School’s out Friday

My husband sent me this video during the week and it brightened the day for a colleague and myself. It was uploaded to YouTube in 2006 so you may have already seen it. How they put this together intrigues me -there are definitely some very clever people out there.

We are melting here in Melbourne right now. The temperature has been 41Degrees celcius + for the last three days and it looks like there is another one heading our way tomorrow.  There is little respite next week with temperatures forecast to be in the 30’s all week. Of course, school began back this week, just when the heat of summer set in. The kids are restless and tired and we are all searching for the elusive sniff of a breeze but there is none in sight.

The Library I work in is not air conditioned but home is, so I intend to hibernate!  Enjoy whatever comes your way this weekend.

Flickrstorm – easy search for creative commons photos

Tonight I’ve been sourcing a picture to use for a slide that is going towards a collaborative presentation stemming from our Powerful Learning Practice cohort.  Darren Kuropatwa, our community leader, got the ball rolling (excuse the pun!), for Presentation Tennis.  We’re creating a slide deck using google docs (their presentation option) and creating contrasting slides to represent “Teaching well”. When it’s completed it will be uploaded to slideshare and part two of the challenge will begin. One of the challenges is to find images with a creative commons licence that can be used  giving attribution to the creator.

For my effort tonight I went to Flickrstorm. This is a great site for finding quality images that can be used legally giving attribution to the creator. When you reach the site click on ‘advanced’ and a drop down box enables that gives you options for creative commons pictures and the different licences they hold. See below screenshot;


David Jakes has a really helpful wiki where he explains many new technologies.  He speaks of flickrstorm when he is presenting about digital storytelling.  I’m sure you would find information about flickrstorm there if you were looking for more detail. David has recorded a screencast that is available on TeacherTube. It won’t embed here so you’ll have to click the link to view it.

And just for the record, here is the slide I created tonight.


(Day 108-365 Year 2 by flickrstorm user thp365 )

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Why do we blog?

I’ve mentioned recently that my friend Nina has started writing a blog focusing on the early years classroom. She’s doing amazingly well, but already the questions have started.

Why are you doing this?

What do you think will come of it?

etc, etc, etc.

Anyone who blogs has heard it all before. The lack of understanding from some and their disbelief when you explain that you willingly do it in your time away from your workplace, is a more common reaction than the ‘good for you’, comment you might be expecting.

Reading Robert Darnton’s article yesterday, I was struck by something he wrote about the changing nature of publishing;

“The eighteenth-century Republic of Letters had been transformed into a professional Republic of Learning, and it is now open to amateurs—amateurs in the best sense of the word, lovers of learning among the general citizenry.”  

This is why we blog.

We are lovers of learning.

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Google and the Future of Books – Robert Darnton’s must read article

Google Book Search car
Image by clarissa~ via Flickr








 If you are at all interested in the future of books and the digitising of collections you must read Robert Darnton‘s article ‘Google and the Future of Books’ written for ‘The New York Review of Books‘. In it he discusses the efforts by Google to digitise millions of books from the collections of research libraries to enable these texts to be searched online. If my reading of the article is correct, Google has recently settled a lawsuit with authors and publishers who were suing for alleged violation of their copyright due to the digitisation of their work. The settlement that has been reached entails the following (I’m taking the liberty of quoting Robert’s words at length here. I can see no better way to explain the decision and its ramifications);

The settlement creates an enterprise known as the Book Rights Registry to represent the interests of the copyright holders. Google will sell access to a gigantic data bank composed primarily of copyrighted, out-of-print books digitized from the research libraries. Colleges, universities, and other organizations will be able to subscribe by paying for an “institutional license” providing access to the data bank. A “public access license” will make this material available to public libraries, where Google will provide free viewing of the digitized books on one computer terminal. And individuals also will be able to access and print out digitized versions of the books by purchasing a “consumer license” from Google, which will cooperate with the registry for the distribution of all the revenue to copyright holders. Google will retain 37 percent, and the registry will distribute 63 percent among the rightsholders.

Meanwhile, Google will continue to make books in the public domain available for users to read, download, and print, free of charge. Of the seven million books that Google reportedly had digitized by November 2008, one million are works in the public domain; one million are in copyright and in print; and five million are in copyright but out of print. It is this last category that will furnish the bulk of the books to be made available through the institutional license.

Many of the in-copyright and in-print books will not be available in the data bank unless the copyright owners opt to include them. They will continue to be sold in the normal fashion as printed books and also could be marketed to individual customers as digitized copies, accessible through the consumer license for downloading and reading, perhaps eventually on e-book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle.

While this represents availabilty of knowledge on an unprecedented scale at what may be a reasonable cost, it also represents the kind of monopoly by a business of an unprecedented scale with the  product being knowledge. And this is where Libraries have missed the boat. As Robert refers to in the article, the opportunity was there to realise the Alexandrian library dream and create a National (international, really) Digital Library with access based on reasonable fees for all. The challenge exists now for Google to not put profit before the public good and ensure that they realise the dream and not destroy it with eagerness for shareholder and company profit.

