Blog Bling and Creative Commons

 

 

Want some photos, clip art, videos, music, sounds, polls, inframe-content or other bling on your blog? Not sure where to find it and if you can legally use it?

The Commons

Last week, I attended the CEATCA 2012 Teachers’ Convention. And, like the last one, I left with some information to share.

 

 

The convention this year had a couple of Creative Commons PD sessions. I am a strong advocate of respecting copyright and attribution. This is largely because I am a teacher and I want my students growing up mindful of and reverent to their own and others’ thoughts, actions and creations. I also am an artist and writer and care about others’ intellectual and artistic properties.

Pete MacKay of 2Learn.ca, in his CEATCA Convention PD session, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words But Is It Free To Use?, summarized the Creative Commons, public domain, Copyright Zero and copyright licenses and how they should be dealt with. There were a few points that I would like to share with you.

  1. These licenses apply to everything. If you didn’t make it, someone else owns it and you need to determine how you can use it. In Canada, according to Pete, fair use is no longer in effect. It never was like fair dealing in the U.S., but now we don’t even have it. I am not sure how I feel about that. It will have severe repercussions in areas of research.
  2. Even if you get permission to use material, the creator still retains his or her rights. You do not own it. Yeah, old news, but news that is often forgotten.
  3. You do not have the right to broadcast what you purchase or what you get through Creative Commons. This includes mood music before a presentation. This is not news, but it is worth rementioning. (By the way, I now have permission to use all parts of that 50 second video.)
  4. Share-alike means if you use somebody else’s work as a part of something you make, what you make must also be share-alike. You can not copyright your work while it contains share-alike components. This is an interesting slant on what I understood share-alike to mean.
  5. If you play music over an image that is protected by no-derivatives, you are breaking the law. But if you insert that image into a silent slideshow and in no other way alter the image, you are not. Okay! That one still baffles me.
  6. Any looser license you apply to any of your work, such a Copyright Zero, is irrevocable due to the grandfathering effect.
  7. YouTube has a three strike policy. First strike, you get a notice, but you don’t have to do anything. Second strike, you have an ad place over your video (but these can be closed anyway). Third strike, you are “encouraged” to buy iTunes. There is a fourth strike somewhere in there too: you have to watch a copyright video. (This information was provided by Dave Mitchell, who discussed copyright in relation to YouTube in another PD session of the convention1.)
  8. To quote Creative Commons Search, “Do not assume that the results displayed in this search portal are under a CC license. You should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link.” In short, trust only the raw source of the material.
  9. If you want to discover how an image is licensed, you can reverse search it.
  10. You can also cite material properly in current APA and MLA format.

So, bottom line, why should your students and you adhere to copyright laws? Well, how would you feel if someone took credit for your thoughts and work? And what if the material you are proudly exhibiting on your site was stolen by the person you got it from? Who gets the blame? Copyright protects and respects everyone, including you.

The Bling

The PD sessions on copyright that I attended at this year’s convention inspired me to publish and share my go-to image-and-media resource page with you.

 

 

This list of 150+ search engines, tools, resources and licensing explanations for enhancing your posts and adding that deeper dimension to your content is where I go when I create media on my blog. I offer it openly in hopes that you find it useful in your image and multimedia adventures. Just respect the copyright wildlife and you will do well.

 

1 Dave mentioned that SMARTboard Notebook prefers YouTube formats of WebM and FLV, while MP4 and divx are better for clipping and editting. In addition, he suggested using KeepVid to download YouTube videos to your desktop so you can ensure their use in class. When using KeepVid, do not push any of the shiny red buttons beneath the URL box (your mother warned you about shiny red berries, right? White ones are occasionally bad for you too.). Instead, use the small blue download button beside the URL box. No need to pay for a free service, is there?

Have fun with the resources.

Thinking… Please Wait

 

Hi. It has been a month since I last posted, but I accomplished a lot during that time. And I am very happy I did. I feel like I progressed quite a bit since I last posted.

This is great since I experienced debilitating writer’s block with some of the key posts I have been struggling to publish, and this pretty much stalled me. It happens I guess. I had all these things I wanted to do and I wasn’t advancing.

Thank goodness I had another blog and other professional resources to work on.

Last month I took a rest from Digital Substitute so I could catch up on some much neglected projects that I was just raring to work on. In one of my early posts, Math Lab: Revisiting Technology and Imagination, I exclaimed how liberating it was to take a single day off from blogging, tweeting, PD and other professional activities to just play, and I think the post that resulted was one of my favourites to write, and perhaps my second most popular.

