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, 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 In Canada, according to Pete, fair use is no longer in effect.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.


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.

Using Twitter and Other Social Media for Professional Development

A week ago, I attended the Central East Alberta Teachers’ Convention. As usual, I enjoyed the networking and the convention sessions. It is nice to connect and share with colleagues.


CEATCA LogoCEATCA Logo © 2009 CEATCA | more info (via: ATA)
Reproduced without permission


This year, however, was additionally satisfying as I discovered I had learned a skill that I could share with other teachers. I noticed a push, or a pulse, toward online social networking at the Convention. Teachers were talking about it. And sessions were providing resources for it.

During the Convention, I had a great conversation with a vice principal of one of the schools where I substitute about social networking and how a few months ago I ventured into the land of tweets and blogs. I offered her a summary of resources that I used to learn how to digitally network. And she was interested. This was great; I was thrilled to be useful. But it got better. Since the Convention, another teacher asked me for more information; we had agreed to exchange session information beforehand, but this information was bonus. I combined the two requests and shared the resources with these two teachers.

I realized that others might also be interested, so I decided to post publicly about how I started social networking. This then is my first response to the 2011 Central East Alberta Teachers’ Convention. It is also a summary of much of my professional development this school year.

If you are just delving into social networking and want to know how to do so, the following information might help you. Even if you are a veteran, you might find these resources a strong way to enhance your portfolio.

Why social network?



Social technology is about mutual, and public, sharing. There are two general reasons it is used in education. In both cases, it is a tool only; it should never be an end onto itself.

  1. Broadly, technology is used to share, to network, to create Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and to develop professionally. Social media activities, such as tweeting, blogging, commenting, social bookmarking and RSS feed reading, serve this purpose. Several secondary activities, such as video creation, slide sharing, imaging and audio creation, enhance these activities.
  2. Specifically, technology is used to create learning opportunities using specialized relevant tools. Any of thousands (and growing) of Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools serve this purpose. The tool should enrich and enhance learning, not distract from it. Best practices should be in effect.

To learn how to use Twitter and other social media



Study the webinar series, Using Social Media for Transformative Teaching & Learning, presented by George and Alec Couros. Each webinar is 1.5 hours long, plus there are several activities that you are asked to do on your own time. But it is worth it! (I have encountered many baffled teachers who just jumped into social media without any immersion.)

To learn how to blog and set up a blog



Participate in the Teacher Challenge Kick Start Your Blogging (KSYB). This Challenge consists of eight activities and is designed to take 30 heavy days to complete. There are several Challenges running throughout this year, but the “old” ones are still active. A new wave of teachers is just starting KSYB.

In addition, the Twitter hashtag #ksyb is used to network with others in the Challenge and to advertise your Challenge posts. Several of us who already took the KSYB Challenge still use that hashtag to keep in touch and advertise current posts we publish. In essence, we created a KSYB PLN. Anyone is welcome to join.

To learn how to create a professional education portfolio



A professional education portfolio is an extension of a blog. It is found in the pages part of the blog and illustrates throughout a student’s, teacher’s or administrator’s career how she or he meets the outcomes or quality standards for his or her position. In essence, it is a specialized illustrative resume that goes beyond standard or outcome descriptions, grades and bullet statements.

Participate in the short North Central Teachers’ Convention tutorial, Creating A WordPress Portfolio, again by George Couros. Pay particular attention to his answer to “What does the portfolio portion of our blog look like?” under Other Links. In his answer, he shows examples of student, teacher and administrator portfolios and explains how the portfolio can follow the individual rather than the institution. This portfolio can be used on an individual, class or school-wide basis.

A selection of (ever-growing) resources to jump start your social networking



Twitter: How to Navigate – Hash Tags, Chats, People and Lists




Tech in the Classroom

Twitter: @stefras, Blog: Digital Substitute, Web: Teaching Resources, Node: I Am Here

I further discuss Twitter and the building of a PLN in a previous post.

Why are you social networking? The power of a PLN

The power of a PLN

Whether a teacher, a student or some other person, two key things every person wants (socially), a personal learning network (PLN) can provide. At our most fundamental, we all want to be noticed or recognized and we all want to make a difference, leave a mark or share what we can offer. (Some of us do this negatively; most of us contribute positively.)

These needs are not entirely associated. We don’t necessarily want to be recognized or noticed for what we share, though perhaps we would like to know that out contribution was worth our effort. We do however want to be noticed.


