Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Video Guide to Common Fallacies

When I taught current events to ninth grade students the first unit I taught was about recognizing bias, propaganda, and logical fallacies. The Guide to Common Fallacies is a resource that I wish I had back then. The Guide to Common Fallacies is a series of five short videos from the PBS Idea Channel. Each video covers a different common fallacy. The fallacies are Strawman, Ad Hominem, Black and White, Authority, and No True Scotsman. I have embedded the playlist below.

Applications for Education
I found that once my students were able to recognize fallacies they started to create stronger arguments of their own which in turn produced better classroom discussions. These videos could help certainly help high school students understand and recognize common fallacies when they see and hear them.

How to Manage 3rd Party Apps Accessing Your Google Account

One of the most convenient ways to sign into a lot of popular websites and apps is to use your Google Account credentials. If you do this a lot, you may want to periodically review the list of services that you have accessed by using your Google Account. As you go through that list, revoke access to services that you haven't used in a while. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to do this.

Screenshots of this process are available here.

Another Example of How Not to Cite an Image

About six months ago I wrote a post in which I featured an egregious example of improperly citing an image found on the Internet. One of my Facebook friends just reminded me of this by posting another Buzzfeed-like link about New England sayings. I looked at the article and the first thing that jumped out at me is that the images and text in the "article" are all attributed to Facebook. The site hosting the article did not name the owner of the images, the author of text that is quoted, didn't link to their sources nor indicated that any of the text or images was used by permission. I took a screenshot and added my comments to it. You can see my screenshot below.
Click image to view full size.
Applications for Education
Feel free to use this example of how not to site an image in any lesson that you teach to students about providing proper attribution.

Between great public domain image sources like Pixabay and Creative Commons image search tools there are few occasions when students should have to resort to claiming fair use to use a copyrighted image. If they do end up at that step, they should at least give proper credit to the owner of the image.

The Flickr CC Attribution Helper created by Alan Levine offers an easy way to properly format citations for images that you find on Flickr. I created a tutorial for that handy tool. You can see the tutorial here.

Webinar Recording - Storyboards in the Classroom

Last night I hosted a webinar with Aaron Sherman from Storyboard That. This webinar was a little bit different than ones that Aaron and I have hosted in the past. I opened this webinar with some ideas for using storyboards for outlining problems and their solutions. Later in the webinar we got into ideas about digital storytelling with Storyboard That. The recording of the webinar is embedded below. People who registered to have the recording emailed to them, will receive that email this afternoon.

The slides from the webinar are available here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

5 Things to Check When a Website Doesn't Work the Way You Expect

A few minutes ago I received the following email from a reader:

Subject line: Poetica doesn't work and they don't respond to emails about problems!

Message: Annoying, especially since I gave them some kind of access to my google stuff in order to use their non-working program. I didn't even get an acknowledgement email about my email to them. Frankly, I think this site sucks.

Now I'm not sure if this person wanted me to help her or if she just wanted to take out her frustration on me. Either way, here are some things that I suggest trying when a website doesn't work the way that you expect it to.

1. Are you using a modern browser? In a lot instances of a site not working properly in a school, the cause can be traced to using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. If you're using an older version of Internet Explorer (IE 11 is the current stable version) not only will some sites not work correctly, you are also opening yourself up to more potential security threats. Find out which browser and version you're using by visiting

2. Do you have cookies enabled? Many websites require cookies in order to offer you the best possible experience. Explania and Common Craft offer good explanations of how cookies work.

3. Do you have a pop-up blocker turned on? It is not uncommon for a website to use a pop-up window for account log-ins. If the pop-up is blocked, you won't be able to log-in.

4. Are you using the site on a tablet/ iPad/ Chromebook? While it would be great if every site was optimized for tablets, that is not the case.

5. Have you checked your spam folder? If you sent a help request to the help desk/ site administrators, they may have replied and had their messages flagged by your spam filter. I've experienced this more than once when using a school district email address.

And just to bring a little humor to this, in the words of The IT Crowd, "have you tried turning it off and on again?"

Disclosure: For years I have had an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.

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