Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Web 2.0 Presentation Applications: Voicethread and Glogster

This week my task as indicated in my course calendar is to explore Web 2.0 presentation applications. I scratched my head a bit thinking to myself, isn't that we have been doing throughout this course?  The chapter title of my reading for this week was "Media Sharing".  Didn't I just do that when I looked into YouTube, Teacher Tube and the like? It all is starting to run together--it is all Web 2.0 isn't it?  I am coming to understand that the another use of the term Web 2.0 is as a handy adjective used to describe any kind of web-based tool that is highly  interactive and truly mutlimedia.


When I looked into Voicethread I felt like I needed to use the term WEB 2.0 in all caps, bold and underlined. Voicethread shows how far web-based applications have become. They are truly interactive and you can see how the whole idea of software residing on your computer hard drive somewhere is becoming more and more a relic of the past.  

I plunged into Voicethread after reading about it in Berger and Trexler's Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in a Digital World. The textbook was just dripping with ideas of what one can do with this application. It was exciting to read but difficult to quite visualize how to carry out these projects in the classroom. As a result, I put all the thinking about the application of this program to classroom learning on hold.  I just grabbed the nonthreatening idea of making a presentation (which I knew wasn't a very collaborative or necessarily interactive topic) so I could have a reason to learn the application. 

I remember reading somewhere that good technology is transparent. The idea is not to make technology the object of study (which happens far to often in school "computer classes"). I strongly believe this but  ironically I also have discovered the only way I can consider the transparency of a tool is, if for a brief time at least, to make it the fully visible object of study. Once I have learned how to operate the tool I am better prepared to grapple with how to apply it and use it in the classroom and evaluate if my students will quickly lose their focus on the tool and really get into the content and concepts they are working with.

Posted below is my first work with Voicethread.  It ended up taking way more time than I thought even though it seems straight forward. It took away from my time with other Web 2.0 tools. Is this a sign of low transparency or did I just get sucked in by my interest in the presentation topic. I think the latter is true in this case.

What I found very useful in Voicethread was the ability to give yourself multiple identies.  I made a presentation and I was the only commentary.  I could create mutliple identities and mimic what commenting would look like. I can see this as a way to jumpstart a voicethread by modelling different kinds input to my students.

Having done my exploration work I was ready to consider more about classroom use.  The Digitally Speaking Wiki's tutorial on Voicethread is astoundingly thorough. If you haven't checked it out, do so now.

I think VoiceThread is a must use tool and that with more frequent use has the potential to become more transparent over time.

I have used Glogster a bit but not in the classroom but still was able to inspire a teacher colleague to give it a go. The kids made glogs that were reports on nonfiction books they had read. She didn't give a lot of criteria for the project but the main point was to sell the idea of reading the book to someone else by give clues as to the content and what makes it so interesting or useful to read.  As with my comments about transparency earlier in this blog post, it was necessary to make Glogster an object of study for this first project. Kids were pretty wrapped up in the features and trying to figure out how to make thier content fit the features rather than the other way around. Glogster did become more transparent when the kids used a Smartboard to present their glogs to their peers.  The kids started to become more engaged and enthusiastic with the content although the visual razzle dazzle was a bit of a distraction for the first bit.

Tool Transparency is Important

The biggest challenge we had was making the entire glog visible all at one time on the screen. We had to do a lot of scrolling.  We eventually resorted to using the web browser's zoom feature. This was fine since the image was already enlarged because it was on a Smartboard. Otherwise I find this quite a maddening feature of Glogster. Why don't they change the poster aspect to one that is landscaped and that fits the nature of a computer screen? Have I missed something here? The glog in this way does not have the transparency I would like.

I do love the ability to embed a glog into a web page. I intend to take the idea in Berger and Trexler on page 144, and make a new navigation page for our library that lays out all the electronic resources in graphic form. Here is the Oaklawn Elementary Library Glog embedded.

I am not a huge Glogster fan, I think there are other tools I would spend more time with but I can see why others are making it work in the classroom and beyond.

Friday, October 12, 2012


I spent a fairly intense day exploring and working on my first Wikispace wiki.  I can see lots of potential. Click on the link above and sneek a peak at my first effort of getting a shell started. It is more experimenting and imagining. It all can be changed and I don't need to figure it out all by myself either. I need to invite some collaborators really soon.

