The Educational Technology and Media #ETMOOC, that I recently joined, suggested that participants introduce themselves in a unique manner. Following in the creative steps of Jess McCulloch, I decided to try my hand at writing and narrating a poem to help others better understand my learning journey.
Once my poem was created, I thought that I would read it and share it as an audio file through SoundCloud. Readers should be able to hear my narration by clicking on the “Play” button below. Should the orange “Play” symbol not display, readers may have to click on the hyperlink to transfer and play my narration from the SoundCloud web site. I have also included the text of my poem so that one may more easily follow along.
Sisler High School, the Winnipeg School Division, Eyeconic Media and Microsoft Canada will be hosting a five day Professional Development session on cutting edge ICT skills for digital learners during the week of July 9 – 13, 2012. Our goal is to engage and empower educators through hands-on workshops.
Although the cost for each workshop is $50.00, anyone may sign up for individual morning or afternoon workshop sessions which are of interest:
Workshop 1: The Cloud Classroom – Monday July 9th, 9:00 am -11:45 am
Workshop 2: Web & Gaming Graphics – Monday, July 9th, 12:45 pm – 3:30 pm
Workshop 3: Video Conferencing in the Classroom – Tuesday, July 10th, 9:00 am – 11:45 am
Workshop 4: Video Editing for the Web – Tuesday, July 10th, 12:45 pm – 3:30 pm
Workshop 5: Photo-imaging for the Web – Wednesday, July 11th, 9:00 am – 11:45 am
Workshop 6: Introduction to Web Design – Wednesday, July 11th, 12:45 pm – 3:30 pm
Workshop 7: Web Graphics & Animation – Thursday, July 12th, 9:00 am – 11:45 am
Teachers of History or Social Studies may find the following “Famous People Painting” to be a unique way of engaging students. If one clicks on the hyper-link or the image below, one will be presented with a much larger picture painted by the Chinese artists Dai Dudu, Li Tiezi, and Zhang An. However, when one mouses over an individual on this web site, a tag identifies the person by name, whereas clicking automatically transfers one to an appropriate Wikipedia resource.
(Click the above image to transfer to the interactive site)
I encourage educators to share this resource with their students. Who knows, such interaction may engage students and help them appreciate how these individuals impacted society.
Teachers are always looking for resources that can aid them in the teaching process or engage students in their own leaning. Some may be familiar with a free web-based tool called Wordle which can be used to create generate “word cloud” images from text that the user supplies. Although many educators and students have embraced the use of Wordle, one of its big limitations was that users coluld not easily print their word cloud creations. In early January, I created a “DS106 word cloud“, and like many of my colleagues, I had to use a screen capture process to save my Wordle creation as an image or to print out the design.
However, today I wish to share with readers a new word cloud tool, called Tagxedo, which has a built-in print feature as well as other options that will excite educators. This free web application is unique because it can create complex portraits like the one of Steve Jobs. I encourage readers to click on the thumbnail at right to see the detail and words used to describe this industry game-changer. However, rather than focus on the advanced portrait feature, I will share ways this product might be used, with a minimum of time and effort, by students or teachers. The Tagxedo web site describes this application as follows:
Tagxedo turns words — famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters — into a visually stunning word cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text.
Tagxedo which is pronounced as [tag-SEE-doh] can, like Wordle, create simple displays in which word sizes are based on the frequency of the words provided in a list or web site address. However, teachers and students will appreciate the added features of this educational tool in that users can display Tagxedo word clouds in different shapes, colors, themes and may save and/or print the result in different sizes.
As a way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, I chose to have Tagxedo display words in the shape of a four-leaf clover or shamrock. Rather than enter a list of words, I selected Manitoba Education’s “Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum” web site and entered this URL, “http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/tech/lict/show_me/continuum.html” (without quotes), as input.
Imagine the impact that teachers and students might have using shapes such as following:
Treble Clef: outline formed by a variety of different musical terms;
Shark: outline shaped by the different predator types;
Check Mark: outline formed by all students that have completed a certain activity or project;
Bus: boundary delimited by the names of all the students in one’s class who travel by bus to school;
Bird: display of migratory or endangered birds help shape this image; and
Tree: outline defined by coniferous tree names.
