Test Getty Embed

Lisa Lane Diigo-ed The Verge article about Getty Images’s new free embed licence.
Here is the link to Getty’s page advertising the new service.  The embed code adds the appropriate credit – and will probably embed adverts and data collection in the future. Clicking the image takes you back to Getty’s site where you can purchase the image for commercial use.

I’m testing it here.  It appears I can edit the embed code to change the size of the image. No need to calculate the proportions too carefully, it doesn’t seem to distort no matter what you do.  Appears it takes the lowest value (width or height) and scales the image to that even if the other dimension is wildly out of range.

Original embed code is h=407 x w=507 pixels

Here’s the same image set to a carefully calculated 75% size of h=305 x w=380

Here it is set to h=200 x w=1200 – notice that it still stays perfectly proportioned

Oh, guess what.  I just discovered I could drag to resize the image.  Grab the placeholder by the corner handles; the code adjusts itself.  This one started as the default w=507 x h=407, but dragging  changed the values to a thumbnail-sized w=127 x h=100.  Kind of scrambles the image credits, though. Besides this looks smaller than 100 pixels high.

Hmmm, I wonder why WordPress changes the code so height comes before width, when Getty’s original has width first.

One drawback is that word-wrap is gone. So is the Left, Centre, Right image-placement option.  In a comment on The Verge article, “jomamma” said you could edit the WordPress CSS to bring back word-wrap.  Maybe.  It’s beyond me for now.

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Rhizomatic Orality – conversation

booksbooks is my most favouritest way of all to delightfully waste time – expecially “indulgent trash” (spies, mystery, & sci-fi).

The premise, Is Books Making Us Stupid? (from week 4 of #Rhizo14 ) “just hit my berserk button.” (to quote from Haley Campbell when she rightfully took great exception to my calling it “indulgent trash” in an unrelated blog post some time ago)

Here I was just concluding that I need to subject myself to more D&G, Skinner, Mezirow, Brookfield, Knowles, Papert, etc. to get a deeper grounding in learning theory and jargon. Seriously, YouTube is where it’s at after all? For most lectures, including TedTalks, I want a transcript to scan the point in a fraction of the time it takes me to listen. Shallow? I think of it as efficient. I confess though, listening to Dave Cormier’s verbal explorations has a lot more “pull”.

I’m now challenged to reflect on orality in my own life. Childhood. Farming & Gardening. Facts of Life. All oral. Learning the largely-unwritten Tlı̨chǫ language as an adult on the trapline and in hunting camps filled my meaning of the expressions with images, smells, and cold instead of equivalent marks on paper. I lost my frustration with Aboriginal legends when I finally laid aside my Euro-centric demand that every moral and lesson be explicated. Orality is flexible, adaptable, but to a print-oriented society, is also undependable with a whispering-down-the-lane kind of unreliability. Uncertainty in my worldview was characterized as weak, probably slippery and devious, therefore to be rejected. I’m getting over it, convinced in part by the tremendous harm done by some kinds of certainty.

Back to this week’s premise. Books require the same Rheingoldian (or should that be Postmanesque?) “crap detector” we apply to anything else. I think it is our undue reverence for the bound printed page, not books themselves that hinder rhizomatic exploration of learning. Some day I’ll have to write about my ambivalence toward textbooks and syllabi.

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Rhizomatic Independence – Elusive

Stephen Downes, reflecting in  OLDaily on a study of emotional affordances in a MOOC, urged “a need for participants to become more self-reflective.”   Yeah, I’ve been a butterfly, or a shallow root/spindly shoot popping up here and there, mostly in FB, but occasionally going on a blog-reading binge.  Or intending to go on a blog reading binge, then the first thing I read cries out for a comment, and I’m stuck for a half hour or more trying to get my thoughts into words – does this make my point, do I mean what I ended up writing, no – this is trite and that’s overstating my position, how do I get my point clarified?

So, trying to take Stephen’s admonition to heart, what did I think and learn about independence with my limited participation in week 2 in Rhizo14?  I heard Dave Cormier admit in our hangout that he thinks “RE-inforcing” would be a better verb than enforcing, but he couldn’t resist provoking a discussion. I learned that I still have a long way to go with realizing the ideals of independence I hope to teach my adult literacy students. To enforce independence at this point would be like abandoning them. (did I write that somewhere else? sounds familiar) So I need to keep the idea of autonomy before them while providing a support structure.  I keep looking for tools.  Technology holds some promise.  Text-to-speech allows them read the newspaper without getting bogged down.  It’s even delightfully like cheating, taking a shortcut around sounding out words, all the while subversively allowing them to enjoy reading.