What am I going to use it for first?

After some reflection I decided to set up an all purpose wiki for my teacher-librarian and technology teacher duties.  I feel I can immediately integrate wikis into my life by using it as a collaborative place to post tutorials for teachers and staff.  I discovered Jing through my course readings and am finding all sorts of ways to use it. I often am asked to write up instructions about new technologies or tools in our school. A wiki is a great place to post this information which more often than not can now take the form of a screencast. At staff meetings there invariably is someone sharing what they learned at a workshop or just picked up along the way.  A lot of good ideas, solutions or procedures shared in this environment fall through the cracks.  Now staff can be post it to the wiki.

Another ongoing need is regarding scheduling for the library and computer lab. Some slots are reserved on a weekly basis, others for a term and some for the year. Many teachers lesson plan at home and think of using the lab or library at the last minute. With a Google Calendar embedded in the wiki they can see what is available. Hopefully I can figure out how they can sign up online as well.

I can also see using this wiki as a showcase for student and class work. Students and teachers will be able to upload their own work rather than ask me to post work to our school website.

I believe these are the first baby steps that can open up the world of wikis to everyone in the school. Truely collaborative projects will hopefully follow.

I have created part of the wiki shell today and will continue to play. Hopefully I can share it with staff when I get back from my leave of absence.

Making it Happen

When I signed up for my account I chose the option of making my wiki look like a website. Sign up was incredibly fast and I could begin working immediately.  I found out that I didn't have all the full privileges of an educator's account right away. It all looked like the upgraded version until I looked at adding members.  It said I could only add five members.  I went to the upgrade link and was immediately upgraded to an account that allows me to create up to 100 members.

I hadn't realized how advanced a wiki could be. This wiki has more options than any online editor I used for creating a website.  I can see using Wikispaces for creating a new school website as a collaborative effort among staff. It would make for a much more dynamic space and the look and feel would not be too unsightly (don't judge attractiveness by my example). It would break the bottleneck we have for updating our website which just has one webmaster. In the past, I had considered replacing my fairly static old library website with a blog. Now I can see the possibility of a wiki with a blog feed would be even better.

I tried out a number of widgits and tried to link my wiki to a Google calendar, linking to my Diigo tags and adding images and screencasts I had made with Jing. It certainly takes time. I never used Google Calendars. I was able to create a separate calendar just for library and technology and then made it public.  I found out the hard way that if you don't make it public you just end up with a blank space on your wiki.

Wikispace allows you to add a tagroll anywhere on your wiki. This tagroll represents all the tags for all the pages on your wiki. It is great way to navigate around. I put a flat table of contents widget at the top of my first page. This makes a table of contents list out of all your Heading1 titles on that page. This is extremely useful if you start getting really long pages and don't have time to subdivide your content into more pages.

Adding pages was quick and I liked the fact that you could rename your pages as often as you liked. I still need to make some of the page names shorter since they clutter up my navigation bar.

I added my Diigo tags to my Library page by using the widget option called other HTML.  I copied the embed code made available from Diigo and adjusted the tag colours on the Diigo site to match my wiki colours.

I will need to spend more time wrapping my head around project pages. I like the fact that you can create  IDs for up to a 100 members of your wiki and they don't even need to have email accounts. I learned you can create a template or a content page that will show up each time you create a team. I am pretty fuzzy about how all the projects work especially how you make them public. The help menu is extensive but I started have my eyes glaze over after a while. I think you need to upgrade to a paid account to customize the settings to make projects public. Otherwise have the project people create a page and copy and paste information from their project area to the page. Post a comment in you have knowledge in this area.

I do some Scratch animation with my students so I tested embedding a Scratch animation into a project page. I first had to learn to upload to the Scratch site and then link Scratch to the page. It works great. So now kids can create their own portfolios on the wiki. As I said before I just have to figure out how to publish the projects so the world can see them. Until then I have a project showcase page.

All that work and no one except members can see it!

