Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Attribution links to Homegrown Images in VoiceThreads


When you are using home grown media in voice thread do you just leave the link blank for every picture, since there is not a link for them?


If you want to provide a credit link to your own website, you certainly can do that. Sometimes I use images I posted on Flickr, and then provide the link back to that photo. When you provide an attribution link like that for others, you are permitting them to get more information about the source of the image. I've had people contact me via Flickr and ask to use my photos in commercial print publications as well as online journals / blogs. When it's your image, it's up to you. You might want to "claim" it, however, so others will know exactly who owns it and where it came from!

This evening my 6 year old wrote a short 4 page story, and we recorded her reading it using VoiceThread. Since I posted these images to my own Flickr account, in a new Flickr "set," I was able to readily import these into VoiceThread and it AUTOMATICALLY made those attribution links for me! This is really slick. This also works for other media you directly link to within Flickr, like the NY Library which has thousands of available images.

Tell a story in 5 photos and VoiceThread


I am confused.  In week 3 there is a mini project that is due and in week 4 there is a story in 5 different pictures.  Are these the same assignments or 2 completely seperate project and assignments?

These are 2 assignments, but if desired you can use the 5 photos from the first assignment ("Tell a Story in 5 Photos") in the VoiceThread digital story.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creative Commons and Flickr


I don't understand the difference between Creative Commons and Flickr.  To me they look like they are interconnected with each other.

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization which was created primarily to allow people to legally declare conditions under which others are authorized to reuse their creative works. They provide licenses anyone can use, called "Creative Commons licenses," for free without having to pay a lawyer. Their website is Their page "What is Creative Commons" provides a good, succinct overview. My favorite video overview of Creative Commons is "Get Creative," which was created in 2002.

Flickr is a photo sharing website which is now owned by Yahoo. One of the features of Flickr is that users can choose to license the images / photos they share using Creative Commons licenses. This has resulted in VERY large collections of Creative Commons images on Flickr, under different licenses. All of these are accessible from Click on the "See More" links after each license to view more images and search for images which use just that license.

In our T4T class, we are using the websites Compfight and Flickr Storm to search Creative Commons images. Both these sites (as far as I know) just search for images on Flickr. These sites are more user-friendly and offer good functionality not found on the "standard" Flickr Creative Commons search site. These sites are essentially "search portals" for photos hosted on Flickr, licensed via Creative Commons.

For further reading about the differences between Creative Commons and Flickr, I recommend you read (or scan) the English WikiPedia articles for each organization / entity:

What should I save to my social bookmarks


When making a link, for your pictures, on flickr is it a good idea to save it to Diigo also?  I guess what I am asking is it necessary or beneficial to do this?

Two answers to this question.

First of all, for our course assignments in T4T you do NOT have to save photos you find for the "Tell a Story in 5 Photos" assignment or for the VoiceThread assignment to Diigo. If you want to, you can, but you don't have to.

Secondly, you basically want to save things to your Diigo account that you want to find later (if desired) and/or you want to share with others. Social bookmarks are just like your "favorites" or "bookmarks" on your own computer, except they have many more "powers" and features since they can be shared collaboratively online.

Posting versus bookmarking on Diigo


What is the difference between posting and bookmarking on Diigo?

There is not a difference, those terms ("post" and "bookmark") are synonyms. They can be used interchangeably in the context of social bookmarking.

Emotion and text-based communication


Does texting or blogging remove the emotional side of interacting with each other?  In other words, if someone is crying you would not know.

Writing with text alone undoubtedly changes communication dynamics, since at a minimum the non-verbal language normally present in face-to-face communication is absent. People do find ways to compensate for this, however, and one way people show emotion when typing is by USING ALL CAPS. This is considered "shouting" in an email or text message, and is generally poor form. The English WikiPedia article for "all caps" addresses this a little, and also provides a link to the related "Netiquette" page.

An excellent new television series by PBS Frontline started on February 2, 2010, titled "Digital Nation." This question of emotion in writing and the ways digital communication is perhaps changing social skills as well as norms is addressed in several of the online video clips, including this one titled, "Rewiring Young Brains." It's important to recognize, when viewing this clip, that the speaker does not cite research, he just basically says, "I'm worried about this."

Sources for blog commenting assignments


Do the student blog comments have to come from netvibes or the class bundle for blogs?  Can it come from somewhere else as long as it is a class blog?

Assigned comments on a K-12 classroom blog can come from anywhere. We don't have those linked to our netvibes portal currently. Our K-12 Classroom Blog Finder page has suggestions, but you don't have to just go with those. The main thing is to try and find ACTIVE blogs which are in use currently, so you can provide feedback to students and teachers who are blogging NOW and will see/respond to your constructive input.

Starting with week 4, we are alternating required comments on EITHER classmate blogs or K-12 classroom blogs. Week 3 is the only week in which BOTH types of comments were required. (With hindsight, that was probably too much to assign for a single week.) Hopefully all our class blogs are now listed in my Google Reader bundle. If there is another classmate's blog you know about and can access, please:

  1. Feel free to comment on it during weeks when classmate blog commenting is an assignment (of course you can comment more frequently too if you want!)
  2. Let me know that blog website / URL with a comment here or a message in WebCT, so I can add it to my Google Reader bundle.

