Free images done right


I’m always keeping an eye out for sources for images and photographs suitable for the classroom.  “Photos for Class” is something that foots the bill and handles things in a very unique and appropriate manner.

Off I went to check it out and did my standard search for “House”.

I got a nice selection of interesting photos.

You’ll read about the details and the goals of the project on the front page.  The results come from Flickr, are licensed under Creative Commons for public use and are school appropriate.  

Looking good.

I did what any student would; I selected the first image that came back.  A nice house and the Download link put it on my computer.  

The result?

It’s a nice, full sized image that could be used or adjusted as needed.

But look at the bottom of the image.

Photos for Class does the work of providing the reference and attribution by attaching it to the image.  For many uses, this is just perfect.

I’m still a big fan of students creating their own images but it’s not always possible or necessary.

Also, there will be a time and a place where you want to formally discuss attribution and licensing.  But, if having it done for you automatically suits your needs, check out this resource.

Whatever happened to …


… Netscape?

From the Padlet.

The actual rich history of Netscape, and its browser, can be found in the Wikipedia article.  There’s really no purpose for me to rehash the actual history of the browser here when something more formal exists.  It does have an interesting history including its impact on the use of the web and related technologies.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the impact that Netscape had on me.

When the web was young, I poked around with some of the earliest browsers – Mosaic, Lynx, Internet Explorer, … under Windows.  In our reality, there was no other operating system for computers.  Even though my internet connection was statistically slow by today’s standards, it was fast and almost magical to me.  With a few keystrokes, you could be at any of the few internet websites and were immediately smarter with content.  For the most part, everything was text based and advertisement free.  It was all about the reading; interactivity was just a dream.  It was very different than what we experience today.  My go-to browser was Lynx.

If you really wanted photographs, you had to download them and view them offline in a different program.  The very best of content creators used ASCII art – enjoyable from this collection site.  It’s worth a visit and poke around for a couple of reasons – first, it confirms how far we’ve come and, secondly, if there is any doubt that there are creative people, it comes through with what’s possible given the restriction of ASCII characters.

I was drawn to Netscape for a couple of reasons.  After the amalgamation of school boards, I had to get serious about also using a Macintosh computer which meant finding software for both platforms.  It was a real bonus when you’d find something that was cross-platform and Netscape fit the bill.  The other driving force was a desire from our Director of Education to have a website for the board.  Well, there was a whole new skill set that I had to learn.  Netscape was perfect since it wasn’t just a browser; it was also a web editing program.  Not only that, you could do your email right in the browser rather than a separate program.  What a wonderful experience!

The web was young and developing.  From my perspective, this new web that included images had two players – Netscape and Internet Explorer – the first Browser war.  The odd part was that they had differing standards.  It became very common to see pages labelled with “Best Viewed by XXX” where XXX was a browser.  It actually became necessary to have more than one browser on hand to get the complete browsing experience!  For nostalgia purposes, this Google search gives a nice collection.

Once the board had a website, schools and individual teachers wanted to have their own online identify and, as the prod above says, many of us went about the work of teaching folks how to develop a webpage and then how to upload it to the server.  This was well before the Ministry of Education licensing of Dreamweaver and easy to use systems like FirstClass or WordPress for an identity.

We also ran an interesting project for schools that was labelled “Women in Technology”.  It was the genius of a group of women working at IBM where they would visit a school and work with middle school girls and develop a website.  We weren’t near a city with a big IBM presence so we invited women from the community to work with the girls.  The takeaways were many – just talking to mentors about what they did for a living, developing a website without the boys there trying to take over, and then doing a presentation to the group afterwards to show off their learning.  I would be there to help with the setup but when the event happened, the boys were off to do other things without their female classmates.  I still remember a comment from one young man “This is racist“.  It was a teachable moment to explain what it was and what it wasn’t.

For the purposes of the day, the web tool in Netscape was excellent.  It had a low learning threshold and the results were pretty impressive.  In some cases, the groups went on to develop their own class website and helped out with the school website.  The real message was to not close any doors to the future and consider everything.

If you read the Wikipedia article, you can see that there were a number of takeovers of Netscape and it did become just a fond memory for some users while other browsers rose in popularity.  Today, the Netscape brand is an information portal available here.  A download link will let you have your own copy but it’s not wise.  The web has developed so many standards and, quite frankly, requires a modern browser with all kinds of security built in to it to make sure that you’re safe when online.