I wanted to see what my new wiki would look like when I logged out. It looked like very little since everything was private.  I went into the permissions settings and found out I had to pay one US dollar to get wiki verified to go public. It was a little surprising. I wonder if I still have a basic account or if the charge is levied on educator accounts as well? It is more a headache than a financial hardship though. I paid the buck and now everyone can see but only members can edit.

What next?

I think I will add wiki pages for each classroom division and post some information about how wikis are used in education. After that I will see if the wiki idea gets some traction.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Social Bookmarking

One of the great things about taking a course is that you are sometimes forced to look at things you would not have considered before; or in my case to revisit tools that I have yet to integrate into my digital life. It is little bit like eating more vegetables. You know you should because it is so good for you and you know they don't taste bad but for some reason you just don't get around to it or make it part of your regular diet.

Delicious is the Easier Option

I have used Delicious just occassionally over the past few years. My main obstacle to using it has been the locked down profiles in my workplace that does not allow me to place the bookmarking tool onto my toolbar.  Yes it is a bit lame but that is my excuse and I am sticking to it.  I can't explain why I don't use it on my home computer (maybe it was because I got a new laptop and haven't set it up yet--oh that was  already 2 years ago). It embarasses me that I have not worked harder to eliminate this road block at work. I think I am motivated again to talk to my school district's technology support and see if a solution is possible. When I look at it now if I use the feature that just adds a link to my Favorites Bar rather than the toolbar option I should be okay. I have encountered some student profiles don't allow the Favorites Bar to show by default.

There is not doubt that managing bookmarks or favorites is way too cumbersome these days, especially when you use mutliple computers. From what I have experienced of Delicious and Diigo, Delicious is the easier social bookmarking service to get your head around.  If you are going to engage in social bookmarking only for your own personal needs I think this is the way to go if you don't want to be overwhelmed. You don't even need to take advantage of the social networking component to benefit from this resource. However you probably don't want to miss out on the opportunity to tap into the "collective intelligence" that is out there (Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in the Digital World p. 46).

A great feature of Delicious that I just activated is linking it to my Twitter account.  Everytime a good web resource is tweeted to me it automatically is added to my Delicious account. The websites are automatically tagged that they came from Twitter. I will need to regularly add other tags to these new resources or else I may end up with a backlog that I cannot face.  It you don't add more tags to these resources there is little point in using this service. 


Importing Internet Explorer Favorites into Delicious

If you are new to Delicious you might want to look at the brief screencast I just made about importing your favorites into Delicious. I have made this instructional screencast using Jing to show how to put your favorites from Internet Explorer into Delicious. I suspect most browsers have similiar export features.

Diigo Can be Used Everywhere

Diigo is the full meal deal of social bookmarking as far as I can see and ultimately is where teachers should really end up. Delicious has all the basics covered with unlimited tagging and the ability to follow and be followed by others.  If you are not an educator, student or academic that is probably all you would ever need or want. As an educator if want to see where Web 2.0 is really going then Diigo is it. But don't worry you don't need to give up on all you have done in Delicious. You can link your Diigo account to Delicious so everytime you add something to Diigo it is added in Delicious as well. Unfortunately it is not a reciprocal arrangment. You can however export all your bookmarks, tags and all, from Delicious and then import them into Diigo. It took a number of hours before the import into Diigo was complete when I did this.

I am an iPhone and iPad user and Diigo has apps for both of these devices. This makes social bookmarking a reality in all situations since all of my uses of technology are covered.

Diigo Annotates

What Diigo can do in terms of annotation of actual webpages and creating dialogue among users is staggering. See my example of annotating a webpage below.

In the section above about Delicious, I put a hyperlink to the title of Berger and Trexler's book about choosing Web 2.0 tools. The link goes to a wiki that has the book listed among other resources. If we were linked together with Diigo you might have seen that I highlighted the information about the book and added a sticky note.

Diigo Has an Educator's Account

My brain really began to hurt when I started to read about Diigo in Will Richardson's book Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Using social bookmarking in a classroom enivronment had remained a mystery to me. I couldn't figure out the logistics. I must say Richardson's description of using Diigo in the classroom made me want to run for the hills. It seemed too difficult.

