Sunday, June 27, 2010

Oldie But Goodie Just for Fun: Creature Comforts on Art

If you have not seen this clip on art from the Creature Comforts America series, do yourself a favor right now and spend seven minutes watching it.  You won't be sorry -- it's a hoot.  It's been around for about three years now, but it's just too good to let it slip into obscurity.  The Aardman Animation folks recorded interviews with a variety of Americans about their views on art, and then used their signature stop-motion animation to accompany the best responses.  Many instructors for both studio art and art history courses have shown this clip to their students not only for an entertaining change of pace, but also as a departure point for a serious discussion about what art is and the variety of ways that people view and appreciate it.

Buy Creature Comforts America Season 1 here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

YouTube Offers Online Video Editor

It won't replace Final Cut Pro, but now you can perform simple edits on video clips in your YouTube account.  For more information see the announcement on YouTube's blog and the overview at the Getting Started: YouTube's Video Editor page.

As described by YouTube,  the Video Editor lets you:
  • Combine multiple videos you’ve uploaded to create a new longer video
  • Trim at the beginning and / or ending of your videos
  • Add a soundtrack from our AudioSwap library
  • Create new videos without worrying about file formats, and publish the new video to YouTube with one click (no new upload is required)
This is sure to be a popular tool and I am guessing that YouTube will eventually add more features to supplement this basic functionality.  If the comments on the blog posting are any indication, there is great demand for simplifying video production, editing, and delivery.

To dive right in and start playing around with the Video Editor, head directly over to the editor page

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Distributing Teaching Presentations, from JISC

JISC provides yet another helpful advice document, this time on distributing teaching presentations.  Because of its market share dominance among presentation tools, PowerPoint is the main focus of this piece, although some options for Keynote users are mentioned.  The document includes information about SlideShare, PDFs, and screencasting.

The document closes with a noteworthy statement: "It is important to ensure that in making the presentation more widely available the user is not breaching the copyright of the material (including the text) within the presentation."  Slideshare allows you to restrict access to selected people on a contact list, such as students or colleagues.  And of course, the University of Colorado's learning management system, CULearn, provides the same functionality.  Instructors should contact Steve Bailey, our Academic Technology Coordinator extraordinaire, for more information about using CULearn.

Image: Mike Licht,, Portrait with PowerPoint, after Pieter Jansz van Asch, 2009, available from Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Friday, June 11, 2010

COLTT Conference: Wednesday August 11th and Thursday August 12th, 2010

Yeehaw -- here comes COLTT!  Early registration rates are available through July 15th for the Colorado Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference. COLTT will be held Wednesday August 11th and Thursday August 12th, 2010 on the CU-Boulder Campus.  While this is conceived as a regional event, the quality of the programming attracts people from beyond Colorado's borders.  This year's sessions promise to continue the tradition of excellence.  The following is just a sample of the offerings we can look forward to -- see the COLTT Web site for a complete list of sessions.
  • Twitter in Education: What, How, and Why
  • Google Scholar: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Web 2.0 in Practice Across Disciplines
  • Teaching the forgotten aspects of media literacy
  • Death to boring PowerPoints, using Web 2.0 tools
  • Journey to Webinar City
  • Prezi: Finding the forest AND the trees
  • Facilitating Learning with Technology in Diverse Classrooms
  • To Ban or Not to Ban, Digital Distractions in the Higher Education Classroom
  • Digital Pedagogies and the Student 2.0
  • Participatory Media and Civic Engagement
  • Enhancing Class Discussions with FREE Web Tools
In addition to many other great sessions, there will be a keynote address from Adrian Sannier and a featured talk by J. John Cohen. And don't miss the Café Pédagogique, which "provides a forum for public discussion of interesting and controversial issues related to teaching and learning with technology. Several audience members speak for a few minutes on their single most provocative idea, radical move, fondest wish, or related thought-provoking topic, which invariably generates lively small-group and large-group discussions." This year's Café Pédagogique will be held at Carelli's restaurant in Boulder.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

John Steltz's Top Ten 2.0 Tools – 2010

A follow up to my last post: High school teacher John Steltz recently shared his personal list of Top Ten 2.0 Tools on his blog.  His experience and his list are informative for anyone interested in diving into social media in the classroom, whether in secondary or higher education.  His first step toward adopting these technologies was exploring the rather overwhelming site Web 2.0: Cool Tools for Schools (Steltz was overwhelmed by its comprehensive content; I was overwhelmed by its jarring color scheme, but don't let that overshadow the fact that this is a very useful site).  He then began to experiment, and has now used over 35 tools in his teaching so far.  The criteria for his top ten list were how user friendly the tool is and how well it presented itself to the class.

Perhaps most significant for academic educators is the fact that college students are coming into the classroom with these experiences from high school.  More and more they expect a dynamic and collaborative educational environment.  How might we in higher education most effectively build upon the foundations many of these students already possess when they arrive at college?

Image: nickrate, Web 2.0 Collage v2, 2010. Available from Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brian Croxall's Reflections on Teaching with Social Media

Blogs, wikis, Twitter, GoogleDocs, Zotero...  There are many social media tools that instructors are using these days to engage with their students and, more importantly, encourage their students to engage with the course and with each other.  We cannot ignore the Millennials' lifelong immersion in technology, and many studies have shown that this generation of college students tends to learn collaboratively.  Over at ProfHacker, Brian Croxall has posted an interesting piece reflecting on his experiences using these kinds of social technologies in his teaching.

Overall, he believes that adopting the tools is worthwhile, but he cautions instructors to be ready for technical problems from time to time and to watch for tool fatigue.  It's worth noting that, in his experience, students tend to not use these tools for coursework unless they are required.  It's a good reminder that while students these days may be plugged in, they are no more likely to voluntarily engage with these technologies for the class than they are to do their reading voluntarily.  Some will; many won't.  These are simply tools.

Brought to you by the Chronicle of Higher Education, ProfHacker is a great blog for those interested in using technology to enhance pedagogy.  It "delivers tips, tutorials, and commentary on pedagogy, productivity, and technology in higher education, Monday through Friday." Its content categories are editorial, profession, teaching, productivity, wellness, software, hardware, analog, and reviews.

Image: webtreats, Black Ink Grunge Stamp Texture Social Media Icons, 2009, available from Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bulk Uploads and Downloads in Flickr

Do you wish you could upload and download images to and from your Flickr account more quickly?  Let me tell you about two tools that can make your life easier:

Flickr Uploader lets you upload images in batches, also giving you the opportunity to provide tags, titles, descriptions; select or create sets to include the photos in; and establish certain settings such as safety levels, content type, and who will see the photos.  Don't forget that free Flickr accounts are limited to 100 MB, whereas the annual subscription-based Flickr pro account permits an unlimited number of images in your account.

Bulkr is a third party tool that allows you to download images in batches.  You can easily create backups of all of your Flickr images.  Simply download the tool and launch it -- you will be asked to authenticate to your Flickr account and then grant permission to Bulkr to access your images.  Next, you can select your entire photostream, specific images, specific sets, or images marked as favorites.

You may also wish to use Bulkr to download images from other users who have authorized this under a Creative Commons license.  To do this, simply select the Flickr tab at the top of the Bulkr window.  Notice that you can search by keyword, and select Creative Commons under the License heading.  You can also search by individual users, groups, or explore by date the photos deemed "interesting" by Flickr.

Flickr Uploader and Bulkr are free tools, available for either Mac or Windows platforms.  I have used them both with success -- they are easy to download and use.

We'd like to hear from you if you are a fan of other Flickr tools.

Bulkr tip via Guiding Tech