Leading to some light…

Helen, my very close friend, gave me this plaque as a Christmas present. She said the words here reminded her of me. Can you guess already that my eyes were watering as I read what is written there? To think that she connected this message to the work I try and do touched my heart. It’s a wonderful reminder I will carry with me through 2012. If my words can help others then maybe I need to devote more time to this space in this coming year. Let’s see how that pans out shall we!

What’s been really lovely about the start of 2012 is a reunion being held in a Flickr group of some of the members of the 2008/9 International PLP cohort. Back in 2008, we participated in a 31 day photo challenge, led by our Group Leader Darren Kuropatwa who hails from Canada. Darren has organised the activity again, and joining him are Hiram Cuevas, Susan Carter Morgan, Melanie Hutchinson, Alex Ragone, Derek Willard, Carey Pohanka and myself. We are trying to post a photo a day (the above photo is my contribution for today) and already I am enjoying insights into my online friend’s lives. It’s fascinating when I realise that since we first participated in that PLP group I have met Susan, Melanie, Alex and Carey face to face. It really is amazing the experiences I have had since starting this blog.

This was Melanie Hutchinson’s first picture for 2012 in the Flickr group. It’s a road in the Catskill mountains, and Melanie described it like this, “…leading to some light- just like 2012 stretching ahead.”

It’s how I feel about 2012. I feel like I am moving into light, after being in a couple of dark patches over the last couple of years. It’s affirming. I feel positive about the future, both in a personal and professional sense. If you haven’t noticed, we’re in an even year  – in my book, they’re the good ones. There’s no Mayan calendar apocalyptic doom and gloom in my outlook. I hope you’re feeling the same way.

Creature of habit

I am, by my nature, a creature of habit.

You may notice a long overdue change to this blog. The header, that’s been in place for the last almost three years, has changed. It was no longer relevant given the changing nature of Web 2.0 tools and search engines, so I decided it had to go. Some of you will be thinking, ‘Heck girl, that needed to be gone long ago!’, and you’d be right. But me, being the creature of habit that I am, resisted the change.

Personally, I find the fact that I’m content to let things stay the same for so long interesting. It’s at odds with the mantra I espouse here on this blog and within my school. I wonder what that says about me?

Anyway, change (small!) is here. The image was obtained from flickr, and is called Global Network. It was taken by Anthony Reeves, known on flickr as WebWizzard, on June 18th 2009.It is available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0) license. It’s thanks to people like Anthony, who use Creative Commons licenses like these, that  people like me can use them in their blog headers. A big thank you Anthony. : )

So, how long will it stay? Who knows? Maybe I’ll become more experimental and make changes more frequently. A bit of ‘practice what you preach’!

Teaching students (and teachers!) how to search for Creative Commons images and music

I ran a session recently with our Year 7 students about ethical use of images and music from the Web and the need for them to understand Creative Commons licenses. Our Head of Year 7 understands the need for us to be informing our students about ethical use of the Internet and we’d discussed the fact that a session like this was necessary for our students. It’s great when you work with people who support what you’re doing and understand this knowledge is important to impart.

I made reference to this session at a conference I was presenting at in Perth last week. I was talking about Cloud Computing, but a participant’s question at the end of the session referred to what I’d done with the Year 7 students. She wanted to know how you search images on Google that are licensed Creative Commons. The entire room seemed to not know how to do this. It made me think. Just how is it that we expect students to be using the web ethically, when there would be, potentially, the majority of their teachers who have no idea how to do so also?

So, here’s how you do it. First step would be visiting the Google Web Search help page where they explain in detail what it is you can find when you use the Advanced Search options. You can follow this link, or read what I’ve copied from the site (I hope this constitutes fair use -at least I’ve let you know where it’s from!);

Find all types of reusable content using the Advanced Search page

The usage rights filter on the Advanced Search page shows you pages that are either labeled with a Creative Commons license or labeled as being in the public domain. Here are the different usage rights options available:

  • Free to use or share
    Your results will only include pages that are either labeled as public domain or carry a license that allows you to copy or redistribute its content, as long as the content remains unchanged.
  • Free to use, share, or modify
    Your results will only include pages that are labeled with a license that allows you to copy, modify, or redistribute in ways specified in the license.
  • If you want content for commercial use, be sure to select the appropriate option containing the term commercially.

Find reusable images using Advanced Image Search

If you’re looking for reusable images, use the Advanced Image Search page. In addition to images labeled as being under the Creative Commons license or in the public domain, the usage rights filter on this page also shows you images labeled with the GNU Free Documentation license.

