Sue Waters Blog

June 26, 2008
by Sue Waters
16 Comments

How to Blog an image from Flickr

How to Blog from Flickr, originally uploaded by Sue Waters.

Adding images to posts can be time consuming. A quick option is to blog directly from Flickr. Not only can you quickly write the post but it also adds a image attribution

To blog directly from Flickr you first need to configure your external blog with your Flickr account (which you do here. Alternatively click on the drop drown arrow on You and choose your Account , Click on the Extending Flickr link and the edit alongside Your blogs. Follow the instructions to link your blog with your account (for edublogs users you select the WordPress blog).

For Edublogs users your blog URL address needs to look like this:

http://suewaters.com/xmlrpc.php  i.e.  Add xmlrpc.php to the end of your blog URL.

Now that your blog is configured whenever you see a photo on Flickr you would like to blog about just click on the Blog This link above the photo and write your post.

This post was written as a demonstration of what a post looks like when blogged from Flickr. Hope you like my quick demonstration :)

April 22, 2008
by Sue Waters
15 Comments

Cool Tips For Holiday Photos And Videos

Yep! I’m back from my vacation without with limited Internet access and know that you would like to hear what we got up to (well maybe not but I’m going to share anyway ) ).

But first let me share some cool tips I’ve learnt while getting ready to write about my vacation – I’ll tell you about our holiday adventures in my next post.

Image Hack

David Warlick demonstrated a really cool image hack that I’ve wanted to try.

If you post a smaller version of a photo in your blog post, but hyperlink to the larger version of the photo when readers click on the photo in the post they are taken to the larger version of the photo for a more detailed view.

busselton-jetty.jpgClick this photo I took on our vacation to see the effect . Here are my step-by-step instructions (which I’ve posted to Flickr) for how to do this in your own posts.

As David Warlick says Wow! It worked!

Flickr Videos

Everyone’s been talking about how Flickr now allows you to upload videos provided that they are limited to 90 seconds in length, and less than 150MB in filesize. I like the idea of uploading my videos to Flickr since I already use the site for sharing photos.

Using the video setting on my digital camera to create the videos is an issue because the videos ranged up to 93 MB for a 90 sec video which isn’t ideal for uploading videos especially at an Internet Cafe. Ideally it’s best to keep videos less than 30 MB for uploading.

My solution to reduce video file size quickly was edit using MovieMaker and save Movie File as Video for Broadband (512 kbps).

Off course this got me thinking how does Flickr control the time limit on movies you can upload? Well it seemed obvious to me that they couldn’t and can only control by file size. So I edited and combined my photos and movies to create a 3 minute video which I then successfully uploaded to Flickr.

Here are my instructions on using MovieMaker. The videos uploaded considerably easier and there was no noticeable loss in quality.

Below is the video (which is hosted on Flickr) that you can check out. What do you think of video quality?

If you are reading my post in a feed reader like Google Reader or Bloglines the video will probably not be displayed so you need to check out on my blog or at Flickr.

My Map Of Our Holiday

I’ve been waiting for a long time for the opportunity to create a holiday map with photos and this was a perfect opportunity.

The easiest option is to Geotag photos on Flickr (geotagging in Flickr is the process of adding location information to your photos by dropping them onto the World map — here are my instructions on how to geotag using Flickr).

However I had two issues with Flickr geotagging:

  • Flickr uses Yahoo maps that don’t zoom in sufficiently to show roads and many towns in Western Australia — which is really annoying
  • You can only link to the map and not embed

So instead I created a My Maps using Google Maps that:

  • I can embed into my blog post
  • allows me to embed my photos from Flickr into the map (unfortunately it didn’t like the embed video code for the Flickr Videos).

Here are my step-by-step instructions (which I’ve posted to Flickr) for how to create your own My Maps using Google Maps. You will need to create a Google Account to create my maps (it’s best to create a gmail account to do this).

Below is my map that I’ve embedded in this post. You will probably need to check it out on my blog if you are using a feed reader.
View Larger Map

Embedding My Maps Into Edublogs

  1. Click on the link icon at the top of My Maps and you will find the embed code.
  2. In your post click on Code Tab then paste the embed code in the desired location and then press publish straight away.

NOTE: Make sure you’ve completely finished writing your post before adding My Maps embed code as you can’t edit the post AT ALL after the code has been added.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Hope you like some of the cool tips I’ve shared.

What are your thoughts on Flickr videos? People have differing views on videos on Flickr — check out Beth’s post and it’s comments.

