Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Care and Feeding of Your Blog

Or How to Start One!
Join us Monday, March 5th at 8pm Eastern US Time and 9pm Perth Australia Time for a FREE Webinar at the TL Virtual Cafe with Sue Waters, The Edublogger herself! Coming to us LIVE! from Beautiful Perth, Australia! (Tuesday March 5th at 9am!!!) This whole space-time continuum and time zone thing makes my head ache - Thanks for all the the help! LOL

We've all been there, either we've started a blog and neglected it - feeling some deep-seated internal blog guilt or we've started a blog and sometimes just don't know what to post or how to make it grow. Sue Waters, the Edublogger herself, is here to the rescue!
Sue will be giving practical tips on how to get a blog started, how librarians and educators can use blogs, and how to maintain and nurture a healthy blog without stress or guilt.
Participant Link
(Click me ONLY on Monday Night at the designated time - nuttin going on right now until then!
Session Wikipage - Where the Webinar will be archived after the event! 

Blog Guilt? Let it Go!
Here's a shot of my first blog archive- see? For the year 2006 I only blogged 8 times! In 2007 I did a little bit better with 22 times, but something happened in 2008 (Don't ask, I really don't even remember why!) I went back down to 12 posts! It's not the number of posts - it's the passion and persistance of your message!
I've also blogged about this topic before - see some practical tips & fun ideas, & no-nonsense advice.

Just Blog It! Blogging Tips & Ideas 

(Don't worry, they'll be more after the FREE webinar & everyone is invited!)

Sue Waters// | The Edublogger

The //Edublogger// | Tips, tricks, and help for educators and bloggers

You’ll find other Teacher Blogging Challenge series here:

Questions to ponder and for your commenting pleasure  
(I LOVE to hear from you!)
  • What are your best blogging tips?  

  • If you've started a blog but let it go, please share why - we can all learn from each other! 

  • What is your best blogging triumph or worst blogging failure?

  • Why do we blog at all?


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Catfishing & Google Image Search by Image

If Manti Te'o had just used Google Image Search by Image, he might not have had to contend with  the last media blitz interview, still being asked about his "imaginary girlfriend" catfish scandal as exposed by Deadspin. (I've been *fascinated* by this story since it broke!) And though I'm not much of a "sporty" girl (though I LOVE me my Orioles!) I hear he handled the recent furor well and may be entertaining the idea of becoming a Baltimore Raven! You go, Manti! Stay strong!

What is Catfishing?
The Manti Te'o scandal is a great teachable moment and example of digital awareness, citizenship, and catfishing.  So, What is catfishing? The Urban Dictionary definition is above. The Term comes from a  movie (and an MTV show). From a related article: "‘Catfishing,’ a slang term for creating fake profiles on social media to create false identities, has its origins in the 2010 movie ‘Catfish,’ a pseudo-documentary that chronicled a young man’s online friendship with a woman that turned out to be very different from her Facebook profile." - International Business Times 
PS. It's a great $2.99 Amazon Prime Rental!

Why Google Image by Image?
Google image search by image can be used for quite a few reasons with one of them being to check if your photograph has been stolen by someone else or is being used by someone somewhere on the web without your permission. To explain how it works, and because it's part of my branding and I knew I would get hits, I used my own cartoon avatar (and branded!) image as drawn & created by Icon Factory (& Twitter Ollie Bird) artist David Lanham. But I could have used a Creative Commons picture OR a suspicious Facebook profile image. (see interesting infographic below)
How to Google Image Search by Image
For those of you who like directions better than pictures or comics: 
1. Go to Google Images and click on the tiny little camera on the right of the search bar - click on it
2. From here you have the option to either paste the URL of an image or upload it
3. Review the results and the Google guess, did someone else use your picture? Were you mentioned in an article or on a blog? Did someone re-name it?

Do note: It is possible to "fool" the search by deception. Downloading a picture, re-naming it, photoshopping it, not tagging it the way it was originally tagged - all tactics similar to Internet typosquatting.

See related articles and links below that touch on this.

Check out this really informative infographic about Real vs. Fake Facebook pages, spoilers - it's all about sexy women trying to catfish or lure gullible guys. Duh!

