June 8, 2008 at 6:51 pm 6 comments

What is it? What does it do?

Zamzar is a free online file conversion site that provides users with the ability to convert songs, videos, images, and documents into different formats without the need for downloading additional software to the computer. Their mission statement is “to provide high quality file conversion for as many file formats as possible.”

The name Zamzar is explained within their home page, and is based upon a literary character from the book “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka. The young character in the story; Gregor Samsa, finds himself transformed into a huge insect. The company based their name upon this figure due to “its powerful association with change and transformation.”

The site offers multiple features including a free component, as well as other packages that range in price from $7-$49 per month. The free version provides the user with the ability to convert files up to 100 MB in size, with the option of converting five concurrent files at one time. The fee based options include the ability to convert bigger files, access online storage options, complete faster file conversions, and utilize file management options. All levels of service (including the free option) have email support services.

Following a four-step process, the user:

  1. Selects the files or URL to convert
  2. Chooses the format to convert into
  3. Enters their email address to receive the converted files
  4. Then, clicks the convert function to put the process into motion.

(The user does need to agree to the Terms of Service held by the Zamzar Organization.)

What are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool?

Internet access would be necessary in accessing this website. Because the Zamzar site emails the user a link to access their converted files, a dial-up connection may be sufficient for simple word document downloads, but a Broadband connection would be more appropriate if the user is attempting to download larger files such as video.

The Zamzar Organization has created a web browser button that can be added to a user’s Bookmark Toolbar, so that converting files from a website can occur with just the click of their Zamzar button. To place this web browser button onto a user’s computer, Zamzar has provided step-by-step directions within the “Tools” section of their website.

How can you use it effectively in instruction?

This tool can be used to convert files from links on the internet as well as from a user’s computer. A listing of formats is provided on the site within the categories of documents, images, music, video, and compressed formats.

Zamzar also provides the user with the opportunity to contact them if there is a format requiring conversion that is not found within their extensive lists.

Zamzar supports the download and conversion of videos from a large number of popular video sharing websites including Youtube, Myspace, Google Video, Metacafe, etc. (A complete list can be found on the URL Overview page of the Zamzar website.) All of these conversion options could greatly assist the teacher in preparing materials for use within the classroom and/or within online learning communities.

What are other education applications for this tool?

Users could incorporate videos into PowerPoint presentations by using this tool. The video could be converted into a downloadable format that could be included within the slideshow to enhance the presentation and further engage the student.

The user could also take documents that are in one format (Microsoft Works) and put it into a more broadly used format (such as a PDF file).

BCPS employees may find the Zamzar conversion tool useful if they have created documents in Word 2007 (.docx) and need to convert the files into an earlier Word format (.doc) to be used on the computers within the schools.

What are the limitations and cautions related to use of this tool?

Storage, file management and the ability to convert larger files requires a monthly subscription fee to the Zamzar site.

The free utility is filled with pop-up adds and company advertisements.

Because the user must download files from email links, the connection speed of the user’s computer will determine how long it takes to access files from Zamzar.

What are the management considerations for this tool?

If a user is looking for a storage option or plans to download larger files in greater number, there may need to be consideration given to subscribing to one of the fee-based options on the Zamzar site.

Access to this site is currently restricted on the BCPS system. A teacher wanting to use Zamzar would therefore, need to plan ahead and access it from a computer outside of the school system to take advantage of this Web 2.0 tool.

Entry filed under: Access.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. becca14  |  June 8, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks for the great information about Zamzar! I love how this tool allows users to incorporate videos directly into powerpoint slideshows. That feature would really enhance my powerpoint presentations, making it more engaging for the students and less cumbersome to run.
    I can see that one downfaill to Zamzar is that access is restricted on the BCPS system. Since Safari Montage can currently be viewed only within the BCPS system, I am thinking that, at this point, Zamzar could not be used for incorporating a Safari Montage video directly into a slideshow.

  • 2. gmdevos  |  June 8, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Sharon – Nice overview! What did you think about this tool? Your description was very comprehensive, but I am afraid a tool like this might be over my head. I did like the idea of being able to use it to add videos to Powerpoint. There is just so much for me to learn!

  • 3. dsmith3  |  June 9, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    After looking at all the site offers I like it because it can simply convert files to a PDF format.

  • 4. wleake  |  June 9, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Sharon- I have been using this tool since the webinar! It’s great for converting movie clips like we would use in a lesson. It seems to have other capabilities I did not know about. Thanks for the info.

  • 5. Liz Ott  |  June 11, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Great overview of Zamzar! I use this tool frequently for simple things like converting into pdf’s to converting to different video formats . .it’s a fairly quick an easy way to get files in the format needed!

  • 6. vlockwood  |  June 14, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Very interesting. I too especially like the opportunity to be able to include videos in Power Point. Additionally, I know we’ve had to work around some .docx to .doc issues, and this sounds like it may offer a solution. Too bad about the BCPS blocking, but maybe we’re moving forward to revising that.


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