Do you know of a quicker and easier way to create a Holiday map for sharing with friends?

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March 1, 2008
by Sue Waters
6 Comments

Can The Passion Quilt Meme Be Brought Together?

Love or hate memes, you have to admire the viral nature of an effective meme.

The term meme was originally coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene”; it refers to “A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another”. Blogging memes normally involve a series of questions that a blogger answers and passes onto other blogs by tagging other bloggers to participate. Memes provide lots of link love to the previous tagger, people tagged and the originator of the meme.

Miguel Guhlin’s Passion Quilt meme, started on 10 February, has been incredibly viral — especially with educational bloggers. The idea is we could create our own passion quilt by each contributing an image that captures what we most passionately want children to learn in school…from our particular perspective.

Image of passion meme posts per day

The Passion Quilt meme’s rules are:

  • Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
  • Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
  • Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

The Passion Quilt meme now has over 70 participants which you can follow by subscribing to either of these RSS feeds for the tag term “passion quilt”using your feed reader e.g. Google Reader:

Bringing The Passion Quilt Meme Together

Definitely this meme has captured the hearts of many educators however:

  1. Miguel now challenged with how to bring it all together; combine the images with the words – he would like to compile the key words and images when I have a free moment but isn’t quite sure which tool and how to encourage the images to connect.
  2. As Allison Miller points out, it would be nice to track the meme’s travel.

Image of how to locatie the Flickr licenseMy solution would be to encourage each participant to:

My image for the passion quilt meme

Image of how to save as jpeg

geotagging.jpg

Adding Value To The Passion Quilt Meme

The value of this is two fold:

  • Means the words and images can easily be connected; and the passion quilt grown visually and geographically
  • Plus participants have differing skills levels – fantastic opportunity for professional development for all of us – providing an excellent opportunity to make the Passion Quilt meme considerably more meaningful than just another meme.

Using Creative Commons Flickr Photos

Remember when using photos from Flickr:

  • To check their license and only use in a manner stated in their license
  • “All rights reserved” means you can not use the photo without permission from the author
  • There are a range of different Creative commons licenses; each impose different restrictions on how you use the images. I strongly recommend that you read Skellie’s A Complete Guide to Finding and Using Flickr Images for an excellent overview of creative commons licenses.
  • All images licensed under Creative commons means that you are required to credit the author with a link back to their profile. You do this by inserting below the photo the link e.g. Photo by Sue Waters.

Image of Flickr CC licensesI would stick to searching and using Flickr photos licensed under any of the following Creative Commons categories (these licenses allow you to add words or make adaptations to the photos):

Thanks To

Yep — Robin, Kathryn (Hapy Birthday :) ) and Sue — I haven’t quite followed the rules of the Passion Quilt meme that you passed onto me (perhaps Darren’s been educating me?) however I hope you will join me in encouraging others to follow my suggestions to add value to the meme.

UPDATE

You can check out the growth of the Passion Quilt on Flickr:

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January 8, 2008
by Sue Waters
6 Comments

Flickr, Picasa and loving your photos!

This is a joint post between Chris Betcher and myself on Flickr and Picasa, and has been cross posted on each of our blogs. Please note that we had written different sections and apologies but “I” may mean Chris or me (Sue).

Let’s start with Chris’s section and background on the post’s origin

After spending some time yesterday migrating Linda’s (Chris’s girlfriend) entire photo collection (well, most of it… did I mention that regular backup is very important?) into Google’s Picasa photo management application and then giving her a bit of a tutorial in how to use it tonight, she asked the next obvious question… how do I put some of these photos onto Flickr? A good question. After all, Flickr is without a doubt the best online photo sharing website around. With amazing tools and options, an incredible online community for sharing and learning from each other, and a huge array of APIs that enable Flickr to work with a range of different online and offline services, the decision to use Flickr as your online photo storage tool of choice is a bit of a no-brainer.

However, on the desktop it’s a different story. Flickr is purely a Web2.0 service, and there is no local desktop component offered with it. This means that while Flickr is wonderful at managing your photos online, when it comes to dealing with the photos stored on your hard drive the only real options you have is whatever tools are already on your computer. If you have a Mac, iPhoto does a great job of photo management. It’s free and comes with every Mac. If you are more serious you can always look at Adobe’s Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture, but these are quite expensive applications. On the Windows side, there are probably dozens of “photo management” applications but most of them are pretty awful, and some are also expensive. Most people just settle for managing their photos directly in Windows Explorer which is an average solution at best.