I myself am only a partially independent learner, given my reaction to Dave’s proposal in the survey to cut the formal course to 4 weeks.  I have what seem like revealing insights, get excited about something I’ve discovered, but hearing myself writing posts and talking in hangouts, it sounds flat and shallow to me.  Like Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz on his deathbed.

So now I’ve faced my limitations, What will I do to keep learning?  It may be slow going but it’s rewarding to participate and feel included in the community. Even if I’m not a major contributor, I will keep joining.  Only in hindsight do I realize some of what I’ve gained.

Quotes found in my flitting about this week – linked to the owners’ blogs

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Rhizomatic Pragmatism – a Contradiction?

“When what’s on your cell phone is more important Google winsthan what’s in the library, we’re challenged to say how do we do education differently, because if it’s about delivery of content, Google wins over teacher every day.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yellowknife-parents-teachers-talk-education-renewal-1.2451853
GNWT director of education renewal John Stewart addressing a December 2013 meeting of parents and educators in Yellowknife.


I’m really looking forward to Dave Cormier’s Rhisomatic Learning “joining-in-with-me” (aka “course”) at P2PU.  He begins with a question about, “…how we can learn in a world of abundance?” Cormier offers the wandering rhizome as a metaphor for learning via a connectivist community, contrasting it with the tree – a metaphor for learning from monolithic authority.

The learners to whom I am responsible are not in Higher Education.  They never got there because the system was unable to accommodate their different way of learning.  Cormier proposes that we might be brave and decide that “important learning is more like being a parent, or a cook than (memorizing a bunch of out-0f-context facts)“.

This leaves me grappling with some pragmatic questions/issues (while questioning whether “pragmatic” contradicts or complements “rhizomatic” learning):

  • How might this apply to my world of remedial adult education?
  • What could Adult Literacy & Basic Education look like in a world of abundance?
  • How may people who are living with brain injuries and trauma participate in the feast of information and knowledge available?
  • How will they know that they are learning when it doesn’t look like “school work”?
  • What venue is available for them to tell their stories of struggle, hope, and disappointment?
  • Who cares about what they offer to society?
  • Dare I attempt to break with the education-by-authority model that has failed my students and try drawing them into an inter-connected learning community.
  • And where will I find a compatible community for them to connect to?
  • Or should I be reckless enough to try helping them form a community to which others will feel comfortable joining?
  • Is my use of “helping” a subconscious condescension?

These are not entirely new thoughts or questions prompted only by the upcoming course.  My students have been posting their creations to YouTube, SoundCloud, StudyStack, and of course Facebook.  It seems to be going in the right direction, but frustrating to measure by traditional assessments. Perhaps the rhizome will yield some satisfaction if not answers.

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Time Warp

Time spent in Digital Imaging bears no relationship to time the real world.

In the last few weeks I’ve dived into three different projects for Adobe’s online *course, Digital Creativity in the Classroom. In each project, after spending a reasonable hour or so working up an idea, learning state-of-the-art software, and executing the project, I came back to the surface of the real world, only to find that an entire evening, or in one case an entire Saturday, had passed me by.  The flash animation shown above, assigned for the second week, took parts of three days.  It was my most satisfying accomplishment, and my first use of Adobe Flash.

In spite of the huge time commitment, the course was well worth it for the following reasons:

  • Learning new software with others is exciting because it opens your eyes to possibilities you would not imagine on your own
  • It focused on creative uses of digital imaging to engage students, engagement being one of my primary concerns as an adult educator
  • Connection with a supportive community of practitioners and learners encouraged me to try more and take more risks
  • Numerous tech tips gave a short-cut past digging everything out of tutorials on my own – participants also shared useful links they’d discovered
  • I got to view spectacular examples from guest experts on the show
  • The facilitators Roxana and Kelly keep the tone of the live sessions informal yet informative – a very comfortable learning environment


Big & Small image

AARRRGGGHHH Mini-Me x 3 giving me grief

The first project, a still-image “Big and Small” assignment involved smart selection and multiple layers in Photoshop.  Mediocre inspiration knocked gently after the live session demo, and I was able to shoot, edit, and publish my image in a single real-time evening – that ended after midnight.

But THE time-suck champion was a 30-second movie-trailer-style book review of War and Peace I assembled with Adobe Premiere.  I have always reserved a bit of skepticism for Adobe Education Exchange, expecting to be ambushed by product promotions.  I didn’t get ambushed.  I got seduced.  Subscribed to the Creative Cloud.  Busted my bandwidth limit downloading Premiere Pro.   Then spent the better part of a week (when not at my job) brainstorming, shooting, recording, cutting, morphing, and cramming my ideas into the time limit imposed by the assignment rubric.  It took almost as long as reading this best-known of Tolstoy’s novels.