Personal Learning NetworkPersonal Learning Network © 2011 Shawn Urban (via: Wordle)


A PLN can provide camaraderie, a medium to voice and debate opinions, a community to which we can offer help, or ask for help, including resources, and a forum with which we can develop professionally.

It is within the PLN’s active interaction that we draw personal and professional growth and we build sometimes lifelong friendships and learning.

The following conversation is a good example of a PLN being built and in action using Twitter.

The players:



First, here are some statistics to help you spatially and temporally place Lisa, Heidi and me. We have never met each other. I have been following both for some time and Heidi has followed me for a while. Lisa followed me on February 5, after this conversation. I do not know if they knew about each other prior to this conversation. Ralph followed Lisa and Heidi, I think, because of the conversation as well. So this one conversation built several relations.

Here is who we are and where we come from.

@InnovativeEdu: Lisa Nielsen, New York City, New York, USA, (+2hr, UTC-5)
@stefras: Shawn Urban, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, (0hr, UTC-7, tracked)
@HHG: Heidi Hass Gable, Coquitlam, BC, Canada, (-1hr, UTC-8)
@Langevin: Ralph Langevin, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, (+2hr, UTC-5)
@ExplodingBeaker: Sean Marchetto, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, (0hr, UTC-7)
@wfryer: Wesley Fryer, Location 3rd rock from the sun, (which is well beyond my ability to place in time and space; I used to be located Jumpin’ btw Janus and Epimetheus, which is even harder to place, though it only happens every four years)
hptrainingworks: Hugh Phillips, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, (0hr, UTC-7, who I have met in person, but who as far as I know does not have a Twitter account; good thing, given that I reversed his name in this conversation. Oy!)

The conversation:



Feb 3

10:31 pm @InnovativeEdu:
@wfryer – Is that new? Maybe the distractions just changed. Maybe we got worse at prioritizing. Maybe students don’t get to own learning.

10:46 pm @stefras:
Maybe just ask questions and let them learn on their own. RT @InnovativeEdu maybe students don’t get to own learning.

Feb 4

5:38 am @InnovativeEdu:
@stefras – maybe the students don’t need us to ask questions. maybe they need us to back off so they can learn how/what they want.

12:57 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu Letting them learn what they want: But they might not learn beyond what they want or what they don’t know exists.

12:58 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu Teachers open doors and windows, knock down walls and disturb universes.

1:00 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu They show students what is out there, teach them convention and dare them to leave their comfort zones. Teachers ask.

1:01 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu In short, teaching does not exist until a question is asked. Learning does not exist until a question is considered.

1:01 pm @HHG:
@InnovativeEdu @stefras Maybe students need both. Does it have to be either/or?

1:02 pm @stefras:
@HHG I think variety is the best way to teach. Send them out to find their own learning and ask them questions to introduce them to others.

1:05 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu Variety best. Send them out to find their own learning and ask them questions to introduce them to others. @HHG

1:06 pm @HHG:
@stefras @InnovativeEdu Yes – sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know. Other times, we need to step back & let them lead.

1:09 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu @HHG RT @Langevin: Design all activites, exercises, reviews, etc., so learners will be successful but also challenged.

1:09 pm @stefras:
@HHG Teach the arbitrary; allow kids to figure out the necessary (Hewitt @InnovativeEdu otherwise u enable dependancy

1:21 pm @stefras:
@HHG @InnovativeEdu It doesn’t matter who asks the question, even the student. re: teaching (and learning) starts with a question.

1:26 pm @HHG:
@stefras @InnovativeEdu What about the foundational stuff in elem? Alphabet. Numbers. Writing. Reading.

1:54 pm @stefras:
Having a great discussion with @HHG and @InnovativeEdu about what teachers should teach and what should let discover

1:54 pm @Langevin:
@stefras thanks for the RT and the intro to @InnovativeEdu @HHG. glad you found my tip helpful…there’s more to come…have a great wkend!

2:03 pm @HHG:
@stefras Like that! Reminds me of talk by director of NotSchool in UK. Engage kids thru their passion – let that lead to the need for basics

2:15 pm @stefras:
@Langevin you are welcome.

2:18 pm @stefras:
@HHG Hewitt is from UK as well. His idea: some info can be worked out; no teacher needed. Others: can’t learn unless taught: e.g.terminology

2:25 pm @stefras::
@HHG Phillip Hughs: one set of kids: taught paddling, let in canoes, bored; second set: let in canoes first, begged to learn paddling.

2:26 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu @HHG Let them drown. Then teach them how to swim.

