Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Hello, Operator! Please help me filter my search"


"Offutt Air Force Base operator" by U.S. Air Force photo - page image.
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Information has never been more ubiquitous than it is today.  Fortunately, we live in a world of open access where performing a simple Google Search can yield the results we are looking for.  But what about those times when it doesn't?

There is actually SO much information online that it can become difficult finding what we are looking for.  The problem isn't that there is TOO much information on the Internet.  It's that we often have difficulty filtering this information.

Not to worry, Google is aware of this problem, and has integrated search operators for people to use when searching the Web.  Search operators are, "words that can be added to searches to help narrow down the results" (Punctuation, symbols, & operators in search).  In other words, search operators help us to filter information on the Internet.

There are several search operators that can be used when performing a Google Search. For example, if you perform a search using the "define:" operator followed by a word, Google will return the definition of that word.  However, it is important to note that when you use search operators, make sure that you don’t have any spaces between your operator and search terms. For example, searching for “site:wikipedia.org” will apply the operator, but “site: wikipedia.org” will not.




Now, you could memorize all of the operators that are currently available to use in your queries.  Or, you could use Google Advanced Search, which already has the operators built into specific search fields.  With Google Advanced Search, you can search using a single operator, or multiple operators at the same time.  The table below helps to identify the search fields in Google Advanced Search and explains how to use each one.




When using these search operators (either in the omnibox or in Google Advanced Search) there are a few search rules to keep in mind.  These rules not only apply when using search operators. They also apply to any Google Search.


  • Every word matters:  Consider only using key terms, and omit unnecessary words. 
  • Order of words matter:  Consider the order in which you use your key terms and words.
  • Symbols matter:  Consider using symbols such as $, #, @, *, -, and + to refine your search.
  • Capitalization does NOT matter:  Disregard using capital letters.  
  • Punctuation does NOT matter:  Disregard using !, ?, ; ., etc.


So, the next time you need to perform a Google Search, consider using search operators and Google Advanced Search to filter out information in order to help you find exactly what you are looking for!


Resources

Punctuation, symbols & operators in search
Google Search Modifiers: Cheat Sheet
Google Search Tips: Search Operators
Google Advanced Search
Google Search Education
Google Search Help Center
Inside Search


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Monday, October 27, 2014

3 YouTube Tips for New Users


Have you ever had your students complete a video project but then had difficulty figuring out how to share it?  This is actually a common problem that teachers face all the time.  This blog post will help to identify a workflow to help students save and share their videos using their Google Apps for Education, YouTube account.

Before students can begin uploading their videos to YouTube, they have to activate their YouTube Channel. Often, students who are new users will create a video on their iPad (or other mobile device) and try to upload it to their YouTube account.  However, if they haven't "activated" their YouTube Channel, their videos will not upload successfully.

How to Activate a YouTube Channel

Students will need to first login to YouTube on a computer, and click the "Upload" button.  Then they will be prompted to create an "available" username and select their gender.  When they have successfully finished these steps, they can click the, "OK, I'm ready to upload" button. That's it!  Their YouTube Channel has been activated and they can begin uploading videos from any device.  Here is a video that demonstrates these steps.




Privacy Settings

Now, to take this one step further, I also recommend that students adjust their Privacy settings based on their school's Acceptable Use Policy.  Students and teachers can actually change their default upload setting to either Public, Unlisted, or Private.  By default, videos uploaded to YouTube are set to Public.  But by making a few extra clicks, any user can change their default uploads to either Unlisted or Private.  

To change your Privacy Settings in YouTube, click on your Profile icon in the top, right-hand corner and select the YouTube Settings button (gear icon).  Next, at the bottom left-hand corner, select "View Additional Features".  Then select "Upload Defaults" on the left-hand sidebar.  This is where users can change their default Privacy, Category, and other settings.  Finally, click the save button to update the changes.  Check out the video below for a video demonstration of these steps.




YouTube Safety Mode

YouTube also has a "Safety Mode" feature for students.  To turn ON "Safety Mode", simply scroll down to the bottom of your YouTube account and select the "Safety" button.  This will bring up the option to turn Safety Mode ON or OFF.  By selecting ON, this will also turn on Google SafeSearch as an added bonus. However, it is important to note that when Safety Mode is turned OFF, Google SafeSearch will also be turned off.




So, before you begin to have your students share their next video project, consider having them perform the following steps:


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Friday, October 24, 2014

Improve Your Research with Google Search Tools




Google Search has some really great tools and features to help you when you are performing research. Tools such as Google Image SearchGoogle BooksGoogle Scholar, and Google News can all be used in slightly different ways to help you answer your questions.  This blog post will highlight how to use each of these tools to access primary resources, along with providing some concrete examples and tutorials.


