email and social media. Here is a quick demo of the web version:

The third reason that I like BeFunky is that it exists online and as a mobile app on both the iOS and Android platforms. That gives me the flexibility to take my favorite editing tool with me on the go.

If you are interested in getting a slightly deeper look at BeFunky, you can check out this webpage which includes several resources for helping educators get started with this great tool.

Your Challenge

Check out BeFunky and some of the other photo editing tools in our collection. Then share in the comments below how you might use a photo editing tool in your classroom. Also, if you have a favorite free photo editing tool that we haven’t shared, please let us know about it and share what you like about it.

42 COMMENTS

  1. Great idea piggybacking off of yesterday’s post. We have a lot of students creating their own presentation using a variety of platforms, and this will give them another tool in their utility belt. This is how students are communicating their message! Instagram, Snapchat, and now BeFunky. So many effects and editing tools available in one site. Teachers can easily plug this in with whatever other video/photography resources they are already using!

  2. Instragram has changed the way people view photography. It has, in essence, leveled the playing field and made everyone a photo editor. Of course that has also sparked interest in photo editing and it can be a great engager.

    Photoshop has a iPad app that allows users to do a lot with their images. It is very fuctional and has a lot of features that can be very useful. The app is fairly easy to use, but if you know Photoshop, it is even easier.

    One that I have found that I enjoy, but don’t use as much as I should, is FilterMania. This is an iPad app that does a lot of what Instrgram does, but offers more options.

    Another one that is fun is Fat booth. While it is not really productive, it is fun.

  3. I can see students using the collage part of this app in class for projects. They are already using piccollage app on their ipads but this can be another tool they can use.
    I tried BeFunky with a picture. Students would like the features its has for changes, filters etc and cropping.
    I will share this with the art teacher as well.

  4. BeFunky is blocked at my school, so as soon as they unblock it for me, I’ll post something about that.

    I did check out the other sites and some were blocked and some weren’t. I really liked “Cut My Pic” and Pixlr. By having a computer lab as my classroom, it really allows me to do a lot with photos. I have found that the students enjoy adding photos to just about any project that we create. I can use photos with just about any novel that we read and it allows for creativity.

  5. I tried BeFunky and it was easy. My students use Pixlr and PhotoShop for their assignments. I can see using this site as a starting point for students who lack photo editing skills. Pretty much every project has some type of photo/image editing.

    • That’s true. It’s really weird to think that even 5 years ago, we weren’t focusing nearly as much (if at all) on how to shoot and edit photos. Now they are so important to making high quality work.

  6. I love BeFunky! Not everyone is a great photographer. Programs like BeFunky allow those lacking photography skills to spruce up their photos, so they are more usable. Students can use these types of programs to create not only art projects, but also photos that will work in other class projects (such as research papers, timelines, etc.).

  7. I haven’t talked with my teachers a lot about photo editing. I have used the app puppet pals in the past and showed it to my teachers. It is a great way for students to act out their plays, but not in front of a large crowd. With the paid version of puppet pals students can take pictures of themselves and they can be the puppet/characters in their story. Toontastic is another app that does this also.

  8. BeFunky, along with Pixlr, are already listed among the creativity tools on our Weebly website. Students can use these sites to add pizazz to photos used in projects and presentations. BeFunky’s many editing options will appeal to students as long as they don’t get too entrenched in creating the perfect picture.

  9. This site is an excellent resource. My journalism students are about to do a unit on photography and captions. I will encourage them to edit pictures with BeFunky, especially since most of them don’t have any prior experience with photography (especially if you don’t count selfies.) It’s easy for inexperienced photographers to mess up spacing, allow red eye, or take a picture at the wrong angle. This site can fix all of those issues and many more. Some of my students will go overboard whitening teeth and bronzing skin if I don’t warn them!

  10. I could certainly see myself using BeFunky working with digital art for announcements and events. Being that it’s a free online product, I know that some of the Language Arts teachers would love this as they have kids do various projects with pictures with their novels and writing. The collage ability and art/text addition really can make a simple photo addition to a project really pop with some of these features.

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