Maps, Oh My!

I was originally going to call this “Nostalgia Finds Maps” and that would have been good too.  The bottom line, this was a personal exercise in inquiry that took me to a place I didn’t know existed – and I’m so glad it did.  Like most people, I suspect, Google Maps is the place to be to map things out.  Seconds and thirds might take me to Bing Maps or Mapquest but now….

I logged onto Facebook this morning and a friend had shared this beautiful picture of the square in Goderich, Ontario, close to my childhood home.  The picture is from “Your Life in Stills Photography“, a Goderich photography service.  To respect their work, this is just a clip of the original picture that begs the question “Why do they call it a square?”  Follow this link for the original image.  This, and many of the images from Your Life are incredible.  The Square was a favourite destination in my youth, only it was filled with trees.

As I was poking around, I saw that the image was also shared on the Ontario’s West Coast Facebook page.  Now, when you grow up away from Lake Huron, you think of the West Coast as Kincardine, Goderich, Bayfield, Grand Bend, …  All were popular day trip destinations in Huron and surrounding counties, but there’s more.  “Favourite Five Stops on Day Trip Through Huron County“.

I continue to post around and notice that Walton is listed as part of the West Coast.  I was surprised since it was further inland.  My memories of Walton is of a little village part of the amazing softball community. The Wikipedia lists it as a population of 96 so, even with rounding errors, it’s still on the small size.  So, I’m reading the article, remembering great times and I notice the map section, with the latitude and longitude.  (43.67784°N 81.30168°WIt’s actually a link so I give it a click.

Holy gold mine.

I end up on a site called GeoHack, really new to me and part of the Wikimedia Tool Labs

And look at what we find.

Obviously, it would be presumptuous to label this as every mapping service ever but I suspect you’ll have blisters on your mouse clicking finger before you’re done exploring them all.

And, Canadian resources…

And this is the beginning.  Discover everywhere in The Wikipedia that has made reference to this location as well so many other resources like Geocaching, Planet Spotter, …


Images Search

As I added the post this week about Wellcome Images, I realized that I have quite a number of images pages tucked away in my Diigo account.  I’d found them and saved them there so that I wouldn’t lose them.

But, I’m really hard pressed to come up with the names of all of the places I’ve used.  There’s MorgueFiles, Unsplash, New Old Stock, that come immediately to mind but I know darn well there are more.  What to do; what to do.  Finding or curating resources isn’t terribly productive if you lose them.

Time for some coffee.

I started poking around inside Diigo and, yeah, I’d found a couple more.

Now, my GECDSB friends would know what I’d done in the past.  I would have created a page of these resources and linked to them from my Portal Page.

I thought that I’d take a different approach.  I logged into my Symbaloo account and created a page of the resources.  In that way, the list is easily available from my Symbaloo account.  They’re just a click away.


When I was done, I was blown away with the collection.  It’s diverse and most of the images are free or free to use under a Creative Commons license.

Since I’d already done the semi-hefty living, I decided to share the link with you in case you’re interested.  It’s available here.

Symbaloo remains one of my favourite utilities for presenting results for a particular purpose like this.  Neat and simple, and very effective.

If you have a Symbaloo account, you’re more than welcome to add this collection to your account.  I can only see the collection growing.

Incredible Images via Wellcome

Wellcome Images describes itself as the “world’s richest and most unique collections”. 

If you poke around, you’ll find it difficult to argue with that description.

You would be hard pressed to find a comparable collection.   I came across the site while looking for some World War I images the other day and, I’ll confess, I stayed and explored the site far longer than I ever expected.

Like so many image collection repositories, you can browse your way through a gallery – Ancient medicine is fascinating (and scarey) – or you can do a simple or advanced search to find just what you’re looking for.

I’ll confess, the search results themselves, took me off on interesting tangents.  What a collection!

And, the use of the imagery is governed by Creative Commons license.

Checking the pricing link for details but most of the content is free to use within some very school friendly use.

All low res images on this site are freely available for download for personal, academic teaching or study use, under one of two Creative Commons licences. For further details please see our Terms of Use.

Hi-res historical images are also available to download from this site free of charge, for any usage, under a Creative Commons Attribution Only – CC-BY licence.

For new photography, larger electronic files or prints, please see the price list below. Prices exclude VAT and postage.

Make sure that you allot an ample amount of time to explore Wellcome Images.  I’ll bet you can’t stop at one!

