Becoming “Twitterate”: A Glossary

January 10, 2017

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A Twitter+ Glossary

“Becoming ‘Twitterate’: A Glossary” by Julia Hengstler available as PDF & used under Creative Commons-BY, NC, SA–license here . Note: Some definitions adapted from Hengstler, J. (2011). Managing your digital footprint: Ostriches v. eagles. In S. Hirtz & K. Kelly (Eds.), Education for a Digital World 2.0 (2nd ed.). Open School/Crown Publications: Queen’s Printer for British Columbia, Canada. Available at http://bit.ly/1s92ivc .

Account. A Twitter account is necessary to post content or engage in Twitter conversations; an account can be created by an individual or group, and pseudonyms are possible; you do not need an account to view others’ publicly shared Twitter content; beware of ‘fake’ accounts; an account is like a plant and should be tended (participate in posting content and exchanges with others) to be healthy.

Block. Process whereby you prevent another account from being able to follow you, add you to their Twitter lists or see your tweets while they are still logged into Twitter; if your Twitter account is public, blocked users, are able to access your Twitter page content via a browser and see what you’ve posted there; the other user will still be able to mention you (@yourusername) in their tweets & you will not receive notification; not knowing what others say about you is not always best.

Client. A software program that allows you to access and use your Twitter account; the basic client is provided by Twitter (www.twitter.com ); other clients like Tweetdeck, or Hootsuite, provide extended functions and features; some clients are free & some fee based while others have a blended approach.

Deactivaction. Process of killing your account; once deactivation is requested there is a 30 day window for deletion; you can reactivate an account that is still in the 30 day grace period.

Digital footprint. Traces or records of a person’s online activities that may be aggregated to create a profile about a person (including groups/organizations); footprint data collected may be active—content voluntarily contributed by a person—or passive—data collected about a person by a second or third party—or second-hand—contents others contribution about you.

Direct Message. Original post by a Twitter user to another user considered a “private” communication; content usually prefaced by “D” or “DM”; users may only direct message those who are following them; a DM is not visible to followers or on the webpage version of any public accounts; it is very important to understand that the privacy of such direct messages can only be assumed and never assured; users are still able to cut/paste or screen capture such ‘private’ content.

EdChat. A subset of Twitter Chats (see Twitter Chat)  that are educationally themed; each chat has its own hashtag (see Hashtag; e.g. EdChatDE= edchat Germany); the original #edchat started in 2009 to help educators stay current with developments in the field; currently there are many variants, while many are geared to K-12 education, there are a number of post-secondary ed chats (e.g. #CdnPSE=Canadian Post Secondary Education chat; #digped=Digital Pedagogy chats hosted by Hybrid Pedagogy: A Journal of Teaching & Technology, #higheredchat, #msachat =social justice in higher ed; #fycchat = freshman youth composition; #HELiveChat=higher ed chat sponsored by UK’s The Guardian) (See http://www.onlinecollege.org/2012/09/09/50-great-twitter-chats-academia/ ); often a ‘host’ Twitter account is created like @Cdnedchat for #Cdnedchat  that happens on Mondays 5 pm PST/8 pm PST.

Follow. Act of subscribing to receive content from a particular Twitter account in your timeline; anyone can follow any other account’s public Twitter feed at any time—unless an account has blocked you (See Block).

Follower. Person or group subscribing to receive content from a particular Twitter account; if a Twitter account is public, people can see who the account follows—this can reflect on your digital footprint (See Digital Footprint).

Handle. Your chosen username preceded by the “@” sign (e.g. Julia Hengstler’s handle is @jhengstler); you pick your username—choose wisely, especially if you will be using for professional purposes; remember that even if not for professional purposes, it is likely your twitter account can & will be connected to you.

Hashflags (and Twitter Emojis). Twitter has sets of icons that can be embedded in a Tweet; some icons are commissioned/purchased for use during advertising campaigns (hashflags) while others are more basic (emojis); paid icons are enabled for a specific event/occasion; paid icons go through periods of being active so when the ad or event campaign ends, the tweets (even old ones) will lose their icons but keep their hashtag text—which allows Twitter to re-cycle icons for future uses;  began in 2010 with World Cup to represent countries by flags; to further complicate matters, not all platforms support the images (e.g. visible on Twitter.com but not in TweetDeck or third party apps); if you want visuals in your Tweets, you can also cut & paste them from sites like https://www.piliapp.com/twitter-symbols/ .

