Sunday, September 12, 2010

Diigo: A Digital Way to Text Code and Enhance Literacy

Implementing some of the new skills acquired during the summer is just one of the many challenges of this new school year. I have been so busy getting the school year up and running. I am teaching some new classes this year so the challenge is always a bit more intense. In addition to these new assignments I am also trying to incorporate some of the new initiatives of my district. As a whole the district has identified literacy as a district-wide goal. It is believed that with an increase in literacy skills students will also see an improvement in their ACT and SAT scores. These tests while divided by subject area are essentially about reading, comprehension and writing skills; all the elements that make up a literate young person. As part of our pre-school year training we all learned to read passages using a technique known as text coding.

Text coding activates the readers' experience causing them to digest the reading in bits and code it according to questions they're trying to answer, experiences or connections they make on a personal level and vocabulary that is important to know. This technique slows down the reading experience, but in slowing it down students are involved in the words in a hands-on way. Having students text code in groups can make the experience social and dare I say FUN. So as a technology literate art teacher I am trying to figure out how I could incorporate all of this, but through the use of technology. My classes do a lot of reading, but most of it is online in the form of web research to help lay the foundation for their projects. That's where Diigo comes in. I've used Diigo before, but this summer learned so much more about the power of this web tool. For more on my initial discoveries see my previous post on the Milwaukee Digital Media Conference (MDMC2010) conference.

Digital Textcoding is just around the corner for my classes. We'll see how it all works. I'm really psyched to try it. With stickies and highlighters and the capture tool students will be able to do as much with their online articles as the students who are reading from physical text books and using post it notes. Diigo even allows you to use different colored highlighters for the information. Organizing students into groups will enable them to share their coding with the rest of the class. Hopefully this will all work. Ultimately I want this to translate into better more developed concepts for students' art project. Visual literacy skills are critical to students who plan to navigate the 21st century. I'll keep you posted how this develops. Let me know if you have any resources or suggestions for implementing this.

Diigo V5: Collect and Highlight, Then Remember! from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Education Chats to Follow on Twitter

Here is a link to some listed education chats on Twitter. Following a chat is a great way to hear from some people whom you might not actually be following officially. There is usually a discussion centered around a question or topic that is proposed earlier. There are usually specific times to meet via Twitter. By including the # mark and the name of the chat you can be assured that your posts will go to that specific chat. For example there is a chat every Tuesday called #edchat. If I post something with the #edchat at the beginning of the tweet it will be part of the chat. This website lists several chats that are ongoing and of interest to educators.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NING is No Longer Free What Will You Do?

I have spent a lot of time and energy creating my ning network for my students. For those who have never used ning, it was a free service where you could create your own social network a la Facebook, but with more safety features. I am already part of several ning networks that I find I can't live without. has been a life line for me as I created new technology saturated curriculum for our art program. The personal learning network (PLN) that I was able to establish through this ning network was phenomenal. I have collaborated with educators from all over the US and China and Great Britain. There are collaborative projects you can join, images of student work, videos that pertain to art education and technology and a lot of support. If you are the administrator of one of these networks it will not longer be free.

I have waited until the last minute to make my decision about Ning because I really had to examine how valuable it was or wasn't in my classroom. If I go with the Ning mini that is being sponsored by Pearson Education for the first year it will still be free, but the ning will be greatly diminished. I will lose the groups function, which for me was the part I used the most as I had a different group for each of the classes I taught. Students posted images, blog posts, videos and answers to research and writing prompts on the ning. This will be gone.

The article Ning: Failures, Lessons and Six Alternatives has some great insights into the evolution of the paid ning network. The part I was most interested in of course were the freebies. As an educator I don't have money to pay for frilly extras and this would in the end become that. I have to be creative and find another way to do the same thing, but for free. That is the joy of web 2.0 isn't it? You can always find a free version of just about everything.

I haven't checked out any of the alternatives yet, but would love to hear from you if you have. What do you use? What will you be doing with your ning? I loath having to do all the work again of setting up yet another network, but if it will be free and maybe even better than ning I will do it. There were often problems with our ning posts and frankly the ning network administrators weren't very timely or helpful in resolving them. I guess you get what you pay for or do you? With the poor track record in resolving problems why would I pay for a product (199.00 a year) that may or may not be serviced in the way I want. I pay for my Flickr Pro account and I get everything I want and more. The ning price tag seems exorbitant and unrealistic for all the educators that are out there.

