Saturday, September 10, 2016

Check the Source Before You Subscribe or Buy

The online education community has a problem. We want our students to be aware of copyright and respect the work of authors yet we don't respect the work of our colleagues. Three times this month I have found my blog posts re-used in their entirety on other blogs. Those are just the obvious examples that pop-up in my Google Alerts. Last week Doug Peterson wrote a post about plagiarism. Someone commented on his post with a related issue facing the online education community. That is the issue of people stealing the work of others and selling it on Teachers Pay Teachers and similar sites.

Why it matters!

Short version: stealing deprives original content creators of financial opportunities. You wouldn't allow students to plagiarize so don't allow adults to do it. 

Long version: read on...
Blogs like this one take a lot of time and effort to maintain. For every post that you see there is lots of time put into reading, testing, and learning about how new tools work. There is also a lot of time spent trying to answer as many email requests for help as possible. That time comes at a cost which is why you see advertising on FreeTech4Teachers.com. When someone syndicates or outright copies and pastes my posts without permission, it takes away pageviews for me and the advertisers which affects the bottom line.

I'm not the only blogger to earn advertising revenue. And the popular bloggers that you see that don't use advertising and making money in other ways like book sales, Teachers Pay Teachers sales, and consulting fees. In short, anyone running a blog or other social media account with a large following is selling something.

The Teachers Pay Teachers issue in some ways is even worse. When you take a blogger's blog post and republish it without permission you don't instantly profit from it (it takes tens of thousands of pageviews to make any significant money from ads). When you take someone's work and sell it as your own on Teachers Pay Teachers, you can profit quickly from just a few people making a direct purchase.

What can you do about it?
Before you click the purchase button on Teachers Pay Teachers take a quick look around and see if someone else has published the same thing. A quick Google search for the title can yield some blatant copies. Use the "date range" search refinement tool and see who the original creator of the work is. If it's not the person doing the selling, don't buy it.

When you come across a blog or website that is syndicating lots of blogs and blog posts in their entirety, it might be convenient to just visit that website instead of going to individual blogs. Don't do it. That website is getting the benefit of the traffic without doing any of the work that it takes to actually create original blog posts.

Notify the author. I always appreciate it when someone tips me off to blog that has been using my posts without permission. I know many other bloggers who feel the same way.

"Richard, stop ranting!"
Long-time followers of this blog are probably tired of reading my rants about bloggers stealing the work of others. I plan to rant for as long as it takes to get people to understand this problem.

3 Features of Flubaroo That Are Often Overlooked

The Flubaroo Add-on for Google Sheets is a powerful tool for quickly grading multiple choice and short answer quizzes created with Google Forms. Flubaroo has been around for years and almost every week people ask me questions about how to use it. During this past week I shared three video tutorials on Flubaroo features that are often overlooked. Those features are accepting multiple correct responses, using automatic grading and grade sharing, and printing grades into convenient handouts for students and parents. All three of those features are demonstrated in the videos embedded below.



The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Woodstock, Maine where as I look out from my deck I can see some leaves starting to turn red and orange. This is my favorite time of year. I plan to get outside this weekend to bike, walk with my dogs and my daughter, and maybe even go fishing. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you make time to get outside and have fun too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. My Go-to Google Tools for Social Studies Classrooms
2. Flubaroo Compared to the New Google Forms Auto-grading Feature
3. More Than 40 Alternatives to YouTube
4. How to Include Video Feedback in Google Forms
5. An Easy Way to Distribute Contact Info During an Open House
6. Three Google Forms Add-ons To Help You Manage Parent Volunteers
7. Try Math Landing for K-6 Mathematics Resources

I Will Come To Your School or Conference
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Haiku Deck offers the best alternative to PowerPoint.  
Pixton provides a create way to create comics. 
SeeSaw is the best platform for creating digital portfolios with K-8 students. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
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.
Buncee offers a great tool for creating visual stories.

Three Online PD Courses Starting In October

With the new school year underway it can be hard to find time for professional development. Fortunately, online courses can make it a bit easier to find time for PD as you can join classes from home, work, or anywhere in between as long as you have Internet access. Next month I'm hosting three online professional development courses.

Teaching History With Technology 

In Teaching History With Technology you will learn how to develop engaging and challenging learning activities through the use tools like Google Earth and Maps, video production tools, primary source databases, and how to help your students become better researchers. This course features three interactive online meetings along with a discussion forum in which you can further interact with me and your classmates. See the course highlights here.

