Wednesday, March 25, 2009

creative commons and free

For a media class that I teach occasionally we are often looking for media that students can use to create videos and such. To model digital citizenship, we endeavour to use media that is at least free (gratis), but preferably public domain or creative commons. There are, of course, some creative commons licences that allow sharing but don't allow derivatives, which means that they are not useful for us.

There are a few caveats about using creative commons or public domain works, though. Since students don't tend to be as familiar with the works/artists it often takes them longer to complete their projects than if you just let them bring in their own (usually quasi-legal) media. As well, the onus is usually on you to point the students in the right direction.

To help with this, a few sources of media that I've come across are:

Video: (also has other types of files)


Stock Exchange
100 (Legal) Sources for Free Stock Images
and, of course, Flickr

Vector Graphics:
Free Vector Graphics
Quality Vector Graphics

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I've noticed a recent trend of crowdsourcing amoung regular people (by which I mean non-geeks) on sites like Facebook as well as on blogs.  My wife's friends will post something like, "what's a good movie for us to watch tonight" or "I have to make supper with ground beef, what to you recommend" and they'll get a douzen responses pretty quickly.

I've been thinking about how to incorporate this into a classroom context.  Of course during regular classroom lectures I'll solicit responses from the students, but we're talking about more asynchronous interactions.  I've experimented with vocabulary wikis and forums, but students don't seem to be motivated unless there are marks associated with it.  As I see it, the motivations for responding to crowdsourcing requests are likely the desire to help, and to have your voice/opinions heard, so the challenge for us is to tap into that to get students engaged in the content.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Testing iPod Touch Posting

I'm just testing to see how well it works to post from my iPod using LifeCast.

Posted with LifeCast

a new presentation tool

I was recently introduced to an online presentation tool called Prezi. Since I spend a fair amount of time lecturing with PowerPoint (and Keynote occasionally), I'm always interested in cool ways of presenting things. Even though it's a beta product, I've starting using it for some of my lectures.

Writing about it doesn't do it justice, though, check it out at

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

filtered Internet access with OpenDNS

Whatever your views on censorship of the Internet, I think it can be argued that preventing phishing at least is a good reason for some filters. Our school district uses FortiGuard which is administered at the Central Office, but for the network in my classroom as well as at home, I use OpenDNS.

OpenDNS can be set up on each computer, or in the router that they all use to connect to the Internet. You can choose categories of sites to block, or even blacklist or whitelist individual sites. It's quick and easy to set up and make changes, and it's free.