Hashtag. A keyword preceded by the “#” sign associated with a tweet to make it more discoverable, or to support aggregation of tweets on a particular topic (like putting a handle you can grab on a box); more than 1 hashtag can be associated with a tweet (e.g. #postsecondary #education #highered); hashtags ‘count’ for your 140 character limit; there are commonly used hashtags, but you can also create your own like #oltd506 for VIU’s Education course, OLTD 506; it is a good idea to investigate if a hashtag you’re thinking of using is already in use and if so what it’s associated with.

Like. When you endorse a particular tweet, retweet, or reply (See Tweet, Retweet, or Reply), by clicking the “heart button”; your ‘likes’ are listed in the “Likes” tab of your Twitter profile page (See Profile); other people can see your “likes” from your profile page; what you like can determine what ‘sponsored’ content is displayed to you; what you like reflects on your digital footprint (See Digital Footprint).

List. Way to organize tweets from various accounts to see them in an aggregated stream; you can create and define lists by topic or interests; if your Twitter account is public, others can see your lists (and what accounts are in them) from your profile page and your lists can reflect on your digital footprint (See Digital Footprint); when you add a user to your list, Twitter notifies them.

Meet-up. An informal meeting of people in a Twitter network generally organized by a person or group that determines the purpose, specific time and place, and shares the details for the meeting via Twitter; individuals then physically gather face-to-face and participate; at larger events such as conferences, meet-ups can be good networking opportunities for people who have been connecting via Twitter around special interests.


 

Mentions. When someone posts a tweet, retweet, or reply, (See Tweet, Retweet, or Reply) including your Twitter handle (@yourusername). Twitter clients (See Clients) can monitor your mentions in columns (e.g. TweetDeck); if you block someone you will not see if they mention you (see Block); the mentions timeline is a subset of notifications (see Notifications).

Mute.  Allows you to hide a particular account’s feed from your timeline without unfollowing or blocking it; the other account is not notified that they’ve been muted; you can unmute accounts at any time; muted accounts can still follow you, & send you direct messages (See Direct Message) ; when a muted account mentions you (see Mention), you will see the tweet (See Tweet) in your notifications (see Notifications);  any tweets received prior to muting would be visible as usual; if you do NOT follow the muted account, you will not see their tweets that mention you in notifications; For information re. using mute see https://support.twitter.com/articles/20171399#

Notifications. A special timeline in Twitter that includes any content relevant to your tweets (See Tweet) and handle (@yourusername); information includes latest retweets (See Retweet) of your content, tweets directed to you (replies or mentions using @yourusername), which tweets were liked (See Like) and by which accounts, & any new followers (See Follower); notifications can be filtered by type—certain Twitter clients (See Client) have more functions for filtering content.

Page. If you choose to publicly share your Twitter content, your content will be made publicly available as a web page with a URL similar to www.twitter.com/yourusername (e.g. the publicly available content from Julia Hengstler’s account is found at www.twitter.com/jhengstler); people without Twitter accounts can read your public Twitter content from this location using any web browser.

Pin. When you maintain a particular tweet at the top of your profile page by clicking on the “…” button and selecting “Pin to your profile page”; a new pin displaces the last pin; works in Twitter but not necessarily in all Twitter clients (See Client).

Poll. You can create and share Twitter polls with your followers; Twitter polls can have questions with multiple response options; voting remains live for 24 hours; how an individual votes is not publicly shared, though aggregated data is available; For how-to see http://www.simplehelp.net/2015/10/23/how-to-create-a-poll-on-twitter/ ; Note: other 3rd party apps like https://twtpoll.com also allow you to run twitter polls with increased functionality and duration; could be used as a ‘response system’ (a.k.a. ‘clickers’) in a course.

Private Account. A private Twitter account is one where only authorized people have direct access to the account’s tweets (See Tweet); this doesn’t prevent someone accessing content and copy/pasting it outside of the restricted circle—though the retweet function will be disabled; with a private account users have to approve all requests to follow (See Follow) you; your tweets will be excluded from public Google searches, though your followers (See Follower) will be able to search them in Twitter; if you direct a tweet at another user using @thatuser’sname , they will not see it unless they are one of your approved followers; if you convert from a public to a private account, any previously public content will become private from that point forward; you can only share links to specific tweets from your timeline with approved followers.