Checking out a Reblog (and finding so much more)

Every now and again, something happens that just reinforces that we live in such a connected world and the value that it generates.  It happened to me recently.

I’ve mentioned many times that I’ve always been about sharing of some of the best ideas in education that come along.  I’ve always done that.  In my previous role as a computer consultant for a school district, we were always talking about the need to be a life long learner.  It’s one thing to send the message and then complain when you don’t see it happen.  It’s quite another to actually do it yourself.

The rewards are so genuine.  You can’t beat a good opportunity to learn.  Fortunately, I follow a lot of people that feel the same way.

A perfect example of this happened this morning.  I’m a big fan of Miguel Guhlin’s thinking.  Just this morning, I read a post on his blog titled “App Smashing Madness!”  It was a great read and I have a few things on my “Need to Learn” list as a result of my read.  Thanks, Miguel.  Although I’ve been to a number of ISTE Conferences, including two in San Antonio, I don’t believe that we’ve actually met face to face.  I sure would like to think that we’ve got a meaningful learning relationship online.  I’ve learned so much about Moodle and Evernote, for example, just following his lead.

For me, it’s a confirmation that we can learn so much just by being connected.

So, back to me.  I like to think of one thing that I’ve learned on any particular day and blog about it.  Unlike some that will talk about a resource and maybe copy a piece of the documentation and call it a blog post, I do like to play around and see if I can make the connection.  If I can, it makes a post.  There’s nothing proprietary about my work – in fact, if you check the “About Me” page, and scroll to the bottom, I have a pretty liberal creative commons license.  Copy, do what you want, but just make sure that you credit me and don’t change the content.

I don’t actively check this out – who but an educator would even care what I’ve written about?

Every now and again, I’ll get a comment from someone taking Educational Studies at a Faculty of Education.  They’ll identify themselves and the course that they’re taking.  It’s pretty obvious that they’ve got to read some educational blogs as a course requirement and somehow they drew the short straw and got mine.

In this day of living dangerously online, I don’t think it hurts to have a bit of healthy paranoia.  So, I do have WordPress configured to let me know if there’s a comment or when a post is created or updated.  I look at the first as a way to get rid of a piece of spam that slips by Akismet and the second as a bit of protection in case someone learns my dog’s name and logs on as me and starts to create a post.

But there’s another notification that comes across every now and again.


It’s the concept of a reblog.  In this case, someone has taken an entire blog post and put it on their blog.  Some may consider it an easy way to plagiarize.  Or, it could be a test to see what reblog does.  Or, it could be that the post resonated with someone and they wanted to share more than just the link with someone else.  I hope that it was the latter in this case.

As you see, Ms. Couture liked the post “Watching the World Tweet”.  It was quite a popular post and I, personally, get a kick out of just going to the website and watch it draw itself.  I did follow WordPress’ advice and checked out Rose’ website.  It’s a WordPress blog with many references to courses at the University of Regina.  You know, “those Saskatchewan guys”.  As I poked around her blog, I see that she’s very visible about her learning and her aspirations for a career once she becomes a qualified teacher.  Her efforts have not gone unnoticed as there’s a comment on at least one of her reflections from her professor.  She even reported back about my “Childhood Community” posts.  (which I think encompasses so much that it should be a project at any Faculty of Education…”

One needs to look at the entirety of the digital presence that she’s created for herself.  You can’t help but be impressed.

If someone is looking for a well connected French Immersion teacher who “gets it” when it comes to technology and the desire to create a personal network while at a Faculty of Education, they need to offer this young lady an interview when she graduates.  She shouldn’t remain on the market for long.

Check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.

A Wall of Films

Back around the turn of the century when I taught Computer Science and Business Education, we had days allocated to professional development.  One day was laid on by the board for board initiatives and the other was a federation day where we got together by subject discipline.  Thusly inspired, we were good to go for another year.  My how things have changed.  Video was big as well – we had a media centre and could book video to arrive via courier and then book the television to play the video when it was needed.  Of course, the television was always available when it was needed.  At the PD events, we could even preview the one or two computer science videos that might be bought in a particular year and then see if they fit into our curriculum.

Fast forward to today and think of the advantages we have.

The well connected educator can read and participate with professional learning almost any hour of the day or night.  Given a network big enough, there’s always someone smart that you can contact at a moment’s notice.  I’ve often said that the Computer Science teacher is the loneliest one in a school.  There’s usually just one of you; who do you bounce ideas off?  What about the one or two computer videos that might be available?  How do you know what’s good and what’s worth the time?