I find most of my posts, and certainly my best ones, result from some emotional or playful encounter. So, I consider the sacrifice of one month worthwhile to recharge myself.

Wandering in the Land of Set-aside

So last month I worked on several fronts.

Teaching Resources

I editted my Teaching Resources site, including adding:

  1. notes I wrote, and links to online archives, from several of my recent PD sessions to my Professional Development Index,
  2. resources, and a Slideshare Pak Liam created in response to these pages, to my Green Pea Analogy pages,
  3. focussing questions and points to my Phronesis page, and
  4. a math term etymology document that apparently was very well received given the tweets and requests for links to it on Twitter.

Writing in Play

I also did a lot of writing this month, something that has sadly been long waiting, including the completion of a short story based on a Figment Theme Prompt and working on a chapter in one of my long stories. I participated in Figment Theme Prompts, doing a little writing each day. And I posted to my Stefras’ Bridge blog. Altogether, a great month of accomplishment for my writing.

Stefras’ Bridge

I blogged about another of my hobbies, oil painting, and linked to one of my essays describing the history and folklore behind the earliest form of Mardi Gras. And I posted my first review and interview — with Malyn Mawby.

The Write Group

I also created a new Twitter account for the Write Group, to which I am migrating my English and writing tweeps and adding tweeps specifically for the Write Group. And I continued to work on our wiki, gathering RSS feeds and bookmarks relevant to our group. It doesn’t look like much now, but wait until I get things up and running!

Flickr, Videos and Coding

Finally, I added some photos to my Flickr photostream, I am working on two cartoon videos for Pi Day — there has got to be a better way to do this than drawing all these pictures … but boy does it look neat (for my first true “movie” videos) — and I am refreshing my coding skills with Code Year.

 

How did I get so busy?

I think I work in there somewhere.

Thinking … please wait.

Revisiting the Solstice – A Year of Educational Blogging

Today marks the anniversary of my first two posts, Merry Eve of Winter Solstice in Stefras’ Bridge and Anthems & Apathy in Digital Substitute.

It is a good week to reflect on the blogging I did this year, the comments I made on other blogs and the impact I think these made on me as a person and a teacher. So for the next few posts, I plan to explore my blogging and my relationships with other bloggers.

And because what I blog often spills over into what I tweet, and vice versa, I will mention some tweets, chats and conversations I participated in over the past year that influenced or were influenced by my blogging.

I also worked on my Teaching Resources, Flickr, YouTube, Prezi (and) and Wiki sites this year. Much of the material on these sites cross into and out from my posts and tweets as well.

And, of course, I will explore the impact of these on my students’ learning, on my learning and on my teaching. I think I gained a lot.

This recognition of my first anniversary of blogging is cross-posted in my writing blog, Stefras’ Bridge.

Revisiting Four Themes

UPDATE: Due to Twitter’s buying and shutting down of Posterous, Malyn’s 10minutes sketchbook blog has been moved to WordPress, The Sketchbook Project 2012 – 10 minutes. Please visit the new site, enjoy Malyn’s sketchbook and sign her guestbook.

Deep passions never die

Last night I had an incredible Twitter conversation with Malyn Mawby about her Playing in Public sketch featured in my last post.

I asked her, since she is part of a sketch tour, whether she was just newly learning how to sketch or if she had started when she was younger. She proudly confessed the latter, and you can tell from the quality of her sketching.

Malyn also mentioned that she had stopped sketching for several years a little while back. For her, the Art House Co-op Sketchbook Project was an opportunity to revisit her sketching and renew her passion for artistic play.

This led to discussion of my passion for creative writing, which I also have enjoyed since childhood and also took a hiatus of several years from.

Hiatuses lead to inspiration

Of course, Malyn asked why I stopped. And I explained my heart transplant to her.

This led Malyn to draw a new sketch … about me.

And here it is. Wow!

 

 

For the colourful story behind this sketch, please read Malyn’s post about this sketch.

Camaraderie expands horizons

I developed many friendships using Twitter. I use the term PLN often, because most of my friends are teachers and most of our communication is professional. But it would undervalue my activity on Twitter and other social media, like this blog, to dismiss the camaraderie developed in my learning journey. My social and professional circles have definitely expanded since I started developing professionally online.

Resparking passion

In addition, I have another blog, maintained much less often than this one, which I dedicate to writing and my writing in particular. This is where I occasionally write about writing.

