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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Image Spark - Build Photo Collages, Share Images

Image Spark is an image sharing service that at first glance didn't seem like much, but upon my second look I realized the utility of Image Spark. Image Spark allows you to build collections of images that you find on the Internet and create collages of those images. Image Spark calls these collages "mood boards." Every image and mood board you create can be set to public view or private view.

Uploading images to your Image Spark account is done through the use of a Firefox plug-in or through a standard browser uploader (the same style as is found on most photo sharing sites). I installed the Firefox plug-in and found that it was very easy to use. To use the Firefox plug-in simply right click on an image and select "upload to image spark."

Applications for Education
Image Spark could be used to have students create digital collages around a theme that you assign. If you're an art teacher having one way to use Image Spark could be to have students upload images they've created and make a collage using the images of all classmates. The students would be using the same set of images, but it would be interesting to see how each student organized their collages with those images.

Watch American Experience Online

The PBS television series American Experience is a fantastic resource for US History teachers. Over the years more than 200 American Experience films have been aired and are available for viewing on DVD. Recently, I discovered that 25 of the films are available for free viewing on the PBS website.

Today three of my students and I watched a video about Buffalo Bill on the PBS website. The students' only complaint was that the video is broken up into chapters and doesn't play as a continuous stream. I liked that closed captioned is an option on all of the videos.

If you're in a school district that blocks a lot of video websites, try the American Experience video page. I would be surprised if a school blocked PBS.

Applications for Education
American Experience is a great resource for US History teachers. Teachers looking for lesson plans to complement the videos should explore the lesson plans available through PBS.

Fair Share - Track the Use of Your Digital Content

Fair Share is a neat website that I learned about today on Read Write Web. Fair Share tracks the work you have registered with Creative Commons. If you're work is registered with Creative Commons licensing, you can track how the content you create is used and where it is used. Fair Share alerts you through an RSS type of system to instances of your content being re-used on the Internet. Fair Share alerts you to the type of website your content is displayed on and highlights for you the content that has been re-used. You can see and an example of Fair Share in action here. You will notice in the Fair Share example that you're provided with statistics, like number of visits and percentage of content re-used, about the websites using your content.

As Free Technology for Teachers continues to grow I've become more and more interested in plagiarism and digital property rights. (By the way, I don't mind teachers reusing the Free Technology for Teachers content as long it's not for commercial gain). One way to track your work is to set up Google Alerts for key terms and phrases common to your blog or website. Another way to track the use of your digital content is to use Fair Share.

Applications for Education
If you're an educational blogger worried about having your content re-used improperly, Fair Share might be worth using. Fair Share could also be used to demonstrate to students and or teachers, just how far reaching a blog can be.

One Student's Attempt to Curtail Profanity

Today's episode of CNN Student News has a good story about one high school student's attempt to get his classmates to curtail their use of profanity. McKay Hatch started the No Cussing Club at his high school. Now the club has grown to include more than 30,000 members across the world. In the video (embedded below) McKay Hatch talks about when his friends went to middle school they all thought that they had to cuss in order to be cool. McKay's statement raises a good discussion question for students, "why do teenagers think that cussing is necessary or cool?"

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