Google Image Search

We all use images for various research projects and assignments.  Google knows this, which is why it has made it easy for users to search for images based on different usage rights.  By selecting Google Image Search, and clicking on the "Search Tools" button, you can filter your image results by usage rights.  I like to search for images that are "Labeled for reuse with modification" to ensure that I don't infringe on anyone's copyrighted works.


Google Books

Have you ever thought about using Google Books for research?  There are actually tons of free ebooks that can be easily accessible for reading, or for research.  Google Books has lots of books that are in the public domain so users can access these books in full text for free.   In order to search for free Google Books, simply type in your research topic and select "Books".   Then, select the "Search Tools" button and change "Any books" to "Free Google ebooks".  Now you can perform your research by skimming and scanning free Google Books.


Google Scholar

If you are interested in searching for more than just books, Google Scholar is a great place to start. With Google Scholar, you can search for citations, books, journal articles, and even case law.  When performing research in Google Scholar, it is often helpful to set a custom date range to help refine your results.  For even more options, select the down arrow at the right and choose "Advanced search" to use additional search fields in your search.


Google News

Did you know that Google has a collection of historical newspapers?  It's called the Google News Newspapers Archive and it dates all the way back to 1970.  There are hundreds of Newspapers that have been scanned and uploaded in the archives to be used for research.  To use the Newspapers Archive, you can either visit the archives directly at http://news.google.com/newspapers, or you can type your query and include the operator: "site: news.google.com/newspapers" in the Google omnibox. This will automatically search your query in the Newspapers Archive.  You could also just browse the newspapers that are available in the archive.  They are listed in alphabetical order.



So, the next time you are conducting research, consider using Google Image SearchGoogle BooksGoogle Scholar, and Google News. They just might be able to help you find what you are looking for!  Check out the video below to watch a screencast demonstration on how to use these Google Search Tools for research.




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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Digital Citizenship Week: Copyright and Wrong

creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by liako:
http://flickr.com/photos/liako/3700283776
Happy Digital Citizenship Week!  This year, Digital Citizenship Week is from October 19-25 and it's mission is to recognize and celebrate the safe, appropriate, and responsible use of technology. In lieu of Digital Citizenship Week, I thought I might share some information and resources regarding Copyright Law as it pertains to education. 

As Digital Citizens, we often emphasize the importance of digital safety, security, and appropriate communication, which are all critical elements of digital citizenship.  However, copyright is also a critical element of digital citizenship that often gets overlooked.  Why, you might ask?  Maybe because it's not valued as much as the other components of digital citizenship.  Or, maybe it's because we as educators don't fully understand copyright, or know how to find and use resources responsibly and appropriately.  I'm thinking it's the latter.  So, hopefully this blog post will shed some light into copyright and highlight some resources and tools that are available for educators and students to use for projects and learning assignments. 

So, what is Copyright exactly?  

Copyright is basically an exclusive right that is automatically given to the owner of an original work. To be considered work, it needs to be tangible in some form of text, imagery, visual art, audio, video, or performance.  Believe it or not, but, “Copyright vests automatically as soon as you create an original work that is fixed in a tangible medium.  Consequently, nearly every person in the country today is a copyright owner” (Crews, 2012, pp. 23-24).  For example, if you snap a photo on your smartphone, you automatically have copyright protection on that photo.  So in reality, we are all owners and users of copyrighted material.

What happens if I want to use someone else's work?

Below are some strategies that you can use to avoid copyright infringement (Crews, 2012, p. 139). However, it is always a good idea to include attribution to the author or source when using someone else's work:
  1. No permission is needed if the work is in the public domain
  2. No permission is needed if you use the work within fair use or any other exception
  3. Permission for some works may be available though a collective licensing agency such as Creative Commons
  4. Contact a copyright owner and draft a permission letter 
  5. Create your own original work  

1.  Public Domain: No permission is needed if the work is in the public domain. Works that are found in the public domain are works by owners who "... choose to publish online and to make the content available in full on the Internet, without restriction" (Crews, 2012, p. 37).  Due to recent advances in technology, many people are now choosing to publish their work online for open access. "Open access is a choice made by the copyright owner—not to relinquish rights, but to use the legal rights in order to make the work easily accessible" (Crews, 2012, p. 37). 

2.  Fair Use:  No permission is needed if you use the work within fair use.  Fair use can be defined as, "an exception to the rights of copyright owners, allowing the public to make limited uses of a protected work" (Crews, 2012, p. 53). When determining fair use, there are four factors that need to be considered: purpose, nature, amount, and effect (Crews, 2012, p. 59):
  • Purpose:  A nonprofit educational purpose can support a claim of fair use.  A transformative use can also be highly influential.
  • Nature:  Uses of factual, nonfiction works are more likely to be within fair use, while fair use applies more narrowly to creative works.
  • Amount: the less the amount of work used, the more likely it is fair use. 
  • Effect:  Uses that do not compete with the market for the copyrighted work are more likely fair use. 

