The MorgueFile: Free images

Modeling digital literacy is HARD.  One of the hardest parts (for me at least!) is finding good images that are free to use without copyright infringement.  Quite often I just don’t have the time to find sources and reference them properly, so I end up not using any images at all (or unfortunately, using education as an excuse to use whatever I want, even though I’d probably jump all over my students for that!).  So what are we to do?

Well, my new favorite source of great images is the MorgueFile.com.  A site with high quality images for use by anyone needing reference source material.  The description on their site at the bottom of every page is:

This morgue file contains free high resolution digital stock photographs and reference images for either corporate or public use. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for illustrators, comic book artist, designers, teachers and all creative pursuits.

Most of the photos at the MorgueFile.com come with their own modified CC license that allows users to use and modify images without even needing attribution (although it’s always appreciated).  

About the only thing you’re not allowed to do is claim the photos are your own or use them in a stand alone manner.  For teachers this is great!  Grab a part of a photo, work them into a website design, or clip it to fit a worksheet, but do modify them to suit your own work.  (If you use a Mac, then masking and transparency can be a quick easy way to modify it right within the document you are creating.)

Here are a few examples of great pictures available at the MorgueFile.com:

Blue Circuit Board by ppdigital

Photo by Jane M Sawyer

Photo by Ivan Melenchon Serrano

Photo by Penywise

Dropbox

I’m sure many of you are aware of Dropbox, so I’m not really going to spend much time explaining how to set it up, but I really felt that I needed to include a quick post extolling it’s many virtues in order to slot it into my Top 5 #edtech tools!  If you’d like to sign up for Dropbox, then head on over to Dropbox.com.

If you want a full run down on how to use Dropbox, from the simple to the very advanced, then I suggest that you head over to The Ultimate Dropbox Toolkit & Guide.

If you’re not already using Dropbox for your #edtech life here are some reasons I suggest you investigate it!

  • Great way to have access to all your files from any computer at school, home, and your mobile devices.
  • Host your own class website (I use mac iWeb to create my site, and Dropbox to host it.  You can check out my G7 Maths page here if you like)
  • Keep important documents synced to your phone or iPad for easy access.  I keep my daily schedule as a PDF synced and ready to go!
  • Use it with a PDF annotator on your iPad to grade student work and send it back.
  • Share files by sending simple links rather than attaching files.  This is great for sharing files too large to email.
  • Use sendtodropbox.com to create a virtual inbox that students can submit attachments to via email.
  • Syncing just about anything you can think of!  The Ultimate Dropbox Toolkit & Guide has a ton of ideas.

 

Posterous: Class blog with no logins!

I have 2 rules for using technology in my classroom:

  1. send students to as few external sites as possible, and
  2. no new usernames and passwords!

That’s why I love embedding so much.  However, what are you supposed to do when you want students to share blog posts and comment?  Surely you must need to have them sign up to a blog service?  No longer!  Posterous steps in and fills this void nicely with a simple, but elegant solution that allows users to manage a blog that others can post to via email.  As a teacher, you can manage what Posterous calls a Space, and invite students via email to post blog entries.  Students simply send an email to a simple email (yourblogtitle@posterous.com).  Students can even include pictures and videos in their posts which will show up on the post.

To get started, head over to Posterous.com, where you will be asked to sign up.

Once you have created a login, you will see the following menu on the left side of the screen.  Select MANAGE SPACES.

This will bring up a list of all of your spaces, and on the right hand side you will see the option to create a new space.  You can choose to create Public Spaces that are open for everyone to see, or Private Spaces.  Private spaces will even allow you to password protect your site should you choose to.

When you create your site you will give it a name, and it will then create a suitable URL.  Your URL will be linked to the email students will use to post, so you may want to keep it as simple and easy to remember as possible.  You can always change the URL later through the setting menu though.