Robert speaks of what this decision means for Google’s stakehold in all our lives; 

“….the settlement creates a fundamental change in the digital world by consolidating power in the hands of one company. Apart from Wikipedia, Google already controls the means of access to information online for most Americans, whether they want to find out about people, goods, places, or almost anything. In addition to the original “Big Google,” we have Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Images, Google Labs, Google Finance, Google Arts, Google Food, Google Sports, Google Health, Google Checkout, Google Alerts, and many more Google enterprises on the way. Now Google Book Search promises to create the largest library and the largest book business that have ever existed.”

It’s not just Americans feeling the effect of Google Robert, it’s a worldwide phenomenum. I love much of what this company is doing to enable access and delivery of information, but we have to keep in mind that they are a business and not a philanthropic institution. There is the possibility of the stranglehold having an effect on access if the costs they charge get too high. It will be up to us all to keep them in check.  

Please click the link and read the article for yourself. There is so much in it for consideration and there is no way I have done it full justice here.  


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Clustr maps get archived – Shock! Horror!

Anyone who puts a clustr map on their blog knows how you feel when you first see the little red dots appearing.  First up, you’re amazed that anyone is reading at all, and then you’re amazed to find that they’re coming from many different parts of the world. It’s one of the visible signs of our flattening world and our ability to connect with like minds who we’ve never physically met.

Just the other day I checked in with my Clustr map and discovered this;


‘This map will be archived on approximately 2nd Feb 2009’.

Now I knew this happened, but I didn’t know they notified you.  So I’m going to have to adapt to a blank Clustr map in the coming days. They suggest you take a screenshot for posterity’s sake. Hence the above picture.  

Ahhh well. It doesn’t matter so much to me now the accumulation of red dots, but it does act as a good talking point when you try to explain to people new to the world of blogging just what the big deal is. I’ll watch with interest over the coming days as it reverts to a blank landscape.

School’s out Friday

School will really be out for me next Friday. It’s a return to work for me next week; a dose of reality after the heady days of nothing on my agenda. Enjoy this ditty from Weird Al Yankevic as he ponders the wonder of Ebay to the tune of the Backstreet Boys ‘I want it that way’. Nearly 20 million people have viewed it already on YouTube.

Probably nice to revisit a Weird Al Yankovic effort from the past while we’re at it.   Here he is with ‘Eat it’, his parody of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat it’.

I have to confess that I went to a Michael Jackson concert at Olympic Park here in Melbourne in the mid ’80s. It was far and away the best concert I’ve ever been to. It was at the height of Michael Jackson’s career; Thriller had been released and he was in the white glove phase. His dancing was brilliant and the show was nothing short of spectacular. Pity that 20 years on his reputation is not what it used to be.

I hope your weekend holds something special for you. Enjoy.

Kickyoutube – Easy download solution for YouTube

One of the best ways to start converting colleagues to the wonders of the Web is to introduce them to the vast array of content on YouTube that is suitable for education purposes. If you work in a school with a slow connection then you will be familiar with the circular loading indicator that can stay like that for what seems an eternity. Not conducive to good classroom practice unfortunately. By the time it loads your kids are in their next class!

Solution.  Download the video from YouTube using a conversion tool. I’ve spoken of keepvid before which has been my preferred option. This has involved me going to the keepvid site and copying and pasting the YouTube url once I’m there.

Better solutionAlec Couras, ably assisted by Melanie Gibb, alerted me on Twitter to kickyoutube. It is quite simply the easiest method I’ve seen yet to download a video to a different format. All you need to do is delete the ‘au.’  (or www.) in the url and type the word ‘kick’ in front of the word ‘youtube’  and then press enter.  Kickyoutube is enabled and you are presented with a toolbar with differing options for file conversion.  You select your preferred option and press go and your download begins. Dead simple. There are even options for conversions for the iPhone and PSP as well as the garden variety options.  Some options may not be available at the time and they will not be highlighted if that is the case.


The following screencast gives a good visual explanation of how it works;

Richard Byrne, who writes at Free Technology for Teachers, (and just quietly Richard, you are a blogging dynamo! Do you ever sleep?) has posted recently about YouTube’s new initiative with downloads. Here’s what he reported;

YouTube is introducing a download option on some videos. I haven’t seen any official announcements from YouTube, but there are some videos on YouTube that now have a small download link located just below play menu.   

This is an even easier option, but like Richard says, it’s not available for all videos at the moment. All you need to do is click on the download link and a file download to MPEG 4 format begins.

It will be nice to return to school with some new and very easy options for downloads from YouTube to share with my colleagues. We may not even need to do this with some changes that are afoot. We are moving from a 2mg internet connection to  20mg and I can’t wait to see what a difference that is going to make for our school and our connectivity. I’m expecting great things!