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Images and Tags – Tag Galaxy

I was introduced to Tag Galaxy at a recent TeachMeet (#TmHills), and thought it one of the ideas well worth sharing here.

Tag Galaxy works to bring tags and images together in an inspiring form; which can be more easily searched than scouring through image repositories like Flickr. It could be used to not only find images to suit a particular need, but also to inspire discussion about how certain concepts may be defined differently by individuals about the globe.

The best way to understand how it works is to start using it:

Begin at: http://taggalaxy.de/

Input your initial tag e.g. refugee.

This will provide a number of galaxial globes with suggested associated terms (from Flickr)

You can select additional globes to refine your search e.g. if you wanted ‘refugee’ plus ‘war’.

Click on the most suitable globe for your need till a single globe is left in the centre of the screen with images flying in from Flickr

There may be mutiple pages for your tags, just keep clicking through, or select any one of the images on the globe to reveal more about it.

Clicking on your selected photo (after spinning the globe around to see what other alternatives are on the globe of course…), gives details of the picture and following through to Flickr will give information about copyright issues i.e. whether the image is able to be used and how.

The beauty of Tag Galaxy is that you don’t need to scroll through pages and pages of images on Flickr. It also gives some sense of how the online community views a particular topic, which should generate some lively discussion at times. The down side is the reliance on community tagging, which may differ greatly from conventional subject headings – but that is the social nature of knowledge on the internet.

Some suggested applications for classroom use include:

  • checking vocabulary
  • story starters
  • brainstorming concepts
  • checking possible global understanding of a concept
  • illustration of assignments / stories / etc.
  • sparking debate

A similar word concept tool is Visuwords – which you can read about at: http://weeksy.edublogs.org/2008/03/04/cant-find-the-right-word/ It provides lots of alternative associated terms to those you can input.

# Note 1, both these applications need Flash to function.

# Note 2, as mentioned on iLearn Technology’s post, as with any other socially generated tool, caution should be exercised given that you never can tell how some people may tag a photo. Some trials may be worth considering with some age groups.

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Reading in OverDrive!

For those who wish to test out some ebooks, especially with holidays and long drives coming up, this is a ‘How-to’ for accessing library collections using OverDrive – including Penrith City Library, the Hills District and maybe one near you! I will give examples wrt PCL, but the concept applies across many other libraries.

Starting here, PCL’s catalogue access, you can browse to see what titles are available. These include audio and ebooks across both fiction and non-fiction areas, catering for a range of interests. Though audiobooks are larger files to download, it’s probably worth it for those long road trips!

What you need:

  • Your PCL membership number (the SPGS community is entitled to library membership)
  • PIN (this is probably your birthdate: ddmmyyyy)
  • the OverDrive Media program (free download from OverDrive on your computer), or an OverDrive app on your mobile device  (from app stores)
  • Adobe Digital Editions or similar to read on your device/computer (free to download).

Steps to borrowing

1. First, sign in.

2. Then it is simply a matter of browsing the PCL Digital Media catalogue.

3. Select a book displayed, a group from the sidebar to browse, or search for a specific title.

4. Click on your chosen title – you can ‘add to wishlist’ or ‘add to cart’ – if the title is available.

5. Once added to the cart, you can decide whether to ‘proceed to checkout’ after noting the borrowing period and other details.

6. You can change the borrowing period, or simply ‘confirm checkout’.

7. The final step is to ‘Download’. Be sure to check where the file is set to download  (default is the Downloads folder). Select ‘Save and Open’ as this should open Adobe Digital editions on your computer, and you can begin reading!

Using a mobile device (iPad, smartphone etc.)

  • Begin with the OverDrive app.
  • Click on ‘Get Books’
  • Add a Library
  • Browse/search for Penrith City Library (or other if in different area) (All NSW OverDrive libraries found if you use browse option)
  • Clicking on the library name will take you to their catalogue in your internet browser.
  • Then follow the steps above to get books. You can also download books you have previously borrowed onto another device, as long as the borrowing period is still valid.

Happy reading!