I discovered that that Diigo has changed since Richardson's book came out in 2010. I am surprised that Berger and Trexler do not highlight this option in any clear fashion either since their book came out in 2012. There is an educator version of Diigo that you can sign up for once you have created a basic account. There is teacher console in the educator version that allows you to set up your own class of users.  Students don't even need email accounts! That is pretty exciting if you are teaching in an elementary school. The teacher console will automatically generate user IDs and passwords when you type in student names. I can't wait to try it. I am a little concerned about what roadblocks I will encounter in a network setting with locked down profiles.

Diigo Tagroll

Seeing your tags in cloud form is pretty powerful. I can tell just by looking at the tagroll what tags I need to fix or get rid of. I can think of other tags I now want to use. You can have them show up on websites and on your blog. I put the tagroll below since I couldn't get it into my sidebar. Once again I am finding Blogger a pretty clunky application when it comes to adding widgets/gadgets and other such items.  I needed to paste the java script into the HTML of my blog. It was even missing some HTML which fortunately I have some rudimentary knowledge of so I could add the missing piece.


Video Sharing and YouTube For Schools

Since my first post about video sharing I have learned a few more things about YouTube. It has a school component. This is a bit different than YouTube EDU. You can learn more about YouTube school by going to this link or for a just a snapshop view the video below.

As you can see from the clip above the comments feature and the links to related videos have been disabled in YouTube school. Your school can have an account that can restrict and tailor the kinds of YouTube clips that are available from this version of YouTube. If my understanding is correct you are dealing with a preselected subsection of YouTube. If you see something on regular YouTube does not mean that you will be able to make it available to students through YouTube School. I have no idea if you can load your own custom material to YouTube school or how content is vetted.  Sometimes what you don't see is just as important as what you can see. Having YouTube School decide what is educational content has the same ramifications as using Google exclusively as your own search engine. It controls and directs you to content. Some of that control is convenient and some of that control is a business model for linking you with advertisers.

YouTube School is a safer way to have at least some YouTube content available in schools that have been blocking YouTube altogether.  Your school can have an administrator account that sets up YouTube School and then allows for the approval and creation of teacher accounts. You are going to need some help from your school network administrator or more likely district level technology staff to get this all this working properly in your school.

Since I have not set up a YouTube School account myself I am not sure what the status of advertising is. As you can see from the sample clip below, YouTube Education still has all the advertisements that regular YouTube has.  You never know what the ad is going to be and even though you can skip it after a few seconds the beginning of the ad can be distracting enough to the class. If anyone knows about advertising and YouTube School I would love to hear about it.

While creating this blog post I also noticed a few features that YouTube has for embedding videos. You have a lot of control over the size the video will take. I had not noticed this option from the other video sharing sites I looked at. I find it particularly useful for my blog since the text column is fairly narrow and it is easy to have your video extend past the text margins which your blog look unprofessional. I did a partial screen capture with Jing so you can see the embedding options I had for the video clip above.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Video Sharing

My latest assignment has been to learn about video sharing and how to use video sharing sites.  I have had some experience with uploading to YouTube and using YouTube in the classroom.  I often search the web for a video clip to launch a lesson or a unit or to illustrate a concept.  While pursuing this assignment I wasn't sure what I would focus on for my blog post.  I have decided to do a partial review of a few video sharing sites from an educator's perspective.
There are a plethora of video sharing sites out there.  A Wikipedia article on video sharing compares over 20 sites.  I checked into what were the top services. You can check out TopTenReviews for the best video sharing sites for 2012. This is a useful article in that it outlines what features you might want to look for in a sharing site. The "audience features" for finding videos combined with the kind and amount of content on the video sharing service are key criteria for making a choice that meets your needs.
Of course I am not just checking out video sharing sites in general. I want to look at sites that will serve my needs as an educator and the needs of my students.  I am looking for video sharing sites that are full of easy to locate educational content (organization is key).  I am also looking for a site which is easy to upload to and link to. I also want a service that is safe to use in the classroom.


YouTube is the top videosharing service in terms of amount of content and volume of users. It has a huge number of features for locating, uploading, storing and sharing content.  It is the volume of content and the lack of moderators and consistent good quality tagging that can make it very time consuming to find just the right video on. There is also the whole problem of advertising and inappropriate content.  I talk about that under TeacherTube. As a teacher I will always be drawn to YouTube because if I can't find what I want there I am not likely to find it elsewhere, the only is it just could take a lifetime to find.