Would love to hear from you about this...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Photos From MDMC 2010

Milwaukee Digital Media Conference: MDMC 2010

This past week I participated in the Milwaukee Digital Media Conference (MDMC) at the Milwaukee Art Museum. It was definitely an inspiring week.  Being in MAM's Santiago Calatrava addition with the gleaming white Carrera marble and gorgeous daylight spilling in from all sides was breathtaking, but so, too, were the amazing speakers and colleagues I got to meet and learn with all week.  One of the coolest things at this conference was that it was the first time I experienced a conference where I was tweeting and reading tweets throughout.  I had been pretty skeptical of Twitter suspecting that it was nothing more than a scheme to get my information and send targeted marketing to me based on my Tweets and interests.  Of course Twitter is that, but it is also a lot more.

I learned how to use Twitter to take notes in the terse 140 character-phrase required for tweets.  As the speakers were presenting I tweeted what they'd said.  The tweets were tagged with the appropriate #mdmc or #mdmc10 tag which then added them to the list of tweets from other participants including the leaders and some of the speakers.  Can you imagine being able to actually chat with the keynote speaker at a conference?

This was a lot of fun because the insight of the participants provided another level of what was going on.  There were many different sessions so you could be in one session and also follow another session or later go back and read what was posted from those other sessions.  It created a really cool sub-level of connectivity that I'd never experienced before since I'm newer with Twitter.  I don't have an Internet connected phone so this was all happening with my laptop. Twitter as a tool for enlarging your PLN (personal learning network) is something I'd heard and learned, but I hadn't really experienced.  I am finding I almost want to check my Twitter feed more than Facebook.  The part I don't like is it's hard to keep up if you're not online or connected, so I worry what I'm missing.  (would love to have an iPhone! :)) Of course that's where re-tweets come in, RT in Twitter-speak.  You can re-tweet something you read from someone else or if you have a certain person you know has a lot to offer in terms of tweets you can search just for their feed or @name them to get directly to them.  I finally GET why so many people are going crazy over Twitter.

I learned about a lot of new tools at this conference.  I will try to talk about several of them.  I apologize that this is a long post, but there was so much!  During our time at MDMC10 we worked collaboratively with a team of people to apply the training we were receiving to an actual project.  The work that our teams did is posted on a wiki that MAM will actually use to train their junior docents. Chelsea Kelly, School and Teacher Programs Manager of MAM was fantastic in accommodating all of us.

We learned about 2 Timeline tools on the web.  Both are free, but also have paid type subscriptions that offer more depth to the service.  The first was Dipity.  Dipity allows the user to create timelines on any subject.  The timelines can also be viewed as animated e-flip books.  You can add almost any media content to the timelines including images, videos, text and more.  We didn't use this service as there were some issues between the Museum project we were working on and rights to images.  We also learned about Time Rime, a British product that allows you to do timelines with embedded media. It was pretty easy to use and to manipulate.  The final Timeline that our group created is embedded on the wiki.  There wasn't enough time to work through some of the glitches like why some people's content posted to the collaborative timeline, but others' didn't or why some of us got activated accounts and others didn't, yet we could log in.  This is a valuable tool that I hope to use with students and I hope to figure out some of the problem stuff, too.  I could see students even creating their own online portfolio this way to track their progress throughout a semester or a year.

There is a lot more that we worked on and learned about at the conference.  We discussed social bookmarking sites and learned about Diigo.  I have both a Delicious and Diigo account.  If you are in the same boat you can import all your Delicious data to Diigo. I think I like Diigo a lot more than Delicious for the following reasons.  Once the Diigo toolbar for Firefox is installed it is amazing the things you can do.  There are other tools and toolbars for other browsers so if you're not a fan of Firefox you can still use this.  It is so easy to use.  It is also easier I think to organize your bookmarks into groups, tags and lists.  You can join groups, highlight content, sticky note content, create lists to organize your content and more. You bookmarks can be public or private and if you send them to a group or list then those who are part of the group can have access and collaborate with your research and theirs.  Maggie Tsai, the inventor of Diigo skyped in to talk to us and demonstrate the value of the tool.  Diigo is a free web 2.0 tool.  I set up an educator account and hope to use this with my AP students this year to promote their research skills.  I will put the link to the wiki demo they gave us.  Not sure if you have to be member of the wiki to see this or not.  This is the new way to do research I think!

I will talk about more of the conference in a Part 2 post later.  For now I hope you can see that it was an amazing, but exhausting week!!  I will also be posting some photos later.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Social Media In Education From Edutopia

This guest blog article from Edutopia has some great points to make about the role of educators in teaching students about the responsible uses of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The guest blogger, Steve Johnson, made several key points.