Using Picasa for your offline photo management

Enter Picasa from Google. Picasa is a wonderful free piece of photo management software and lets you sort, arrange, adjust, crop, rename and generally manage your photos on your computer. It really is an incredibly sophisticated yet simple tool for photographers and the price tag can’t be beaten…. you can’t do much better than free. It is available for Windows only, which makes perfect sense since it essentially does most of what iPhoto already does on the Mac. As well as the desktop app, there is also a “Flickr-like” online photo service from Google called Picasaweb. I say “Flickr-like”, because although it lets you store your photos online it lacks the same community and API sharing that makes Flickr so compelling. If you’re serious about photos online Picasaweb could be a little disappointing. However, being from the Google stable of products, there is some common functionality for exporting photos directly from Picasa on your computer to Picasaweb on the net, which is a nice touch.

The trouble is that while Picasa may be an obvious best choice for local photo management, Flickr is the obvious best choice for online photo management. It would be nice to have the option to manage your photos locally with Picasa and then send your best shots up to Flickr to share with the world. Nice, except that Picasa is owned by Google and Flickr is owned by Yahoo!, and when companies are in direct head to head battle like Yahoo! and Google are, the last thing you want to do is anything that promotes your competition. This is unfortunate, since the losers in that battle are you and I, the consumers. We just want to manage our photos using the two tools we like, but it’s not as quite as straightforward as that.

Connecting via Twitter

Talk about synchronicity. As I was pondering this question tonight, the exact same question floated through my Twitter feed. Mrs_Banjer , sujokat and Sue (dswaters) were discussing the very same issue – how to manage your photos on and offline, what service to use, how to integrate them, and essentially they were tweeting on the very same things I was thinking about. One thing led to another, so via Twitter we discussed, chatted, talked and shared links. We pontificated on the pros and cons of Flickr versus Picasa. This is just one example of the power of an always-on personal learning network. Eventually though, I felt I needed to clarify a point in the discussion so rather than overTweet to the world, I Skyped Sue Waters in Perth and chatted about it directly. While we were talking a tweet came through from sujokat asking “someone do a blog on this please this is fabulous but all too quick for me to take it all in”. Sue and I decided that we’d do that… write a post about the pros and cons of Picasa and Flickr, but we’d do it as a joint post. So this is being written in Google Docs and is a collaborative effort between Sue and I… over to you Sue.

Now for My (Sue’s) Thoughts On Picasa vs Flickr

One of the best aspects of Twitter connectivity is the challenging of your thoughts, beliefs and making you really think; often about issues you had not considered. This was definitely the case with Picasa vs Flickr. I have rarely used Picasa as Window Explorer and Picture Manager have been adequate for my needs but really into Flickr. In all fairness to Picasa more likely that I have not spent enough time exploring the virtues of Picasa — it did take me 12 months to realise the benefits of Flickr. So my homework for the next few days is to throughly road test Picasa and report back to ensure I have done my usual through research.

It is definitely beneficial to import photos from your camera directly into Picasa because it means you don’t import multiple copies of the same photo.

2177097455_c499ae2bb0_o.jpg

Uploading to Flickr

For Mac users, there are several options for getting photos to Flickr. As iPhoto is a standard application found on every Mac it is a much simpler proposition for developers to create APIs that hook directly between iPhoto and Flickr, so there tends to be a number of uploading tools available, the best known of which is Flickr Uploadr. As well as the Flickr Uploader, there are free tools like FFXporter that plug directly into iPhotos Export option to offer direct Flickr integration. Another option is to use Flock as your web broswer… Flock has Flickr uploading tools built right in.

For Windows users who like Picasa as their photo management tool, uploading images to Flickr from Picasa is also a relatively simple process, even if not quite as obvious or integrated as that enjoyed by Mac users. Just download and install Flickr Uploadr on your desktop, open the Flickr Uploader and Picasa windows alongside each other, then drag and drop the images from Picasa library onto the Flickr Uploader. Simple!

2177097547_ea92ef9beb_o.jpg

Final Thoughts

Also worth checking out David Jake’s thorough information on Flickr (thanks sukojat for the link) and Philip Nichols’s guide to Picasa.

Besides learning a lot more about Picasa it has been amazing collaborating writing a post; using Google Documents, Twitter and Skype — and Chris has a great writing style (jealous!!!).

Chris and I would love to learn more about how you manage your photos.

What are your thoughts? Do you use an offline photo management software? What features do you like about the software you use? Do you share your photos online at Flickr or do you use another photosharing website? And if so, which one and why?