In the Usage Rights drop-down, select one of the following options:

  • Labeled for reuse
    Your results will only include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy and/or modify the image in ways specified in the license.
  • Labeled for commercial reuse
    Your results will only include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy the image for commercial purposes, in ways specified in the license.
  • Labeled for reuse with modification
    Your results will only include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy and modify the image in ways specified in the license.
  • Labeled for commercial reuse with modification
    Your results will only include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy the image for commercial purposes and modify it in ways specified in the license.

If you find images with the wrong usage rights in the search results, let us know by reporting them in the help forum.

Before reusing content that you’ve found, you should verify that its license is legitimate and check the exact terms of reuse stated in the license. For example, most licenses require that you give credit to the image creator when reusing an image. Google has no way of knowing whether the license is legitimate, so we aren’t making any representation that the content is actually or lawfully licensed.

I direct my students to select Usage rights – return images that are – labelled for commercial reuse. This screenshot shows you what I mean;

It was a wake up call for the Year 7 students, most of whom admitted to using Google Image Search but paying no heed to copyright issues.

Of course, we had to preface the talk with a discussion about just what Creative Commons was and what the different licenses represented;

Creative Commons licences


You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit the way you request.

Share Alike
Share Alike

Share Alike
You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.


You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for non-commercial purposes only.

NoDerivative Works
NoDerivative Works

No Derivative Works
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

We also explored other sites that allow you to search for images that are in the Creative Commons. These included Morguefile, Compfight, and Flickr itself. We also looked at sites that provide free music in the Creative Commons. These included Jamendo, CC Mixter, opsound, Dmusic and Soundclick.

(A twitter link tonight led me to a site for free stock photo images – Veezzle)

Hopefully, the session had an impact on the way they go about using images and music from the Web. For Australian educators, the Smartcopying website provides an excellent port of call for reading about copyright, and understanding what you can do in schools with text, images and music.

Really, I should be running sessions like this across the school. Something to put on the list for Semester Two!

Staying safe online: Responsible Internet use presentation

I mentioned in my previous post that my school (Toorak College) is participating as a pilot school in the Allanah and Madeline foundation’s Esmart initiative. As a 1:1 laptop school from Grade 5 onwards, we recognise the responsibility we have to help our students understand how to use the Internet responsibly.

I created this presentation (which unfortunately, won’t embed here -you’ll need to follow the link) for the year 5 and 6 students and delivered it today. I was really pleased with the students’ interest in what I was saying and the vast array of questions they posed about their online activities. At the end of the presentation, one of their teachers asked were any of them going home to make some changes to their online profiles. Quite a few of them raised their hands. Our discussion centered on the content of these slides, but was also peppered with discussion about the positive uses of the web for learning and communication. We were interested in supporting these students in their use of social networking sites; quite a few of them are using them already. I think the messages in the slides will be appropriate for our Yr 7 and 8 students as well.

Once again, I used Sliderocket to create the presentation. I really do love the fact that you are able to search Flickr Creative Commons pictures from within SlideRocket and import them into your presentation. In past presentations, the attribution appeared at the bottom of the slide. Now they appear when you hover over the picture. The Internet safety advice was largely drawn from the Australian Government site, ACMA Cybersmart.

We are aiming to run sessions right through the school, from Grade 3 onwards. Looks like I might be making some good use of that SlideRocket account!

Presentation update – I know why there are always bullet points!

Last week I posted about Garr Reynolds and his presentation to Google staff about how to deliver an effective presentation. Well, I think I’ve figured out why it is we sit through countless presentations that are full of bullet points and text.


There.  Got that one off my chest.  Now it’s time to think some more and immerse myself in the world of flickr and morguefile, as I try to find images that are going to live in the memory of the kind souls (please be kind!) who are going to attend my presentation next Monday.

Wish me luck. At the rate I’m going I well may see the sun rise!    

Here we go!

I’ve taken the plunge and decided to become a blogger. I want to learn as much as I can about the Web 2.0 world and think it would be a good idea to share what I am learning. I’m reading lots of blogs via my Google reader  and can see that sharing some of these amazing insights will be beneficial for others. One of the blogs I’m following is Commoncraft. I’m really impressed with what this small company is achieving. They create videos explaining Web 2.0 applications in a very easily understandable fashion. Have a look at their latest offering explaining Photo Sharing on the Web.

I’m going to be using this and other Commoncraft   videos in my information literacy teaching this year for both students and staff. What’s the point in me standing up and trying to explain Google Docs when they do it so much better in a simple 4 minute video!