Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Smilebox

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Smilebox is a free new web service by which people can create and share animated ecards, slideshows, photobooks, scrapbooks, postcards, calendars or recipies. The user can email, print or blog them. It enables users to use their own photos or video from their computers, and to add music to their work. It gives everyone the possibility of communicating with friends and family using multimedia presentations for any occasion. To sum up, Smilebox creative messaging delivers a new medium for communication by which users have the invaluable possibility of sharing their thoughts and emotions. With Smilebox it is very easy to be creative, it saves time and it is highly personalized.

When you first open Smilebox a message will appear asking you to create an account. It is important to know that you do not need to create it in order to work there, but you will need it if you decide to email, blog or print your creation. Anyway, the creation of an account is free.

In order to use this application the user may:

- Choose a design. It might take the user some time to select a template since there are so many. On the right side of the screen you will find the design catalogue. There are more than 400 available designs. They are organized into categories, so the user selects the category he/she wants (seasonal, family, birthday, etc) and then the most suitable design for his/her creation. One thing to take into account is that the templates are all flash-based (Flash is needed before you get started).

- Once the type of design is chosen the user is allowed to personalize the card. This means, the user selects which media to load into the template, then you drag and drop the photos or video. You may add captions and even music and background to it. One very good thing about the photographs is that there is the possibility of zooming, rotating or turning them into black and white. And the same with videos, it is very easy for the user because you drag and drop them just like photographs. As Smilebox is not a web-based application, the user will not have to take the time to upload your photographs or video, they will be easily accessible from your computer.

- The third step is the preview. The user has the possibility of seeing the final version of his/her work.

- The fourth and final step is share, print or DVD. The user can: 1. email his/her creation or 2. post it to Facebook, blog or web.

In order to print or burn to DVD, the user must buy the premium version. What is free is the possibility of sharing your creation by emailing or posting it.

- After sharing or printing the user may save his/her creation.

There is a premium Smilebox version but the user must buy it. With this version, apart from e-mailing or posting, you can print or frame your cards and save them as JPG images, burn them to DVD or record them as a video. Also there are many more choices of music and there is no advertising.


Teaching and learning possibilities

This is a very useful resource for teachers mainly because it is very easy to use and it may be used for many different purposes with children of all ages.

Teachers and students may create newsletters, school memory books, their own cards or albums. For example, if a teacher wants his/her students to write about a state or a city, the teacher may ask students to choose one of the postcard design template and include text and images or graphics of the place they have researched.

It also gives teachers the possibility of sharing classroom activities and information about class projects or field trips with parents.

Since students work to combine text, images and music they become not only creative but innovative because that work did not exist previously and they also use their critical thinking to make the best choices for their work.


Example links


SmileBox

http://www.smilebox.com/learnMore.html

It explains what Smilebox is and how to use it.


Video tour of Smilebox

http://www.smilebox.com/tour/win/

Here you may learn more by taking a quick video tour of Smilebox.