Please take this opportunity to drop past Chris’s post and leave some tips for him as well.

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December 7, 2007
by Sue Waters
12 Comments

Getting More Out Of Flickr

Flickr was a Web 2.0 tool that initially did not grab me because I didn’t get the idea of sharing photos online. Now I can’t live without Flickr, and it offers so much, that it is definitely worth taking the time to learn how to use more effectively.

If you are new to Flickr I strongly recommend that you check out Josh Lowensohn’s Newbie’s Guide to Flickr and Alan Levine’s What we can do with Flickr (especially the links below the photo).

Copyright Free Images

Most of the photos I use on my websites are sourced from Flickr Creative Commons images using FlickrCC. Remember when using photos from Flickr:

  • To check their license and only use in a manner stated in their license
  • “All rights reserved” means you can not use the photo without permission from the author
  • There are a range of different Creative commons licenses; each impose different restrictions on how you use the images. I strongly recommend that you read Skellie’s A Complete Guide to Finding and Using Flickr Images for an excellent overview of creative commons licenses.
  • All images licensed under Creative commons means that you are required to credit the author with a link back to their profile. You do this by inserting below the photo the link e.g. Photo by Sue Waters.

Making Friends

The benefit of making Friends on Flickr (Flickr calls them contacts) is you learn about the cool stuff your friends are getting up to e.g. snowman, playing with Santa in Second Life, the “must have” computer mouse (Darren – I think you need some friends).

add.jpg

Best way of seeing the latest photos from your friends is to subscribe to the RSS feed from photos from your friends using your Feed Reader.

rsscontacts.jpg

Remember the Conversation

We should also remember that Flickr is not just about photos, like blogs, the conversations are important. Take the time to write comment below photos that interest you because it is important to participate in other people’s spaces. But to be effective at this with Flickr I suggest you:

  1. Subscribe to recent activities on your photos using your Feed Reader- this lets you know when people write comments on your photos so you can respond back to comments quickly.
  2. Subscribe to updates on photos you’ve commented on using your Feed Reader – so you are advised when people make further comments so you can choose whether you want to respond back.

rsscomments.jpg

Organising Photos

If you use Flickr a lot it is definitely worth paying for a Pro Account because it only costs US$24.95 per year for lots of extra benefits e.g. unlimited Sets and Collections for organising photos.

The difference between a set and a collection is a set contains photos whereas collection contains sets e.g. I may have my photos arranged into sets called Snowman, Christmas trees, Christmas Decorations and then have all these sets organised in a Collection called Christmas.

organise.jpg

Editing Photos

Flickr has lots of great options for editing your photos by:

picknikflickr.jpg

FINAL THOUGHT

Flickr has so many features that it is impossible to cover them all in a blog post. Please let us know your tips for getting more out of Flickr or if you use another photosharing website, what do you like about the site you use.

November 15, 2007
by Sue Waters
15 Comments

Quick And Easy Ways To Get More Out Of Images

Sarah Stewart (Sarah’s Musings) commented on my These Are My Favourite Tools! What Are Yours? post that as a result of my posts on presentation skills she has discovered FlickR and have started using the images on blog and in presentations but she is finding it time consuming finding images. What she would like is advice on quick and easy ways of finding images that you are allowed to use.

So here are some of my suggestions:

Search for images using FlickrCC

FlickrCC is the best online tool I have found for quickly searching creative common Flickr photos. It is considerably faster than using FlickrStorm, Creative Commons Image Search or the creative commons advanced search at Flickr. Unlike the other search options FlickrCC also provides facilities to edit the image using their online editing tool – click on this link to view their image editing options.

flickrcc.jpg

Thanks to Judy O’Connell (Hey Jude) for telling me about FlickrCC! Check out Judy’s post on Find Free Images Online – My List for options other than using Flickr creative commons photos. I personally prefer using Flickr creative commons photos because there are more photos at Flickr so I am more likely to find photos faster.

Remember that when you use Creative Commons images you are allowed to use these provided you follow the terms specified by their Creative Commons license. In simple terms you are allowed to use these images provided you credit the original source by linking back to that source – you need to refer to Flickr Creative Commons information for a more detailed explanation as there are a range of different licenses with different restrictions.

Creating your own images

There are several ways you can create your own images:

1. Start building up your own collection of photos
I now tend to carry my camera wherever I go and like to share my photos online at Flickr.