  1. It is quickly becoming our duty as educators in the 21st century to guide our students towards responsible use of social media.
  2. Social Media use is becoming our new first impression.
  3. Connected, community based learning is important. By blocking social media use, we are depriving our students of a huge opportunity to allow them to learn in connected ways.
  4. In five years, the filters will be gone whether you like it or not.
Check out the fullpost at Edutopia.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Edutopia Project Based Learning Info

I know that several of my followers from Pewaukee will be piloting a project-based learning model next year at the middle school. Thought you might be interested in this post.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

More from Issuu

I have spent the week sifting through Issuu. It is like this giant library of publications from professionals and just ordinary people. You can browse by subject and bookmark some favorites to use in your own library. Here is one on Color Theory from Eye Magazine, which has always been one of my favorite design magazines.

The information contained in the publication is great and the design of the images and text is beautiful. For art students this is a great intro to color theory that goes beyond just the color wheel. You have to check out Issuu. Next week I hope to develop my own publication using some of my photos. It should be interesting.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Issuu: Wow What a Cool Tool

I have been messing around on the web lately now that school is over.  I was on the Art Ed 2.0 ning that I am a member of and was reading Matt Cauthron's posts.  He is just one of the talented teachers who inspires me on the ning network.  Matt had a link to a site I'd not been to or heard of before.  It is called Issuu and is a place to publish your documents and a place to share documents.  Now you might say well that sounds like Google docs, but this is nothing like Google docs.  You could say well let's you share docs and publish them, but this is different.  Here is the short video that explains the possiblities. 

I am especially impressed with the high quality design of the publications. There are so many possibilities for using this. As an art teacher this could be the free option I've been searching for, for students to create digital portfolios. I will explore further and keep you posted. Check it out yourself and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Death of the Free Web?

I read an interesting article about the death of the free web.  Gone are the days of the wild, wild west so to speak.  The article from the New York Times magazine on Sunday  
was intriguing not only because of the subject, but also for the metaphor that the author Virginia Heffernan used comparing the current Internet to blighted, decaying cities such as Detroit and equating the shiny new apps of the iPhone and iPad as suburbia, where everything is cleaner, but the same.  I'm curious what others think about this. 

In the beginning the web was all about freedom and there was very much an almost anything goes mentality.  Some people responded with creativity while others freaked out with all that freedom, sounds kind of like a classroom full of high school students.  Some can handle freedom while others can't.  The web has become corrupt as those who are going to take advantage of people have found many avenues to do just that.  But censorship and controls aren't necessarily the answer.  Perhaps purchased apps and paid sites give some "safe" havens to people who don't want to be out in the great wide open web.

Apple certainly has taken a lead in the web-based world we live in.  Their design is strong and clean.  I think the "apple-designed look" of all those apps and the way the iPad and iPod look has not only influenced the web, but also graphic design.  There is a certain look and feel to the 2000s that is different from the 1990s.  Grunge and retro designs led by Emigre and David Carson were the rage back then.  This included surf culture, California styles and retro colors of brown, blues and beige and even orange.  Now we're seeing a similar look to everything based on the new web, which Apple has certainly led, but so has Twitter.  The colors, fonts and look of things are all coming not from print design, but web stuff.  I don't know if this is good or bad, but it's certainly happening. 

Going back to the metaphor in the article:  Are the new web based apps making design into this generic "suburbanized" look and feel?  Curious what you think.

Friday, May 21, 2010

AP ART Next Year: I Think We Will Blog Our Journey

I am thinking that I should have my students develop a blog here to track their own artistic development through the AP Art process.  I would love to be able to have students writing regularly and avoid all the endless piles of paper that I have to look at.  I am on the computer all the time and it would be easy for me to read their updates.  I also like the possibility that they could upload images and videos of their work.  I think using the blog in connection with Flickr for doing image slideshows would be sweet!  I may not use it for the entire school year, but I'm really likin' the idea to have them set up blogspot blogs to track their summer progress. 

I meet with my students on Monday and I know they'll be excited for their AP journey to begin.  My classes up to this point have been somewhat computer resistant, but I think with the students I have for next year they have all had some sort of computer course.  I already have a NING network for them and could use the blog feature there, but I sort of like the personalized approach of individual blogs.  I will have to be very clear about the parameters of what gets posted.  It is a journal of course but not about everything in their life.  I think weekly updates would be good.  It will also help me track their progress throughout summer.  I would have to do more grading and time in to read the posts, but AP already requires a lot of my time during the off season.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Final Thoughts; But Not The End of the Journey

