Monthly Archives: May 2009

NERCOMP: Developing and Using Material Culture Collections for Teaching and Learning

May 19th, 2009

Session 1: Introduction

Teaching collections are:

1. Classroom based vs. institutional level collections
2. Faculty initiated and developed – we want faculty thinking and talking about the metadata – how tools will be used. Also talking to media resource specialists – how best to capture material objects – photograph them.
3. Faculty managed – faculty are the ones who are responsible for managing and handling the collections.
4. Instructionally focused – what is the application of these types of resources in the classroom? Focusing on the higher order thinking skills.

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Blurring the lines – a Tilt-Shift Generator for us all

The Art&Mobile website has introduced an online, down and dirty tilt-shift utility for the amateur user called TiltShift Generator. It is as easy as uploading a photo, adjusting the settings for desired effect and saving the photo back to your computer. This could be a very useful tool for faculty wanting to enhance photos without a big learning curve and expensive software.

Here is a before picture… After applying tilt-shift…
toco-toucan tiltshifttest

Kodak Zx1 Pocket Video Camera – Moving Pictures in your hand

I have been testing the Kodak Zx1 Pocket Video Camera that arrived yesterday (for all the features and specs please see the ITGME page). As the name implies, it is a portable video camera that is Kodak’s answer to RCA’s Small Wonder with one added feature; HD! The Zx1 will record in three formats:

HD60: 720p at 60 fps—16:9
HD: 720p at 30 fps—16:9 (default)
VGA: 640 × 480—4:3

It also has the ability to take still pictures (3MP).

To simplify I will break down my evaluation in Pros and Cons.

Pros Cons
Nice size and light-weight Difficult to access the ports
Easy-to-use keypad (6 buttons) When zooming, the camera shutters
Tripod mount External USB cable
Saves in .mov format (great for Mac Users) PC users will need to install additional software (on the built-in camera memory)

Here are some sample videos

VGA (640×480 – 00:54 – 16.5MB)
HD60 (1280×720 – 00:47 – 73MB)
VGA Sample HD60 Sample

In a nutshell, this is a great gadget for taking to the kids’ soccer game or bootleging a concert (believe me, it will fit in a boot leg without a problem), however, I would not recomend it for the user who wants a more polished video. That said, it is very easy to use and is a great “on-the-go” camera.

Editing Photos Online

Chris Pirillo on has a top ten roundup of the best free web photo editing tools. For us, three of these tools stand out:

1) Pixlr

Like the others, Pixlr’s photo tool is all online. It is flash-based and resembles the Photoshop layout. While it doesn’t have all the photo editing selections that come with paid programs, all the basics are there and easy to use. Users can edit photos from websites files on their computer. When finished editing the image, you just click “Save” and you are able to save your image to your computer.

Privacy: The images are automatically erased from the Pixlr servers every 5 minutes. Changes in the image never leave the screen.


An extremely simple image editing tool, also does not require flash to run it. For those without flash, this is the tool to use. There are only a few basic features–crop, rotate, resize, brightness, brush, text, sharpen–and a few other photo filters. Edited images can be saved to the computer or uplaoded into DrPic’s free webhosting service.

Privacy: As with Pixlr, images are deleted from the DrPic servers.

3) Photoshop Online

In terms of usability, the Photoshop Online site is probably the best. However, there are several problems with Adobe’s online editing tool. First, the program can only use jpegs. It also requires registration (an Adobe ID) and saved images are automatically saved to their servers (the images can be saved to the computer and deleted from the server). Soon the site will be expanding to other image formats–making this a more viable program for general use.

Privacy: Photo folders need to be set to private or the website could potentially use images in their “featured” section.

Creative Commons in the classroom

Following Professor Besser’s talk on copyright, we’re going to discuss how professors and students can use a Creative Commons license in classes. A Creative Commons license is meant to “help you retain your copyright and manage your copyright in a more flexible, open way,” providing “an easy yet reliable way to tell the world ‘Some rights reserved’ or even ‘No rights reserved.'” You may recognize their symbol, as it is one of the search engines built into the Firefox browser. For more information about how a Creative Commons can work for you, visit their FAQ page.

Using works licensed under Creative Commons, professors allow their students a more flexible, open interaction with resources as well. To show what this means in the classroom, Alec Couros has outlined a working definition of open/networked teaching. (And in keeping with that open model, he has revisited that definition in response to comments and concerns.) To find resources for the classroom that have Creative Commons licenses, use this search, or the one embedded in your Firefox search bar.

For both professors and students, Creative Commons licenses can be powerful ways to share or protect your research, so that it can make as large of an impact as possible upon the open digital community. For more information about how students can get involved with this discussion about copyright and intellectual property, visit