2. Use an editing tool to create your own images
I use SnagIT to take screen shots of web pages, software applications or add check information to photos (my screen shot of FlickrCC above was created using SnagIT)

3. Use an image creating tool to create images
I love using fd’s Flickr Toys to remix photos into lots of different images like Mosaics etc.

However today I decided to check out Alan Levine (CogDog) Web 2.0 Gem Starter List because I knew Alan was bound to have some cool tools for editing photos (he loves photos). As a result I came across Dumpr which is a lot better than fd’s Flickr Toys. Here is a same of the different photos I created using Dumpr (can use photos from your computer, Flickr, a Web 2.0 mashup or URL)

dumpr.jpg

The other tool that Alan suggested that I liked was spell with Flickr.

C O O L

FINAL THOUGHT

Hopefully you find these tools save you time. Please let me know if you have any similar photo editing, image creation or photo searching tools that I should check out.

November 10, 2007
by Sue Waters
15 Comments

These Are My Favourite Tools! What Are Yours?

starVicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher Blog) did an absolutely amazing post titled Best of the Web: My Most Useful Tools where she shares her most useful websites/tools with her readers — READ IT — I found gems in her post that I had not tried [image by marie-ll]

Vicki also encourages us all to take the time to share our most useful tools because we should be welcoming people new to using the Internet by sharing our tools — so here is my post — hopefully it will be of help for other educators wanting to get involved with elearning.

Blog

Yes I am a bit addicted to blogging because it helps me reflect on my thoughts and interaction with others helps this process in amazing ways.

I like both blogger (easy to use) and edublogs for blogging. If I have interpreted what Vicki is saying regarding Google Blog Search and Blogger I disagree — both Technorati and Google Blog Search look for keywords within the text of the post — I subscribed to tag feeds (e.g. mlearning and mobile learning) from Google Blog Search and my posts always appeared with the feeds (and this blog is not hosted by Google).

Here is my information for those new to blogging and for those more advanced bloggers. Towards the bottom of each page there are some tasks that you can work through to improve your blogging skills — let me know if you decide to work through them so I can drop past your blog and give you encouragement.

If you are using blogs with students I strongly recommend that you check out Clay Burell’s (Beyond School) Blogging Parent’s Letter — fantastic work Clay.

Comics

Why? Because for no other reason than it is fun!!!! I like to use ToonDoo because it is really easy to use (as they made it easy for kids to use) and they have lots of great characters, backgrounds and props that you can use. These are my instructions on how to embed ToonDoo comics into an edublog blog.

Other comic tools I use are Comeeko and Picnik which both allow you to create comics from your own photos. Please note that Picnik is an online photo editing tool that allows you to do a lot more than just create comics.

Del.icio.us

I use del.icio.us to bookmark websites online so that I can refer back to these bookmarked sites from any computer — which for me is a life saver because I use lots of different computers. It also means on any computer I can add bookmarks to my del.icio.us account. Here is my information on how to get more out of using del.ici.ous.

Feed Reader

I use Google reader to subscribe to blogs and RSS feeds. It is really easy to use, and I have a Google Reader gadget on my iGoogle homepage that shows me latest feed. Understanding what is RSS and how to use a feed reader is the most important skill that new people to using online tools need to learn — here is my information on what this is all about if you are not currently using a Feed reader.

Instant Messaging and VOIP

I use Google Talk and Skype for instant messaging (chatting with others) and talking to people (VOIP) using the Internet. If you don’t have a VOIP application, like Google Talk or Skype, on your computer this is a definitely a must – you can talk or chat to anyone, anywhere, using the Internet, at no cost. The benefit of Google Talk is you can search gmail and chat messages for previous conversations — check this out for more explanation.

Ning

Ning is good for those less tech savy, for encouraging discussions, it allows easily embed videos and pictures, and is a place for people to feel comfortable to start out with blogging. etools community is a Ning site I set up for educators to share their etools and tips with each other. Here are my tips for using Ning. Please feel free to join us at etools community.

Online Video

My advice to people on creating videos is it can be time consuming and with so much video content already available on the Internet it may be more effective to use other peoples videos. My favourite sites to search are Google Video, YouTube and VideoJug (VideoJug has lots of great how-to-do videos with written transcripts of each video — thanks Philip Nichols yet again for telling me about this site :) ) Please note even though Google owns YouTube you will get different search results from Google Video and YouTube which is why I search both. Here are my instructions on embedding videos into wikis and into Ning.

Most of my online videos are created using MovieMaker (here is how) and mostly uploaded to Googlevideo. My rule for video is less than 10 minutes whenever possible.