In order for teachers to fully utilize Tagxedo, I recommend that they investigate these web sites:
Our next audio Daily Create challenged the DS106 learning community to:
“Using your voice as the only instrument, create a recording of a verse and/or chorus from your favorite song.“
Readers who have followed my posts over the past year know that I try, whenever possible, to include what I refer to as “teachable moments”. When these situations occur in the classroom, it is a wise teacher who takes advantage of the opportunities to add some extra element to the instructional process.
So too, whenever I am provided with such an opportunity. Rather than record a verse and chorus of my favorite song as suggested, I chose the following rather poignant song from World War I.
The first Daily Create task in Week 6 of the “Audio” section of my Digital Storytelling DS106 course, challenged us to:
“Tell the story of a place in one ambient audio recording.“
In other words, I am to capture a “sound bite” of background noise and share it with the DS106 learning community using the SoundCloud application.
There is an interesting parallel between the types of Daily Create activities that were assigned during the past “Visual” and the current “Audio” sections of the course.
At the start of the “Visual” section, in which participants were encouraged to take at least one photo a day, the Daily Create activities focused on looking at things differently. The examples below demonstrate how the student is encouraged to take photos which sharpened one’s sense of sight:
Take a photo that emphasizes the detail of a human hand
Make a creative photo silhouette by aiming the camera into bright light.
Take a picture of your feet that shows what kind of day you’re having
Take a photo where movement of the camera creates an interesting blur effect
In a similar way, today’s Daily Create will help me sharpen my sense of hearing.
I captured the following background sound sample as I crossed a rather busy intersection:
I was amazed at the wealth of powerful, newsworthy, “large format” images that were displayed on “The Big Picture” web site. Undoubtedly teachers and students studying current events need to explore this superior resource.
As I viewed the various photos on this web site, I tried to look at each picture, in turn, through a “different lens” in order that I might change the intent. For this assignment, I selected this rather serious photo, taken on February 1st, showing marching Afghan police during the authority transfer between NATO and Afghan security forces. Please be assured that it is not my intention to poke fun at the Afghan situation in any way. However, during this assignment I was challenged to alter the image’s message by attempting to create a humourous situation from ones that were definitely serious or tragic.
When I saw each left foot raised in unison, I immediately thought of the “Hokey-Pokey” song and dance. Next I spent considerable time exploring the standard default fonts that were displayed in Photoshop Elements. Although I tried several different styles, I did not find a font that looked “musical” to me. Rather, than be stymied at this point, I wondered if there were any free True Type fonts that I could find on the Internet that I could download and install on my computer.
Imagine my delight to find “Fontspace.com“, which claims to have a collection of 16,678 fonts for Windows and Macintosh computers. I browsed through 10 pages of fonts in the “Music” category and downloaded the following two:
I downloaded and unzipped these two compressed files to my Windows XP desktop. I then clicked on “Start > Settings > Control Panel > Fonts”. Once my current installed fonts window was open, I clicked on the “File > Install New Font” menu items. Next, I navigated to my desktop where the two downloaded unzipped files were located, selected each in turn, and clicked the “OK’ button to add the new True Type fonts to my computer.
When I returned to my “Photoshop Elements 6′” (PSE) application (which was still open) and highlighted the current text string, the newly-installed fonts did not appear in the drop-down list box. However, when I exited and re-started PSE, the necessary links were re-established and the two new fonts were now available for use.
I then used these two different fonts to enhance my captions which definitely changed the impact and message of the existing serious picture to one of humour, albeit “warped” in the eyes of some.
Have you ever received a tweet containing a great idea or educational resource, only to have it “disappear” when you need it? Have you ever wanted to share an idea, about a week after you had learned about it through a Twitter feed, but because you had not designated it as a “Favorite”, it too was “lost”? Perhaps you have shared an idea or re-tweeted someone’s awesome resource and yet when you want to share this same tweet with another colleague, two weeks later, the tweet can no longer be located. If you have encountered these or similar situations, I have some possible solutions.
Unfortunately my incoming tweets, from my Personal Learning Network (PLN) seem to have a very short “shelf life”. For example, I find that tweets seem to be “visible” in TweetDeck, (which I use to scan and send tweets), for about two days. When I visit my original Twitter application, I can at least review tweets for up to four days before they are no longer available. True, I can probably adjust the “Settings” in TweetDeck and change the “Max. number of updates in a column” from the default value of 200 to a much larger number. However, regardless of what the maximum number of tweets that are displayed, I am sure that “Metcalfe’s Law” states that “one will need to locate an important Twitter message at least one day after the tweet vanishes from the system.”