Last month, I became the new leader of the Write Group. This role is rather daunting, since I am replacing the quill of a great leader who served for 29 years. I expect that as my new duty takes hold, I will post more to my writing blog, particularly since I am designing a resource wiki for the Write Group.

I will also do more writing with the encouragement of my duties, much like Malyn is sketching more with the encouragement of her participation in the Art House Co-op Sketchbook Project.

So from a conversation last night, I have expanded my horizons some more and so has Malyn. Now that is social networking in action.

How about you? What is your passion? And how do you encourage yourself to expand and never lose it?

This post is cross-posted in my writing blog.

4 George – Playing in Public

Remember those days when the snow first fell and the streets froze and you just couldn’t wait to get outside and play?

 

 

The first snowfall usually happened at night and, if it was early enough in the evening, you got to marvel at the many-colored flashes of tiny crystals fluttering to Earth and the multihued sparkle of snow twinkling in the building drifts.

 

 

Or maybe the first snow fell during the day and you inhaled upon seeing big fluffy white pillows sprinkling toward Earth, some melting but some also blanketing the yard or field or grove of spiring trees.

Perhaps it was long ago? Perhaps it was this year? Perhaps you were only a child or you rejoiced into adulthood?

Either way, you know you wanted to play.

Playing in Public

George Couros recently challenged his PLN to sketch people, particularly children, Playing in Public and document the process of sketching in a video.

The first to respond to this challenge (actually her response resulted in the challenge going public) was Malyn Mawby. Her terrific sketch and video set the bar high for future responses.

It also inspired my sketch.

 

 

This sketch features children playing in the snow: building snowmen, sliding on the frozen river covering the pavement and throwing snowballs from behind snow forts.

medium: pencil – HB2
time: 2 hours (draft and trace)
digitizing: 6 photos – 6 minutes
editting photos: 6 hours (see below)

The Concept

In the Northern Hemisphere, Winter is approaching and snow is beginning to fall. I found this in stark contrast to Malyn’s sketch of her girls playing on the beach. I also recognized that Malyn lives in Australia where Summer is just about to begin. What an opportunity, I thought, to illustrate that play is an all-year activity!

 

 

I was inspired also by the recent first snow that we experienced this season and my desire to build a snowman with my nephew. It will be too cold and the snow too dry to build a snowman when he does visit his uncle. So this sketch expresses a dream as much as anything.

I also recognized that sculpting of sand castles and snowmen and snow forts was similar enough to deepen the parallels between Malyn’s sketch and mine.

The children in my sketch are generic, pulled out of my head. I did not have anyone in mind, nor did I sketch from any photographs. I liked Malyn’s illustration of distance and collage in her sketch and tried to emulate these. However, unlike the children in Malyn’s sketch who are her girls over several years, the children on my sketch are contemporary. I think Malyn’s use of time to sketch her girls is personally nostalgic to her, so I did not want to replicate that effect and affect.

My decision to design the sketch as I did was strongly influenced by my own nostalgia: my memories of building snowmen and forts, of throwing snowballs and of sliding down an icy road, all in the name of play and fun. I remember also making snow angels, skiing cross-country and downhill, tobogganing, building quinzees, playing tag and hockey, and snowshoeing, but the sketch had only so much room.

Play is engaging in an activity to gain a state of flow. It does not necessarily need to be outside nor involve many people. Sketching, like the sketches Malyn and I produced, are also play, as is engaging in some work, such as wood carving or even math problems.

I write, paint and learn for fun. Everyone does something different.

The Process

The Sketch

I drew my sketch in three drafts. The first draft was just a small ghostly outline to develop my concept and place and frame subjects. My second draft was a full-page (8.5″ by 11″) sketch that probably was the better draft. It was more freehand and wispy, much like Malyn’s; however, I sketched it on a scrap sheet and the type on the opposite side of the sheet was clearly visible. I inked in the second draft and traced it systematically to produce the final sketch.

I am a mediocre drawer at the best of times and often rely on paint (oils) to bury my sketchy drawings. This time I did not have that luxury and, in Malyn’s words, my sketch is naive. (Yeah, there really is such a style; I was astonished when I learned this.)

Like Malyn, I have trouble with faces and hands. In my case, mitts served to bury hands. But my faces were a problem. I wanted to show enjoyment, so I needed to draw faces.