JumpCut is definitely worth using if you need an online video editor – it is like having MovieMaker or iMovie online! You can add titles and effects. Very easy to use (says she who makes movies all the time).

SlideCast and MyPlick are both excellent for syncing audio with powerpoints. Linking audio to the Slidecast from Internet Archives is the hardest aspect — here are my notes on how to do this.

Photos

I use Flickr to share my photos online and to locate photos that I can legally use on my websites (I use flickr creative commons photos which allows me to use the photos provided I acknowledge the original source). fd’s Flickr toys is my favourite tool for doing fun stuff with photos from Flickr — of these toys I use mosaic maker the most because it makes it simple to put together a set of photos.

Podcasting

I host my podcasts at Podomatic but if I need a site for hosting audio that I can link to I use the Internet Archive (I explain here how to link to the audio from the Internet Archive).

My audio podcasts are edited using Audacity (here is how) — I do have a Mac now and Garageband is really good but I still find if you have lots of edits then Audacity is still better.

Most of my video podcasts are edited using MovieMaker (here is how) then converted to .mp4 format using Super C (great for converting from any video format to another video format — here is how) and occasionally use iMovie on my Mac.

Screen capture

I use SnagIt on a daily basis – this is my favourite tool! Yes I know there are free tools like Jing that do similar but SnagIt is definitely better. Don’t care that it costs money – was worth every cent – they let you download and trial this software for a month – give it a go. Thanks Evil Sue for putting me onto this great screen capture software. This is how I create all the great “How-to-do” images for my web sites

Screencasting

A screencast is a digital recording of a computer screen and use these to show how to use online tools. My personal favourite screencast tool is CamStudio — yes I have used Jing but feel Camstudio is better (note I could use SnagIT) — here are my instructions on how to use CamStudio.

Slides

I do use Slideshare to host my powerpoints online but Alan Levine’s use of Slideflickr.com is way more powerful — if you click on the photo in his slide show it displays the notes that he has written under each photo at Flickr and you can read these notes as you watch the slides — if a URL interests you then you can click on the link to open it.

To create slides like Alan has done — instead of saving your powerpoint as a powerpoint you save it as jpeg. Upload the photos to Flickr, add notes to each slide, organise them into a set at Flickr and then use Slideflickr.com to create the slide.

Twitter

Twitter is absolutely my favourite tool for personal learning and social networking — check out this podcast on why (thanks to Alan Levine, Simon Brown, Graham Wegner, Michael Coghlan and Kristin Hokanson for helping me create it — apologies for not thanking sooner but it came out while I was away on the busy conference circuit) and watch Chris Betcher’s video on understanding how twitter works.

Web Browser

My favourite web browser is Firefoxhate having to use Internet Explorer (also use it on my Mac as well). Best aspect is there are lots of cool add ons like a del.icio.us add on that makes my life easier.

Wiki

I love using wikis for my personal learning because I find it a great place to pull all the information together concisely and they are also excellent for encouraging collaborative learning between students. Wikipaces is my favourite because their wiki is very easy to use and they provide excellent customer service. Here is my information on getting more out of using wikis.

FINAL NOTE

Long post — sorry! Blame Vicki :) but it is not the type of post that suits being broken up. Also I encourage all my readers to take up Vicki advice and share your tips (remember to tag with bestoftheweb).

October 3, 2007
by Sue Waters
5 Comments

Getting The Ning Thing? Got It? Or Over It?

displayYesterday’s post Ninging? Blogging? How Do We Best Support Needs Of Educators When Doing Professional Development? added more thoughts and voices to blogging vs ning. Thanks everyone for your comments — I suggest you check out their feedback. And once again I would like to thank both Graham and Clay for inspiring this conversation! And I have decided to follow up this post with reflecting on reasons why we are getting, got it or are over Ning as a result of comments by my readers yesterday!

Never Got The Ning Thing?

Well I don’t know about everyone else but I am one of those people that can take a long time “to get” the benefit of a Web 2.0 tool — I really have to see the “what’s in it for me” to be engaged enough to want to use.

Here are examples of tools and how long it has taken me from being introduced to a tool and then actually start using them effectively:

  • Twitter- 2 months
  • Podcasting – 3 months
  • Wiki – 5 months
  • Ning – 5 months
  • Delicious – 7 months
  • FlickR – 8 months
  • Blogging – 12 months

Now considering most see me as innovative and a prolific user of Web 2.0 technologies — I think how long it taken someone like me to adopt new tools should be considered when introducing these tools to educators who have never been exposed to any of them!

