Review by Kim Alessi, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2017
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PicMonkey Photo Editor

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Reliable photo editor built for design and social sharing

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Grades
8-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Excellent online resources and tutorials; paint-on editing feature gives precision to creations.

Cons: Built-in styles, themes are a bit kitschy. Free version has ads and no cloud storage.

Bottom Line: A great, social media-friendly option for teaching teens design, layout, and photo editing, but the paid version is more competitive with other tools.

Use PicMonkey to unleash student creativity by getting them to design posters, collages, and visual presentations. Pair these projects with lessons on photo editing and design concepts such as brightness, contrast, and saturation. Try out a semester or yearlong project where students create class photo albums chronicling their semesters or years. Get students to document an engaging project they completed, and annotate their work with text overlays. Import Creative Commons photos to make custom flash cards. PicMonkey is a powerful graphic design tool for teachers, too, so create custom class logos or fliers to market school events (and get your students to help out).

PicMonkey is built for sharing and encourages posting online, so it's a great choice for a class website, a class blog, or a school Facebook page. Unique, in-app templates custom-fit images to popular social media sites and aspect ratios.  While there's no teacher dashboard or way to turn off sharing access, PicMonkey defaults to "off" for popular social media sites. (Enable these under "Share" to post PicMonkey creations to social media.)

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PicMonkey is an engaging photo-editing and graphic design tool for customizing pictures and images by applying effects, filters, and overlays such as text, drawings, and stickers (know that some stickers include toilet humor and alcoholic beverages, but it's nothing too severe). While there are limited text-effect options and no background remover tool, PicMonkey is a great photo editor built for sharing creations online. The app has two standout features: First, students can manually draw on filters and adjustment to edit photos exactly where they want to. There's no option to customize drawing-line thickness, however, so use a stylus for precision editing. Second, in-app templates let students auto-crop images to fit popular social media layouts and aspect ratios. The free version allows images to be saved to the camera roll; the paid version offers cloud storage via PicMonkey's Hub and access to creations from their companion website.

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PicMonkey is a solid tool that offers an outlet for visual expression -- especially if that expression is destined to be shared. The intuitive interface, powerful editing tools, and overlay capabilities make it a nice choice for teaching an introduction to photo editing and graphic design. The paint-on editing feature and social media-minded templates are particularly unique. Since PicMonkey is geared for sharing online, there's no ability to print creations from the app itself. However, creations can be saved to the app's cloud-based Hub (for a subscription fee) and printed from PicMonkey's website or from the camera roll. Consider using PicMonkey to customize images for a class webpage or profile pictures and cover photos for your school's Facebook page or YouTube channel. While you're at it, use PicMonkey's templates to demystify how pixel size affects image resolution and file size.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

An easy-to-use photo editor that yields good results. In-app templates designed for social media make sharing a breeze. Some of the built-in options for themes, styles, and images will feel kitschy to the design-savvy.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Intuitive touch gestures and useful editing tools make for rewarding photo-editing and graphic design projects. Editing in landscape mode isn't possible, though.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

In the app are basic how-to instructions and a FAQ, but it autopopulates your app's version and device to expedite troubleshooting. On the site, there's outstanding support, tutorials, and a community.


Common Sense Reviewer
Kim Alessi Technology coordinator

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