Monday, December 18, 2017

A WordPress Plugin for Finding Public Domain Pictures

Pixabay is regularly featured as an alternative to Google Image search. Pixabay hosts thousands of high-resolution and high-quality images that are in the public domain. Today, through Product Hunt, I learned that Pixabay offers a WordPress plug-in.

With the Pixabay WordPress plug-in installed on your blog, you can search for public domain images in the same place that you would find any other images that you have stored in your WordPress media gallery. After you have located an image through the Pixabay plug-in you can add it to your media gallery and use it in any of your blog posts or pages.

Applications for Education
The Pixabay WordPress plug-in could be a great asset to students and teachers who use WordPress for their blogs. The plug-in makes it easy to find great images without having to leave your blog's editing screen.

It is important to note that you will have to be using either a self-hosted WordPress blog or have a business plan in order to install the Pixabay plug-in. The plug-in isn't available on free accounts or on Edublogs which runs on the WordPress platform. But maybe EduBlogs will add the Pixabay plug-in if enough teachers ask for it (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).

If you're interested in learning how to create a self-hosted WordPress blog, I have detailed tutorials posted here.

I Livestreamed How to Handle Stolen Blog Posts

In what seems to be a biweekly occurrence, this afternoon I had to deal with a blog that was republishing my blog posts in their entirety without my permission and in full violation of my copyright rights. I was rather aggravated about the situation. Rather than just fuming and venting on Twitter (I did some of that) I tried to turn it into a teaching opportunity. So I opened up the the YouTube app on my Android phone and livestreamed the process that I go through every time I find a blog that is stealing my work. To my surprise more than sixty people joined the stream to see the process. If you missed it, you can watch the recording as embedded below followed by the resolution that I received about fifteen minutes later.

If you cannot see the videos, click here for part 1 and here for part 2.

About Hardware Recommendations...

I love receiving questions from readers of my blogs and newsletters. There is one type of question that I generally refrain from answering. That type of question is about hardware. (Just to clarify, I do respond to emails with hardware recommendation requests, I just don't make a recommendation). This afternoon I went live on Facebook to explain why I don't make hardware recommendations. The video of my Facebook Live session is embedded below. If you're in a setting where you cannot see or hear the video, read below for a summary.

In short, there are too many variables for me to consider before I can make a recommendation about hardware purchases for a school. In addition to budget constraints, some of the things that I need to be able to account for are who will be using the laptops/ tablets/ Chromebooks, the goals of the IT department, the vision of the school leaders, and existing hardware compatibility concerns. Gathering and accounting for all of that information and more cannot be done well through a few emails.

When I'm working with a school district in an on-going consultation role, I will make hardware recommendations because in those situations I do have much more information available to me. If you are interested in that type of consultation, please get in touch with me at richard (at)

A Powerful Blogging Activity for Almost Any Classroom

A question that often comes up in my workshops about blogging is, "what should I have my students write about?" There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of possible answers to this question. The suggestion that I often make is to start with a simple reflection activity.

Set aside time in your Friday schedule to have your students sit down and write a short reflection on what they learned during the week. These reflections don’t have to be long, a few sentences will do in elementary school. Simply ask your students to share one thing they learned and one thing they still have questions about. To extend the activity have each student comment on at least one other student’s post. Students’ comments could be the answer to a question or a simple “thanks for reminding me about that.” The point is to get students in the habit of reflecting on what they learned. You should do the same.

Your students' reflections don't even need to be written to be included in your classroom blog. Flipgrid makes it easy to have students record video reflections that you can then embed into your blog. A video guide to using Flipgrid can be found here.

Learn more about classroom blogging in my on-demand webinar, How to Create a Great Classroom Blog

Paper Signals - Build Physical Objects to Control With Your Voice

Paper Signals is a neat resource produced by Google that could prove to be a fun way to provide students with hands-on programming experience. Paper Signals is a set of templates that students can follow to program physical objects to respond to voice commands.

There are some physical products that you will need to have on hand in order to use Paper Signals. You may already have the necessary items in your school. First, you'll need a printer to print a template (you'll be folding and cutting paper). Second, you're going to need a small circuit board, some wires/ cables, and a bit of glue. If you don't want to source those items yourself, you can buy a little kit for less than $25.

Learn more about Paper Signals in the video embedded below.

How to Apply Blurring to Faces in YouTube Videos

Face and object blurring is one of the overlooked features built into YouTube's video editing tools. The blurring tool is great for selectively obscuring the faces of individuals in a video. You can use the blurring tool to block out sensitive information like a street address. Watch my video below to learn how easy it is to blur faces and objects in your YouTube videos.

Applications for Education
Sharing video highlights of school events can be a great way to build community interest in the good things that are happening in your school. The challenge that many teachers and administrators run into is making sure that the privacy requests of parents are honored.

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