Monday, October 18, 2010

The Free Graphics Store

Found this link on Small Business Computing, but useful for educators as well. See excerpt below, or read the whole article here.

"Free" is the most overused word on the Internet, but in this case, the Free Graphics Store really does mean it. This Web tool delivers exactly what it advertises: free graphics.

The site offers a huge list of free graphics that you can use for your website design. For example, you can choose 15 Everyday Objects, 18 Assorted Graphics, 48 Bullets, Animations, Icons, Backgrounds, Tiled Backgrounds. That's just a small sampling; the list goes on and on.

Now is the site really free? Where can you use these graphics, and are there any restrictions? It says you’re free to use them on private or commercial sites. You can’t resell them, you can’t claim them as yours, and you can’t copy their pages. You just have to download the items you wan

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Easy Way to Introduce Inkscape Drawing Program to Youth and Adults

This was written by @philshapiro in 2008, but has come back up again. and Inkscape is pretty good and FREE, so I thought I'd bring it back here.

Inkscape is a fun, free and very powerful vector drawing program that runs on all major computer platforms: Linux, Macintosh and Windows. This program can give you endless hours of enjoyment, even if you're not an artist. And if you develop mastery of using Inkscape, someone wants to pay you money to create graphics for them.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Welcome to Aviary

Aviary is a free suite of powerful online creation tools: Photo-editing, logos, web templates, filters, color palettes, screen capture & more at
This is a really great site of tools - almost everything that you need to make multimedia in the classroom, all free and online!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Stock Footage for Free

I found this very cool blog post (excerpted below) that speaks to a point that I have been working on recently. As students start developing their own materials in class, they will not be required to really produce everything from scratch. One of the major problems is that if they cannot find suitable material that is available for use under fair use or other copyright regimes (creative commons, royalty free, etc), they will use any materials that they can access on the Internet. Therefore we need to have at hand a wide range of locations where students can access legal material to use in their class projects. That's why this post was so useful, even though it was designed for small business and not specifically for education.

Stock Footage for Free

If you produce projects that include video, one Web tool that you must know about is StockFootageforFree. Here you’ll find both standard definition and high definition NTSC video that’s been shot exclusively for StockFootageforFree, and it’s been made available royalty-free. That means that you can not only download and use these clips for free, you can even use them in commercials.; web tools
(Click for larger image)

There are a few legal caveats to be aware of, so be sure to read the end-user license agreement to make sure you’re staying on the up-and-up. For example, you can’t re-sell this stock footage as your own; you can’t use it in trademarks, and they retain ownership of the footage. However once you become a registered member, you can download these clips and use them pretty much any way that you want.

Registration is free, and it’s very easy. Simply provide them with a user name that you’ll use to log into the website, your email address and your first and last name. As a registered member, you have access to clips in a whole bunch of different categories like animals out in the wild; beaches, the waterfront, lakes, yachts, ships; construction and energy. There are some clips dealing with oil refineries and construction.

The site has a special category for high definition clips, so if you only produce high-definition video you would want to limit yourself to that category. Other categories include the holidays, mansions and wealth -- which is really useful if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re trying to convey a feeling of wealth and wealth-building -- sports, time-lapse photography, specific U.S. cities and transportation.

The site covers a lot of different categories and offers a lot of different standard and high-definition stock footage. It’s all available for free to use in your video projects. It's a great resource.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Microsoft's Web-based Office goes live

Microsoft's Web-based Office goes live (Beyond Binary - CNET News)

So MS Office Live is live. Another cloud-based service for document creation. Great things about it:
  1. it's Microsoft, so those of my students who totally refuse to consider anything not from Redmond can finally get into the collaborative writing assignments I want them to do
  2. It comes with 25GB of storage! That is massive. And cool.
  3. It works like a stripped down Office application, so most people should know how to use it. (Given that 99% of the world uses Office... :( )
  4. It connects with the off-line MS Office you spent all that money on, so you can use both seamlessly.
  5. It's free. Did I not mention that earlier? Oops... yes, it's free, so many students can use it once they are connected. You don't NEED the expensive desktop applications to use it. It stands on its own, kind of like... Google Docs!
  6. It works with all browsers, even Chrome! That's cool.
Bad things about it:
  1. It's MS proprietary.
So I hope that more online applications will get more students to use the systems to share and collaborate. Now there's almost an application for anyone and any style.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Phone texting 'helps pupils to spell

Everyone has been assuming that texting and the shorthand associated with it, is terrible for children and reduces their ability to spell, write and so on.
This article from the BBC references a study that shows - NOT SO! Texting is good! It helps children to learn language skills and does not necessarily create a world of poor spellers!

"Children who regularly use the abbreviated language of text messages are actually improving their ability to spell correctly, research suggests.

A study of eight- to 12-year-olds found that rather than damaging reading and writing, "text speak" is associated with strong literacy skills.

Researchers say text language uses word play and requires an awareness of how sounds relate to written English.

This link between texting and literacy has proved a surprise, say researchers.

These latest findings of an ongoing study at the University of Coventry contradict any expectation that prolonged exposure to texting will erode a child's ability to spell."

Monday, March 08, 2010

Tech Tools: Student Blogging | Quisitivity

Tech Tools: Student Blogging
"Twenty-first century learning is about communication, collaboration, problem solving, and technology, all of which are integral to blogging."

A good post as to WHY blogging in the classroom works.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

on presenting | Ramblings

on presenting | Ramblings:

"This is totally not confined to at-work presentations.

The number of sessions I have sat through that could have taken 5 minutes instead of 20,30,40 or even 60 is amazing. Remember: I have not flown half way around the globe to see you read. I have come to hear a story, to see how conclusions were formed and interact."

"I (and anybody else in the audience who has learnt to read) can read your dot points faster than you can. While I’m reading, I’m not listening to you."

I have been telling my students this FOREVER! And they DO NOT LISTEN TO ME. I try to model good presentation behaviour, and they want my slides to have every word I say. My slides are their notes. What's wrong with paying attention to a presentation, jotting down some thoughts and later, going over the notes and filling them out with material gleaned from my references (that they have gone and read through themselves) ?
No wonder when they present I have to continually pinch myself to stay awake and try to follow. And these students are prospective teachers. They will go into schools and bore children the same way they bore me.
At least one young lady has gotten totally into using Prezi - I am eagerly awaiting her presentation to see if she's managed to break through.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources in the U.S. National Education Technology Plan - Creative Commons

Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources in the U.S. National Education Technology Plan - Creative Commons

"The United States Department of Education 2010 National Educational Technology Plan (pdf) includes the following:

Open Educational Resources (OER) are an important element of an infrastructure for learning. OER come in forms ranging from podcasts to digital libraries to textbooks, games, and courses. They are freely available to anyone over the web."

This is really great. Consider the sharing and the opportunity that this gives to disadvantaged students who do not have access to great teaching, great libraries or educational resources. Especially students in the developing world. I hope that we will also start producing and sharing our own content, as we cannot simply be consumers of the material, we also have to share our knowledge and experiences. They are important and valid.