Doing it right – never too early

It’s never too early to do the right thing.  As students start to produce digital documents for class, there’s always a desire to dress it up with graphics and images.

I’m still a big proponent of having students create their own, whether by their own digital camera or via a drawing program.  That adds so much to the process.

In the early days, clipart use was pretty clear.  You bought it or a number of pieces showed up within the program that you were using.  I was on the OSAPAC Committee when we licensed a collection for all schools with classroom friendly pieces of clipart – we called it the Canadian Clipart Collection.  The committee also reached out to the Royal Canadian Mint and the Bank of Canada to license high resolution images of Canadian money – we called that the Canadian Currency Collection.  A link to it is no longer on the OSAPAC website but you can be sure that I blogged about it here.  It was helpful to have licensed images because so many products include US currency as the only option.

Like most things, time and technology moves on and things can often be simpler.  Now that so many things are done inside a browser, it’s quite easy to right click and copy an image and then head to the document in process and paste it.  But, do you have the legal right to do so?  Maybe yes, maybe no.

Big search engines allow you to easily search for images.  But, it’s important to know that the results only point to the images as they are hosted elsewhere.  It’s really up to the person doing the copying and pasting to make sure that they have the legal right to use them in their personal documents.  Teachers need to seize this as a teachable moment to talk about public domain, copyrighted, and then the whole area of Creative Commons.  Creative Commons isn’t a thing but a number of different ways that people protect their creations.  You need to understand it before using it and, in particular, the tough way of attributing the original image.  Much has been written, including on this blog, about this.

A way to get started is with Photos for Class.  The service will search Flickr (a repository for images) for images that you want, respecting the license.  So, if I’m interested in “puppies”, I can do a simple search and there’s an incredible collection of puppies that come back.  Now, I have two problems.  1)  Which one to use?  2)  How do I attribute it properly.  Neither the website nor I can help you with the first problem.  But, Photos for Class really helps out with the 2nd problem.  When you download the image, it attaches the proper attribution to the image.  Check out these adorable pups.


OK, enough puppy gazing.  Look at how the image is properly attributed.

You can’t beat doing the right thing.  Of course, there may a time when you want an image that’s not found at Photos for Class.

That’s when you really dig into proper licensing and attributions.


Can I?

Use this in my classroom?

Copyright is something that everyone needs to know about.

If I find it on Google, does that mean I can use it?  The immediate answer should be “not necessarily”.  You need to know…

… about copyright in the Canadian context.  How many times do you hear people talk about “fair use”.  Do they really understand that that isn’t a Canadian legal term for the use of other’s materials?  Just ask them what “fair dealing” is and you have a great conversation starter.

Then, send them to this terrific website from the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.

It’s designed to let you drill down with exactly the type of content that you wish to use.

But don’t just stop at the tool.  From pull down menus, you’ll find all kinds of original resources.  In particular, this presentation (in PDF format) really digs deeply into the concepts.

Knowing how different types of media may be used is very important and this is a topic all need to address.  In terms of students, they need to know where they stand as well.  I’ve always maintained that they should create their own content where possible.  As we all know, there are alternatives when that isn’t possible.

Most producers of content will show their expectations with respect to copyright wherever possible.

This blog?

You can find the details on my About page.



Yesterday, Larry Ferlazzo shared a post “The “All-Time” Best Sources Of Online Images“.  

Bloggers, designers, teachers, well any content creators are always looking for the best of images to enhance whatever it is that they’re creating.  

I’ve always been a supporter and advocate for creating your own.  I’ve led more Photoshop, Gimp, CorelDRAW! and web based tools workshops than I care to admit.  When you’re doing computer referenced things, it’s important to know how to capture all or part of your screen and even edit in your capture tool or bring it into your favourite image editor.  Now that everyone packs a camera, it’s also helpful to take seemingly random pictures even if you have no immediate plans to use them.

As an example, here’s a sunset picture from the other night looking to the west from the driveway.  By itself, there’s a great contrast of colours but all kinds of distractors like the utility lines and the driveway but I could edit them out should I decide to do something with it.  

As an aside, if it hadn’t been so hot and humid, I would have walked to the end of the driveway to get a better picture.

If you look in the header here, you’ll see an image taken from the same direction.  It’s one that I’ve always thought as one of my best and the reason why you’ll probably see an orange theme on this blog for a while.

Anyway, ….

When working with students, I think that it’s extremely important to start that way.  Have them take, create, and use their own compositions with whatever tools that you have available.  That establishes nicely the concept of ownership of the images.  It nicely opens the door to talk about copyright.  Is it OK for the teacher to just take everyone’s creation and put them on a shared drive or wiki open to the class, or indeed the entire school to use as they see fit?

Of course, the discussion will inevitably evolve into the concept of copyright and then into Creative Commons usage.

All of this is good stuff and worthy of repeating often throughout the school year.  It’s such an important concept and your teacher-librarian will be there with help and resources.

But, there are times when you can’t create your own.  

I would suggest that then, and only then, students should dive into big lists like Larry’s.  The actual collection of his image links can be found here.  I’d be bookmarking that.

I found it interesting to go up and down his list.  There are so many good references there.  There were some I’ve seen before and others have been added to my burgeoning to-do list for later discovery.

There are a couple of resources that I’ve used that didn’t make the formal list.

Compfight – Rodd Lucier introduced me to this resource that scours Flickr looking for images.  Of course, you can just do the searching through Flickr itself but oddly, I seem to have better results with this.

Morguefile – I don’t recall how I found this but it is mentioned, in passing, in Larry’s list.  I do know that I was intrigued because of the link to old newspapers found in Morgue Files.  It was always a favourite place for crime-fighting detectives to go in old novels so why not the digital equivalent today?  It’s one of the first places I look when I can’t create it myself.

The important thing to remember in all of this is attribution to resources that students use.  This blog uses this Creative Commons license which I think is fair to education.  I’ve mentioned many times, and I think it’s worth repeating especially in these days of making and creating, it’s most important than ever for students to understand that they own what they creative and should think about how others might elect to use their creations.

Your thoughts?  If you don’t have it or can’t create it, what’s your go-to service?

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.