Profile. Information you that you choose to share with Twitter and the public; includes the name you supplied (can be pseudonym), your twitter username (See Handle); it can also include other links you provide, brief biographic or other statement, and a profile picture; your profile picture will appear next to your tweets when others view it in their twitter streams; sharing your bio or a statement allows others to connect with you on the basis of interests—people might avoid following or replying to accounts with no descriptive information; clicking through to an account’s profile can help you determine if you would like to follow or otherwise interact with that account.

Promoted. This is content that is delivered to you by Twitter in exchange for money from their customers—Twitter advertising; accounts, tweets, moments, trends, & videos can all be promoted by Twitter advertisers and displayed to/in your Twitter account when you login; various hashflags are a form of promoted ad campaigns (see Hashflag).

Protected Tweet: A tweet where you have actively chosen to restrict access to just your followers (see Followers); while the general public does not see a protected tweet, your followers can use cut/paste or screen capture to further share it.

Reply. On Twitter, an original post of 140 characters or less directed to a particular Twitter user; retweets are prefaced by “@” followed by the username of the person to whom its addressed; replies can help structure a conversation thread; many Twitter clients allow users to monitor replies regardless of whether you are following the person who posted the reply; replies can be a way to contact people who are not following you; a reply is visible to followers and on the webpage version of any public accounts; any account names embedded in the reply count in your 140 character limit.

Retweet. A tweet (See Tweet) from another Twitter user that is re-published on Twitter with attribution; a retweet is usually prefaced by “RT” followed by the contributor’s account name; attribution may be multilayered to indicate the path the original tweet traveled; a RT is visible to followers and on the webpage version of any public accounts; you can see who retweeted your content in notifications (see Notifications).

Settings. In this area of your account you can control aspects such as username, language, time zone, security/privacy, password, muted accounts, blocked accounts, etc.; go to your Twitter page at www.twitter.com , log in, click on your profile picture/icon and select settings.

Storify. An online application that allows users to capture data from Twitter (and other social media platforms), edit, organize and republish it; useful for curation especially for Twitter chats (e.g. https://storify.com/jhengstler/twittersmarter-chat-9-15-16) ; See https://storify.com/

Stream. The timeline of a Twitter account organized in chronological order or that can be viewed publicly online.

Timeline. This is content streamed in real-time to your account and organized in chronological order.

Timestamp. Content separate from the body of a tweet (See Tweet) that indicates when a tweet was posted; depending on your Twitter client (See Client)—can appear above or below a tweet, or in details of a tweet.

Trends. A special timeline visible in Twitter (available on your home page on www.twitter.com ) identifying popular or powerful hashtags or content; by default preferences are determined by Twitter based on your account information but you can manually change your preferences.

Tweet. A posting of 140 characters or less via Twitter sent to a user’s network or follower’s (see Follower); tweets may carry embedded links, images, video (recorded & streaming); a tweet is by default public but you can protect your tweet (See Protected Tweet).

Twitter Chat. A semi-formal online Twitter exchange among several accounts (see Account); a scheduled event generally organized by a person or group that generally follows a Q & A format around a specific, pre-determined theme hosted by a designated moderator; participation is open to anyone with a Twitter account by using the hashtags (see Hashtag)  & following the Q&A format; sorting through related tweets can get confusing as people often use a Twitter chat hashtags outside of a scheduled event to tag tweets; often a ‘host’ Twitter account is created like @Cdnedchat for #Cdnedchat  or @HigherEdChat for  #higheredchat; other e.g.s of postsecondary Twitter chats include #msachat =social justice in higher ed; #fycchat = freshman youth composition chat; #HELiveChat=higher ed chat sponsored by UK’s The Guardian); See http://www.onlinecollege.org/2012/09/09/50-great-twitter-chats-academia/ .

Twitter. A social networking platform for posting informal online journal or diary entries in postings of 140 characters or less called tweets (see Tweet)  that are shared with followers (See Follower);  Twitter allows for embedded links, images, and videos; See: www.twitter.com .

Unfollow. When you remove someone from the accounts you are subscribed to receive content from on Twitter; procedure may have social ramifications though unfollowing may be required to preserve professionalism or the character of your digital footprint (See Digital Footprint).

Unpin. When you release a particular pinned (See Pin) tweet (See Tweet) from the top of your profile (See Profile) page by clicking on the “…” button and selecting “Unpin from profile page”.