Remember to use our "Constructive Commenting with Social Media" rubric when commenting on all blogs.

3 hours wasted trying to join a Diigo group


I have spent the last 3 hours trying to figure out how to join the t4t group from my diigo account.  How do I do this?  When I click on my groups it just tells me I have no groups that I have joined.

If you are spending more than two hours per week on your T4T class homework, you need to call me and get my direct help. You should not be spending this much time. If you get stuck and cannot get help from someone else, call me so I can assist. (I know you did call yesterday, and that was the right thing to do, but I certainly would have been glad to help you avoid spending 3 hours trying to join a Diigo group.)

Based on what I understand happened, you correctly chose to join our T4T Diigo group. I have our group set for "moderated membership," however, which means until I approve people who request to join those account holders are not yet part of our group. Yesterday after our phone call I approved three more members in our Diigo group, including your account. So, essentially you were waiting 3 hours for me to approve your account request, but because I was not online and looking at that page in Diigo I did not see your request.

If you setup your own Diigo group at some point and opt to moderate membership (which is a very good idea for any type of K-12 group you work with) you can opt to receive email notifications immediately or daily which include group requests.

This situation highlights something very important when it comes to learning new technology skills, and that is the time to STOP trying to do something and GET OUTSIDE HELP. I've struggled with this myself at times, particularly when it came to figuring out how to remove viruses/malware from Windows computers I worked with in the past. I can have a tenacious personality when it comes to some things, and I don't want to stop trying to figure it out. It can be a BIG time waster, however, to keep plugging away at something when you're not making any headway and the possibility exists of getting outside help.

I really appreciate your honesty and transparency in sharing this situation with me, and I again repeat I wish I could have assisted you with this sooner. We'll take about this in class in week 6, because I suspect this is a situation others have encountered as well. It is inevitable that some situations will arise which we can't figure out on our own, and those times demonstrate the value of having a bigger learning community to which you can turn for support and assistance.

One of the changes I've made to our T4T course curriculum starting in week 6, based on the input and survey results from our class, is to provide graphical time estimates of each assignment each week. I'm also reducing the number of assignments, to hopefully simply things a bit and possibly help people feel less overwhelmed.

Do we need to setup a Delicious account


When reading through Ingredient 1: Social Bookmarking, are we supposed to follow the directions (starting with the section the Procedures) and set up an account on the delicious site or just read about?

No, you do not have to set up a account.

Chapters for the "Powerful Ingredients for Blended Learning" book are provided as additional background / supplementary reading for our course, but they do NOT include your course requirements.

Course requirements are listed on our T4T course website. In the case of Week 2: Social Bookmarking, those are spelled out on the page for that week. Nothing is mentioned there about setting up a delicious account, so you don't have to.

That said, some people may be interested in setting up and using a delicious account as well as a Diigo account. One reason is for backup purposes. I am certainly among those who hope websites like and won't go bankrupt and cease operations, but that is always a risk. It is possible to setup your Diigo account so everything you save automatically cross-posts to Delicious. I have my accounts setup this way, so I actually have TWO versions of my social bookmarks on two different sites. This is an advanced thing to do, and is NOT something students in T4T are required to do. That gives you a bit more background about this, however.

I like the collaboration aspects of Diigo which Delicious does not offer, but I still think Delicious has a very straightforward and simple design which makes it easier to navigate. I actually had difficulty deciding which tool for social bookmarking to for T4T this term, but settled on Diigo because of the thriving groups it has and some of its more collaborative functionality. The core saving / tagging features are the same on both Diigo and Delicious.

Confused about NetVibes


I am confused about the netvibe account.  Is it an account we post to and if it is how do we post to it.

Our class Netvibes website is read-only for all students. As the site creator, I'm the only one who can change / customize it. This site is like a digital newspaper for our class. Once you link TO someone's blog, you can comment there, but you can't manipulate or change information on the actual Netvibes page.

In week 6 we are going to discuss "aggregators" in more detail, and specifically set up accounts on Google Reader. If you want to setup a Netvibes account you could, and then you could create a "custom portal" of information feeds as I've done for our class. You're not required to do that, however.

I created our class Netvibes portal so everyone can experience what a feed portal / aggregator is, and another option for creating one in addition to Google Reader. Google Reader is a personalized aggregator / digital newspaper which does offer some sharing options, but it's not entirely public in the way a Netvibes page / portal is.

Hopefully this will all make more senses after our week 6 in-class discussions about aggregators and Google Reader.

Where are scribe post assignments listed?

Where are scribe post assignments listed?

These are listed on the post, "Scribe Post Assignments (Spring 2010)" which is on our scribes blog. Here are the direct links:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blog comment moderation: How and Why?

How can I turn on comment moderation on my Blogger blog? Why is this recommended?