3:19 pm @InnovativeEdu:
@stefras – Agree. Show students what is out there, but I don’t think we need to force students to learn things they’re not interested in?

3:20 pm @InnovativeEdu:
@HHG @stefras – My issue is not giving students choice & authentic learning opps. Teachers can open doors, but shouldn’t force em through

3:21 pm @InnovativeEdu:
@stefras @HHG – Socratic method is fine, but often students don’t need to depend on teacher for learning. They can find their own questions

3:22 pm @InnovativeEdu:
@stefras @HHG @Langevin – It’s more powerful if we let students design /own the learning with our support. Independent learners is key

3:22 pm @InnovativeEdu:
@stefras @HHG – learning can start with a question. doesn’t have to start with a question.

3:23 pm @InnovativeEdu:
@HHG @stefras – re: foundational stuff…I recently wrote about that on my blog & they didn’t need teachers…just support / exposure

3:25 pm @InnovativeEdu:
@stefras @HHG – I don’t think they need to drown b4 learning to swim. They need to want to learn to swim then get support in doing so

7:29 pm @InnovativeEdu:
@Langevin @stefras @HHG -My latest post addresses our convo -have faith. Kids will learn w/support

10:31 pm @ExplodingBeaker:
RT @stefras: @InnovativeEdu In short, teaching does not exist until a question is asked. Learning does not exist until a question is considered.

Feb 5

5:24 pm @stefras:
I am doing the same. Great conversation. RT @InnovativeEdu: @Langevin @stefras @HHG -My latest post addresses our convo

5:28 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu I actually believe learning begins with noticing. It is the teachers job to set up the opportunity for them to notice.

5:31 pm @stefras:
RT @InnovativeEdu: @stefras @HHG – They need to want to learn to swim then get support in doing so < this was Phillip's point, and mine!

5:35 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu @HHG I just wrote a post,, on @InnovativeEdu point re student need/want should precede teacher support.

5:36 pm @stefras:
@HHG You missed: I actually believe learning begins with noticing. It is the teachers job to set up the opportunity for them to notice.

5:39 pm @stefras:
@InnovativeEdu @HHG working on post re our conversation; @InnovativeEdu’s post

5:52 pm @HHG:
@stefras Did u see my earlier twts re 12yo’s cigarette questions? Exemplified that – we walked past a group smoking outside the mall…

Feb 6

9:29 pm @stefras:
@HHG Sorry Heidi. I missed your tweets about the 12yo’s cigaratte questions. What was the gist?

9:35 pm @HHG:
@stefras On way into mall, walked past smokers – she started asking about why cigarettes aren’t illegal, if they’re bad for your health?

9:36 pm @stefras:
@HHG That would turn into a sticky conversation. I wonder if she was sassing or actually confused? re smoker

9:36 pm @HHG:
@stefras Led to “well why are drugs illegal then?” Which led to disc. of political system, making laws, human nature, power, money, etc…

9:37 pm @stefras:
@HHG That is what I thought. re drugs and politics. Nice that learning can occur outside of the classroom.

9:38 pm @HHG:
@stefras Next came discussion of social norms, expectations, west coast vs east coast culture…

9:38 pm @stefras:
Wow! RT @HHG: @stefras Next came discussion of social norms, expectations, west coast vs east coast culture…

9:38 pm @HHG:
@stefras All starting from her curiosity – then letting her lead… 🙂

9:39 pm @stefras:
@HHG Nice example of our previous conversation in action.

9:47 pm @stefras:
@HHG So how can we consistently extend such an encounter to the classroom? I would do it via teachable moments, but those are reactive.

The conversation still continues.

The analysis (of the conversation):



