Pinterest Boards for Educators

If I was looking to enter the fray of “numbered resources for whatever”, I could have called this post “9 Pinterest Boards for Education You Must Follow” or something like that.  Fortunately, the nine of them all originate from one master!

The Pinterest site is curated by Med Knarbach and it’s a very nice, visual collection of resources.  I’ve used a number of online resources to collect things – most notably my Diigo site which certainly predates Pinterest.  I’m not about to move everything to a new platform but if I was starting out now, I might want to consider this approach.


Pinterest provides an engaging interface and easily allows for following boards and repinning.  In this collection, look for Pinterest boards titled:

Together, it makes a nicely curated collection.  The only thing that’s missing is the ability to tag individual boards.  Maybe the visual presentation makes that unnecessary?

Check out the boards – follow one or follow them all.

You can get to the top board which brings these all together here.

A New Sketching Program (and why you need it)

From the fertile mind of Brian Aspinall comes another classroom ready application.  This one has special appeal as I think you’ll find as we dig into it.  You may recall a previous mention of another web application written by Brian, Clipkwik, that I had blogged about last November.

What’s unique about Brian’s efforts is that he’s both a programmer and a teacher.  As such, he’s got the ability to create a resource for his classroom when he sees a need.  He did that with Clipkwik a video search engine that looks for video everywhere and he’s done it again with Sketchlot, an online drawing tool.

So, why does the world need another drawing program?  After all, there’s an app for that.  Actually, there are quite a few apps for that.  Here’s why I think you need to take a special look at this.

First, it’s web-based, so load your modern browser, and you have two ways to enter the program.  One as a teacher and the other as a student.

As a teacher, you log in, create a class code and then add your students to that class.

As a student, you log in via class code and your password.  This gets you ready to do some drawing.  You’ll see my artwork above drawn on a trackpad.  Across the bottom, you have the ability to pick a colour, use a draw tool, eraser, line tool, box tool, move the canvas so that you’re not limited to the physical screen size, and the eyedropper to pick up a colour.  Then, clear the screen, step backwards or forwards through the steps to your current drawing, and zoom in and zoom out.  In the bottom right corner, you’re presented with a number to let you know the magnification level of your drawing.

Once a student has saved a drawing, they can share it with their teacher, pin it to Pinterest, Tweet it out, or take an embed code to insert it into their wiki.  There’s lots of drawing options – admittedly not as many as with Photoshop Elements but certainly full-featured enough for particular classes.

But, I think it gets better and that’s why we need to take particular note.  In a couple of back and forths on Twitter, Brian had sent this message.

That’s a pretty good indication as to where he’s headed with the development.  So, here in dougpete labs, I added a few more platforms to the mix.  I ran it on a MacBook Pro, a Galaxy smartphone, and on Ubuntu with a Wacom tablet.  All worked very nicely.

Why is this significant?  The response from some will still be “I have an app for that”.  Yes, but are you in a BYOD classroom where one student might have an iPad, another a Playbook, another a smartphone, another a Windows machine, a Mac, someone running Linux, … ?  Your app for that solution plays to one or two of the platforms.  View the source of Sketchlot and you’re in for some good reading…  He’s developing so that it’s universally available.  That’s why I think it’s important that people look for applications developed for all platforms rather that just head to your device’s store and grab an application thinking that it will solve all your problems.

Sketchlot is still listed as “Beta” so there may well be more features on the way.  During my testing, it all seemed to work nicely so I don’t have a hesitation in recommending that you take a look and see if it’s got a place in your classroom repertoire.  While at it, follow @mraspinall on Twitter and see the examples that Brian and his colleagues are tweeting as they test it.

Powered by Qumana

Tweaking Rebelmouse

I’ve had a Rebelmouse account for a while now.  I think it’s a terrific way to summarize things that I’m doing with social media.  Quite frankly, I’m just using it to gather my activity from Twitter so that it’s all in one spot.  I could add links to Instagram (I don’t use), Tumblr (not really using it now), Pinterest (which is a collection of my blog posts) or an RSS feed (I use Feedly for that.)  So, it could be bigger but I’m good with what I’m doing now.

I’ve blogged a couple of times about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.

Just recently, the developers have added a great deal more functionality to this wonderful program.

1)  You can now customize colours and fonts.  Those that know me know that that will involve Verdana fonts and lots of green.  It’s not one of the standard templates that they provide, however, a little editing of the CSS to create a customized theme.  I’m not done with it yet but am pleased with what I’ve done so far.

2)  Now, that’s really cosmetic.  The really handy feature in the revised Rebelmouse is the ability to create pages based upon the source of your content.

Now, instead of everything being lumped into one stream of resources shared, tabs across the top of the landing page let you zero in on, in my case, the source for what I’ve shared.

I’ve just started to get the knack of this and really like the way that it allows for a review of what I’ve done recently.  I suspect that anyone who is interested in what I’m doing will find it helpful as well.