Since you won’t understand it without help, the fast-talking disclaimer at the end (which I think is terribly clever and funny and don’t want you to miss) originally read:
Warning: may contain scenes of nineteenth century moral impropriety, implied violence, and extreme cruelty to horses and wolves.  Readers may suffer disorientation and confusion.  Names are impossible to pronounce and even more difficult to remember.  Lead character may be referenced by surname, Christian name, familial pet name, title, rank or patronymic or any combination thereof. Portrayals of nobility and serfs are not necessarily approved by the People’s committee for equal opportunity.  Dueling with pistols should only be attempted under responsible adult supervision.  Winter attacks on Moscow should only be attempted by those who have achieved global megalomaniac status.
but I had to redact portions.

Without a hard copy of War and Peace, I had to make a fake movie prop. I told the truth. I’m a little over half-way through the electronic version of the book, reading it on my iPod.  And yes, it is the ultimate bathroom reader.



*Just realized I have not heard anyone refer to this course as a MOOC

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Tolstoy …more

My intention to blog Tolstoy’s War & Peace chapter-by-chapter in Dan Bergstein style got derailed.  War and Peace turns out to be a fascinating read.  I was all the way to chapter 5 before I remembered why I started reading it.  By the end of Book I, I realized I wasn’t going back and starting over just to blog it.

This fall I took an online course, Adobe Generation Professional:Digital Creativity in the Classroom.  The creativity theme overlaps nicely with CMC 11 and keeps challenging my notions of playing by the rules.

The week 3 video assignment (in Premiere of course) was to do a 30-second book trailer.  Below is my tongue-in-cheek try at the assignment – and my first use of Adobe Premiere Pro.

I had 60 seconds worth of ideas that are crammed into the allowed 30 seconds.  I cut out some and compressed other parts.  While I’d like to rework both a longer and a cut version, I must move on to the next week’s assignment.

In the interest of clarity, the full script for the disclaimer originally read: Warning: may contain scenes of nineteenth century moral impropriety, implied violence, and extreme cruelty to horses and wolves. Readers may suffer disorientation and confusion. Names are impossible to pronounce and even more difficult to remember. Lead character may be referenced by surname, Christian name, familial pet name, title, rank or patronymic or any combination thereof. Portrayals of nobility and serfs are not necessarily approved by the People’s committee for equal opportunity. Dueling with pistols should only be attempted under responsible adult supervision. Winter attacks on Moscow should only be attempted by those who have achieved global megalomaniac status.

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Oh, Why Not?

Have been debating whether to register for POTCert again.  Tempting to keep my evenings for leisure until demands of work increase – as they surely will in another month.  Should I engage when in all likelihood I won’t complete all the modules nor blog every week?

Well, why not?  Staying connected just has too much value to worry about saving face.  I’ve already defended participation for it’s own sake (http://wp.me/s1xsA3-dropout).  Besides exploring the possibilities of Google Sites that this year is revealing, I’m looking forward to exchanging ideas and adapting what I learn to my unconventional situation and technological challenges.

I teach Adult Literacy and upgrading in Whatì, a tiny fly-in community in Canada’s Northwest Territories. In spite of 20th-century infrastructure, the Internet permits global learning connections for those tenacious enough to persist.

Whati Map

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Open letter to an online learner mistakenly self-identifying as a “dropout”

As mentioned in a previous post, several colleagues joined me in the Coursera/University of Toronto course, “Aboriginal Worldviews and Education” back in February and March. (an excellent course by the way – fodder for another post) Our cohort tried to get together online and by teleconference for a weekly discussion. Some were unable to participate as fully as they’d hoped because of family and work responsibilities. One has kept up a correspondence with me expressing regrets and subtle guilt over dropping out. Below is my most recent email to this colleague.

A frequent criticism leveled at MOOCs is the low completion rate. I consider that criticism muddled and unfair. Like you said, you signed up knowing you might not have time to completely participate, because it was free. I say, THAT IS OK.
I disagree with “you don’t want too many people like that signing up”. If 9 out of 10 will drop out, isn’t it much better to have 1500 sign-ups than 150?  Signups in these courses cost nothing (except the time invested by the participant, so that’s his/her own business, not the critic’s).

You signed up and found out it was a really great course. That alone was a benefit to you. Beyond that, you continue to engage in this conversation and evidence a strong desire for more participation in the future. Much better you should sign up and find out, than not sign up out of fear of being seen as a failure.

It is totally unfair that the stigma of failure that falls on college students who, having invested time and money traveling to campus and paying fees*, drop out because of inadequate preparation, unfair I say to place that stigma on someone who signs up to a free course to “see how it goes”. Now, I have serious questions about the justice of the stigma placed upon the former as well, but it has even less legitimacy when it is imputed to a voluntary participant who is satisfying a curiosity that may or may not lead to becoming an active member of a learning community this time.

