This is pretty basic stuff but I’ve found it useful in class.

I’ve often combined writing poetry with digital tools in the classroom. There are a lot of short forms that mean even the slowest typist can produce something good in limited time. From a pupil blogging perspective pupils of varying ability often get great results they can be proud of publishing.

When I started using iPads in teachers training and with pupils, I started using simple poetry forms as a way to produce something quickly that could develop from text be combined with images, video and audio.

Good, IMO, forms are kennings, lunes, haiku and six word stories.

Back then we used skitch and comic life to added text to pictures. More recently I moved on to the free version of pic collage 1.

When I arrived back in the classroom with a pile of iPads I’ve been using the technique quite a bit.

More recently 2 I’ve cut out third party apps to use the newish built in markup in the Photos app. Recently I demoed the process at an interview and saw Jenni Robertson show it at an Apple event in Glasgow. On both occasions I was surprised to find that it was a new concept to most of the audience. I though it might be worth a post here. There is a video embedded at the bottom of this post, but here are some written instructions.

Start with an image

This is a good opportunity to talk and demo a wee bit about copyright and attribution. In class we often use the Morguefile or my own FlickrCC Stampr.

write some words

I believe it is best to use the notes app for this, avoiding thinking about how the text looks, where it goes etc.

Copy the text to the clipboard.

Combine the words and pictures

Open photos

Select and view the image.

Click on the adjustment icon

When the photo opens click on the ellipses and then Markup

On the markup screen click the T tool to add a text box and then press on the box to edit it.

 

Paste in your poem.

Adjust the size, colour and placing of the text.

Bonus Tip – drop shadow

Duplicate the text, change the colour of one and move the top one over the bottom leaving a nice ‘old style’ drop shadow. I think this is worth it as a intro to layers in graphics. It can also hep readability on complex backgrounds.

 

 

Although this is a very simple lesson I think it give the opportunity to teach a few different things over and above literacy involved in the writing:

  • Copyright and creative commons
  • Combining apps (safari, notes, photos) in a workflow.
  • Layers

It has the potential for being extended into video & audio editing (groups pictures perhaps) and sharing the results.

Here is a quick screencast.

 

1. Some examples from my class using pic collage Frosty Photos and Poems – Banton Biggies

2. For example Kennings, we know about animals – Banton Biggies

above

I just updated my blog to the latest version of WordPress.

All seemed fine until I had a look at the site. Some of my menus had went a little weird.

Quite a few of the titles had changed to ellipses! I went into the dashboard and changed them back, my changes didn’t stick. I presumed that it must have been the upgrade. I had no idea where to start so shot off a quick tweet for help.

After dinner I calmed down a little and though about the changes to my blog I’d made recently for mico blogging. One of those was to give posts without a title titles on wp_insert_post_data. It uses ellipse! This was meant for posts arriving from the micro.blog app. They would get titles set when they arrived on my blog, to prevent ugliness in he dashboard.


function modify_post_title($data)
{
    if ($data[ 'post_title' ] == ''  ) {
        //wp_filter_nohtml_kses strips html and then I replace   
        $title = str_replace( " " , " " , substr( wp_filter_nohtml_kses( $data[ 'post_content' ] ) , 0, 60 ) ) . "..." ;
        $data['post_title'] =  $title ;
    }
    return $data; // Returns the modified data.
} 

so I’ve changed the if to:
if ($data[ 'post_title' ] == '' && $data[ 'post_type' ] == 'post' )

Which seems to have solved the problem and taught me a lesson.

I’ve been beta testing micro.blog. There is a new page here for status type posts, these get sent to micro.blog/johnjohnston and to twitter.

This has renewed my interest in finding different ways to post to the blog especially for short posts that would have previously gone straight to twitter.

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I guess the online educational project I feel most proud of was the Sandaig Primary website.

I am not sure when I started it, the internet archive has a snapshot from July 2003. The news page says ‘Site opens ||| 11 April 2003’.

Over the next few years I and my pupils developed the site by blogging and podcasting. We were lucky enough to get in near the ground floor for pupil blogging and right at the start of podcasting. We had a lot of fun. I made plenty of mistakes, but learnt a lot.

In October 2008 I left the school after improving the site a little to allow other folk to update it.

I still visited the site and referred to it all the time.

The school have now decided to move on, and remove the site. I just finished removing all the files from the site and leaving a note.

I know the Internet is new and full of impermanence but I am pretty sad. Sandaig Otters & Radio Sandaig I’ll miss you.

I signed up for the kickstarter of micro.blog, it went live earlier this week.

Micro.blog is a new social network for independent microblogs.
Start a microblog today. Easy to publish, own your content, great cross-posting.

Micro.blog

The service is very new and so far has changed and developed every day.