These days, we reap the benefits of the early browser wars while the new wars rage on.  Today, I use Opera, Firefox, Chrome, and Edge depending upon the mood and what computer is at hand.  As with Netcape’s beginnings, today’s browser is more than just a browser.  They can do so much more and, with the power of extensions, even more. We all benefit from innovation.  Could you imagine working with just a text browser now?

So, it’s over to you this Sunday morning.

  • Did you ever use Netscape for browsing or as a web editor?
  • What is your choice of browser today?
  • Do you have a web presence?  Do you start from scratch, program your own, or use some form of a content management system?

Please share your thoughts via comment below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts.  They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your ideas.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

Beyond Blogging – A New Tab


This past week was fun pulling together some examples how Ontario Educators have gone beyond the blog.  It was so interesting to explore the efforts of:

  • Rolland Chidiac
  • Alice Aspinall
  • Peter McAsh
  • Aviva Dunsiger

I then decided that I wanted to make sure that their efforts didn’t just fade into blog scrolling history.

So, I added a new tab to my collection of Ontario Edubloggers.

Four links hardly make a collection so I’ve added to the list.

I just know that this is the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re an Ontario Educator creating media that’s publically available, is a series, and taps into Ontario education like these do, please complete the form here and I’ll happily add you to the collection.

Beyond Blogging – Aviva Dunsiger


As mentioned on Monday, I’d like to try something a little different so please hang in there with me.

You know that I’m a big fan of Ontario Educators and their blogging efforts.  I have no intention to drop that because there are so many that have poured their deepest thoughts into personal blogs and continue to do so.  A look through the Livebinder will show you the wit and wisdom of so many.  It continues to grow and I fully intend to continue with my Friday TWIOE posts.

But there are some great things that appear other than in the traditional blog.  I’d like to take this week to identify and share other media that is being used to share thoughts.  It’s certainly not complete but should serve as a nice inspiration for you to consume and, hopefully, branch out to something different for yourself.

Since we’re in education, we know that there have to be rules.  So, my rule in order to make this list was that you have to show evidence of doing multiple things in the media.  I think we’ve all done one ofs.  Those are experiments.  Do it more frequently and it becomes a series and makes it eligible for this series.  Hey, my blog, my rules.


Many educators use Twitter to share what’s happening in their classroom with the world.  It’s a way for parents and friends to get a glimpse of just what is happening .  These can be wonderful memories for families and a nice start to the conversation “What did you do at school today?”  It’s a way to challenge the response “nuthin” because you have visual proof!

For all the ease of Twitter, its power is seizing the moment as it happens; looking back over a period of time can be a difficult chore.  Particularly, if your timeline is full of content from everywhere.

This post from Jenny Luca has alway stuck with me – especially the image.  Evolution of an Information Junkie

If you follow Aviva on Twitter, you know that she is involved with conversations all over the web.  During her working hours, she is indeed providing educational stories and imagery from her classroom.  If you’re a parent, you can just leave your Twitter feed set to Aviva and you’ll get a good idea of how the day went.

Seriously, though, who has the time or inclination to do that?

To help the case, Aviva uses the power of Storify to memorialize each and every day that she calls Marvellous Mondays, Terrific Tuesdays, Wonderful Wednesdays, Terrific Thursdays, and Fantastic Fridays.

Storify is a very powerful utility.  I’ve used it in the past to collect Twitter messages for a conference, as an example.  Rather than weave your way through message after message, Storify presents it all at a single link.  In my example, it was easy to extract messages from so many different people because they had all used the same hashtag with their messages.

In Aviva’s case, every day in her classroom has been captured here.  https://storify.com/avivaloca

Personally, I think this is a technique that many people could make use of.  It doesn’t have that steep of a learning curve and you have everything captured for as long as you want.

The immediate benefit is the sharing with others that can happen.

But it could go further.

You could take a look back and reflect on an event, series of events, or learning experience and make plans going forward.

Imagine going into a performance appraisal, job interview, or a parent/teacher conference with all this evidence of learning in hand!

Beyond Blogging – Alice Aspinall


As mentioned yesterday, I’d like to try something a little different so please hang in there with me.