Here are two strategies that I use to retrieve information in tweets, after they seem to disappear:
1. Use any of the following “Paper.li” twitter newspaper archives. Thanks should be extended to the dedicated educators, whose names appear in brackets following the archive process that they initiated.
To learn how you can retrieve tweets from any of the “Paper.li” archives, I recommend that you view my previous blog post entitled “Teacher Tool: The Manitoba-Educators Daily“. These archives provide an excellent source of ideas and resources that are either shared or received by Manitoba educators using Twitter.
2. I admit that I often check Andy McKiel’s “The manitoba-educators Daily” because it is a powerful archive of tweets that have been created or re-tweeted exclusively by Manitoba educators. However, I must admit that there are times that I would like to have a personal archive of the tweets that I have sent out. Such a mechanism would allow me to retrieve from my “sent tweets” and perhaps DM (direct message) or send a particular tweet to other educators.
The solution that I implemented was to install the “Twitter Tools” WordPress plugin on recommendation from my DS106 instructors. They emphasize the communication and connecting that is so important in today’s world. Thanks to “Twitter Tools”, regular readers may view my latest three tweets under the “Tweets I’m Sharing” header in the green right-hand margin. Perhaps what I value more is the weekly archive of my tweets that are automatically generated each Sunday morning. For example, yesterday’s “Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-02-12” lists the 30 tweets that I either created or re-tweeted during the previous week. Furthermore, if the reader wishes to click on my “Social Networking” category in the green right-hand margin, all of my weekly archived tweets will be displayed.
I trust these strategies will help you keep better track of your tweets since I know that they are already helping me.
Take care & keep smiling
- Flickr – Creative Commons image “Follow me on Twitter”
by Slava Baranskyi– http://www.flickr.com/photos/woofer_kyyiv/3581392721/
Visitors to my blog, who scroll to the bottom of the page, see a blue border containing “Recent Comments”. I do, very much, appreciate the feedback that I receive through these comments, but in reality the number of comments reflected here is probably 5% of all the comments that are received by my blog.
Why am I so popular? You might wonder too, until I inform you that most of the remaining 95% of the comments, that I receive, want to sell me something. This varies from ones that want to share or sell items such as: debt consolidation plans, insurance, political action, pharmaceuticals and, of course the ever-popular search engine optimization(SEO) techniques. In fact, daily I delete 15-20 comments which are really “blam” or blog spam.
To thwart this deluge of unwanted spam comments, I will install the following device known as a “CAPTCHA”:
The acronym “CAPTCHA” stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart”. When future comments to my blog are made, the individual will, unfortunately, have to complete a task similar to the above. This action will determine if a human is sending the particular comment or rather if an automated computer (ro)”bot” is attempting to send out spam through the commenting process.
Of particular interest to me was Luis von Ahn, a Computer Science professor, at Carnegie Mellon university. Luis developed the first CAPTCHA process to fight against spam generated by computers. Essentially, it was a test that humans could easily solve but automated computer programs would fail. Later Luis was concerned that any individual, who had to decipher and enter a CAPTCHA, wasted about 10 seconds. If this time interval was multiplied by 200 million, one finds that humanity wastes 500,000 hours every day typing CAPTCHAs. Luis wanted to harvest this “wasted time” and put it to good use helping to digitize old books. He then developed the re-CAPTCHA process, which harnesses the energy of millions of individuals deciphering CAPTCHAs and, in doing so, they are helping to transcribe old documents.
For those who would like to learn more about the fascinating work behind developing these CAPTCHA “detectives”, I encourage you to review the following resources.
CAPTCHA – A slideshare presentation by Ecaterina Valica
If, when challenged with a CAPTCHA, you never seem to get a word or symbol that you can recognize, I recommend that you click on the “recycle” button. This icon is located just above the “speaker” button on the CAPTCHA display. Click on this repeatedly until you get a display that you recognize.
I look forward to continued comments coming from you, the reader, as opposed to spammers. I trust that our ongoing dialogue and the DS106 “ABC” mantra of “Always Be Commenting” will not be diminished with my CAPTCHA upgrade.