  1. Notice that this conversation is asynchronous.
    • There are bouts of intense conversation and at other times of rapid monologues.
    • This asynchronicity leads to some threads of the topic bumping into and weaving around each other.
    • It also leads to long periods when nothing is said.
  2. Also notice that Heidi and I both jump into the conversation.
    • This is a gamble.
    • Sometimes it backfires; usually when this happens you are just ignored.
    • But often it can lead to a richer, deeper conversation as each person brings in his own point of view.
    • Everyone wins and exits feeling enriched.
  3. Ralph on the other hand is implicitly invited into the conversation.
    • His comment on another thread bears some weight in what Lisa, Heidi and I are talking about.
    • I RT (retweet) him while mentioning Heidi and Lisa to bring in his point of view.
  4. Sean also touches the conversation when he RTs my comment.
    • This illustrates that others other than the participants are also interested in the conversation.
    • Lurking is another way (though passive) to develop professionally.
    • Retweeting is a great means to recognize a well written comment – that is, a comment that makes a good point.
    • By retweeting my comment, Sean exposed my comment to people who follow him and not me.
    • Any of his followers could also retweet the comment and so on; the best comments might go viral.
    • He could also have favorited my comment, saving the tweet in his profile.
    • Both these actions compliment your tweet and give you exposure.
    • Thanking retweeters and favoriters is good etiquette and builds relationships.
  5. The conversation is still active.
    • I stopped mirroring it here at 9:47 tonight (Feb 6), even though more has already been said.
    • I did thank Sean for his retweet, just as Ralph thanked me.
    • I think I stopped on a great prompt that you can reflect and perhaps even comment on (both here and on Twitter).
  6. Some conversations, such as the #edchat and #ksyb conversations, are planned.
    • Lisa, Heidi and I could have planned this conversation.
    • We could have created and used a searchable hashtag, such as #studentslead.
    • The hashtag allows any tweets that use that hashtag to be isolated from all other tweets.
    • This allows conversations, such as the one above to be isolated and specifically followed and contributed to.
    • We could do that now.
    • It certainly would have made collecting the tweets, the times and the sender usernames for this conversation much easier.
    • To record the conversation above in this post, I had to open the Twitter profiles of each of the involved people to get all the information I needed.
    • With a hashtag I would have opened only one window.
    • In fact I could have cut and pasted with minimal formatting.
  7. Conversations are probably the strongest power of Twitter and PLNs.
    • PLNs allow you to develop professionally,
    • sometimes such as here without needing to plan for it,
    • other times through formal PD opportunities.
    • You often don’t know what you might stumble on or be invited into.
    • And you don’t know what you can contribute.
    • Simply, if you can type or talk you can contribute.
    • And you (do) have something unique to contribute.
    • So jump in. Say something. Let others respond.
    • You don’t exist if no one knows you are there.
  8. Jump to Lisa’s post on the conversation.

In this last Teacher Challenge of 30 Days to Kick Start Your Blog, we are asked to reflect on the importance of networking and creating personal learning networks (PLNs).

Design of my blog

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Design of my blog, posted with vodpod

This post combines challenges 2, 3, 6 and 7 of the 30 Days to Kick Start Your Blog Teacher Challenge. I used Text 2 Mind Map, MS Paint, OpenOffice Impress, SlideShare and VodPod to create the slide show above.

Presenting My Avatars

This week I am going to take a break from my three subjects circuit-schedule because I am participating in the 30 Days to Kick Start Your Blog Teacher Challenge. So, for the next three posts, I will be writing about various aspects of blogging, from a novice’s perspective.

Presenting my Gravatar

In this post, I am going to introduce you to my avatar. Here it is.

My Gravatar

This gravatar represents me whereever I use my user name, shawnurban, and my e-mail address. You can find it under About Me near the top of the sidebar to the right. In fact, if you hover over this gravatar in the sidebar, it will tilt and a hovercard with information about me will appear. If you click on my user name in the hover card, you will be taken to my gravatar profile. If you click on my gravatar, you will taken to my launch page, where you can find all my Net resources. (My Find Me page points to the same launch page.)

Additionally, when I comment on other blogs using either my user name or e-mail, my gravatar will appear, so visually identifying the commentator as me. Readers who come across this avatar may recognize it and the associated comment as mine, so the strength of the comments and posts associated with this avatar will build (or break) my reputation.

What my Gravatar Means

Prior to becoming a teacher, I was an ecologist. Teaching is my second career, and part of my teaching education prepared me as a Biology teacher.

So, my gravatar illustrates various nature motifs – the owl, the sky and my sporty naturalist’s style wear – and teaching motifs – the blackboard, desk, globe, books and ever important apple.

As you can see from the picture of me at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in the header of this blog, that broad rimmed Tilley is actually something I wear. I am not so sure about the feather, but it seems to complete the naturalist attire and provides a unique flare to my gravatar.

Experimenting with Other Generators

Part of the current Teacher Challenge activity asks that participants experiment with several avatar generators.

In addition to Gravatar, I also explored Picassoheads and Voki. Here are my creations.

My Picassohead avatar
  My Voki avatar

To ensure your security on WordPress, plugins are disabled. This link has been provided.

Click to view this avatar.

I also have two cartoon or comic avatars, which you can find in the comics I submitted in Educational Comics.

I prefer my Gravatar. It better represents me and it can be used on my blog sidebars and in comments.

What about you? What does your avatar say about you? And which of mine is your favorite?