This class meets on October 6th, 13th, and 20th. Register here.

Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders

Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is a five week webinar series during which teachers and school administrators will learn the how to choose the best blogging platform for their situations, how to set-up a blog for classroom and school-wide use, and learn about strategies on how to manage blogs in classroom and school-wide settings. Participants will also learn how to avoid the mistakes that often lead to blogging endeavors being abandoned.  After establishing blogs we’ll jump into using social networks like Twitter, Google+, and Instagram to reach out to parents, students, and other members of school communities. Click here to learn more about the course including how to earn 3 graduate credits.

This class meets on October 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, and 31st. Register here.

Getting Going With GAFE

Getting Going With GAFE is a webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. Getting Going With GAFE is a five week course covering everything you need to know to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice. Click here to learn more about the course including how to earn 3 graduate credits.

This class meets on October 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th, and November 1st. Register here.

Discounts!

Subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter can receive a discount on the registration for any or all of these courses by using the code "subscriber" during online registration.

Schedule a private webinar for your school. If you have ten or more teachers from the same district interested in a webinar, I can schedule a course tailored to your needs.

About the costs and my decision to advertise these opportunities on my blog:
Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer these opportunities. In fact, I thought about it and talked about it with trusted advisers for a year before offering the first webinar series last year. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. The tools and strategies featured in my webinars and at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp are free to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Further, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.

Friday, September 9, 2016

5 Tools to Organize and Cite Research Sources

The ways in which we conduct research and organize research have changed significantly over the last couple of decades. When many of us were in middle school and high school our research options were limited to books and periodicals available through our local libraries. Our organization of our research was done mostly in notebooks or perhaps in a desktop document. Today's students have more resources available to them than ever before. They also have more tools than ever for keeping track of the resources they find through research. Here are some of the tools that can help students organize and cite their research sources.

Google Documents users have a research tool at their disposal whenever they open a document. Simply open the "tools" menu in Google Docs and select "research." Once that selection is made a Google search box opens in the right margin of the screen. Resources selected from that search pane will be accompanied by a link placed in the footnotes of the document. The formatting of the citations often leaves something to be desired, but at least it gets students in the habit of keeping track of resources.

One of the most useful Add-ons for Google Documents is the EasyBib Bibliography Creator. The EasyBib Bibliography Creator makes it easy to properly cite resources and format a bibliography in APA, MLA, or Chicago style. The Add-on allows students to enter book titles, authors' names, websites, webpages, and periodical titles. The Add-on will then create a citation that is added to a page at the end of students' documents. Click here for directions for the process of using this add-on.

Cite This For Me is a free service designed to help students keep track of the resources that they use in their research work. Cite This For Me offers a free Chrome extension that lets students cite a webpage with just one click. The free extension will format citations in APA, MLA, Harvard, or Chicago style. Students can also use the extension to highlight and save portions of the webpages that they are citing. All Cite This For Me citations are saved in students' free Cite This For Me accounts. In their account dashboards students can edit citations as well as manually enter citations of books, journals, and other references.

RefMe is currently my favorite tool for creating bibliographies outside of the Google Docs environment. RefMe offers browser extensions, a free Android, and a free iPad app for saving resources and generating bibliographies from your collection of resources. Watch my video embedded below to learn more about how to use RefMe in your web browser.




refDot is a Google Chrome extension that could be very helpful for keeping track of and formatting references for use in bibliographies. Whenever you're viewing a website, an online book, an online journal, or a news article just click the refDot icon in your browser to open a window into which you enter all of information you need for a bibliography. For example if you were viewing a blog post on Free Technology for Teachers that you wanted to reference in a bibliography, click on refDot and the pop-up box will prompt you to enter the date of access, URL, title, and year.


Before you email me with a criticism of one of these tools:
As with all automatic citation tools, you will need to remind your students to double check that the citations created are properly formatted. Aside from that little quirk, these can be good tools for students to use to keep track of the webpages that they use while conducting research online. And from a realist perspective, I'm more concerned with getting students to cite their work in a standard format than I am about them knowing the nuances of MLA 7 vs MLA 8. I'd never diminish a K-12 student's grade for a small mistake in citation formatting and most of my friends and colleagues wouldn't either.