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Curation, collection and connection with Scoop.it

I came across Scoop.it in its Beta days, and played to see what it could offer.

Now, after playing with it for a few months, I see it as a tool for not only collecting posts on the latest on the web, but also as a great source for sharing collective knowledge.

To begin, I used the inbuilt curation tools (which are based on the keywords and descriptions you give your topic) to collect websites and comments on my chosen topics. Later on, I used Scoop.it as I browsed the web and came across sites relevant to topics I was investigating.

My latest discovery is that you can search what others are curating, and easily link to their collections, to get another perspective. Knowing colleagues’ Scoops is of course another way to gain insight…

So why ‘scoop.it’?

  • to collect web pages to a central visual location
  • to gain automatically generated suggestions, relevant (sometimes) to your interests
  • to pick the brain of other curators (both friends and strangers)
  • use a random search to see what others are doing

How to

  1. Login to http://www.scoop.it
  2. Dashboard allows you to create a topic (make it as specific as you can). Include keywords to generate suggestions.
  3. To collect your own ‘scoops’, you need to download the bookmarklet (to your favourites list or favourites bar). This allows you to Scoop.it when you are on a relevant page to your topic with just a click. (Make sure you scoop to the right topic, if you have more than one.) You can select an image from the page, add a comment or edit in any way you want before your scoop is added.
  4. Once added, you can also play with where you want the latest scoop to be displayed, and move your scoops around to suit.

Another incredibly valuable part of Scoop.it, is the ability to search and follow the scoops of others. Sharing your addresses on Twitter and other social networks allow others to see what you are curating, and vice versa. You can also search for a topic you might be thinking about, and select from suggested titles. Once you ‘follow’ a topic, notifications of additions can be delivered to your designated email address, daily, weekly, or not at all.

Currently, there is a limit of 5 topics which you can generate on a free account. (To generate more, you need to delete an old one, or upgrade for a fee.) Since the data generated should of itself be fresh, new and current, this may not be a bad thing – so maybe view it as a ephemeral exercise, requiring comnstant renewal, regeneration or removal.

Much of the value of Scoop.it actually lies in what your fellow researchers have unearthed, and valued within their own specialities. Scoop.it is yet another social networking tool well worth looking into.

(I will update this page soon with suggestions from colleagues about using Scoop.it in an educational setting – so check back soon! or make a suggestion in your comment…)


From Teacher Librarians:

Apps for Learning (Tania Sheko)

Boys and Reading (Heather Stapleton)

BYOD BYOT @ School (Leanne Windsor)

Ebooks in Libraries (Carmel Galvin)

Exploring Visual Arts  (Marita Thomson)

Differentiated Teaching (Anne Weaver)

Graphic Novels in the Classroom (Di Laycock)

Perspectives on eBooks

Web 2.0 Tools for English teachers

From other practitioners (some in education)

Attention (Howard Rheingold)

Design for Students (Leanne McLean)

Geography Education (Seth Dixon)

Social Media, Technology and Design (Alex Butler)

Social Networking for Information Professionals (Judy O’Connell)

Technology to Educate (Jason Baughman)

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Testing e-books

Well, I have just finished my first e-book – from start to finish. I have tried before – using a Kobo, testing out Kindle for PC, even reading on my iPhone, but today’s the first time I have finished a book.

Mahtab’s Story by Libby Gleeson was read on my iPad, using the Overdrive app. I found it quite comfortable on the eyesight (though a little bit cumbersome to cuddle up to in bed). Lighting was not an issue – it seemed to be fine in a number of different lights. And changing pages was far better than I’ve found in the Kobo experience.

I borrowed the book through another school library as a test run – thanks, Therese; which was a relatively easy experience once I had set up the programs to be able to read it. I have the book on my iPad and my laptop, and could have set up on my phone, or an iPod (if I hadn’t lost mine). Looks like all would work as easily, depending on your eyesight!

Having also read using Kindle for PC on both my phone and laptop, I would also like to comment on the ability the Kindle app gives to sync across any media you use. It allows you to read the same book and keep track. I was amazed when testing book on my PC, and then opening it on my phone, and being able to pick up at the exact spot I left when last reading it. (I haven’t tested this on Overdrive).