If we look at the whole Ning thing — why did it take me so long “to get it?” Well considering I understood RSS I was not seeing the forest for the trees — I was not subscribing to the feeds from the Ning Forum, Blogs or Latest Activity. This meant there was no way I could effectively manage the information that was being generated by these sites nor was I able to effectively respond to discussions because I was totally unaware that these discussions were taking place.

Whatever online resources and tools we develop our first rule should always be to make it very clear how to:

  • participate
  • use
  • navigate

This is equally important to the experienced and inexperienced — we should not assume what is required is obvious!

What is required should be in your face! So there is no missing the obvious!

So I only “Got It” with Ning when Michele Martin set up Better Blog Community because she modeled how to participate in very simple and obvious terms which I adapted when I set up etools and tips for educators community. She continues to mentor me on how to facilitate these communities which I am grateful for and Simon Brown models for me how to use with students. I also spent considerable time checking out what was working/not working with other Ning communities — check out Steve Hargadon’s communities for good ideas on setting up Ning.

Got the Ning Thing?

My thoughts are those that have got the “Ning Thing” are probably managing the feeds from the sites using Feed Readers like Google Reader, Bloglines or dare I say it NetVibes (ROFL).

Or alternatively realise the benefit of this community such as:

  • Ease of use for the less tech savy
  • Ability to easy manage discussions, embed videos and create blog posts

Over It

What can I say–well there would be a number of reasons. And would love to hear those from my readers. One reason why I was Over Ning initially was I never got it to begin with. However I can understand the feeling of too much Ning because I belong to 7 Ning communities but am only managing 3 of them effectively (on my to-do-list to rectify this with the other communities. And I can totally relate to the whole time issue!

And as Web 2.0 savy people like Patrick point out “being connected to a network that you create based on your needs and passions is far greater than one that is created for you”

Final Thoughts

Well ultimately, at the end of the day, it is not about us techy savy ones but the individuals that we are trying to get started on their journey. So I would really love Graham to convert the comment on my post to be created into your own post, with pictures, because you have, as always, explained it so well especially your closing sentence “We just don’t want educators sitting on their hands in their classrooms saying, “Everything I and my students need for learning is in this room. No need to go anywhere.”

Doh moment! Really think that I have done a disservice to lecturers in my own organisation. I have been using wikis but now realise that a Ning community, based on what I have gained from etools and tips for educators community, would better service their needs in terms of empowering their learning outside of professional development sessions!

June 5, 2007
by Sue Waters
11 Comments

Tools of the Trade

tool2.jpgDarren at Drape’s Take did an excellent post today on Why Every Teacher Should Have A Google Account. This is a list of basic tools that I recommend to lecturers:

Bookmarking

Definitely a bookmarking site is a must. It is so great to be able to bookmark a website online that you can then view from any computer. I just love the fact that where ever I am I can go yes I remember reading an article on a particular topic and pull up my del.icio.us site and locate the articles I want to read without having to relocate the article again (and normally I fail to locate the original article). You can also set up del.icio.us sites with students so that they can collaboratively bookmark sites to select the top sites for information on topics.

However if you are going to bookmark using del.icio.us I suggest you:

  1. Use tags that have meaning e.g podcasting, PodcastingEquipment (if you put a space between Podcasting and Equipment you will have two separate tags and Equipment to me may also mean aquaculture equipment. Alternatively you could separate with an underscore Podcasting_Equipment)
  2. Sort your tags by setting up bundles and put your tags into the correct bundles – this way you can located the articles you want to read easier)
  3. If you are using Firefox as your browser there is a new cool Add-on for del.icio.us. If you are not using Firefox then think about installing it because it is a great Browser, I now use it more than Internet Explorer.

If you want to know more about using del.icio.us check out my information on getting more out of del.ici.ous.

Wiki

I like using wikis as a quick and easy web site to share information with others. They are also excellent for encouraging collaborative learning between students. Personally I like using Wikipaces because their wiki is very easy to use and they have excellent customer service. If you want to know more about using wikis check out my information on getting more out of wiki.