YouTube is also very convenient to use just because Google accounts link directly to YouTube. Inside of Blogger I can make quick links to YouTube videos. A great number of camera and video devices also upload directly to Youtube without needing to use a computer as an intermediate step for uploading content.


In my investigation of educational video sharing sites I started with TeacherTube. I decided to sign up for a free account. I was a bit surprised by some of the information required to get an account such as my birthdate and gender.  It is taking quite a while for my account to be confirmed. From what I have been reading there is a lot of waiting with TeacherTube. If you want to upload a video and access it a few minutes later you will likely be frustrated. 
Before I signed up I should have got into the fine print of the terms of use agreement. This terms of use agreement talks about how any content I upload will be used.  I found a blog post that talks about TeacherTube content ending up on YouTube.
I guess the first thing that strikes me about TeacherTube is how commercial it is. Videos often start with an advertisement. It really doesn't distinguish itself from YouTube in this regard.  I think as educators we need to be very careful about how much advertising and corporate sponsorship we expose students to. If you have older students, say grade four or above, you can discuss advertising at the beginning of the year before allowing students to access to these sites.  The MediaSmarts site and CommonSenseMedia sites are good places to get lessons.

I think one of the powerful features of TeacherTube is the potential to search it by American Common Core Standards. It is unfortunate that it is just US Standards that can be used but even this criteria can get you connected very quickly with exactly what you need. I think searching user created tags has limitions especially when you are searching for specific content to teach in upper level sciences or mathematics.  I have included a fairly boring but yet informing video about how curriculum alignments are added to uploaded resources in TeacherTube.


I really like the interface of SchoolTube. It is so  much calmer and it is commercial free.  It does have a lot less content. I did a search on the term "Inuit" on both on TeacherTube and SchoolTube. SchoolTube only had half a dozen and the most useful was the video below. Meanwhile TeacherTube had nearly twenty-most of which would have been appropriate to use in the classroom but I would have to contend with the ads.

I would definitely use SchoolTube as the repository for any educational videos I created for my school. It is fast and easy and I don't add commercial clutter to my content. I like the fact that all my videos can be put on single school page. When looking for educational content I will need to include TeacherTube and YouTube just because of the greater volume of content available.


If you are a Jing user you might want to consider using Screencast for storing and sharing all your videos. I think it is the best web based storage service in terms of it organizational features and giving you complete control of all your material. You can create folders for your videos and easily attribute one of four levels of privacy to your videos which you can assign to individual videos or to whole folders. The only down side is that the free account limits you to two gigabytes of storage. I have included the introductory video below. You don't need to watch all of it to get an idea of how user friendly it is.

 Screencast is not a site on which you can search for content. In this regard it is quite different than the other services reviewed in this post.

Through my readings I also became aware of  I believe this repoistory for print, video and audio sharing is something everyone should consider. I would consider it the public broadcasting version of online storage and resource sharing.  I uploaded a podcast to this site and it automatically converted it to a number of media types to make it easily accessible to all users. My critique of this resource is that the site is slow to load and the speed of uploading and retrieving of resources takes a little more patience than other resources. In fact while writing this blog the archive went offline for a while.

Archive is not only a place to store and share video but is a repository a vast amount of historical content.  It relies on tagging to make resources searchable. Getting an account is easy and it was also the fastest of all the above video sharing services. There is no limit on storage, but once you have uploaded the material it is there for forever.


There are many video sharing resources out there. Educators have a variety of choices for the storage and sharing of their and their student's video content. I believe SchoolTube would be one of the best choices for uploading.  In terms of what video sharing sites provide the best content and easiest access is more difficult to ascertain.  From a student use perspective, TeacherTube is the absolute safest but it lacks in content volume.  TeacherTube is more likely to get an educator connected with a classroom appropriate video in the shortest amount of time.  You might not end up with as entertaining a video if you were to search YouTube but you would more likely have save some precious time for other activities. However you will need time to bypass the opening ad and be wary as to what kind of ads appear alongside the video clips.