This post demonstrates how I used “Blabberize“, together with a cartoon I created, to share information about the Web 2.0. As my third week assignment, in my Digital Storytelling (DS106) course, I was asked to do two things: 1) to read and reflect on three resources and; 2) to “experiment” with a web application to tell a brief story about something I learned in my reading.
Knowing that there are number of educators who faithfully peruse my posts for educational ideas, activities and resources, I will first showcase my “Part B: Playing” and leave my “Part A: Readings” and comments to the latter portion of this post.
Part B: Playing – My “blabber” story, about Web 2.0, is displayed in two parts using my cartoon. They can be activated by clicking on the either the big “play” arrow in each Flash module or by clicking on the Web 2.0 – Part 1 & Part 2 links to hear the message.
Educators are encouraged to explore Blabberize to see how they might utilize this innovative web application to engage their students in a variety of projects. Those wishing to explore the capabilities of Blabberize do not have to register or login to experiment with recording a short narration and synching it with the moving mouth. However, if you wish to save your creation, you will indeed need to register to use this free application. To help readers get started, I am providing some tutorials to assist:
I must admit that although Tim O’Reilly’s 17 page document was rather detailed, I found it provided a rather insightful perspective of the various design patterns and business models of software developers. In 1985, I read Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine’s “Fire in the Valley” which told the compelling story of the birth of the microcomputer in Silicon Valley. Twenty years later, in 2005, Tim O’Reilly describes how the software industry and web 2.0 development continues to explode. I found that this document provided me with a much better understanding as to how software applications are evolving and moving from the desktop to the cloud. Of particular concern is one’s rights to privacy and how we can ensure that our particular data in safeguarded. With so much sensitive data including banking, credit card, as well as health records being maintained “off-site”, we as individuals, and particularly teachers must help educate our students to help them better protect their digital identities.
One of the key lessons of the Web 2.0 era is this: Users add value.
One quote, found on page 8, that resonated with me was “One of the key lessons of the Web 2.0 era is this: Users add value.” I found this simple statement to be one of the key elements in the success of Mary Washington University’s Digital Storytelling DS106 course. True, the course could survive like most traditional university classes where the interaction is restricted between the instructor and his/her students. However, by developing this course using the MOOC model, the additional “users”, be they registered students at other North American or Japanese universities, or others like myself who are “free-loading”, provide a much richer and dynamic learning environment.
In reviewing Bryan Alexander’s “Web 2.0 Storytelling” chapter, I had my eyes opened to a variety of vehicles that could be successfully used to tell a story. In past, I thought of a digital story as one composed on a computer using of a series of images with perhaps the Ken Burns effect zooming in to highlight a particular important feature. These images were always assembled in chronological order and a narrative, with subdued background music, was added to complete the task.
However, here I was introduced to particular storytelling blogs, as well as examples of creative individuals who had used Web 2.0 applications like Twitter, wikis, Flickr images and Facebook to tell stories in rather unique ways.
Not only was I interested in reading about the historical stories, I actually searched the web to gain more information about the Facebook project on the Holocaust victim Henio Zytomirski and the WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier. I was amazed to learn that the “English Soldier” blog has had more than 3 million views! Undoubtedly, storytelling can be shared through a wide variety of vehicles and a creative and innovative writer can take advantage of a various web 2.0 applications to share his/her story. I look forward to exploring other ways of telling stories as my DS106 course progresses.
Lastly I reviewed the Creative Commons document. As an educator, I am well aware of this powerful mechanism to allow individuals to share one’s creativity through a particular Creative Commons license. I recommend that all students use the “Advanced Flickr Search” and search only for images that carry a Creative Commons license. Furthermore I stress that not only should students exclusively use Creative Commons licensed images to enhance their projects, they should also make certain to cite or give appropriate attribution to all images used.
Having reinforced giving proper attribution reminds me that I need to investigate Alan Levine’s Flickr CC Attribution Helper as a possible tool to add to my time-saving citing arsenal.
In summary, I believe that we, as educators, should share our resources with a Creative Commons license. I believe that I am a better teacher because I was able to take an activity or project created and shared by another educator and make it my own. Once I have modified and improved on it, I am obligated to share it (with proper credit) as outlined in my post “UnPlug’d: Why Sharing Matters! *“ If we share resources using the Creative Commons license, everyone wins … administrators, teachers and most importantly, our students.
Take care & keep smiling
Fair Use Educational Image Credits (used in Blabberize story):