I came into this class hoping I wouldn't be bored. I know that sounds sort of presumptuous, but I had a lot of experience and knowledge of many of the web 2.0 tools that we discussed. While the web tools were part of my kitchen drawer of junk, I wouldn't say they were organized in any fashion and they also weren't being used regularly.  This class forced me to go beyond the flickr, wiki, ning comfort zone and try other things.  I think the rediscovery of Twitter, Voicethread and blogging will be the 3 most useful things I learned along with a better understanding of RSS feeds and the way to follow them.  I want to TWEET, TWEET, TWEET and follow more people who can help me learn new things.  I think the fact that we have school accounts for Voicethread will be very powerful and exciting.  I didn't know we and the students did.  I will incorporate Voicethread even more.  I considered possibly using it as an exam tool for digital portfolios.  More to come on that.  The other part that I loved most about this class was the time to try things.  Because it was assigned I was more likely to carve time out to try and to explore and to experiment by building new ways to complete old concepts. 

Some of the challenges for the future will be to continue to carve out time and take risks as a teacher.  There are a lot of time constraints on us and each time you throw your class a curveball with learning to do something new it adds time onto the process of how to learn a concept.  I don't have any issues with student engagement in any of my digitally based classes.  It is rare that students are "goofing around" while surfing because there is a novelty to what it is they are being asked to do.  I keep changing it up adding new things to their web 2.0 repetoire including wikis, nings, voicethreads, animotos, moodle and more.  I wonder if they will still be engaged in 2 or 3 years when we're all teaching online, the mac lab is old and slow (sadly that day will come) and it is rote and ordinary to use the internet to learn.  It will again come down to teacher risk taking and reinventing the way that we hook the kids and get them to stay with us.  Curiosity and creativity will always be the driving force in education regardless of the tools we use to learn and develop our students.

Digital Story Telling One More From My Garden

I was having fun while showing students how to do a Voicethread. Here is one based on some of my garden images. Instead of uploading images from my computer I used the option to upload from my account. It was really easy since I already have my images saved into sets in Flickr. I like the way that so many of the web 2.0 tools are allowing for this seamless movement between each application.

Here it is!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How Would You Shape Teacher Education Programs?

I am passing this one forward.  I saw it on the teach paperless blog.  What a great idea...creating a  grad class for 21st century teachers.  You can visit the wiki that he's set up and join in the conversation.   

A 21C Education... for Teachers.

Here's the question: If you had the opportunity to create your own graduate program in education for 21st century teachers, what would it look like?

I've started a brainstorming wiki: and I'd love folks to contribute ideas. The wiki is open and may be edited by anybody, please share among friends and colleagues and don't be afraid to think way outside the box!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Self Promotion! Sorry But I'm Excited

I know this is just pure unbridled self promotion, but I really am psyched that I have work in an art show coming up soon. I shared the postcard with classmates during class, but I am also going to share the link as well. Stop by the reception on May 22nd if you want to see a really awesome art exhibit by Milwaukee Area Teachers of Art.

I am the web master and president elect for this fantastic group of artist educators. We exhibit as a group 2-3 times a year. The current Spring exhibit is in Milwaukee at the 100 East Wisconsin Building. Check it out if you're looking for something fun to do!  

If you can't make it to the opening reception the exhibit will be up through June 18th.  The lobby is open 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Digital Story Telling

I tend to wait until the last minute (day before class or day of!!) to do these posts because I feel like I need to think about things, play with them throughout the week and then decide what it is I want to say. I am also a typical artist, deadline driven and using every minute of the time I've been given with wet paint right up until the critique! I think of all the things we've learned so far in this class digital storytelling could be the most powerful and meaningful for students to learn and use properly.

Our human society is based on the ancient ability to tell stories. The circle of people around the fire imagining images as they flickered across cave walls is not so ancient if you look around a theatre some weekend while the film and video images reflect off the rapt faces of the 21st century patrons. It is basically the same thing- a good story. The difference is that films have a director and cinematographer and many others to help tell the story. Musical scores and more cause us to feel a certain way, to emulate with the protagonist or to despise their every move. Cavepainting was the first form of visual story telling with oral language and images coming together in crude form. Flash forward to Thomas Edison in the late 1900s and his invention of the moving picture and there a whole new way of telling stories was born. Kodak gave us the super 8 movie camera and allowed people to make movies at home. Stories for the masses...our stories.

Now in the 21st Century anyone can make a movie using the wealth of web 2.0 free digital storytelling sites or some of the fancier more expensive varieties available on a Mac or PC computer. These tools have one thing in common: they make story telling via moving pictures available to everyone. This is powerful stuff.

