Monday, April 9, 2018

YouTube Makes Copyright Clear as Mud

Larry Ferlazzo recently shared a video that YouTube produced about options for using music in videos. The video started out well but quickly became a muddy pile of confusion. While I was able to follow it, I think that a lot of people who aren't already familiar with copyright regulations would tune it out. But, if nothing else, the video does highlight just how confusing copyright can be. The solution is to always use music that is either in the public domain, is your own original creation, or is available with a Creative Commons license. Three of my favorite sources of public domain and Creative Commons licensed music are featured here.

And if you are interested in learning more about copyright as it pertains to classroom projects, please watch the recording of a free webinar that Beth Holland and I hosted last fall.

Sympathy for Padlet

Last week when Padlet's founder and CEO Nitesh Goel announced the changes to Padlet's pricing model the online ed tech community was upset. Some of the Tweets and Facebook posts that I saw about it were a bit harsh to say the least. I'm sure that Nitesh saw much worse in his inbox than I saw online. For the record, I understand why Nitesh had to make the changes, I support his decision, and I'm actually surprised that he didn't do it earlier. Read Nitesh's full statement on the changes right here and you might be on his side too.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that running a mostly free service is expensive and often thankless. I spent over $12,000 last year to keep Free Technology for Teachers running. And every time that I hosted a free webinar last year I got complaints about everything from the scheduling to the requirement to enter an email address (ironically, that complaint was emailed to me). I can only imagine the email that Padlet gets from users of the free plan.

Padlet is a team of six dedicated people. You might be surprised to learn that many of your favorite ed tech services are run by similar size teams. In almost every case they're dedicated people who want to do the best for their customers. They care, but running a service that is mostly free is expensive and they have bills to pay just like the rest of us. So before you send your angry Tweet to Padlet, please remember that they're nice people who are just trying to do their best like the rest of us.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

NASA's Interactive Guide to the Solar System

I have been reviewing and sharing sharing resources from NASA for almost as long as this blog has existed. Somehow, I missed NASA's Solar System Exploration until it was mentioned last week on Maps Mania.

NASA's Solar System Exploration website contains interactive displays of the planets, dwarf planets, and moons of our solar system. To launch an interactive display just choose one of the planets, dwarf planets, or moons from the menu in the site's header. Each display includes little markers in it. Click one of the markers to open a side panel that contains information about that particular feature of the planet, dwarf planet, or moon. Below each interactive display you'll find additional facts and figures.

Applications for Education
Google Earth (the desktop version) has files for displaying the moon and Mars. But to explore the rest of the solar system, NASA Solar System Exploration is a must-bookmark. It could make a great reference site for middle school science classes.

How I Keep the Lights On

A little more than ten years ago I was where a lot of teachers find themselves at one point or another. I loved teaching but I didn't love scraping to pay the bills. On one Wednesday afternoon in January, 2008 I had to borrow gas money from my department head to get me through to Thursday when direct deposit would hit. No two ways about it, that sucked! It was then that I decided that I should try to monetize this little blogging hobby I had started.

Perhaps you're in a situation like I was in 2008. Or, hopefully, you're in a little better situation but still wanting to earn a little extra money without having to take a job at Home Depot on the weekends. Here's an introduction to all the ways that I've earned money online while still doing what I love.

Advertising revenue
This is the obvious one when you visit my blog. I started doing this in 2008. I wish that I knew then how hard it is to make any significant money through ad revenue. I don't recommend banking this method unless you either have lots of traffic on your blog (100,000+ monthly visits) or you're ready to publish 4-6 blog posts on 5-7 days per week.

Amazon Affiliates
Amazon Affiliates is a program that lets you earn a small commission on the sales of products that you recommend online. Amazon isn't the only online business that offers an affiliate program, it's just the biggest. This hasn't worked all that well on Free Technology for Teachers, but it has generated some gas money. That said, I know bloggers for whom it has worked very well. Some people even create websites just for the purpose of recommending Amazon products.

Speaking & Consulting
This category accounts for almost half of my annual income today. It took a while to develop the presence and authority required to get speaking and consulting contracts. Like anything else, start small and build up from there. I did a bunch of speaking and consulting work for not much more than the cost of gasoline and a Subway sandwich (Spicy Italian on herb & cheese, please).

Live webinars, on-demand courses, and digital downloads
Almost six years ago I set-up for the purpose of offering live online courses that I hosted through GoToTraining/ GoToWebinar. Since then I have used various services to sell downloads of individual webinars as well as offer entire courses in on-demand, self-paced formats. I looked at using Teachers Pay Teachers to sell downloads, but they took too big of a cut for my liking. Rather than use TPT to sell my downloads I found some other solutions that allowed me to keep almost all of my sales revenue. I'll be sharing those solutions in Thursday's webinar, How to Ditch TPT and Sell Your Digital Products.

I must point out that none of the four methods created money overnight. It took a lot of trial and error to get things working well. There's still a lot of trial and error today. Fortunately, my errors today are generally smaller because of the errors I made during the previous ten years. If you're thinking about trying to earn some income through blogging or another online venture, I'd be happy to lend advice. I also have an online course that walks you through everything I've done and would do again to start another online business.

What Makes a Poem? - A Lesson for Poetry Month

This is National Poetry Month. "What is a poem?" might be the first question that students ask after, "why is it National Poetry Month?" The answer to that first question can be found in a TED-Ed lesson titled What Makes a Poem...a Poem?

By watching What Makes a Poem? students can learn the origins of poetry, the characteristics traditionally associated with poems, why poems don't always rhyme, and the format of a haiku. The video can be seen as embedded below.

Take a look at Read Write Think for some poetry lesson ideas that incorporate their free Word Mover app.