The idea is, you publish short posts, these are mirrored on micro.blog/yourusername via RSS. The posts can be from any RSS feed. You can get a micro.blog hosted blog at yourusername.micro.blog or use your own hosting.

The micro.blog iOS app will post to your micro.blog blog or your own WordPress blog. Or you can use your own system. There is a microblog bot that will post your posts on to Twitter too.

The difference between the hosted blog and your micro.blog/username stream is a mite confusing at the moment. I wonder if a different domain name might have helped.

Both the hosted blog and the twitter bot are paid for options. The docs make it clear that you can host your own and point to IFTTT as an alternative to the bot.

The system follows the indieweb principle of controlling your own content and sending it on to other spaces.

Replies on micro.blog to your posts are sent as webmentions to your own blog and show up as comments if you have the webmention plugin installed. I had that already to get twitter replies as comments.

My setup

I’ve added a new category here, micro. I’ve edited the blog to not have posts with this category show on the home page, they show on micro instead.

I set the micro.blog app to create posts with the status format in the micro category.

I turned off the jetpack social posting to Twitter function. I’ll manually post normal posts. I’ve set up a micro.blog bot to post to Twitter.

The service is very much a work in progress, and I’ve not really read the docs but I’ve noticed a few interesting things.

titleless

On is that the posts on micro.blog consist of descriptions with no titles. When you post form the app, you get a post on your blog without a title. A post with a title on your blog is posted as a link to micro.blog. With a post without out a title the description becomes the content of the micro.blog post.

That means you get lots of posts listed in your dashboard as ‘no title’. Since I didn’t like this I tried to auto add titles to posts without titles with a little Google-fu and some WordPress coding.

This worked out fine, except the posts on micro.blog consist of a title and a link, the tweet posted by the twitter bot is the same.

I am now looking to create a custom RSS feed without title. More googling ahead.

Alternatively I could use the code from Tweaks for micro.blog that adds dates as titles, micro.blog ignore these.

Or just learn to live with ‘no title’ posts in the dashboard.

Me on Micro.blog

Preparing for the microblog is a lot more coherent than this post if you are looking for setup advice.

I’ll post the code I’ve mentioned above at some point, it is pretty simple stuff.

Recently I was being Pedantic about Podcasts. Trying to point out that the important thing about podcasts is the way they are distributed making it is be easy to listen as we wash the dishes or drive to work.

I posted about this before: EDUtalk: How to Listen.

Once you get this set up to be automatic it makes listen to podcasts as easy as listening to the radio.

I started way back, syncing podcasts to an iPod. One I got my first iPhone I used that, trying a few different apps before settling on  Overcast.

A few weeks ago I deleted Overcast as I was running out of space to record a movie, planning to reinstall ASAP.

Last week as I went to do this, on a whim,  I spent £3.99 on Castro 2 instead. It turns out that this app matches my listening habits better than overcast. I’d guess, from memory, it has less settings and options but that is not a bad thing.

I listen to podcasts mostly on my 45 minute commute home. I am interested in more podcasts than would fill that amount of time. Castro lets me subscribe to a bunch of podcasts and queue up (and download) only the episodes I want to hear. It does this in a very simple way.

  • New episodes from the feeds I am subscribed to get listed in my inbox.
  • From there you can quickly add then to your queue, at the end or at the top. At this point they get downloaded.
  • You can set any feed to have its episodes automatically added to the queue.
  • You can archive episodes, you don’t loose them but they get out of the inbox.
  • You can queue episodes from your archive or the discovery tab. That means you can search or paste the url to a podcast into the discovery tab and see the episodes, you can add one to the queue without subscribing.

Once in the queue you can rearrange the episodes and they play in order. Each moves to the archive after it is played. Importantly for me, the next queued episode plays automatically.

Bonus, as you add an episode to the queue there is a nice wee animation as seen in the featured image of this post (my image is a gif, speed and quality are not reflections of the app.)

 

iMovie, Numbers, Keynote, Pages, and GarageBand for both Mac and iOS devices have been updated and are now listed in the App Store for free.

Apple Makes iMovie, GarageBand, and iWork Apps for Mac and iOS Free for All Users – Mac Rumors

Worth noting, although these are free already on new devices. This will help classes like mine whose iOS devices are on their second Apple ID.

Also good for distributing through MDM, which seems to be the idea.

Also Clips

On the other hand, people have taken to calling any audio file a ‘podcast’, which is less great. It’s a podcast only if it is syndicated; otherwise, it’s just an audio file.

Open Word—The Podcasting Story ~ Stephen Downes

It is nice to see the increased interest in podcasting in generally, in the tech realm and in education. Good too to see this important point. An MP3 is not a podcast, the delivery system of an RSS feed with enclosures is. Or the fact that a podcast, if you subscribe is pushed to a you or your podcatcher.

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