I am planning to use this information in many of my classes. The project I'll be presenting later will involve a Voicethread and I believe so strongly in the idea of digital storytelling that I've made my exam for all of the tech-based classes I teach a form of this. It is a REAL authentic form of assessment and provides students with skills that will travel with them and take them far.

Our goal as educators is to help our students find their VOICE and join the larger society of humans. By being able to help that voice include images we are empowering kids with an amazing repertoire of tools for the future.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Digital Story Telling in 3D!

Since we were just talking about digital story telling in class I thought this site sounded pretty cool. I have always been a huge fan of pop up books. I love the way they allow for the reader to interact with the story in a low tech, artistic way. I was checking out the and found this link to Zooburst.  It "is a digital storytelling tool that is designed to let anyone easily create their own customized 3D pop-up books. Click on some of the pictures below to check out books created by members of the ZooBurst community."  It was fun to look at the books that members created.  To set up my own account I have to wait for approval by the site.  They accept new members on a rolling basis, so I'll keep you posted when I hear more.  There is also a blog that gives more information about zooburst.  I hope I'm approved!! 

Video Freebies From the Web

Here's the Animoto test video that I made of a few of my students' paintings.

Here is a link to a Voicethread I created last year to document a mural project and partnership that the PHS Art Club participated in.

Here is the voicethread I just created tonight with some images from my flickr Tile A Mile Collection.

Twelve Essentials For Technology Integration

In reading the article "Twelve Essentials For Technology Integration" I was struck by several things. Coming from an art and graphic communications background I am excited by the "design for the masses" web that we are experiencing and learning about, but I am also alarmed and concerned.
  1. Are the generic web templates, animoto-ish movies and voicethreads destroying the sanctity of high quality graphic design.  If everyone can do it themselves then why would they hire a graphic designer?
  2. Is this the end to high quality, unique web design?  Will all design be this generic web 2.0 for the masses look and feel? 
  3. Is this the McDonald's-ization of Design?
  4. Will companies like Adobe, who earn their money making expensive products to create web design and edit imagery and video survive in an atmosphere of free-design-for-everyone?
  5. Will free design and image editing make the masses better consumers of high quality design? 
  6. What I've taught all along is suddenly of value to the masses. As an art educator my knowledge of design principles is important in teaching students how to decipher and communicate visually, so why are so many visual arts jobs being cut around the country?    
 Ok before this post goes off the deep end...let me just say I have been pondering this a lot, visual communication is what I teach after all.  

I decided to experiment with what's out there.  I have already used a number of the highlighted 12 included:  Google docs, Zoho Show, Animoto, Wikispaces, Voicethread and Schooltube.  So I wanted to try something new.  I decided to go with  I have never tried it before and the ability to link to files out on the web that might normally be too, large to embed into moodle or email was appealing.  I have had special needs students whose IEP requires that I share my Powerpoints with them, but to do this via email or moodle is way too, big and requires far too, much time on my part to compress and convert.  So allows you to drop any file, image, video up to 100mb and share the link with anyone.  This is cool as it allows me to give students access to presentations from home or in other classrooms.  The issue of viewing my Powerpoint as my creative property and putting them out there on the web for all to see and stumble upon and use is a discussion for another post! ;)  You can subscribe to the drops as RSS feeds or download them to iTunes if they are video or audio content.  My powerpoint as a file didn't work in iTunes, but if I'd saved as a movie file it would've.  This is cool since it would allow students to view it on their ipods.  If I had more time I'd experiment with this, but I'm in the middle of AP Exam crunch time with kids!  Here is the link on my for the powerpoint on abstract realism.

The second site I tried is one of the do it yourself web design ones called weebly.  It features the ability to easily design a website for yourself and have it posted and uploaded immediately.  You need very little knowledge of design or html to be able to successfully do this.   (sort of disturbing to someone who has an advanced degree in graphic communications and design!!!)  I've already tried Yola and so Weebly sounded similar.  I created a onepage website that is really more like a blog since it doesn't have anything but a journalistic post and an image, but it could grow into something.  I am actually thinking I might make it my official artistic site with links to my images and purchasing info.  It was really easy and intuitive to use this site and the templates were customizable.  I didn't experiment with everything that was there, but I'd like to.  Knowledge of Adobe products like Photoshop and Illustrator can help one create better looking images and graphics to add to the template, taking it to truly unique, although the layout is still somebody else's design, not mine. (yes that bugs me!)This may become my project for the rest of class.  I've always wanted a professional artistic website with my images posted and contact and purchase information.  I'd also love to list exhibits I am in and maybe someday if I teach adult classes, include a schedule of these.  Again using software like Dreamweaver allows you to start from scratch and create whatever you want, but if you're willing to accept someone else's basic template you can be up and running in more time than it takes to sign up for a Dreamweaver class!