Once you have create a space, you might want to fiddle around with the settings.  If you select manage spaces you should get a screen that allows you to change the basic settings.  There are about 40 different themes to choose from, and you can select the options you want for posting and comments.  If you are setting this up as a student blog, then I suggest that you have CONTRIBUTORS CAN POST, and ANYONE CAN COMMENT selected.  MAKE SURE you have checked the  MANAGE COMMENTS tick box though to prevent spam and any other outside sources commenting on your class blog.

After you have set up your Space, you can invite students, parents, teachers, etc to post to your blog.  Click on the MANAGE MEMBERS tab on the right side of the page.

You will be asked to ADD PEOPLE TO YOUR SITE.  Simply copy/paste in your students emails, and select the CONTRIBUTORS tab.  I might suggest adding parents as FOLLOWERS so that they can see their student’s work, but not interfere in the discussion.

Students will receive an email, and be able to start posting via email immediately!

If you’d like, you can go to my G7 Math blog, where I have a specific post for my students explaining how to post using email.  (NOTE: This site will be up and running Term 2, so currently there are no student posts!  They’ll be there around mid-January if you’d like to check back then).

I have successfully posted from Gmail, my iPhone with a photo attached, and my iPad with a video attached.  My class webpage simply has a link to the blog, so students still only need one website, and one login (their emails).

If your not interested in starting a class blog without logins, but want students to make some simple webpages, you might want to check out my recent post on CHECK THIS.

Twitter

Twitter is by far one of the most useful PD tools I have come across.  I was at first skeptical, and like many thought it was for finding out when celebrities did silly things.  One of my colleagues convinced me to try it out for educational resource sharing, and I haven’t looked back since!

Twitter allows you to follow who you want to follow.  It also allows you to look where you want to find information.  Use hashtags to find relevant information (#edtech, #edchat, #math, #science, #flippedclassroom, #etc).

Personally I use a twitter feed embedded into my class page to send quick updates without having to access the page code.  That allows me to share information with students quickly, without them having to have a Twitter account.  Those that do have accounts can also share with others on the class page.  This in combination with Google Calendars means I don’t really need to edit my main class page all year!

It’s a bit tough if you’re using WordPress to embed a Twitter Widget, but if you use another platform such as Moodle, Google Sites, Blogger, or any program that let’s you embed objects, then you can easily include custom searches or profiles.  You can check out my G7 Science homepage if you’re interested to see how I use it on a regular basis.

Scribd

I can’t believe that I have not fallen in love with Scribd sooner!  It’s was one of those in-one-ear-out-the-other kind of websites I had heard mention of, but never really paid attention to.  That is until I decided to once and for all solve the problem of embedding PDF’s into my webpage.  I was sick of copy/pasting out the information, or trying to screen capture and upload jpgs.  So after a bit of googling, I found a mention of Scribd and decided to test it out.  Within 5 minutes I was hooked.  


It was dead simple to upload my PDFs, and it even automatically created a user for me after it detected my Facebook account.
When you select the UPLOAD button, it will take you to an upload page allowing you to choose to upload files from your computer, from Google Docs, or even by typing them on the fly.
Once you upload your file, you have the option of tagging it for future searches, and can decide whether or not the document will be made public or private.
After you have clicked SAVE, you can access the document by clicking on the BLUE file name of your document.  This will take you to the document page, and will give you some great options.  In the top right corner of the page it provides with a single button click to change the privacy setting (one of my favorites!); upload a revised version of the file; print; or create collections.
Further down on the right side are the sharing options.  You can share via Facebook, Twitter, or get the EMBED code.  I also like how it provides you with ‘shelves’ of documents that you have uploaded, and of other similar work.
Once you have selected EMBED, you will be given the code that you can copy/paste in to the EMBED GADGET on your Site or Moodle page.  The final result will look like the document below.  One of my favorite features is FULLSCREEN view option.  It is such a nice clean view of the PDF I don’t think I will ever ask my students to download smaller PDFs again!  In fullscreen you also have the option of viewing in BOOK mode, which is quite fun, and would work well on an iPad I would imagine.  

This will also change the way that I will create resources.  I already like to PDF my worksheets, but now I can focus all my energy there, and then in 2 minutes have it integrated into my class page.