I was given a Kobo as a gift, which gave me the chance to also test this, which I have on a few flights. It feels great, is light and provides the opportunity to have lots of books with you when you travel – except you have to switch it off well before you land (unlike a book which you can read until the seatbelt light goes off! But the same as any digital device…) It isn’t as easy or fast in changing pages as the iPad, but is easy to adapt to, and is clear in displaying which books you have, and where you are at with them.

It’s been an interesting exercise, though I confess to still really enjoying the tactile enjoyment of reading physical books. However, I can see the benefits we can gain from e-books (particularly when it comes to borrowing from a library – automatic returns, no overdue problems!). These also include:

  • Weight saving (imagine textbooks all on your iPad, iPod or mp3 device!)
  • Access for more than one person at a time (no waiting for books to be returned)
  • Appeal to the net generation
  • Multiple uses for your digital device
  • Ability with some to annotate texts
  • Immediate access (no waiting for books to be delivered)

eTo Kindle or not to Kindle?

Well, after some deliberation, I have finally decided to trial Kindle. At this stage, it is only ‘Kindle for PC’ (and phone), not an actual Kindle, but worth trialling since these are free.

To do so is relatively easy for those who already have an Amazon account. A simple ‘Kindle for PC’ query in Google gave the direct Amazon page, and a quick click on the Download button started the process. I saved the file (to have available for other PCs) and then ran the application file from my desktop.

I now have Kindle for PC on my home desktop computer, my laptop and was easily able to get the app for my phone (and it doesn’t have to be an iPhone either).

Since I use the one Amazon account for all, I can also retrieve my ebooks from any of these devices – it even recognises what page I last read! For instance, I began a book on my desktop PC, and then read further on my phone – then when I opened it again on the PC, it asked if I wanted to go to the furthest page read on my phone!

The interface is quite attractive and shows your books in your chosen order (Recent, Title or Author). The hardest thing to do at this stage is to decide which ebook!! There are lots of freebies, though mainly classics (which are fine) but there are lots of pulp fiction to weed through too. And like any online book store, there are ‘featured’ and ‘popular’ titles, along with ‘recommendations especially for you’.

Don’t think of ebooks being purely fiction either. Non-fiction titles are also available  – Yvonne has spoken of the speed with which some of her professional reading needs were met – in the blink of an eye, when she simply couldn’t wait for an Amazon delivery form overseas. And imagine how light school bags could be with etexts (if and when the distributors get on board)!!

The whole download process (for both the program and the books) was relatively quick and painless, giving lots of time to get into reading straight away. It’s certainly worth trying before buying an ereader (Kindle or otherwise) – but I’d better go now – I have even more books to read (though the piles aren’t as obvious)!

Comment back?

# Have you tried ebooks? What did you think of them? What reader have you liked best?

##What are some of the titles you started with? or found most valuable?


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More on free audiobook downloads…

How to…

In order to take advantage of this offer the steps are:

1.Download the software (Overdrive Media Console) to manage the audio files.

2. Join the Audiobook Community – a simple signup with email address and password required.

3. Then from the Audiobook Community select the free download of the audiobook you are interested in (2 available each week). Click on Download XXXX Now! 

4. These can be transferred later to other locations (e.g. iTunes) using the OMC software.

This will be directed into your Overdrive Media Console and available from there for listening (though some downloads take a while). There are a few more titles yet to come for Australian audiences, so why not give it a trial?

Note: full instructions are available on the Audiobook Community site.

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Free audiobooks

Just a quick post linking to another TLs blog (Hi! Marita) to let you know about the availability of some free audiobooks.

I am going to trial this – though at the moment, it’s taking a while to download ‘the Power of One’ – one of this week’s freebies. It does involve downloading a program to manage the download of the books, and as yet I haven’t tested what they be loaded onto, but that will come.

Marita has more detail on her website, and the instructions on OverDrive Media Console are userfriendly, too. Why not give it a go and let others know how it works for you?