 

 

Yet, all the noses I sketched are gigantic. Additionally, the faces are masculine. Look closely at the girl sliding on the road. If she didn’t have hair, she would be another boy in a male dominated sketch! Insincere political correctness aside, I wanted to show girls and boys playing together, so I wanted some girls. That slider was a nightmare to sketch. It took some heavy editting just to imply she was indeed a girl and not some guy with a strange toque or wig on his head. Notice, no one else on the sketch has hair!

So sketching was definitely a fun and often comic challenge.

The Photographs

I took pictures of the third draft of the sketch at various intervals during its creation. A tripod and frame to place the sketch in would have helped with squaring, leveling and maintaining the same height for each photo. The photos I took came out with my sketch crooked and even trapezoidal. I ended up editting each weird product of my photography with Windows Paint, even though it took hours to do so.

In hindsight, I could have taken one photograph of the final sketch and deleted objects as I saved the editted sketch. This would have made an even smoother video, but it rang of cheating to me. I was rather enjoying sketching, photographing, sketching and repeating the process.

The Video

Below is the final video of my sketch. Enjoy.

 

I used Windows Movie Maker to create the video. The audio was clipped from Play in the Snow, a 1945 education film in the public domain and presented by Encyclopedia Britannica Films on Prelinger Archives. I used RealPlayer to trim and convert the film’s MP4 video into MP3 audio clips, so I could use these in my video.

The sound is a bit crude and out of step, but it carries the spirit of kids enjoying the Winter season.

Troubles with George

In his challenge, George forgot to mention that he wanted a silent video. So I spent hours adding audio to my video, only to get a tweet that silence works best. Fine, I can do that. George then also asked for a video in MP4 or AVI format. Okay, I’ll see what I can do.

It was not as obvious as it looked!

I was only following Malyn’s lead.

How do I convert RV and WMV into MP4 or AVI on my machine? I searched RealPlayer. I searched Windows Media Player. I searched Windows Movie Maker. Hmm! This was a problem.

I finally did discover how to save my original Movie Maker project as an AVI. The option was not as obvious as you might think. I also removed all the sound from the project. So, this is easy. Save. Check and test to make sure the new format took.

213 MB!

Are you kidding me? That is 40 times larger than the RV and WMV versions with sound. This is six photos stitched together in a video folks. What went into that 213 MBs?

Okay. Upload the silent video into George’s dropito.me box to go with the RV and WMV versions, with audio, that I already uploaded.

Forty two minutes later, the silent video is finally uploaded!

Watermark? What watermark?

I replay the silent video on my computer. No watermark! Perhaps it is a dropito.me thing?

So, I upload the 213 MB video into my Teaching Resources webspace. Another 42 minutes later, the silent video is ready again.

It works!

Troubles with George!

Reflecting on Fun

This was a fun project, even the part regarding the enormous silent video. Playing is engaging in any activity that leads to a state of flow. In this case, humour also played a big part. George can ask me to create another video for him any time.

One Year of Tweets

There are conversations that are so inciting that you are impelled by every muscle in your body to jump in and join. You join to learn more. You join to connect. You join to share and to contribute to the shape of the conversations.

 

 

Twitter can be absolutely anemic, devoid of any purpose or reason or even care for the presence of others.

 

 

But it can also be a maelstrom of issues and opinions, of arguments and discussions, of thoughts, of questions and suggestions, and of links and videos and images.

It can transform the very way you think and teach and learn. It can network you with colleagues and people of similar interest around the world. It can organize meetings both virtual and actual. It can rally movements and ideas. And it can make us better people.

 

 

How I began

One year ago last Friday I joined Twitter and tweeted my first tweet.

I don’t remember the content of that tweet. I lurked for about only ten minutes, then I leapt, eager to wet my feet, when a conversation that peaked my interest came along. My induction into Twitter began with conversation.

I joined Twitter because as a substitute teacher more than anything else I felt that I needed to relate more to my students. Since most of them spent much of their lives texting and instant messaging, I felt that social media was a good way to close at least some of the technological gap between my students and me.

 

 

Previously, I had been an ecologist. I spent most of my time outdoors, in a lab, in an office or in front of a university lab or classroom. Social media had not taken off yet. Internet Relay Chat, e-mails and websites existed, but Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Flickr, RSS and all the many many cloud and Web 2.0 applications were not yet developed or popular. Then came a twelve-year gap during which I dealt with severe health issues and I lost all connection with technology.

You can imagine my shock when I returned!