As an elementary teacher I just avoid YouTube searches at school. If I want to mine the content of YouTube I make this a home project as I am never sure what I will get and how much time I might have to spend (a lot of it can be fun but it is time I can't get back just the same).

I have on last resource to leave you with. It is a great wiki I stumbled across about online video and video sharing tools. This wiki (Webtools4u2use) is truly a one stop shop for most of the information you will ever need as an educator about video sharing.

In a future post that I have on podcasting and screencasting I also have a section of Flipcams.  I probably should have included it in this post but I had made mention of it on my podcast so I decided not to change it.

Posting Prematurely

Many of you may have seen my blog post about podcasting and video sharing in your RSS reader. I have pulled back the posts for now so I can put my blog posts in the order in which they are expected.  My next blog post will be about YouTube and TeacherTube.

Sorry about the confusion. Some of you will end up seeing my blog postings come up twice in your reader as a result. Again my apologies.

Flip Cam: May it rest in peace

Cisco Closes its Flip Cam Division

I just finished posting a podcasting and video sharing blog. Part of it talked about Flip Cams.  I just discovered that the Flip Cam is no longer being produced.  Read about what caused the demise of the Flip Cam.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Podcasting, Videocasting and Screen Casting

The text of this blog post should be a bit shorter as I will try to explain what I learned and what is in the post by sharing a podcast I made using Audacity.


Make sure to give my podcast a little time to load in a new window.  I posted this podcast to and have not figured how to embed it in my blog. I am getting the impression WordPress is a better blogging tool when it comes to inserting MP3 file. Listen to my opening explanation as a podcast. If this doesn't work click on this link.

Just to summarize, I created the podcast with Audacity and used creative commons licensed music from and then uploaded my file to and then linked that to my blog (talk about a steep learning curve). I would try any other way then what I did for posting my podcast.

I mentioned in my podcast one of my kids favourites from Stuff You Should Know. You can also find it in itunes.


If you want to make a videocast you need a video camera.  Some of the readings I did about videocasting talks about FIipcams. I thought I would share a bit about what I know. I used Jing to make this annotated picture of a Flipcam to the right.

A Flipcam is a very easy to use device. I purchased one for my library two years ago.  You just point the lens and push the red button. There is no zoom or any other settings to deal with. The microphone picks up sound from quite far away. I bought the cheapest model for our school just so we could see if it was worthwhile.  I bought the non HD version (which I think is no longer available) which can take up to 30 minutes of video at one time.  You can just plug the USB into your computer and play the video straight back from the camera.

There is a very simple piece of software you can install with the camera (the software may be more roboust now) which allows you to add opening and closing credits (no choice regarding formatting). You can also upload directly to Youtube from the software. The best part of the software is a feature that allows you to take any length of movie and have it generate a collection video bites.  I posted the video of a Smartboard presentation another teacher and myself did for our parents in a previous blog. I am reposting it here. I had the camera about 5 metres away just sitting on top of a bookshelf. I let it record to its maximum of 30 minutes and just ran it through the software to create a three to four minute summary. You get to choose from a few music selections. It is a great way to make a video collage of a school open house, sporting event, or fieldtrip.

There are a few things you need to consider before you get this device for a school setting. Even this old version of the Flipcam maxed out the processing power of my school computer. I was better off playing straight to a TV or directly loading to YouTube rather than playing on the computer.  The HD version of the camera is even more demanding. So check with your school technologist that you have the horsepower to use the camera and if the HD version will play back on your school TVs. The other sad part is that this camera only lasted a year and quit working. I have not looked at reviews to see if this is to be expected.

Note that most digital cameras that you have in your school will also shoot video, you may just need a bigger memory card (they are quite cheap now) and make sure that students stay close to the camera to pick up sound.