You know that I’m a big fan of Ontario Educators and their blogging efforts.  I have no intention to drop that because there are so many that have poured their deepest thoughts into personal blogs and continue to do so.  A look through the Livebinder will show you the wit and wisdom of so many.  It continues to grow and I fully intend to continue with my Friday TWIOE posts.

But there are some great things that appear other than in the traditional blog.  I’d like to take this week to identify and share other media that is being used to share thoughts.  It’s certainly not complete but should serve as a nice inspiration for you to consume and, hopefully, branch out to something different for yourself.

Since we’re in education, we know that there have to be rules.  So, my rule in order to make this list was that you have to show evidence of doing multiple things in the media.  I think we’ve all done one ofs.  Those are experiments.  Do it more frequently and it becomes a series and makes it eligible for this series.  Hey, my blog, my rules.


Alice Aspinall

This morning, I’d like to focus on the works of Alice Aspinall.  She is a secondary school mathematics teacher and apparently loves the subject.  At least, that’s what her YouTube handle says.

https://www.youtube.com/mrsalovesmath

Recently, she reached 100 followers of her channel which enabled her to have the custom URL.  So, congratulations on that.

The focus of the channel is to solve mathematics problems – from beginning to end and record/explain every step.

I’m impressed with this work at so many levels.

  • First of all, it can be difficult to go from beginning to end without making a mistake.  Any teacher who has ever tried to solve a problem in front of a class at the chalkboard knows that.  (How many of you have used the line “just checking to see if you’re paying attention” as you erase a mistake)
  • Unlike the traditional short video of 30-60 seconds, a complete mathematics solution can take some time.  Most of her videos fall in the range of 4-10 minutes as demonstrated here.  Try replicating what she’s done and you can’t help but be impressed.

  • Her printing is perfect.  As a terrible writer any more, I’m impressed with that.  In addition, you’ve got to appreciate her ability to write in a straight line on unlined paper while explaining the solution.  Throw into the mix keeping an eye on the recording to know when to adjust the paper to keep everything in sight and there are many possible points of failure!

The result is a nice collection of explanation videos.

How to use them?  There are a multitude of ways.

  • introduce a concept
  • students can review the procedures at home
  • students who don’t “get it” in class don’t have to embarrass themselves by asking to have it explained again
  • students who miss a class for whatever reason can use this as part of their catch up activities
  • flip the classroom using content on her terms
  • and I’m sure that you can think of other ways

There are huge benefits for her students in the explicit instruction that is given.  There’s also another message here that’s important.  Anyone who takes the time and considerable effort to pull this together must truly “love math”.

Her students will be the immediate users of this content.  But, because they’re online for all to see, you can use these as well if they’re appropriate.

You can follow Alice on Twitter at @aliceaspinall.

Interactive Maps


Over the weekend, I ran into this story

How to make awesome interactive map using Google Sheets in under 1 minute?

Of course, I had to share it with my friends.  It was interesting to see it being favourited and shared.

And, of course (2), I had to try it myself.  Here’s my result as an image.  I was really impressed with the stats popping up as you would mouse over various countries.

map

Did it take more than the minute promised?  Probably; I’m a slow reader.

It was fun and would have been the sort of activity that would have been done at a computer contact meeting.  There’s a lot there like finding and copying data, moving to a spreadsheet, copying it and then using the magic Google pixie dust to turn the data into the map.

I was ready to bookmark and move on when I got a message.  “Hey, Doug, we’re an Office 365 board and can’t use Google.  Will it work with Office 365?”

I didn’t know the answer right off but it seems like it should be possible.  I don’t have an Office 365 account so I can’t be sure on that platform but I do have my regular Microsoft account.  I decided to give it a shot and go pure Microsoft.  That meant using Windows and the Edge browser.

I didn’t get far before I ran into challenges.

The first challenge came after I selected the data from the Wikipedia article.  It copied all right but wouldn’t paste into Excel Online properly.  Instead of honouring the various cells, everything from that country pasted into the same cell.  This would take a lot of fixing to get right.  I tried a few times to see if it was something that I was doing wrong.  No dice.  Then, I opened a new sheet in Google Sheets and it pasted properly.  I copied again and pasted back into Excel and it went well.  So spreadsheet to spreadsheet was OK.

The second challenge came when I wanted to draw the map.  The selection of charts in Excel Online didn’t include an appropriate map.  There was this…

book-6-xlsx-microsoft-excel-online

It wasn’t the same.  I poked around and looked for some add-ins that might do the trick but I couldn’t find something that looked like it would do the trick.

