Friday, May 15, 2015

"Breaking News" from

Every once in a while something free and dead simple to use really catches my attention.
Breaking News is a very simple FREE tool that allows you to create breaking news screens like you might see on a news network.
This can be a great way introduce a presentation or spice up the graphics for a student newscast. Teachers will definitely come up with creative ways to use it (post your ideas in the comment section). 
The end result can be downloaded, tweeted or linked via an address.

After trying the site in various browsers, I had varying results.
All tests were on a Windows 7 machine.
I will test on Win 8 and OS 10.x when I get a chance.

  • Firefox worked best on the site.
  • Chrome worked but became slow when I uploaded an image.
  • Safari on Windows did not upload an image.
  • Same result for Internet Explorer 9. 
  • I will try IE 11 when I am on a Win 8.1 machine.
  • Works great on a Chromebook.

The site uses java so you may need to tweak your java settings.

The Interface is brilliantly simple:

The resulting image:

This tool is easy, useful and fun.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Copyright – Is it Fair Use?

As educators, we struggle with the use of copyrighted materials.  When I was starting out as a teacher, I remember hearing several wildly different “definitions” of Fair Use.  The range was from “Anything you use in the classroom is fair use…ANYTHING” to “If you use less than 10% of something, you are within Fair Use”.  The reality is somewhere in between. Exactly where is a bit of a mystery.
Where do I get some guidelines?
Copyright Crash Course is a great place to start. There is such a wealth of information in one place that it can be overwhelming. I strongly recommend you digest the entire page but, if you are pressed for time, you can jump straight to the Four-factor test. This breaks process of determining Fair Use into 4 questions.
(Some wordsmithing on Factor 1 and 2 on my part.)
FACTOR 1: How will the work be used?
FACTOR 2: How would you describe the work used?
FACTOR 3: How much of the work will you use?
FACTOR 4: If this kind of use were widespread, what effect would it have on the market for the original or for permissions?
If you find this graphic useful, you may get it here.

Are you now completely overwhelmed? If so, there is a way to search for content that has been licensed via CreativeCommons.  Creative Commons allows content creators to retain their copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work. Creative Commons has a powerful search tool that returns results consisting of content licensed under one of the many CC licenses.