Thursday, April 29, 2021

What is Hotlinking? - Why You Should Avoid It

This morning I had a chat with a colleague who was having a little issue with his website not displaying the images that he was inserting into blog posts. The problem was that he was trying to insert images via URL instead of uploading images to host on his blog. In short, he was hotlinking images. Explaining that process to him reminded me of the following information that I wrote for a course about blogging that I used to teach.  

What is hotlinking?

Why you and your students should avoid hotlinking.
Hotlinking itself isn't bad if you're only linking to images that you own and control online. For example, let's say that you have a Flickr account to which you upload dozens of pictures that you took. You could use the embed code or the link that Flickr provides to post your images in your blog post.

When hotlinking causes trouble is when you link to another person's image hosted in their account or on their servers. Even if the image is in the public domain you probably don't want to hotlink to it. In fact some services will block attempts at hotlinking. They block hotlinking because when you hotlink you're using more of their bandwidth than if you simply downloaded the image to your computer then uploaded it to your blog.

The biggest concern about hotlinking is not knowing exactly who or what you're linking to. It is possible that the image you linked to and the image displayed could be changed without warning. It's also possible that the link a student inserts to hotlink links back to site or host laden with malware that could then rain down havoc on your blog.
Click image for full size.

Best practices for using images in blog posts.
  1. Always try to use images that you own and upload to your blog. 
  2. If you don't own a suitable image then look for images in the public domain. Pixabay and Unsplash are good places to look for images that are either in the public domain. Download the image and upload to your blog. 
  3. If you cannot find a suitable image in the public domain then look for images that have Creative Commons licenses attached to them. The Creative Commons Chrome extension makes that fairly easy to do (here's my video about how it works). Download the image, upload it to your blog, give proper attribution to the owner of the image. 
  4. If items 1, 2, and 3 above didn't provide you with a suitable image then you can attempt to use an image under Fair Use guidelines. Fair Use is a murky water so Fair Use should be your last resort. If 1, 2, and 3 failed to produce a suitable image, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3 until you find a suitable image.




This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Annotated screenshots created by Richard Byrne.

Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp FAQs

Last week I announced the dates for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. A bunch of people have already registered. Many more people have sent me questions about registration and about the format of this virtual professional development event. In no particular order, here are the answers to the FAQs.

Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a group discount available. You can save $50/person if you have five or more people registering from your school district. Email me for a discount code to apply to online group registrations or to initiate a PO registration.

Can I register with a purchase order or check?
Yes, you can certainly register with a purchase order. Send me an email or have your business office send me an email to initiate that process. Because of the additional paperwork and delay in receiving funds, the early registration discount doesn't apply to purchase order registrations.

Can I get CEUs/ contact hours?
You will receive a certificate from me indicating that you participated in ten hours of professional development time. Whether or not your school, state, or province will accept it for license/ certificate renewal is a determination that you will have to make. The rules about CEUs vary widely from state-to-state and I can't possibly keep track of them all.

What platform are you using for the webinars?
All of the webinars will be conducted through the GoToWebinar platform. I've tried many other webinar services, but I keep coming back to GoToWebinar because of it's reliability. I've used it for almost a decade for hundreds of webinars. You can access GoToWebinar on any computer or tablet.

Will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, all of the live webinars will be recorded. If you have to miss a session, you'll be able to watch the recording. That said, I find that people get the most out of webinars when they can attend live broadcasts and ask questions in real-time. Therefore, I encourage you to pick the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp session that works best with your schedule.

7 Interesting Features You Can Add to Google Sites

Last week Google sent out a notice reminding domain administrators that the end of the classic version of Google Sites is near. That prompted me to publish directions for transition from the classic version of Google Sites to the current version. I also shared a set of tutorials for building your first website with the current version of Google Sites. 

Once you've made the switch to the current version of Google Sites, you might want to go beyond the basics to add some interesting features to your site to make it a one-stop shop for all of your students' and parents' needs. Here are some things you can do to enhance your Google Site with additional features. 

Embed Posters Into Google Sites

Canva is my favorite tool for making all kinds of graphics including infographics and interactive posters. In the video below I demonstrate how to embed Canva posters into the pages of your Google Sites.



Add a News Section to Google Sites
If you want to make sure that visitors to your site see the latest updates and news first, use the method demonstrated in this video to include a "latest news" section in your website. 



Add Physics, Chemistry, and Math Simulations to Google Sites
PhET offers fantastic simulations for teaching math and science concepts. Those simulations can be embedded into your Google Site as is demonstrated in the following video. 



Add Padlet Walls to Google Sites
Padlet is one of the most versatile ed tech tools that I use. You can use Padlet to create backchannels, collaborative KWL charts, video and image galleries, and even create interactive maps. All Padlet walls can be embedded into Google Sites pages. 



Add an Art Gallery to Google Sites
Wakelet, like Padlet, is a versatile tool for making collections of links, images, videos, and more. You can use Wakelet in conjunction with Google Sites to create an online art gallery. 



Add an Image Carousel to Google Sites
Do you have a bunch of pictures from a school event that you'd like to share with people visiting your website made with Google Sites? If so, adding an image carousel to your Google Site is a simple and good-looking way to do that. 



Add Flipgrid Topics Into Google Sites
If you have a Flipgrid that you want to share with a wider audience without having to send out individual invitations, embedding that Flipgrid into your Google Site is a solution. In the video below I demonstrate how you can include Flipgrid topics in the pages of your Google Sites website. 



This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Featured graphic created by Richard Byrne.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

New Map-based History Lessons from DocsTeach

DocsTeach is one of my go-to resources for history teachers. I like it so much that I feature it in my Teaching History With Technology course. DocsTeach provides thousands of primary sources that teachers can use to build online and in-person history lessons for middle school and high school students. Additionally, DocsTeach hosts hundreds of pre-made activities based on primary sources. This week DocsTeach added more activities that you can use and re-use. 

The latest activities added to DocsTeach are based on maps. I've always been intrigued by historical maps so I was quickly drawn into lookin at these new DocsTeach lessons. The new map-based lessons are:

There are also new maps in the DocsTeach collection that have not yet had lessons built around them. You can view and download those maps to create your own activities. The new maps are CIA maps of the world and the 2010 U.S. Census maps. 



This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web.

Sherlock Bones - A Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection Activity

One of the great things about living where I do is that a walk in the woods is always just a few steps away. One of my favorite things about walking in the woods is finding all kinds of neat, natural things including dropped moose and deer antlers. While those are rare finds, I do regularly come across owl pellets on my walks. 

An old SciShow Kids video (embedded below) explains what an owl pellet is and what can be learned by dissecting an owl pellet.



Unfortunately, most students don't get the experience of walking in the woods and finding owl pellets. You can order owl pellets from a science lab supply company or you could have your students virtually dissect an owl pellet. Kid Wings is a website all about birds. The site includes a virtual owl pellet dissection activity called Sherlock Bones. In the virtual owl pellet dissection students pick apart an owl pellet, examine the bones inside it, then match those bones to the skeleton outline they've been provided. 


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web.