Related Articles
  So, How did this all come up?  
I've recently had 3 smart friends & colleagues ask me how to do the Google Image Search by Image which leaded me to think it was a bit buried and a Comic Tutorial was needed!  This Comic Tutorial is Creative Commons and is also available in several different sizes. Cheers!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gamification for the Win! Escape from Detention

You're looking at the proud smiling faces of a middle school Game App designer. Howard County Middle School students Tekye (and family friend to MHMS) and our own MHMS 8th grader Lasya, participated in an exciting program called HiTech - wherein they helped to create a super cool APP Game called Escape from Detention. And by the way, it's NOT EASY! It somehow reminds me of Frogger Get a peek at the game with this YouTube video! Here's a few screenshots I grabbed off my iPad to give you an idea what it looks like!
From an email from Tekye's proud mom, friend Catina (and former MHMS English teacher!) "The new game offers a variety of break out scenarios at escalating levels of complexity. Download the (free) game and try your hand at “springing” the student from captivity while avoiding myriad pitfalls. Escape is available for iPhones, iPads, and Android systems. App Store
linkGoogle Play
image I am so very proud of the work completed by the teenagers and the HiTech team that I had to share with you." 
According to an HCL press release: “More than 1,200 students between the ages of 11 and 18 [all of whom are students, public, private, or home-schooled, living in Howard County] have participated in HiTech classes since its inception … creating music, 3D images, videos [and] e-books.”
From an article by: Technically Baltimore: "Mindgrub Technologies, the Catonsville-based innovation agency that started a new gaming division this year, has released its latest game. Escape from Detention is a collaboration with students participating with the Howard County Library’s HiTech, the library’s new STEM digital media lab, who helped with the game’s design and development. Players maneuver detention-serving digital students around time-based obstacles (desks and other students) inside of classrooms. Download Escape! From Detention for Android or iOS. The game itself was produced in Corona, said Alex Hachey, Mindgrub’s creative lead, at the Baltimore Mobile Meetup in December. Producing the game in Corona makes it cross-platform, so it’ll work on iOS, Android, the Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Hachey also said the game development was paid for, as it’s a “client services game.”
Over a six-week period, Mindgrub employees served as instructors teaching students at the HiTech lab principles on game design, theory and logic, as well as teaching classes on producing sound effects, characters and game layout. It was the students who came up with concept for Escape! From Detention." Again, I played it....and it's NOT EASY -- but I really want to make it to the library!   
Photos of Tekye by his Mom, Catina & PicMonkey designed by me

HiTech is funded in part through a federal grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and IMLS.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Digital Curation & Sweet Scoopage

Hi! My name is Gwyneth and I am NOT an expert at Digital Curation. But I'm learning! I joined! when it first came out, but it didn't "get it" and fall in love with it until I saw it in action this summer in Australia with Joyce Valenza! (I know, pinch me, right?) 

I recently found out I could customize each topic and make it look purty. There are many other curation tools like DiigoPinterest, and Storify but this posting is going to focus on my new favourite - the gorgeous Scoopit!  It's like Pinterest but on steroids! It sorta has the look of it, but has SO many more features! Scoopit does triple duty with one smart bookmarklet.

1. Collect
Scoopit collects, saves, and organizes your digital discoveries or websites you want to share and
explore later. Blog posts you want to read or pass onto someone else. Resources you're trying to
gather for professional development or research units! Don't want to troll the Internet to find these resources? Scoopit will go out and gather suggested sites, blogs, videos, pins, and more guided by the keywords YOU set when you create each topic! That's right, it does the work for you!
2. Share 
Scoopit will share those cool resources on Social Media for you! With one click, as you Scoop, you can also Tweet, post to Facebook and Linkedin. Ever get frustrated by the 140 character limit of Twitter? No worries! Scoopit allows you to add your insight - paragraphs of it if you want!
3. Publish 
Scoopit publishes a lovely glossy digital "magazine" with each topic! This curation tool becomes a powerful crowdsource when visitors to your Scoopit topic page can Re-Scoop or share each "article!"