I am still pondering a lot of the questions I posed at the beginning of this post.  It is a philosophical discussion to be had over the next few years as the Internet evolves and dictates the visual communications needs of generations to come.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Online Photo Editing

I am a flickr fan from way back. I have had a flickr site for awhile and I'm in my second year of having a pro account. It is hard for me to even look anywhere else because my "love and devotion" to flickr is that strong. Some of the best things about flickr include
1. an inexpensive way to back up my photos online and have access to them anywhere.
2. a great way to gain feedback on my photographic work from fellow artists.
3. a fabulous way to travel the world without ever leaving home
4. a wealth of new ideas and inspiration about art, photography, knitting and all the other hobbies and things I endeavor to do!
5. meeting people from around the world who share my interests.

I love flickr groups and contacts.  I have people looking at my photos from all over.  They offer honest commentary.  Usually in the summer I go back and forth with my contacts, most of whom I've never met in person, but with whom I do share a love of good photography.  The downside of flickr is that it is a bit cumbersome to edit photos with, but I have Photoshop so why would I edit images online? :)

See my flickr slideshow at the bottom of the page.

I decided I'd try new things anyways since that's what this class is about so I visited TagGalaxy and Picnik in addition to revisiting Flickr. TagGalaxy it turns out is based on Flickr and appears to be a 3-dimensional collection of images from flickr organized and grouped by the tags they've been tagged with. I couldn't really get the images to actually download or allow me to do anything with them other than just look at images related to a certain tag. This was interesting for awhile, but didn't allow me to do anything with the images. I also wondered how TagGalaxy got the images from Flickr. I consider some of my photos works of art so it concerns me that someone could just gather things by tags and have them.

Picnik had a lot more image editing capabilities and reminded me of iPhoto. It was a bit annoying to be reminded repeatedly that if I wanted to do more I had to pay for the premium version. I also didn't like that that picnik library doesn't save the edited versions of the images only the original uploads. The edited versions are saved to your computer and then you'd have to re-upload them to use in picnik. There were some cute collages, but most of the ones I liked were part of the premium package.  Here are some of the photos that I edited in picnik.  They had already been edited in Photoshop, but I went a bit farther with them just to try the tools.

Picnik and Flickr are of value for the art room. I already have students using Flickr to save their images and to research other artists and their techniques. I think Picnik could be fun for students to do basic editing. It's interface is based on Photoshop so students would understand it easily and it would give them free tools to use when they're not in the mac lab.

I had a blast with the photofunia site. I could spend a long time there although again knowing Photoshop I could choose to do most of this there. It is fun to see the random results of merging my images with somebody elses. Here's a couple of the results. The dancing gif is my favorite for sheer kitsch!  Unfortunately the animation doesn't appear to be working here.

Hosted by

All the Stuff That Makes The Internet Fun!

This week more than any other thrills me because we get to discuss image editing and photography tools on the Internet.  To me this is what makes the Internet fun.  Back when the web first began so many people's pages were text intensive with the only design excitement being colorful text and weird little html tables.  Now we have so many options for making the web all it is and more.  I think images both moving and still have been a huge part of the explosion of  web 2.0.  If one looks at the history of photography the common average person got excited about it when kodak invented film and made cameras cheap and easy to use for all.  We're experiencing the same kind of revolution now on the web with dyi video, audio and images.

I think creating your own avatar is a lot of fun on Voki. I like how you could import your own images as part of this and customize within. I have a ning network and each student has their own homepage. I could see doing this as an introductory assignment in Digital Photography and Animation, but even in some of the other classes. Setting up the ning network and having a cool photo on your profile page is something we already do at the beginning. Making it talk and move would be even better. I think the podcast sites like ipadio have a lot of possibilities for the classroom. I especially love that they involve using a cell phone. I think students could do interactive presentations for their final critique of work. I am already doing this, but we could add the audio portion that they record on ipadio.

I think the audioboo site could be used in creative ways. While I'm not much of a performer and feel self conscientious recording my voicemail greeting, much less a public boo I think the boos that are out there could be used as audio backdrops for Animation and video. I think you could weave a web of these found audio clips and really go to town with something intriguing and multi-layered. Sound as art would intrigue students and move them beyond the two-dimensional art making plane.