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Capture Twitter chats & #edchats with Storify

January 10, 2017

Quick tips to capture an #edchat or Twitter chat with Storify

  • Create a Storify account @ storify.com.
  • Participate in your edchat and note its hashtag (but this will work for any topic with a hashtag in Twitter).
  • When the edchat is over, login to Storify
  • Select “Create New Story”

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  • In right column click on Twitter icon, enter the hashtag in the search field (you can specify some other items using the search field like Type, Location, Language if you need), & click on search icon

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  • Storify collects all relevant tweets w/ hashtags in right hand columnedchat_storify3-fw
  • In the Story panel on the left, create a headline like “[Name of edchat] [Date of edchat] [hashtag]” like “EdchatDE November 5/2016” & add description if you wantedchat_storify4-fw
  • Pick the tweets on the right that you want to add to your “Story”
    • I usually pick “add them all” at the top of the column

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  • You can also scroll through the list on to drag/drop specific ones into your Storify story.
  • It’s now up to you if you want to “edit” the Tweets in the Storify window:
    • Delete extraneous comments (e.g. do you want to keep the “introduce yourself” responses in your content here?);
    • Organize content users strung across multiple tweets that got interspersed with other’s tweets (e.g. ones that have “1/2” and 2/2” indicate it’s a 2 part tweet);
    • Organize the question tweets by an edchat leader with all the answers (i.e. put Q1 first and all the A1 responses under it; move on to Q2 and then organize all the Q2 ).
  • Once you have edited the number and order of the tweets to your likking, publish your Storify and share the link using the “Share” button (you can pick the social media where you want to share the link via icons).
  • Of course you don’t have to share, and could keep the edited copy for yourself…but others might be interested.

If you have any other tips or tricks for capturing #edchats or Twitter chats with Storify, please feel free to add them in the comments.


Sexting & A Safety Agreement for Families

February 15, 2016

After running a recent workshop on privacy legislation and educators, I was approached by an attendee. The person was currently going through a divorce, was just starting her teaching career and concerned about some racy photos she made and shared with her husband. They were now divorcing. She was wondering if she should be concerned about those photos. My response started with, “It would have been simpler if you hadn’t shared those photos…” (My advice continued, but that’s for another post.)

 

Sexting is risky business, there’s no denying it. We need to discuss the risks with our children as soon as they are ready, and have a plan in place to help and support them if they get in trouble. This post is provided as a tool to help families understand the issues and perhaps enter into an agreement (document template provided at end) with their children to lend support should it ever be necessary.

Sexting & The Issues

Sexting is the practice (even if it’s just one time) of sharing intimate, explicit images, videos or messages with one or more others. The practice of sexting between romantic partners or as a means to flirt and attract romantic partners has been on the rise—especially among older teens.

Often people share sexts under the assumption that the person(s) receiving the sexts will keep them private. When relationships breakdown, one of the parties may break that assumption of trust and share that ‘private’ sext with others. In fact, the top 3 justifications 18-54 year olds gave for non-consensual sharing of personal data were:

  • a partner lied (45%)
  • a partner cheated (41%)
  • a partner broke up with them (27%).1

The same data showed that 10% of ex-partners threatened to release intimate photos of their partner online and of those, 60% followed through and shared them. 1

But it’s not always relationship breakdowns that cause sexts to be made more public: loss of personal devices holding sensitive information like sexts (e.g. cellphones, tablets, computers) can leave parties vulnerable—especially when said devices have little to no password protection. (TIP: Use strong passwords- See http://www.howtogeek.com/195430/how-to-create-a-strong-password-and-remember-it/ ). Some people share their passwords—to their phones, or online accounts—and later find out someone breached that trust and shared content (like sexts) they wanted kept private. (TIP: Don’t share passwords guarding personal information—your devices or accounts. My one exception: my kids share their passwords with me.) Then there’s always the risk of a hacker revealing content—especially if any of the parties involved store their sexts online or in the cloud (E.g. In 2014, a hacker breached Apple’s iCloud and publicly posted private nude photos of female celebrities).

The risk of sexts:

  • They are permanent digital records of intimate/explicit things;
  • They are easily copied & distributed;
  • They could be shared without your consent;
  • They could be shared with unforeseen people: friends, family, future/ current employers, the world;
  • They could be shared in ways you never intended (like posted publicly online).