If you don’t have a Rebelmouse page tracking and sharing your activity, why not?  Give it a try – you’ll like it.

It’s a terrific way to review and organize your resources – if you’re looking for a handy way to organize classroom resources, this may be the tool that you’re looking for.

Powered by Qumana


Forgive Me

Yesterday, I read this post “9 unforgivable blogging offenses“.

I thought that the nine points were worthy of reflection on some of the things around here.  Hopefully, faithful readers will chirp in and let me know where I’m right and I’m wrong.

1. Your posts are all dense text.

There are times when they are.  Typically, it’s because I don’t have any imagery to go with it.  If I’m talking about a piece of software or a technique, I like to do screen captures and include them.  Periodically, I’ll insert a video or an image if I’ve taken one.  I’m not really big into just grabbing someone else’s imagery, even if it is CC, just to have an image.  Even when my posts are all text, I try to include lots of short paragraphs to make it easier to read.  Maybe I need to pay more attention to the images.

2. Even you don’t care what you write about.

I think I’m good about this.  Everything that I include here I either am passionate about or have an opinion of some sort.  I recognize that may not always agree with everyone but, hey, that’s OK.

3. Your blog design isn’t consistent.

I have changed the theme three times that I can remember.  Two of the themes were white and green and I flirted with black once.  I didn’t like the black layouts.

4. You cram your blog with advertisements.

I don’t purposely put advertisements on the blog.  I’m not in it to make money.  I do understand that WordPress itself inserts advertisements to help them pay the bills.  They’re not from me though.

5. Your blog is like a ghost town.

I think I’m good here.  I’ve got an About Doug and this Blog page.  Maybe I’ve done something right?

6. You don’t promote your blog.

This really is something that I worry about.  Do I promote it too much?  I have it auto posted for 5am in the morning and then DLVR automatically posts the announcement of a new post to Twitter.  I figure that way, if you don’t want to be bugged by me, everything else in your timeline will have backfilled things.  If you do want to read my stuff, then you’ll subscribe.  Then comes the noisy part.  My Twitter posts get auto posted to Facebook because I know some of my friends live there and not Twitter.  The problem becomes when you are using both – you get both of them announced.  I also post to Google + (when I remember) and to Pinterest.  I also use Packratius to automatically fill my Diigo stream with anything I post to Twitter that has a link in it.  So, the announcement that it’s posted ends up on Diigo.  I also backup my Diigo account to Delicious so another link appears there.

Sometimes I feel that I’ve gone to automation overdrive.  (It started as a test to see if it works…)  Then, everything now and again someone will like my posts and reTweet it.  Another thing potentially in your face.

So, I do promote my blog but too much?

7. Your blog is full of guest posts.

I’m good here.  Nobody but the occasional spammer ever wants to post here.  Sometimes, I think a guest post would ease the load but then I back away.  At least with just me posting, you know what type of nonsense to expect!

8. Your headlines are confusing or boring.

I try to make them interesting.  I really do.  Every now and again I find something witty.

9. You hide advertising in your blog posts.

There’s no formal advertising per se that I get revenue from.  However, in the education business, aren’t we all sales people?  We’re selling ideas, thoughts, motivations, software that works, concepts, …

OK, there’s my two cents worth.   Gratuitous image AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by zen

What do you think?  Do you agree?  Where have I not done a good job analyzing myself?


Pinterest to Focus on a Topic

Many people think of Pinterest as a great place for pinning recipes and fashions.  Goodness knows that so many people do and enjoy that.  You can find Pinterest boards for any taste and desire.

But, educators are also using this as a way to share resources for particular topics.  It lets them focus on a theme and, at the same time, give the potential visitor a visual and text preview of what to expect should you click-through to the resource.

I ran across a couple of very interesting boards today and I’d like to share them in this post.  I think that they are good examples of what can be done in the world of sharing.

Digital Storytelling
Shelly Terrell has assembled a nice selection of resources devoted to storytelling in the digital world.

Sometimes people amass collections to try to have “every resource known to the digital universe”.  When you do that and share it for others to use, they can be overwhelmed by the resource.

In this case, Shelly has condensed the collection to 15 pins that should serve anyone interested in digital storytelling well.

GIS Ideas for K-12
Peter McAsh reminds all the time that he’s a Geography educator first and Computer Studies educator second!  At this year’s Educational Computing Organization of Ontario’s Annual Conference, Peter has paired himself with James Lockyer to get people to think outside the Geography box when using GIS.

To support his session, Peter has put together a similar number of resources of ideas for GIS in the K-12 classroom.

If I can, I may just wander by that session to see what he’s up to.

I like what Shelly and Peter are doing with Pinterest.  It’s an updated way to share links and resources with other professionals.  It is very easy to read and use and should serve their purposes well.  I think both are good examples of why educators need to keep their minds open to new innovation in the online world.  The next great thing will only be great if you embrace it and put it through its paces.  You can’t do that by continuing to do the same old, same old.