Building a PLN and developing professionally

Fortunately for me, George and Alec Couros offered a Using Social Media for Transformative Teaching & Learning webinar series at just the right time.

I was able to jump into social media with some support and guidance, so avoiding the shock many teachers who don’t get that support experience.

 

 

This is where Twitter surprised me. I joined expecting that anemic activity that most people not having sampled Twitter imagine. What I found could not be more opposite.

Twitter is professionally and personally empowering when used purposefully. It can help you:

  • connect, engage and network with like-minded people,
  • share what you know,
  • learn about professional and collaborative opportunities and resources,
  • learn from others, and
  • enhance your teaching, learning and thinking toolkits.

Its greatest benefit is building a personal learning network or community (PLN or PLC) and developing professionally (PD) with these colleagues. It is all about the networking and collaboration.

Teachers interconnect around the world to discuss issues, ask questions and help each other become better teachers.

When used correctly, it is an exemplar of professional development.

 

 

What I accomplished

But it doesn’t stop at tweets.

Along my journey this past year, I discovered uses of Twitter that further professional development and networking.

  • One of the first things I discovered were links in tweets to resources, courses, tools, and people who are experts in teaching and content areas.
  • I also discovered colleagues and experts who use Twitter through mentions, retweets, replies, and discussions.
  • From these I built a community of people I follow, most of whom are teachers, but many of whom are scientists, writers, artists, technology experts and other people of interest.
  • And in turn, as my tweets became more helpful to others, I gained followers.
  • I collaborated with many people on mutual or individual projects.
  • I accessed the perspectives and knowledge of colleagues through tweets, blogs, posts, comments, paper.lis, mashups, RSS feeds, Diigo or Delicious indices, images, videos, and media, all accessed through Twitter.
  • I built an identity, a brand or reputation, confidence in my relationships and opinions, and a staff — yes, it is a bit pompous to consider my PLC as a personal staff, but as a sub I lack one otherwise.
  • I welcomed those who are new to Twitter, paying forward what my PLN gives to me and looking forward to networking with new people.
  • I even connected with people who are just entertaining, such a Samuel Clemons, a ferret of all creatures who tweets just to entertain others. Such connections are important just to take a break.
  • And I developed a Twitter sense of humour that lightens some of my tweets.
  • I linked to formal professional development opportunities advertised in Twitter.
  • And I tweeted about myself and about beautiful things in the world to stretch beyond the professional and into a larger sphere.
  • But what I most value about Twitter are the impromptu and informal conversations and the formal and planned chats that I have participated in. Conversations and chats are where Twitter shines and professional development really happens. They are also what my students gain from texting and instant messaging. I regularly participate in #mathchat and, though I would like to do the same with #engchat, #scichat, #globio and #edchat, only occasionally participate in these.
  • I even informally hosted some sessions of #mathchat, suggested a few topics and just recently selected a popular one for discussion.

 

 

Small regrets

I encountered a few problems along my journey with Twitter.

  • I inadvertently insulted a few people for a short while, only later learning I had done so. This I suppose is a trap common to all social endeavours.
  • I stated things that were interpreted completely differently than I intended, only having to clarify my meaning with more than 140 characters.
  • I have even recently run into Twitter’s 2000 or 1.1% follower threshold, which I calculated I can never make up as more people I want to follow follow me. To this end, I have weeded out people I follow who no longer tweet, who do not fit into my matured PLN or who tweet only occasionally or in irritating chains or spurts. Such pruning is a hard lesson to learn.

Ending the year

I may not remember the content of my first tweet, but my final tweet of my first year on Twitter was short and sweet. I tweeted one simple word.

Neat!

I did so in response to an unrelated context, but I think it encapsulates my experience this year with Twitter.

How I feel about this past year

Tweeting and lurking can be time-consuming. Let’s be honest. It takes time to build relationships, time to converse and chat, time to read or view or listen to others’ tweets and the resources they link to. Tweeting takes time. But any worthy professional development takes time. Any worthy professional development builds and grows. It gets richer, broader, deeper and more vital. But it takes time.

And it is time worth consuming.

In the end, it is our students who matter. In the end, all this tweeting and blogging and casting and photographing has to work with other things we do, including planning lessons and units, creating assignments, managing classes, assessing, coaching, caring, fretting and hoping, to help our students learn.

I have learned so much from my PLN that I am a better and more responsive teacher.

Would I recommend Twitter to other teachers?

You bet. Twitter rocks!