While sexting may be done consensually, age differences between the participants may make the practice a legal concern–this varies by country & legal jurisdiction (e.g. child pornography). Another concern is that social and peer pressure can be used to extort sexts from otherwise uncomfortable or unwilling participants. Englander (2012) writes that among 18 year olds, “Indisputably, the most important motivation for sexting…was pressure and coercion”. 2 The two main reasons for sexting were:

  • “because a date or boyfriend/girlfriend wanted the picture (66%)”
  • to attract someone you’re interested in (65%). 2

Youth are still discovering what constitutes a respectful romantic relationship. Sometimes the partners requesting the sext through pressuring and coercion may be unaware that they are crossing a line toward sexual harassment. In the case of youth and young adults who choose to sext, they may not be fully aware of the permanence of the content in the sext, how readily it can be distributed, and the potential impacts if shared.

Youth and young adults aren’t necessarily thinking about their future careers when they sext. Sexts made public can affect your employment—future or continuing—in trust professions like teaching. In British Columbia, you need look no farther than the Shewan Decision (1987)3 to understand the ramifications of how sexts in the wrong hands, or made public could affect your job. Other examples of trust professions where sexts-made-more-public could be an issue: counseling, law, law enforcement, medicine, politics, etc. Members of these professions are held to higher standards than the general public—particularly teachers who are seen to influence the development of children and youth.

Youth Reluctance Reporting Problems

Unfortunately, youth are reluctant to report problems that arise from sexting—especially to parents/caregivers. They are concerned that:

  • Someone will “judge” them for sexting.
  • Someone (parents/caregivers) will take away their devices or technology.

A Sexting Safety Agreement (V 1.0)

To support families in navigating risks associated with sexting and to encourage youth to report problems to caregivers, I’ve drafted a Sexting Safety Agreement (V 1.0)  along the lines of the M.A.D.D.’s Contract for Life (an agreement between caregivers and youth to manage the risks of impaired driving). This is one of the first documents I’ve released under Creative Commons licensing: BY-NC-SA (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike).

 

Footnotes

  1. McAfee, 2013, Lovers beware: Scorned exes may share intimate data and images, http://www.mcafee.com/us/about/news/2013/q1/20130204-01.aspx.
  2. Englander, E.K. (2012) Low risk associated with most Teenage Sexting: A Study of 617 18-Year-Olds, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Centre, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA. Available at: http://webhosbridgew.edu/marc/SEXTING%20AND%20COERCION%20report.pdf
  3. In the late 1980’s, a nude photo of a teacher in the Abbotsford School district was submitted by her husband (also a teacher) and published in a magazine as part of an erotic photography competition. The teachers were disciplined by the Board and it lead to a series of court cases. Ultimately in the BC Court of Appeals, Shewan v. Board of School Trustees of School District #34 (Abbotsford), 1987 159, the court stated: “The behaviour of the teacher must satisfy the expectations which the British Columbia community holds for the educational system. Teachers must maintain the confidence and respect of their superiors, their peers, and in particular, the students, and those who send their children to our public schools. Teachers must not only be competent, but they are expected to lead by example. Any loss of confidence or respect will impair the system, and have an adverse effect upon those who participate in or rely upon it. That is why a teacher must maintain a standard of behaviour which most other citizens need not observe because they do not have such public responsibilities to fulfil.”(page 6; http://caselaw.canada.globe24h.com/0/0/british-columbia/court-of-appeal/1987/12/21/shewan-v-board-of-school-trustees-of-school-district-34-abbotsford-1987-159-bc-ca.shtml)

A K-12 Primer for British Columbia Teachers Posting Students’ Work Online

May 17, 2013

cover_capture_sm.fw  There is little doubt in my mind that web 2.0, social media, and cloud computing offer powerful vehicles for teaching and learning—but only if educators use them responsibly, abide by the rules and regulations, and teach their students to do the same. According to lawyer, Pam Portal, “BC’s privacy laws are arguably the strongest in Canada” (Cooper, et al., 2011, “Privacy Guide for Faculty Using 3rd Party Web Technology (Social Media) in Public Post-Secondary Courses”,2). These laws and regulations protect the privacy rights of the individual in British Columbia, Canada. Our unique legal context sets the boundaries for what the K-12 should be doing online with student information, work, and data. If you’re not from British Columbia, or aren’t in touch with what’s happening here, consider us the “Europe” of privacy protection in North America. If you are an American teacher or a Canadian teacher anywhere but in British Columbia–you likely have more permissive regulations in the use of Web 2.0 tools–especially those that are housed in the cloud.

