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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Libraries and Librarians in the Internet Age

Libraries in the Internet Age is the title of the latest video produced by Common Craft. The video provides a clear overview of how libraries and the importance of librarians has changed over time. The video echoes a point that I made in a webinar today and that I have heard many librarians say to students, "Google is not the only search engine." Librarians can help students access databases that they otherwise wouldn't be able to use which in turn takes them to information they wouldn't otherwise find. The video is embedded below. You can also click here to watch it.


Applications for Education
Libraries in the Internet Age could be a great video to show to students at the beginning of the school year or just before they embark on a new research project. The video might help students realize that there is a lot more to their school libraries than meets their eyes.

The Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers in March

Good evening from the FreeTech4Teachers.com world headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. It is finally starting to feel like spring here. And as you can see in the picture to the left, no one is as happy about that as Max who is finding all of sticks that were buried all winter.

This was a busy month for me as I traveled to conferences and hosted a bunch of webinars. As a result the posting was a little lighter than normal for me, but I still managed to publish nearly 100 posts. The list below features the posts that were the most popular in March.

Here are the most popular posts of the month:
1. 10 Good Google Docs, Sheets, and Forms Add-ons for Teachers
2. Five Ways Students Can Share Videos Without YouTube
3. 7 Tools for Building Review Games
4. iStoryBooks Now Offers Premium Books for Free to Teachers
5. How to Sign Documents That Have Been Emailed to You Without Printing Them
6. Great Tools for Informal Assessment
7. 5 Free Tools for Creating Whiteboard Videos
8. 75 Practical Ed Tech Tips Videos
9. Two Tools for Turning Outlines Into Mind Maps
10. Canva for Education - Lesson Plans Incorporating Visuals Across the Curriculum

The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp being held on July 13 &14. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is a two day, hands-on learning experience for teachers. This year's event is being held in downtown Portland, Maine just a few blocks from the ocean, great dining, and iconic lighthouses. Register by April 16th to save $50 on registration.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
Versal is a great tool for building interactive online course components.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
PresentationTube provides a good way to use PowerPoint to create flipped lessons.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.

Before You Embed That Gadget or Badge or Infographic...

Last week I received a panicked email from a reader who was having problems with her classroom blog. She reported that dialogue boxes were popping-up whenever someone visited her blog. That's usually a sign that there is some malware hidden in the code of the blog. So I used an laptop that I keep around for these kinds of things and took a look at her blog. Sure enough, as soon as I visited the site a bunch of dialogue boxes popped-up on my screen.

As I looked at the blog I saw an educational game gadget embedded into the sidebar. There was also a countdown calendar embedded into the sidebar. The countdown calendar was one I had seen in a lot  of blogs so I didn't think that was the problem. The game gadget was from a service I hadn't heard of. I asked the owner of the blog if she could remove it. She did and the pop-ups went away.

Embedding gadgets into a blog can be a good way to enhance what your blog offers. That said, some gadgets seem harmless can cause problems for you. Before you embed a gadget or badge consider its source. Is it from a site or company you've never heard of? Does the site itself have a bunch of pop-ups appearing? If so, those could be good signs that the gadgets they're offering are suspect too.

On a similar note, a lot of companies like to get bloggers to embed badges that say something like "top teacher blog." Before you embed that badge consider its source. Is it coming from a site like "Best Online Degrees?" If so, they're giving out those badges as a part of their SEO strategy. Dan Meyer wrote a great post about those kinds of sites, I highly recommend reading it. I'm not saying that you shouldn't put up a badge if you've been recognized for something, just consider that badge's source and whether or not it is being given as recognition or as part of an SEO strategy (spoiler, sometimes it's for both purposes).

Infographics are widely used for SEO purposes too. I have at least two per day emailed to me. The next time you have an infographic emailed to you or see one that you want to embed, take a look at who created it, who is hosting it, and who it links back to. For example, one that has been sent to me twice this week is titled, "How Technology Is Changing the Classroom." It looks like a decent infographic. But I took one look at the embed code and saw that it was linking back to an online degree scam site. Another I received this week is titled, "White House History." When I looked at the code for that site it linked back to an online rug and carpet store. Needless to say, neither infographic will be appearing on my blog.