I recommend all educators turn on comment moderation for ALL blog posts and other social media websites they setup for use with K-12 students in the United States. There are several reasons for this:
  1. Prevent cyberbullying: Sometimes people can be mean when they comment online. By turning on moderation, you (as the owner / administrator of your blog) must approve EVERY comment before it shows up "live" for others to see. This can prevent your students from being victims of cyberbullying, including vicious attacks from others. It also can prevent / stave off spam comments. We are using our "Constructive Commenting with Social Media" rubric in Technology 4 Teachers to intentionally encourage an ethic of responsible and respectful blog commenting. Unfortunately not all blog commenters will follow this ethic, but by turning on blog moderation you can PROTECT your students and learning community from those people and/or trolls.
  2. Avoid a public relations nightmare: An unmoderated class blog can potentially cause problems. The situation at Owatonna High School (Minnesota) in November 2009 is a case in point. Given the litigious nature of our US society today, it makes sense to moderate posts before they "go live" on your class blog. The last thing you want in setting up and using a class blog is for a post on it to get parents, other students, or your entire community in an uproar. In cases like the one at Owatonna, the "problem" may not be "the blog," but often people will blame technology in those situations. They also might blame the teacher who did NOT setup comment moderation. Some situations like this might be avoided by turning on comment moderation. If you are using the blog as a TEAM blog, where students also can post, you might want to consider using a blogging tool/platform which lets you MODERATE contributor posts. Wordpress does this (and is used by educational blog sites/services like EduBlogs) and so does Class Blogmeister. I'm not sure about Kidblog.
  3. Monitor the conversation: If you setup and use a class blog, you have a responsibility and obligation (I would argue) as the teacher to monitor it and "keep the pulse" of the conversations taking place there. By monitoring the comments, you serve as the gatekeeper of conversations there and can more readily monitor what people are saying and WHO is saying them.
By default, blogs in Blogger do not allow ANONYMOUS commenting. This is a very good idea. On whatever blogging platform you use, I recommend you do NOT allow anonymous commenting. While people can (on some platforms) still setup an account with a disposable email address and leave a comment, it takes longer to do that and requiring that people be logged in can prevent some "trolls" from leaving unwanted messages on your site.

Student writing on blogs can and should be a positive and motivational experience for all concerned. Blog monitoring and moderation is not a guarantee that this goal will be achieved, but it certainly is a pre-requisite.

The following graphic shows how you can turn ON blog MODERATION on your Blogger blog:

Turning on Comment Moderation on Blogger

Links to blog posts do not work


My links to my blog comments do not work because I accessed the blogging websites through links from our T4T course page. When I went back to check on them they do not show up. It requires you to login to UCONNECT instead. I don't know how to fix this, or keep it from happening in the future.

Go ahead and log into UCONNECT and try the links you made on your blog. Hopefully they will work and forward you to the correct website. You need to go in and "fix" the links in your blog post, however, so others who visit your blog and click your links won't have to log into UCONNECT. (Of course people who visit your blog and don't have a UCONNECT account won't be able to get past that login screen.)

Take a look at the past FAQ post here, "Where are direct hyperlinks / URLs?" As shown in that post, the key is opening the blog website you are going to link in a NEW / SEPARATE tab or window on your browser. When you do that, you should see in the address bar (at the top of your browser window) the website / URL which does NOT start with "" Instead, the URL (website address) should start with "www..." or the domain name of the website hosting the blog you're reading.

Problems commenting on student video project wiki (week 3)


I can't figure out how to leave a post in the wiki for 21st Century Global Leadership videos. I joined the wiki so I could comment, but I can't.

I think the teacher administering the wiki has now changed the permission settings so you do NOT need to join that actual wiki, but rather just register for and log into a WikiSpaces account. This is the comment now on the wiki front page:
Please visit the students' pages and respond to their projects by clicking the discussion tab at the top.
You do not need to join this specific wiki, but you will need to join Wikispaces if you are not already a member.

We welcome comments from anyone and everyone, and we're hoping to see some interesting conversations develop in the discussion are

Please let me know via a comment here if you're now able to leave comments in the discussion area of the project you viewed.

Can we use Google Images for our VoiceThread Project Pictures

I'm not really sure what were are supposed to be doing for this [our VoiceThread mini-project], but I'm trying to at least get pictures for it. I was just wondering if we have to use the picture websites you gave us or can we get pictures of google and other public sites?

No, you may not use Google Images for your VoiceThread mini-project.

You must use Creative Commons images you find using Compfight and/or FlickrStorm to get your images for your project, unless you use homegrown (personal) or public domain images. The reason for this is I want you to practice finding "copyright friendly" images from these sources. When you typically do an image search on Google or another search engine, the images you find do not readily permit you to know your LEGAL rights to reuse and republish those images. When you use Creative Commons images, you CAN know your legal rights of re-use because those are specified by the Creative Commons license used by the image owner / publisher.

Remember a series of 7 screencasts are available explaining how to use VoiceThread and create your mini-project using it. Two screencasts are available which specifically show you how to use Compfight and FlickrStorm.

Locate copyright friendly images with for an educational media project (link to Compfight - cross-posted to YouTube

Locate copyright friendly images with Flickrstorm for an educational media project (link to Flickrstorm - cross-posted to YouTube