I’m now well over a minute.

I turned to OneNote.  Bringing the data in generated an error that only 100 items could be pasted.  I went with a smaller set of data but couldn’t find a way to generate the map.

So, for this example, it looks like there was only one choice.

A New Concept – Opera Neon


I find that it doesn’t hurt to try out new things that will challenge my way of thinking or doing things.  There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a rut.

Over the weekend, I had read about Opera Neon, a concept browser from Opera, and read their rationale that the web needs a new browser.  I was definitely intrigued so I immediately set off to download and check it out.

I installed the Macintosh version and was up and running in a few seconds.  And, in that few seconds, I realized that I was in a different world.

In my world, I turn off bookmark bars and status setting so that I get more room to read content rather than constantly scrolling.  So, I was really interested to see what would happen as the information indicate that Opera didn’t have tabs in the traditional sense.  Traditional tabs do take up screen real estate.

But before I got there, I experienced “newness” just in the setup.

Neon, rather than taking a traditional approach to a browser mimics a desktop.  In fact, you can bring in your desktop image as its background.  So, I did that.  Interestingly, like most browsers upon installation, you’re invited to bring in settings that are already there from another browser.  I expected to be able to import from Opera Next or Chrome since it’s based on the Chromium project.  Instead, the only option was to import from Firefox.  Not a problem.  I wonder if I had the actual production version of Opera that I could pull from there.  No matter.

And I was off.

My next step was to look for a few of things that I have come to rely on with Opera Next – Turbo Mode, ad blocking, and the VPN.  They don’t appear to be available.  That didn’t come as a big surprise; after all, it was a first download of a concept.  I did look to install some extensions – notably LastPass and Scribefire, two which I use daily.  Extensions aren’t available either.  OK, not a real problem, I can use WordPress’ internal editor and do an Option-Tab to copy and paste from Opera Next.  It’s still early days.

Instead of lamenting upon what wasn’t there, I decided to poke around to see what was there.  Exploring was really a pleasant experience.  Here’s a screen grab.

2017-01-16_0642.png

Regular browser users should notice a few things.

First of all, there are no tabs at the top of the screen.  Instead, take a look to the right side and you’ll see a number of bubbles.  These would correspond to the tabs that I would normally have open.  And, yes, you can have more than six.  I’d be dead in the water without all the tabs that I normally use.  Add more and you get scrollbars to go through them.  It was an interesting experience; I thought that I’d be scrolling forever but I wasn’t.  The latest used tab goes at the top and the browser works to identify the tabs that you use most and they bubble to the top.  I didn’t find the need to go looking; perhaps that says more about my untidy browsing habits.

On the left side, you’ll see a number of icons that let you quickly access media, crop part of the screen, check downloads, etc.  That’s a very nice touch; I often have to go searching for the features in the menu or use an extension.  As with Opera Next, videos can pop out and play while you go about your business.  If only I had fast enough internet access to truly enjoy that.

But look in the centre.  Here is where I was really blown away.  You have the ability to have side by side browser screens open.  That is a feature that I took to immediately.  When working in a Google document, it’s often so nice to have another resource handy.  In the screen capture, I have Monday’s post on the left and today’s editor on the right.  See how productive I can be?  The reality is that I might just have Twitter or Facebook open in one so that I don’t miss a thing!

The new tab takes on an interesting format for Opera’s Speed Dial.  The new address reminds me a bit of the Edge  browser.  But the floating bubbles for bookmarks stole my attention.

2017-01-16_0645.png

Click one and you’re on the site.

It was an interesting and yet uneasy tour of the browser.  I liked that there was so much new to explore and play with.  I didn’t like the frustration when I would reach for something that I would do in a traditional browser and it wasn’t there or worked differently.  I guess we just get engrained with a certain skillset.

If you don’t like any of your existing wallpapers, the Neon browser has a couple of new wallpapers “inspired” by Neon that you can download and use.  They are very well designed; I may end up using one of them eventually.

If you want to explore and possibly get thrown out of your comfort zone at the same time, download it for Windows/Macintosh from here.

Is this a look at the future of browsers?  In a world where every browser works essentially the same way to the end user, it was a refreshing experience.  I can’t wait to see where Opera takes it.