Are you new to digital curation? Check out the articles listed at the end of this post to learn about it - then come back for the FUN!
Graphically Gorgeous & Branding Savvy
For weeks now I've been playing with my! and LOVE how I can post remotely to Twitter & gather together interesting and related resources all in one spot! Also, because I'm admittedly graphically shallow, you can customize the Topic Pages to make them look gorgeous and to add your branding! The above screenshot is an example from my Font Lust & Other Graphic Desires topic. 
To customize your! Topic - go to the Topic then choose Curate > Manage  > Customization > Icon & Background. From here, you can download a free Photoshop .PSD Template. You can also upload your own background photo & choose tile - a preview will generate below. Click Save and Voila!
(See a full size versions of these graphics)
Here's what the Photoshop Template looks like without and with background & text added
A Timely Branding Opportunity!
When designing a customized background I first created a generic branded Daring Librarian Social Media background that would reference back to this blog, my Electronic Portfolio, and my Twitter Background. I used this background for my main Scoopit topic Daring Library Ed Tech.

But then I got inspired to create a different background depending on the subject of the topic. (yes, my graphic desires are addictive- but I can stop any time!)  Here's an example of how my Digital Sandbox Topic turned out.

UPDATE: Scoopit just added an RSS feature that makes curation easier and more targeted! Click Add on the webpage you're Scooping if this a page or a website you'd like to see more of!
Landing! Style
Your landing page (ex) shows your recent activity. Who has re-scooped you, followed you, and the latest scoops of those YOU are following! Of course, this is a great opportunity before you go to curate to re-scoop the great stuff found by your PLN! It's like the smart kid in class did your homework FOR you & you can pay it forward!
Anatomy of a Scoop! (See a full size version of this graphic - Or ALL the Graphics in gorgeous larger sizes here!) 
Make sure you install the! Bookmarklet in your browser toolbar. Then don't forget (like me! [facepalm] to drop down at every Scoop to make sure you have the right topic selected. You can add your two cents on the Scoop and if you're also posting to Twitter or LinkedIn because you've connected the accounts you can add your short 2 cents there AND your desired hashtags! Genius! All the features I described above are for the FREE version - and yes, you can do even more if you have the business or education version. But for me... right now... FREE is just fab! 

Scoopers I like, admire, & respect
This is just a tip of the iceberg of all the amazing Ed Tech & Librarian Scoopers out there. But if you're starting out or are already Scooping, I recommend you check out  & follow these fine curators!

A Sweet! Gift
My only complaint (other than I need to remember to drop down to change topics each scoop - that's my bad) is the 5 topic limit. Of course I went to Twitter & my buddy Librarian_Tiff agreed then we got a Valentines gift in the form of this Tweet and generous offer offer from Scoopit! (Don't you love it when companies are Social Media savvy & responsive?)
Act Fast! This month only -! Loves You! 
From their Blog: "February is all about letting your loved ones know how you feel, and for us that means you. To show our love this month, we’re lifting the topic creation limit: for free! All you have to do is ask! Send an email to and we’ll grant you access to unlimited topic creation – but only for this month, so don’t waste one minute!"
I didn't waste a min and emailed right away and within a few days - I received a lovely email from their community manager informing me that I had 5 more topics! W00t! --If you ever see that offer again - jump on it!

Digital Collection Curation The Mega Awesome Lib Guide by @JoyceValenza
From the amazing @EdTechSandyK Organize, Curate, and Share Your Online Resources from #TCEA13 
Nobody knows what Digital Curation is. But they’re all doing it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Collaboration Rocks! Librarians & Social Studies Teachers Talk Live

Join us for a lively and informative discussion on tips, tricks and sound ways to get students collaborating and researching using the best of current technology integration tools. 

I'm very excited and honored to announce and moderate a very special #TLChat & #SSChat collaboration on the TL Virtual Cafe!  Twitter and Social Studies Chat stars Ron Peck @Ron_Peck
& Melissa Seideman @mseideman will be our guest speakers.
February 4th at 8pmE US Time
UPDATE: It was a GREAT webinar! Please make sure to visit the for the Session Wikipage Blackboard Webinar & chat text archive, more resources, and a larger version of their informative slides below! Thank you Ron & Melissa for sharing your great ideas and inspiring projects with us!

Please vote on a topic of discussion for the next #TlChat Live! Feb. 11, 2013 8 pm ET #aasl #aslachat #libchat #edchat #satchat  A huge thanks to the amazing @NikkiDRobertson for being an amazing organizer & leader!


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