I could see the blogtalk radio being a great resource for classes and personal enrichment. In all honesty I don't think I have the time to start doing a talk radio show, maybe kids could? Art talks? I could see this being used in Art History as a research option. Kids could research an artist and then do a blogtalk broadcast about their findings, maybe have one student play the artist while another conducts the interview.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

RSS Wikis and More

For me the most useful part of class was learning what an RSS feed is and how it works.  I had subscribed to many, but never really understood where they went, how they were saved or how I could ever get back to them.  I wonder where all of my RSS feeds are?  I have often clicked that option on a blog or website and really didn't get where it goes.  If they asked me to save with Google I usually chose the homepage option and so I do have a box of feeds on the iGoogle homepage.  Now that I have a Google reader account too it will be much easier to keep track of the feeds.  I am not sure I will truly have time to read and follow all of them, but I am glad to finally truly comprehend what they are and how they work.  I have another blog that I do just for fun at Wordpress.  On this blog I have enabled RSS as an option for anyone who looks at the blog (readership is pretty small I think), but I really didn't get what this was enabling readers to do.  Glad to finally understand!

Wikis are something I've dabbled in a lot this year.  I used to work as a webdesigner for awhile so anytime I get to "design" again it is a good thing.  They are somewhat restrictive, but I've slowly begun to find examples on the web that are really good.  The wetpaint site has given me another resource to look for examples, especially those that are specific to education.  I also am looking for ways to improve how I use them and what I have students put up on their pages.  This year it was my first year so I used the wiki mostly as a place to do research and to learn how to use different things in our class.  I saw it as a website for the class.  I have a wiki for Animation, Digital Photography and AP Art.  I've tried to make them visually appealing by creating photographic banners that I use at the top of each page.  Eventually I could see doing an entire template that would be uploaded in the background.  I am still learning the code that would allow you to do more advanced things like this.  There are a lot of help sites out on the Internet where people give html code and tips how to go beyond the basics of the wiki.  I am thinking that I may try to get students to do digital portfolio slide shows via the wiki.  Having an online exam with the portfolio might be an option.  I'd also love to partner with another class out there in the world and have them look at the portfolios and get involved in critiquing our work.  The collaborative nature of a wiki appeals greatly to me.

Social Bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Diigo are something I've also been using already.  The only thing I don't like about them is that if you use both the extras that are built into them and are installed to your computer can sometimes interfer with each other.  I have also not yet been able to migrate all of my bookmarks in an organized fashion over to the Delicious Bookmarks.  I probably have too, many bookmarks anyways, but I do go back and use many of them for research and to show students how to do varied art techniques.  Delicious and Diigo haven't always worked with the school network either.  At the beginning of the school year I had searches set up that students couldn't access.  I am hopeful that with the one-to-one wireless initiative students will have access to both sites.  I have used the shared aspect of these sites for Animation class.  I have also benefitted from colleagues sharing things with me.  There is also a groups feature in Diigo that allows you to follow groups of interest and get email updates of posts to the groups.  This has helped me discover more Web 2.0 tools and ways to use them.

One final thing to mention was the You Tube/Google Search Stories that was shown at the end of class.  Sounds like a fun way to track your research.  I have been doing geneaology research lately and this appeals to me as a way to track where I've been visually.  I haven't experimented yet, but plan to.  Stay tuned for my post to the bellafiore you tube channel!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blog Sharing-What Are You Reading About?

I am going to do an entry to share my blogs.  I have loved the whole blog-revolution and have been a follower of many for awhile.  I have learned so much about the web 2.0 and techniques in new media by following blogs.  I have also enriched the hobbies I practice and found communities of artists and teachers to admire and find inspiration from.  A few of the blogs that I follow are:

Teach Paperless which is written by Shelly Blake-Plock (aka R. Richard Wojewodzki).  It is a very challenging and inspiring blog.  I sometimes don't know what he's talking about as he is uber cutting edge in terms of technology.  I also find that the opinions are sometimes abrasively presented, but the wealth of knowledge and the reason for the blog are philosophies that I aspire to as an educator.

Digital Art Education is another blog that I find helpful.  It written by Anne P an artist and art teacher who teaches Digital Photography and Computer Graphics in a high school in Virginia. I think she has a lot of good experience and advice.  I have discovered books worth reading and approaches and techniques that I use in the tech-based art studio courses I teach.

The Mac Lab is fantastic!  If I am ever able to do even half of what this Art Educator has done in terms of technology and quality work I will be thrilled.  This blog is written by Mike Skocko of Valhalla High School in El Cajon, CA. I find Mike's ideas, knowledge of technology and high quality imagery really inspiring.  I think the advanced level of involvement that he demands of his students is also something I aspire to.  Holding kids to a higher requirement is great.  Boredom will never be an option in a classroom that challenges the students.