The institution where I work, Vancouver Island University (Nanaimo, BC, Canada), is in the vanguard of addressing privacy issues associated with use of cloud based tools at the post-secondary level in BC education. In 2011, VIU  published “Privacy Guide for Faculty Using 3rd Party Web Technology (Social Media) in Public Post-Secondary Courses” with BC Campus,  and our Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (under Director, Liesel Knaack) has been running numerous training sessions to raise faculty awareness of their obligations in use of cloud, Web 2.0, and social media technologies—especially with regard to students. As part of that effort, and in discussions with Liesel, I began to develop some resources to streamline how faculty in our Faculty of Education and other post-secondary instructors could meet the new requirements–items like forms to guide instructors, and an information backgrounder to share with students.  As BC K-12 educators got wind of what I was doing, I had individuals from BC K-12 schools–public and private, traditional and face-to-face–contacting me to see what knowledge, resources and guidance I could share. At that point I was solidly focused on developing resources I could use with my faculty, and I kept hoping that ‘someone else’ would take on that mantle and deal with providing specific K-12 resources. I happily provided what I had–but it was from the post-secondary perspective. When I shared content, I’d repeatedly ask the recipients to share back what they developed. Many of these individuals were dealing with these issues off the side of their K-12 desks—among many other responsibilities. I checked back with a few of them and their content development had gotten sidelined in one way or another.

Working in a Faculty of Education as I do, I am reminded that I am only a step away from the K-12 context. Our Education students are doing practica in BC K-12 schools–some of them with institutionally loaned equipment—and I need to support their responsible use of technology under current legislation. In September 2013, I will be teaching a course in social media in our new Online Learning and Teaching Diploma (OLTD) Program, and I will need resources to guide my students as educators in responsible use of social media in BC’s K-12 context. Knowing my interests, parents have approached me to describe incidents where students are using social media and cloud based resources in their local schools without any permission forms or information being sent home. One parent described Googling her child’s name only to find a Prezi with scanned family photos and information—yet the parent had never been approached for permission–much less had discussions or handouts on the activity and its potential privacy risks. I have heard numerous accounts of teachers doing great things with Google docs and their classes–using Facebook or Twitter, but when I pause to ask them whether they sent out and obtained written permission slips, I either meet a dead silence or am told, “Oh, our school media waiver covers that.” The likelihood that a school media waiver meets the key criteria set down in our BC law and regulations for ‘knowledge’, ‘notice’, and ‘informed consent’ with regard to these types of activities in these technological environments is slim.

So, last month, I decided that “someone” was going to be “me”. I’ve spent about a month drafting this document I call “A K-12 Primer for British Columbia Teachers Posting Students’ Work Online“.

This document was possible only with the support of these key individuals:

  • Liesel Knaack, Director, Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, British Columbia
  • Rebecca Avery, e-Safety Officer, Kent County Council, United Kingdom
  • Mark Hawkes, e-Learning Coordinator, Learning Division, Ministry of Education, British Columbia
  • Dave Gregg, e-Learning Officer, Learning Division, Ministry of Education, British Columbia
  • Larry Kuehn, Director of Research and Technology, British Columbia Teachers’ Federation
  • John Phipps, Field Experience Supervisor, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, British Columbia

Consider this document Version 1.0. I hope you find it useful and that you feel moved to comment and share your insights for a future version. You are free to duplicate and share it according to the Creative Commons: Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike licensing.

Julia


Why is the YouTube Video a Black Box That Won’t Play in My PPT 2010 Slide? Fixed

November 21, 2012

Ok, I guess this is a bit of false advertising, because I don’t really know why it’s a black void. What I do know,  is that with the help of some information from choochlevis at Computer Tips and Tricks, Office Softwares blog (See PowerPoint Tips: Free Way to Play YouTube Video in Powerpoint, March 3, 2009) , and a couple steps of my own, I was able to fix it. Might help some others.

1)      Go to your YouTube video.

2)      Click on share button below it.

3)      Make sure you check “Use old embed code”.