Jing, where have you been all my life! This is an amazing piece of software from TechSmith. I can think of all sorts of tutorials I can make for teachers and students. I am often asked to orient new students, teachers or teachers-on-call to the library and our computer lab. There are times that I can't do in a timely fashion or to the depth that a student deserves. This a great substitute. I will also post some for parents on how to use some of our online reference sources. As as start I can see having students creating tutorials about their favourite web resource. I can also see them photographing a project or poster they have made and then give commentary (kind of like a scaled down Glogster). They can also use Jing to create a presentation to show they understand how to use Destiny Library Manager or DestinyQuest.
I created a little introduction to the MyQuest feature of DestinyQuest (our school's Online Public Access Catalog). I have a cold so the voice quality is not the fault of Jing.  I notice there is a part where I log onto an account that can be seen in the video.  I changed the ID so no one can try to get in later. If someone were to do more presentations that involve data or images that you don't want shown you can use another TechSmith product called SnagIt.  It has a blur feature. The SnagIt suggestion automatically appeared after I created the video tutorial below. Note that SnagIt is something you need to purchase.
From Screencast, the sharing site from TechSmith, I had wanted to embed the tutorial in my blog so you could see the starting image on this blog. But when I clicked on the share button it would only give information about embedding a link. So here is my MyQuest tutorial.
When you first get into Screencast make sure to take in the whole tutorial at the beginning about making folders. There is very important information on how not to give people access to more personal or embarassing videos that you may have stored on Screencast.
In an elementary school and early middle school setting I will be challenged in my adminstration of Jing since multiple accounts will be difficult to get set up for kids under 13. Our district does not provide student email accounts.I know gmail accounts can be handier but having administrator access over student email accounts and their passwords would be heaven in an elementary school.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Photo Sharing

I have spent a great deal of time learning how to use Flickr and comparing its capabilities to Google's Picasa which I have been using for a few years although only to manage the photographs on my computer. I have uploaded a couple of albums to the web but never used it in any real way for my teaching.

Before I even started, I wanted to get an idea of whether or not I should just expand on my Picasa skills and not bother with Flickr.  I did some quick Google searches to see what people were saying. In general people are split, but the recurring theme is that Flickr has a larger following, Picasa has greater strengths in terms of a local management option for photographs and Flickr has some better Web 2.0 management tools but the gap is closing. There seems to be a bit of war going on terms of pricing for storage space. At the moment it looks that Picasa is a bit cheaper. The web articles did not really address how Flickr and Picasa compare when used for classroom activities and projects.

A real concern I have with Flickr from the outset is that your free account limits your monthly uploads to 300MB. This may not be a real concern, but I am thinking in a class project where you might be sharing a Flickr account you could run out of space at a very awkward moment. For instance with this project I didn't do much in terms of editing my photos before I uploaded them. I used around 60 photos and used up 40 percent of my monthly allowance.

 I have also read that if your Flickr account is inactive for as little as 90 days your account could be deleted. This is something to keep in mind if you want to revisit projects from year to year. Another limitation of the free account is your photo stream is limited to your last 200 pictures only.

In my experiments with Flickr I used some of my vacation pictures. I often teach units about Canada so I put together a small set of pictures that I can use in the future to help Grade 3 students thinking about Canada's provinces. I have put my photostream below.

I wanted to have a slide show that would take my kids across Canada from BC to Newfoundland. When I use photostream it just uses the order that I have uploaded my photos, which in this case is the reverse of what I wanted. The user can change the options to play it in reverse and with or without the captions. I was hoping to create a default that was the reverse. Of course this photostream will change as soon as I upload other pictures. I uploaded a picture of my school so it ruined my slide show. As a result I then experimented with making a set. I also used the feature in Flickr that allows you to make a set a direct post from Flickr. That is the post that you see before this post in my blog.

I like the feature in making a set where you can write a description for the whole collection of pictures. I tagged all the photos with the province name, the city if relevant and other describers. I discovered that using quotation marks will keep multiword tags as a single unit (i.e. "British Columbia").