3.  Creative Commons:  Permission for some works may be available through a collective licensing agency.  "Authors are now choosing to make many of their works available to the public under a Creative Commons license.  This voluntary system is essentially a grant of permission to the public to use the work for certain purposes. One of the most common options permits any noncommercial uses of the work with attribution to the author or source.  A work marked with that CC license may be used by anyone, for say, nonprofit education, provided the copies include the author’s name or other identification” (Crews, 2012, p. 37).  To find works that have a Creative Commons license, visit search.creativecommons.org.

4.  Reach Out:  Contact a copyright owner and draft a permission letter.  Sometimes it can be advantageous to make a general request to the copyright owner.  When making a request, it is often helpful to explain how you intend to use the work in connection with teaching or learning.  Some details to include in the request are (Crews, 2012):
  • A termination date for the permission
  • A maximum number of students using the work
  • The medium by which you will share the work
  • The specific nature of the use

5.  Create:  Become a copyright owner and create your own original work.   Often, the best solution to avoiding copyright infringement is to simply create your own work. Even though it might take longer, there can be a great sense of pride and accomplishment as a result.  Some ideas might include taking your own photos, drafting your own artwork, and writing down your own thoughts to be used for various projects and assignments.  And if you are interested in adding some extra protection to your work, you can always consider registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office

Why Bother?

After reading this, some of you might be thinking to yourself, "People infringe on copyright almost every single day (with or without even knowing it).  No one ever gets caught and no one ever faces any consequences, so why should we even bother paying attention to the complications of copyright at all?"  While that might appear to be the case, it is important to know that "the owner can seek statutory damages of up to $30,000 per work infringed, in lieu of actual damages or profits. Moreover, the owner may also ask for reimbursement of attorney fees and the costs of litigation" (Crews, 2012, p. 102). Furthermore, "If you have committed a willful infringement, you may also face criminal penalties—including monetary fines and time in the federal prison system. (Crews, 2012, p. 103).

The purpose of sharing this information isn't to scare you, rather, it's to inform you! And in my opinion, the most important reason to care about copyright is simply because it's the right thing to do. Even though the chances of getting caught and facing consequences are slim to none, we should lead by example by showing respect to creators of work, and giving credit where credit is due.  That's what it takes to be a digital citizen.  That's the difference between copyright and wrong! 

So, the next time you find yourself wanting to use someone else's work, follow the five strategies to avoid copyright infringement, and use these resources below to help you find and cite your work.

Images
Photos For ClassGoogle Advanced Search: Usage Rights
Flickr Creative Commons
Every Stock Photo
Free Digital Photos

Audio
YouTube Audio Library
Royalty Free Music
National Jukebox LOC.gov
UJAM
GarageBand

Video
YouTube → Search Filter → Creative Commons
Vimeo → Search Filter → Creative Commons
Moving Image Archive

Attribution
Purdue: OWL Research and Citation
Flickr CC Attribution Helper
EasyBib.com
Bibme.org

Educational Resources on Copyright

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Crews, K. D. (2012). Copyright law for librarians and educators: Creative strategies and practical solutions. Chicago: American Library Association.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Did You Know? Google Sites No Longer Redirects to Other Websites ... Or Does it?

File:Mandatory road sign no right turn.svg
Image is cc licensed for reuse on wikimedia commons.

Did you know that Google recently stopped enabling Sites to redirect or forward to other sites (such as a domain that you might have purchased)?  I just noticed this today when I tried visiting my website when I wasn't logged into my account and I discovered a blank, white page. Apparently, others have been running into this same issue.  I think it might have something to do with a potential security issue.

How does it work?

After doing some research, I was able to find a workaround for this.  If you still want your Google Site to redirect (or forward) to your own domain, or to another site, all you have to do is check the box in your settings that will "allow embedding of your sites in other sites".

To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Login to your Google Site
  2. Select the "Open More Actions Menu" (gear icon)
  3. Select "Manage Site"
  4. Select the "General" tab
  5. Scroll down to "Security"
  6. Check the box that says "allow embedding of your sites in other sites"

I got this information from the following Google Product Forum:

https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/sites/chg5IL7ITFI

Here's an example

If you visit my professional webpage: www.bradleylands.com you will see that the site is up and running.  It was created with Google Sites and you can confirm this by scrolling down to the bottom of the page.  If you had visited my website anytime during the last three weeks, you would have seen a white, blank page.

Now that you know
  1. If you happen to have a Google Site that redirects to a different website or domain, consider using this quick workaround to display your domain on your Google Site.
  2. If you ever create a Google Site in the future, keep this trick in mind if you decide to forward your site to a different website or domain.

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