Recently, I had a group of students show up at my office doorstep pleading for help with a digital story project they were creating. Their video camera had recorded a certain type of file that was not recognized by the video editor they were using and they were panicking. How could they get their video editor to open the files?
My first thought was to direct these students to check out my post on Zamzar on my blog. A quick search of my blog, however, showed that I have never featured Zamzar on this site. Never. I’ve been using Zamzar for years but I’ve never featured it? Shocking.
Zamzar is a multi-purpose site which allows users to convert from one file type to another. Remember when Microsoft Office switched from DOC files to DOCX files? Loads of people were struggling with trying to open newer Word documents through their older version of Word. With Zamzar, those files can be converted. Zamzar can also convert between different audio, video and image files. Want to save something as a PDF for Adobe Acrobat? Zamzar can handle that, too. Want to download a YouTube video? Zamzar has that covered as well. It’s a one-stop file conversion and download multiplex. And it’s FREE and pretty easy to use. Upload the file, select the type of file you want to convert into and then enter your email address. In a few minutes, you get an email with a link to download your converted file. It’s that easy.
Although it’s free and tremendously useful, Zamzar receives financial support through advertisements. Most of the ads are for benign products and services (insurance companies, magazines, and such) but the pop-up nature of some of the ads can be really annoying.
Although Zamzar is not really an instructional tool, it can certainly be helpful as students develop multimedia projects or when they encounter some awkward file type. Often instructional technologists discuss the need for developing digital literacy in students. The idea is that students need to be literate in locating, understanding and analyzing information online. In addition to developing these skills, I think students should develop proficiency with a toolbox of applications that can help them tackle the host of technical challenges that can emerge in working a digital world. I believe that Zamzar is one of those tools. For some help using Zamzar, be sure to check out the short tutorial below.