Of course, we don’t have these exact problems anymore.  With the amount of video that’s online, you just go to your favourite video service and grab one.

But there’s a better way.  After all, who wants to preview all the videos of a cat flushing the toilet?

Enter Files for Action.

Films For Action is a community-powered learning library for people who want to change the world. Watch over 1,500 films. Add and rate content. Join us!

You can enter at the root level, but take a look at the Wall of Films.


The intention is clearly to maintain a collection of video that is significant in the subject area.  I poked around in the Technology and Design area.

As with all video, you’re going to want to preview, make sure that the copyright works for your intended use, etc. but I think you’ll find this to be a nice collection for a particular purpose.

Think of the things that are now possible like assigning a video to watch for homework since your students are so well connected.

And when someone longs for the good ol’ days of education, send them here and remind them that there was a time when technical support was largely the question “Do you have the TV set to Channel 3?”

The Deal with Infographics

I must admit that I find the field of infographics fascinating.  In my Zite reader, I’m excited when one of them makes any of the categories that I follow and, to be sure that I get a daily fix, I have the category “infographics” selected.

What impresses me about the whole infographics concept is that one that is well crafted can convey so much information in one document.  Those of us who do presentations regularly will use pie charts or bar charts to identify data or elements of the data.  However, the conventional wisdom has always been to keep one piece of data analysis on a slide to make it readable.

Infographics take that conventional wisdom for a walk by the river and shoves it in.  In fact, infographics puts it all together in one place.  Unlike a pie chart where the experienced designer stands out by exploding a piece, infographics can share just a tonne of information all in one spot.  They’re not intended to be glanced at and moved on.  They are a work of art and data in themselves.  I’d go so far as to say that they’re another contemporary story telling technique.

Here’s one of the infographics that I spent time looking at this morning.  It’s titled “The pros and cons of social media in education” and was blogged by the Edtech Times who credit the authorship to  Meet me under the infographic.

If we take a look at the infographic for its design, we see:

  • four major categories identified; (there are two number threes)
  • some bar charts;
  • graphic organizer showing relationships between items;
  • logos that we all recognize and are immediately drawn to;
  • sources credited for the resources;
  • identifier of the author;
  • a great deal of work with an image editing tool;
  • elements of design – colour, alignment, attractiveness to the viewer.

So let’s step away from the infographic per se, and think about this in the classroom.

A simple way to use the infographic would be as a resource from which to pull answers.  I’d like to think that we could move much deeper with the concept of infographics.  Why not make it the end result of a project?  Consider what the student or groups of students would do in order to be successful.

  • more than trivial use of their graphic tool; (Photoshop Elements, Powerpoint, CorelDRAW!)
  • the need to design the story they wish to tell;
  • research for facts, details, authorities;
  • design element choices – fonts, colours, graphics;
  • respect for copyright and the use of others’ efforts;
  • collaboration and agreement within their group;
  • choose the most appropriate way to display and tell their story;
  • determination of ultimate filetype;
  • critical decisions made about what information goes into the final design.

There is huge potential for this particular activity.  Not only is the process so important, the final product will display so nicely in the student or class blog or wiki.  Where do infographics fit with your curriculum?  If you are doing infographic activities with your class, please share challenges and successes below.

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Fantasy Building(s)

If you haven’t already, you need to take a look at this blog post.

Fantastic Imaginary Buildings Created by Splicing Together Found Photos

Jim Kazanjian is a professional photographer and has put together some amazing imagery.  The end result is actually a compilation of other various images, done in black and white.  The results are spectacular.  Visit his website for even more.

Now, I would not presume to be able to create anything even close to what he’s able to do.

However, looking at his work has lead me to think that I need to play around with the concept.  As my friend Dave used to say, there’s got to be a workshop in there somewhere.

I think of the various things that I’ve done with Photoshop workshops in the past – colourizing black and white photos, editing out street signs, placing myself in wild and exotic locations…

The whole point of doing these sort of activities in workshops is to encourage teachers to try the same activities with their students to become better image creators.  As I look at Kazanjian’s art, I would absolutely bring it to students’ attention and then perhaps try to replicate his artistry.

  • Create fantasy buildings;
  • Create a visual summary of holiday pictures;
  • Create a one picture image that tells the world all about their school and what’s inside;
  • Create a celebration of student achievements into a visual portfolio…

The ideas come so easily.  Students can be so creative and innovative given the chance.

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