Geography, Technology

Fun with online image editors!

“There’s no rest for the weary,” or is it “There’s no rest for the wicked”?

I’ve heard the expression both ways, and depending on your self-image (or skill in channeling reflexive guilt, I suppose), I guess either works depending on the situation. Most immediately, I feel the applicability of this phrase as I finished grading my own students’ final exams this morning and am already back in the saddle starting work for my summer-time gig as a mentor teacher at Fort Worth’s Breakthrough Collaborative site.

In particular, I’m presently doing some work on putting together a Geography pre-test for rising ninth grade students to get a baseline understanding of their grasp of geographical facts, writing concepts, and the ability to discern and create arguments. The most straightforward section of the assessment deals with the location and names of continents and oceans. However, in my brief perusal of Google Images, I didn’t find a cleanly labeled outline map of the world, so I set out to make one of my own.

While I don’t own Photoshop on my computer, or have any other exciting/powerful image editors installed, I checked into online image editors, and came across Aviary, a pretty robust (and even better, free!) image editor. My task was pretty simple. Take this image:

Outline Map of World, courtesy of

and add numbers and letters to the continents and oceans.

Porting the image into Aviary was a simple and straight-forward affair. I copied the URL, Aviary downloaded the image and then gave me a variety of tools and editing functionality. My needs were really limited in scope (e.g. use the “Type” tool), so clicking on the various continents, creating new layers, and then moving those layers into the appropriate places was super easy. I’m sure that my approach was more ham-handed and redundant than a more experienced or knowledgeable user, but it ultimately rendered the result I was after.

Outline Map of World with Labels for Oceans and Continents

So, for an easy, straight-forward, functional, and (perhaps best of all) free image editor, definitely check out Aviary. Though, as you can see in the image, that “free” nature comes with an (admittedly unobtrusive) tag for the company. The images are available in a variety of formats — HTML embed code, image URL, or forums embed code (something with which I’m not familiar).

I’m sure that I’ll be able to find more future functionality for customizing map quizzes or pieces of artwork (e.g. having students identify particular artistic techniques or features by annotating the images) for this program. Alternatively (and the reason I’m burying the lead, [or lede if I’m to honor my high school journalism pedigree], is because the thought just struck me), you could also use Skitch; however, that program requires a download and install, and is also only for the Mac. In any event, Aviary seems like a good choice for working on cloud-based machines, or machines where you can’t install your own software. It also seems that Aviary has other editing tools for audio and CAD-like programs.

Alright…now that summer’s begun, let’s get back to work!


4 thoughts on “Fun with online image editors!

  1. Have you ever considered publishing an e-book
    or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my audience would appreciate your work. If you are even
    remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

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