Blog

I like both blogger (easy to use) and edublogs for blogging. I strongly recommend that you download and use Microsoft Livewriter which makes writing blog posts so much easier; and what a fanastic program. I had a hard time getting into blogging until I watched the following videos on blogging: Video: Blog History – shorten version and Long Video : Blogumentary – (1 hour) Thanks to Kate from Waxlyrical blog for recommending these videos. Check out Vicki Davis’s at Cool Cat Teacher’s blog tips on how to be an incredible blogger. While I agree with Darren about the value of teacher’s blogging I do think that Derek’s thoughts on online participation that for new people starting by commenting on blogs may be a good starting point.

Podcasting

I use Podomatic for podcasting however occasionally use Odeo. I prefer podomatic because it gives me a great podcast page which Odeo doesn’t. There are things about podomatic that I don’t like. For ideas for setting up a podcast page check out my podcast site aquaculturepda.podomatic.com

Comics

I have used two different free comic makers ToonDoo and Comeeko. No reason other than it is fun!!!!

ToonDoo is really easy to use (as they made it easy for kids to use) and they have lots of great characters, backgrounds and props that you can use. Basically anyone can easily create nice comics using ToonDoo – great fun for all ages – my 8 year old really enjoyed using ToonDoo as do I. The only issue I have had with ToonDoo is embedding my comics into my blog posts, these are my instructions on how to embed ToonDoo comics into an edublog blog.

The difference between ToonDoo and Comeeko is that with Comeeko you can use your own photos to make the comic. Comeeko is considerably harder to use than ToonDoo however a lot of fun because you use your own photos (which is very appealing).

Photosharing

Finally started to appreciate the value of photosharing and now am using Flickr.

Google

I am definitely a Google addict. Here is my list of Google MUSTS:

1. Personalized google homepage

I have set up my own personalized google homepage. If you haven’t give it a try. All you need to do is set up a Google account and then click on “Personalize this page” at the top of Google. You can add lots of little cool gadgets to the page (e.g. “to do list”, news feeds, Weather information, world clock, Google video) and whatever computer you are on you can sign into your personalized Google and access the items on the page (if you become too addicted you can add extra tabs – yes I know I need a life).

2. Google Reader

I use Google reader to subscribe to blogs and podcasts feeds. It is really easy to use, and I can put a gadget for it on my Personalized google homepage that shows me the latest 9 blogs and podcasts. Also I love how people are embedding Google Reader in their blogs and sharing their items that they like from their reader. I was totally unable to get into blogging until I started appreciating the value of blogs by subscribing to blogs using Google Reader

3. Google Talk

I use Google Talk for chatting with others but prefer Skype for VOIP. OOPS occassionally with Google Talk I have sent the wrong chat to the wrong person. If you don’t have a VOIP application on your computer. Definitely a must – you can talk or chat to anyone, anywhere, using the Internet, at no cost.

4. Google Video

I prefer to upload videos to google video if I want to embed them in wikis or blogs.

BTW I keep failing Vicki Davis’s 3 Rule of 10 habits of bloggers that winRULE 3 Write and then cut in half! :) There is no hope for me? :D

May 31, 2007
by Sue Waters
0 comments

Flickr…ing – the light switches on

When I go to professional development (PD) it is really important to promote the “What’s in it for me” factor with me – if this does not happen it is really hard to get me to want to engage with what ever it is I am being shown. Flickr is a classic example of this – while many of my friends are into using Flickr as a photosharing service and it had been demonstrated in a PD session – it was never a service that engaged me.

Unlike the younger generation (lets just say that I have been 21 for years) I have no desire to share all my family and holidays online (that is why I have great photo albums). Nor do I want to store my photos on Flickr and then link to my other websites (e.g. Mobile Technology in TAFE wiki) – really what is the point – just my work for me – when the sites have sufficient storage room for my photos.

This has all changed – lately I have been taking a lot of photos from conferences and PD workshops and others have been asking me to send them copies. After coming back from the Pilbara I have been sitting pondering how I was going to get the photos to Karen Higgins at Pilbara TAFE when reading a post on Mosaic Maker by Robyn Jay from NSW Learnscope gave me the answer that was sitting on my computer all the time – Flickr .

So last night I finally got properly into using my Flickr account. I uploaded all my photos from the Pilbara into my account and then sorted them into sets. Now Karen can quickly work through the photos and select the ones she wants to use. Also I now plan to upload more from other events so others can choose the ones they want.

Finally for a bit of fun I checked out the great fd’s flickr toys that Robyn talked about in her post on Mosaic Maker. I decided to give the Motivator a go – which you can use to create a motivational poster from your Flickr photos – fantastic fun and yes I know I am definitely not very creative. Thanks yet again, Robyn, for all the mentoring you give me (and when often you do not realise it.