So don’t feel bad about dropping out. I celebrate that you engaged.

Edit: After reading Vanessa Vaile’s comment, I have edited my original title which was,
“Open Letter to a MOOC dropout”.


*Stephen Downes www.downes.ca/post/58698

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Twitter Chatter

This started as a FaceBook reply and grew into a blog post.  I’ve had a Twitter account for 2 years but only started using it recently. Others have posted far superior step-by-step Twitter instructions (see Christopher Lehman So You Think You Want to Tweet Chat or a this 2010 blog post “How to Attend Twitter Parties“)

This isn’t so much a how-to as a “what I’ve learned” from one novice to other novices. Corrections are welcome.

1. If you are just creating your Twitter account, consider the length of your Twitter name.  Even though your name is not counted in the 140 characters of your own posts, the length does become significant when someone uses your name in a reply or retweet.  You may not want a totally anonymous one like I chose back when I was more paranoid about privacy, @xb7r, but mine has the virtue of leaving more room for someone who replies or retweets me than if I had chosen a long descriptive name like say, @connectedEducator.

2. Instead of just using your twitter.com page for reading and tweeting, consider using a Twitter client (aka Twitter aggregator). Tweet Deck is my current favourite. It displays multiple columns so you can follow different users or tags simultaneously – you can even have a column to show tweets from other people who mention you (so you don’t miss replies). It also automatically shortens links you insert, saving a side-trip to bitly.
Another great tool is TweetChat – no download or install, it runs in a browser. TweetChat displays only a single column filtered by a hashtag, but is ideal for Twitter chat sessions because it automatically adds the hashtag to anything you tweet.

3. Tweet Deck is free, available for desktop/laptop or for mobile devices. I installed an older version of Tweet Deck on my Windows computer because I heard complaints about changes made since Twitter acquired the software. I got it from here http://www.oldversion.com/windows/tweetdeck-0-38-2
I run the latest Tweet Deck from the app store on my iPhone. It’s great for following at conferences, but I can’t one-finger type rapidly enough to fully participate in a twitter chat session. You can also run Tweet Deck on the web (in a browser) at http://www.tweetdeck.com/ but I found that unsatisfactory.

Three points of advice is enough.  Here’s something I tried and liked it.  In Carol Yeager’s CMC11 Twitter chat-session earlier today, I ran TweetChat in a narrow browser window side-by-side with Tweet Deck in its own window.

tiled twitter aggregators

screenshot – tiled for chatting

Tweet Deck updates more quickly when there is lots of traffic, where TweetChat lags behind by a quarter of a minute or more.  I typed my own tweets mainly in TweetChat though, because I am prone to forget the hashtag under the pressure of a rapidly flowing conversation.

One thing I’ve experienced is that TweetChat slows my computer after a while, even freezing me for several seconds at a time if I let it go on too long. Seems to be worst when following a very rapidly flowing conversation. Closing and reopening the web page seems to solve the problem for me. I can’t find any mention of it in a search.  Would appreciate hearing if anyone else has experienced this.

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Digital Apocalypse

Jim Groom opened kicked down a door at the end of 2010.  DS106 was the apo kalupsis which tore away the veil that had concealed the sumptuously rich, and often darkly funny nature of digital storytelling from my perception.  Prior to yanking the covering from my eyes, video documentary was all I could imagine when I heard the term.  Lost as I was amid the ’80′s pop-culture references in the course, and even though I had to drop active participation after a few weeks, I still caught the ds106 virus badly enough to forever inoculate me against any concept of boundaries to digital stories.

Enter etmooc 2013 with a second chance.  To my great dismay, the weeks of Digital Storytelling with luminaries Jim Groom and Alan Levine conflicted with my College’s in-service, and once again I’m struggling to just skim a little cream off the minimal interaction I can afford.  Here are a couple of new ventures for me.

When I stumbled upon Dean Shareski’s “My Amazing Story of Connectedness” in a  tweet to @cogdog (Alan Levine), I surrendered to the urge to do one of my own – although I failed miserably at the challenge to complete it in 5 minutes.

I kept hearing references to Storify, so decided to give it a whirl to document my twitter goof-ups. (@AlisonSeaman suggested it’s also a six-word story: twitter learning, premature send, missed tags.) Storify lets you drag & drop selected bits from social media into a storyline.  It’s one of those low-threshold Web 2.0 apps.  I found it ridiculously easy to assemble, but that doesn’t mean I did it quickly – always gotta second-guess myself.
Last evening I attempted to export it to WordPress for this blogpost, only to discover that Storify’s export feature created and published a complete post here.
Eventually I found the embed code on Storify, so here’s my second compilation, a twitter exchange that started at the Canadian Moodle Moot.


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