4)      Copy  & paste the content from the embed code content

into a Word document. You’ll just want 1 piece of it & the embed code area in YouTube may not let you select just the part you need. You should get something like this:

5)      Find the string of text that looks like what’s in red below starting  after “movie” value=” until just before the closing quotation marks:

6)      Copy just that string of code—but NOT the quotation marks.

7)      Open your PowerPoint.

8)      Go to where you want to embed the YouTube that will play from the internet (It’s a different scenario if you are downloading a copy of the Youtube video and running from that!)

9)      Click the Developer tab in Ribbon at top of PPT 2010

10)   In the Developer tab, look for Controls group & the icon with the wrench & hammer—click on it.

11)   You’ll see “More Controls”. Scroll down in the list and find Shockwave flash object & click OK.

12)   When the hash mark appears

, click & drag it to draw box as big as you want video to play in the slide.

13)   Right click on that box and select Properties & paste the URL in your clipboard to the box across from “Movie”.

14)   Close the Property box by clicking on the X at the upper right.

15)   Preview your slide—click on the Slide Show tab in the ribbon & select From Current Slide.


Images Made with Art Interactives: Are They ‘Art’?

November 11, 2010
Mona Lisa (L. Da Vinci)

Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

Each year since I’ve been working at VIU’s Faculty of Education, I’ve been doing a workshop on art and technology for pre-service teachers. About 80-85% of the participants tend to be novice tech-users, so I generally introduce them to an image creation/editing program. Lately, my tool of choice is www.pixlr.com –primarily because it is cloud-based with powerful high-end features. I start out by having students download a copy of the Mona Lisa. They then build a reflection & play with it in a variety of ways. (I do other things, but this is the ‘skills’ portion of my show.) In the past, I’ve had some year-4 students say, “This isn’t art.”  I grew up with an older sister who did graphic art—like designing business cards and medical illustration—so I know that art can be practical as well as ‘fine’. I point out that creating and making images with this type of software is similar to graphic design and has lots of applications: used for presentations, magazine covers, etc. Also, playing with an image is a non-threatening entry to art for the art-phobic. Students can learn basic skills so that when they are confronted with a literal blank canvas it’s a bit less daunting.

This year, I wanted to include some mobile art-inspired sites or apps. The night before the presentation, I did some research and found a couple I liked.  One was www.jacksonpollock.org ‘s online interactive.

Julia's Pollock-esque Image

Julia's Pollock-esque Image Created on http://www.jacksonpollock.org

The program allows you to create Jackson Pollock –type art.

The program randomizes the colours; the user controls where the strokes move & their weight.Through trial and error users determine that different movements create different sizes & shapes of digital paint on the digital canvas.

Another example was the Arcs21 (http://www.iphoneart.org/arcs21/Application.html ) app by Lia. This is an iPhone/iPad app that generates an image constructed of arcs. Take a look at the screen shots here http://www.creativeapplications.net/iphone/arcs-21-iphone-processing-of/ . The user can manipulate the arcs by shaking the phone (randomizes arcs), touching the phone screen (relocates the origin of the images), and resetting menu options like count, length, feather, density, speed and colours. From the Pollock interactive, a user could create a screen capture to show his/her work. Arcs21 allows the user to “save a photo” of the work at a selected point in the process.

While playing with Arcs21, I turned to my visiting sister and said, “Do you think this is art?”

She firmly replied, “No.” If there was a hesitation, I didn’t detect it.

“Why not?” I asked. I was puzzled. I was interacting with tools and materials to create the image. Why wouldn’t that be art? So I asked her, “What is your criteria for making art?”

Her response was, “It has to be created from raw materials.”

“What about mosaics?” I asked next. To me, those bits of tile were created by someone else. Still, she wouldn’t agree that what was produced with this app would be art. The classification issue troubled me. Why wouldn’t it be considered art? Would others say it wasn’t art?

Fast forward to the next morning. I demoed the Pollock interactive & the Arcs21 app during the art & technology sessions. With the Pollock one, I demoed it at the front of a room on a SMART board showing how you use your finger would “paint” the screen. I even had students throw Koosh balls to edit & interact with the image. I then passed my iPhone around the room with Arcs21 running and asked the students to interact with it. I then questioned, “Are the images created with these programs ‘art’?” While most of the students thought it was ‘art’ there were several dissenters.  One objected to the lack of control over the colours in the Pollock interactive. She thought, if it was ‘art’ the artist needed to be able to control the colours. I asked, “If you gave a 3rd grader 3 crayons and asked him to draw, would that be art?” The answer was, yes. In fact, what if a student had a single crayon that produced random colour? There are crayons like that.  The next dissenter said that the problem was that the art wasn’t completely created by the person using it. I pointed out that one artist could paint a background, and ship a canvas to another who painted the foreground. They might never meet to collaborate—was that ‘art’? The answer was again, yes. So, I said, “Your issue is that the collaborator is a machine, not a person?” The student replied that ‘art’ needed to be created by humans. I asked if the artist and the programmer who created Arcs21 would be considered people & whether they could be considered human “collaborators”. The student was not comfortable with that classification, and maintained it wasn’t art.