Lastly is the NING network called Art Ed 2.0 organized by Craig Roland.  This network has connected me with art educators from around the world.  It isn't a blog, but does have a blog component to it.  This is a social network for professional art educators who are interested in learning about and working with technology in the art classroom.  I love this group.  I feel fortunate to have connected with so many talented colleagues.  Craig also has a blog called The Art Teacher's Guide To the Internet .  I have found this to be interesting, but not as much fun as the NING network.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Music Please

I love listening to music on my computer and find that I do this more than with a traditional stereo system.  One of my favorite discoveries has been  Although it wasn't posted as one of our choices to research I had to mention it.  It is similar to Pandora, in that you choose an artist and then they play a station called by that artist's name.  You can customize your own home by the choices you make.  You can love songs and it puts a heart next to it.  Songs you love can then become an option for how you play.  You can also search for all your favorite lost vinyl records and find digital versions of them.  This is especially great if you are a real afficionado of certain versions of concerts etc.  For example, I am a big fan of Judy Garland and I actually found the London Palladium concert and the Carnegie hall concert and was able to listen to both in their entirety without having to pay a fee.  The fact that this is all free is AMAZING!  Of course, if you want to own these songs you'd are given the option to purchase them from the site.  Or you could always go to iTunes.

I like Pandora too, because it has many of the same options.  What I found a bit annoying about Pandora is that when I chose a station based on a certain artist I only heard that artist like once or twice within a 30 minute period.  If you really want to hear that artist this becomes annoying "Are they going to play any Bruce Springsteen on this Bruce station?"  This randomness also is one of the things I enjoy about these two sites because I was introduced to a lot artists that I wouldn't necessarily choose to listen to normally.  This widened my choices in music and also helped me develop some new favorites.

Slacker is one I hadn't tried so I did for this assignment and found it to be very similar to Pandora 
and Last FM.  I guess part of my dilemma is that I tend to be an album-like listener.  That is I usually love to hear the entire album by one artist.  The randomness of the connections these stations try to string together doesn't always make sense to me.  I tend to have memories and imagery that I've associated with a certain artist or song that gets interrupted when I expect one thing and they play another.  So far I think Pandora does the best job of finding similar works on their stations.  Of course if you're paying attention you can always skip the artist they've chosen and move onto the next one.
Slacker  is on right now and I chose the Rufus Wainwright station.  They played my favorite "Hallelujah" (spelling?) and then followed up with Death Cab for Cutie and now Peter Yorn, so that's a pretty good string of stuff.  Now it's the fourth song in and they're back to Rufus so that's great since he's the one I wanted to hear in the first place.  I noticed though that without the premium service I can't click to peek ahead and see the next artist.  You can do that with Pandora.  The available collections of music on these stations seems similar.

During my Animation class we tried the SoundzAbound website. It has a somewhat limited music collection that is less about known artists and more about genres of music.  It is all royalty free so students can included these clips in their multimedia pieces without having to worry.  The most popular part of this site were the sound effects.  They were perfect for adding sounds to animations.  Some students found the lack of real "stars" kind of boring.  

I like the idea that students could customize their choices with these online radio stations.  During most of my art classes we listen to music at some point.  If students have headphones and their own computer this would be great.  If I had one computer at the front with speakers I could play and customize the art stations we like from class to class based on their choices and personalities.  Unfortunately, it seems like these stations don't work really well at school on the network.  They often get slow and keep trying to re-buffer.  Maybe this will change as we upgrade to all wireless networks. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Digital Sojourns: Day One of The Journey

Digital Sojourns: Day One of The Journey

Day One of The Journey

My concept for these entries is to track my journey as a traditional art educator who desires to transform herself into a contemporary 21st century art educator. I am hoping to learn from others and to continue to build my skill base. Learning to create art on the computer is how I began this journey back in 1996 with my first class in computer graphics. From there I earned a certificate in computer graphics and design, worked for a time as a web designer and thought I knew a lot. But the technology world changes every second and the only way to keep up is to be open minded and continue following and learning from all that is out there. This is challenging on a limited budget and in a teaching position. The revolution of the web 2.0 and the do it yourself tools such as blogs, wikis and nings has been freeing. Knowing or not knowing how to do something isn't the only factor. Web design, writing, video, photography and more have all been made available to the masses. You don't need a degree to dabble in all of this, but it does help! This class I am hoping will help me continue to sift through all that is out there. I want to KNOW EVERYTHING! I want to stay relevant and so this class is my attempt to do this. I also want to teach at the college level someday. It is my dream and so I view this as a chance to learn more about the education of adults.