I used the magazine cover tool mentioned in one of our readings. I found the bighugelabs website to be a great place to begin understanding what is possible. After make a magazine cover I then used the mosaic tool. To make the mosaic I searched my Flickr name for the tag "Nova Scotia" and got the mosaic below.
I then tried to create another mosaic searching Flickr as a whole using the tag "Ottawa". I was impressed with the result. I am thinking this is a great way to create some associations and ideas with a place. I can really see using this in the classroom. I guess there is a risk as to what sort of inappropriate pictures could end up in the mosaic. All the links below the mosaic are provided in HTML code when you create it in the mosaic tool. You just copy and paste the code into your blog or website when you are in the HTML view. Be careful to paste the code in the appropriate spot or you can really mess up your page.
1. IMG_6769sm2, 2. Autumn mailbox, 3. _MG_3203, 4. Cycling in Canada's Capital Region / Le vélo dans la région de la capitale Canada, 5. Sussex Courtyard / Les cours Sussex, 6. Rideau Canal Skateway / patinoire du canal Rideau, 7. _MG_3422, 8. IMG_0031, 9. _MG_5138, 10. _MG_6328, 11. _MG_8011, 12. In the heart of the Capital / Dans le coeur de la capitale, 13. _MG_4483, 14. _MG_6842, 15. IMG_0629, 16. _MG_5727, 17. IMG_6503, 18. _MG_4572, 19. Untitled, 20. _MG_1712, 21. _MG_6075, 22. The Response, National War Memorial / La Réponse, Monument commémoratif de guerre du Canada, 23. _MG_3214, 24. gatineau park, 25. gatineau park, 26. lina, 27. canadian parliament, 28. gatineau park, 29. Missing GSD, 30. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 31. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 32. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 33. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 34. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 35. Autumn in my neighbourhood, 36. Moment of Silence
My next experiment was to put the pictures in my Canada Photo Journey set on a map. I had a feeling it would be daunting. It ended up just being a drag and drop procedure. My digital camera doesn't embed any coordinates in the photos so I used the search feature to find place names. I do find the Flickr maps to be a little short on detail. I would rather be using the power of a Google map. Here is the Flickr map I created.
It wasn't very obvious where I needed to go to annotate a picture but I found I just needed to click and drag--there is no menu feature to look for. You can get some HTML code that you can paste into your webpage of blog so you embed the picture in whatever context you like. I have embedded it below but you need to click on the picture to then go to Flickr to see the annotations. It is not quite what I had hoped for.
I am pretty excited about what I am seeing on Flickr. I would consider subscribing to a professional account for my school. It would be wonderful to have the photostream on our school website so we can show what is happening in the life of the school.
I still like the photo management features of Picasa. I find them a little more intuitive. If you haven't tried the facial recognition feature in Picasa you should. If you are trying to put together a year end slide show for your school you can have Picasa create photo collections for each of your students by facial recognition alone.  Just to show that I have done something in Picasa I am putting a link to some group research projects that some of my library students made using MovieMaker. There are three projects in the album.
You can store a huge number of images on your website. I decided to try it and uploaded nearly 600 pictures in one go. It took my computer all night to upload them but I didn't get any messages about lack of space or quotas. I didn't tag these pictures and had spent a lot of time putting them in order on my computer. I was happy to see the upload maintained the order. The picture by the way are from a month long trip to Brazil in 2010. Two international students we had hosted a different times in the past few years got together to issue an invitation we couldn't pass up. They asked us to fly down and each student's family would host of us for two weeks each and show us around. In this case I am limiting access by just pasting the link on my blog. The blog is limited in who can see it and only people with the link to my Picasa Album can see it. I can choose at any time to remove the link from Album and thus make my Album private again. I found that you can do this with Flickr as well.

Canada Photo Journey

01 BC01 Legislature01 BC02 Butchart Gardens01 BC03 Craigellachie01 BC04 Conkle Lake01 BC05 Conkle Lake02 AB01 Rocky Mtns
02 AB02 West Edmonton Mall02 AB03 West Edmonton Mall02 AB05 Drumheller02 AB05 Royal Tyrrell Museum03 SK 01 Regina03 SK02 RCMP Depot
03 SK04 RCMP Depot04 MB01 Sandy Lake04 MB02 Sandy Lake04 MB03 Legislature Winnipeg04 MB03 Winnipeg05 ON01 Terry Fox Memorial
05 ON0205 ON0305 ON03 Ottawa05 ON04 Ottawa05 ON07 Ottawa05 ON08 Ottawa Rideau Canal
Canada Photo Journey, a set on Flickr.

This is my experiment with posting a photograph directly from Flickr to my blog. I just added this comment afterwards, but I can make the post without ever opening Blogger. See my next post for all that I have learned about photo sharing and Flickr in particular.