Later that week, I ran the session for the second section of the pre-service year-4s. The next group was much less resistant to the concept of this type of image creation being ‘art’. Still, about 2 students in the group of 30+ didn’t think it was ‘art’. I shared my background discussion leading up to considering whether this was art. I shared my interactions with the previous section of year-4’s and asked if one of these year-4’s would explain their stance. One student piped up, “I’m trying to figure out why it wouldn’t be art? I haven’t decided.” Another asked, “Would the main reason you show these be to get students talking about what ‘art’ is?”

Whether a teacher, or user considers the images created by these types of program authentic ‘art’ or not, they are great discussion starters for classes on art, technology, philosophy, and more. Further, the fact that these programs give art-phobic students a place to “play” before trying to start from scratch is another valuable feature.  Technology can provide a new hook to get students engaged in ‘art’ regardless of its form. Just as electronic books and e-readers are regenerating interest in the written word, generative, interactive art applications can regenerate interest in arts, genres and artists. Check out some other art-based iPhone apps here: http://www.iphoneart.org


Why I Wanted a Do-It-Yourself Anti-Spy Shade for My Built-In WebCam

May 12, 2010

If you haven’t heard of the case of Blake J. Robbins v. Lower Merion School District, read up on it @ Wikipedia. Basically, a school district issued Macbooks to students. The computers had security software that allowed remote activation. The security software allowed technicians to capture snapshots of IM, web browsing, music playlists, and written work. The computers had built-in video cameras. The security software could

be programmed to automatically capture webcam pictures and screen captures and store them on the hard disk for later retrieval in areas of the computer’s memory that are not accessible by the student and can be deleted remotely. (Wikipedia, 2010)

Apparently, two student council members voiced concern re. the possibility of the web cams being used without their knowledge. According to the Wikipedia article, neither the laptop program PR materials nor the individual contracts signed by participating students mentioned the remote activation feature. Surprise: The school district remotely activated the webcams. The school stated that it only activated the software when computers were lost or stolen. It is alleged that the school district remotely activated the web cams numerous times over the last two years.

So why Blake Robbins? Well, the lawsuit states that the school disciplined him for inappropriate behavior at his home via a photo taken with the remotely activated webcam. (For more details, see Wikipedia).The claim is that the schools use of the webcams violates Constitutional rights of privacy, Pennsylvania common law & US Civil Rights.

After reading this, I looked up at that built-in web cam in my Macbook Pro issued by my employer. My employer has the right to review how I use this laptop—even when I’m at home with it. Looking at the web cam also made me recall a Criminal Minds episode, “The Big Game” (Season 2, episode 14) where a killer who is a tech support worker, remotely activates computer web cams of his victims. Hmmm….why take chances? So I thought I would create a temporary cover for my webcam.

This is what I did:

  1. Got scissors, black electrical tape, & a piece of paper.
  2. Measured & cut a piece of black electrical tape wide enough to extend about .5cm or so either side of the built in webcam. Made sure it doesn’t interfere with any latches or other vital spots.
  3. Laid the tape on the table & flipped it so the stick side is up.
  4. Cut a piece of paper about the size of the web cam window.
  5. Put the paper in the middle of the black electrical tape on the sticky side. It looked like a bandaid.
  6. Held it up to my computer with the paper piece centred over my web cam window to see if I needed to trim the width.
  7. Trimmed the bottom so that it would not touch any screen—only the metal casing.
  8. Folded a small corner of the tape against itself so I could easily remove the shade when it was in place & stuck it over the webcam.
  9. I remove it when I close the laptop and just stick it to a clean section of the outside casing.

Now I peacefully enjoy my Macbook and my privacy-at least via my webcam & at home. Folks can still see me through my office windows—I leave the blinds up.