Archive for the “Mixed Media” Category

I recently completed a Webinar for ISTE on visual literacy which was based on a framework I’ve developed for understanding visual literacy beginning with the brain and extending the concept through networked learning. It’s something that’s been through a number of revisions and I think it works well. You can see the hyperlinked text on my presentation Web site, and I’ve embedded the corresponding slide deck here. My thanks to ISTE for offering the opportunity to give four Webinars this fall. If you are interested, ISTE Webinars can be found here.

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I originally published this January 24, 2007. I’ve updated it considerably…

There is a biological basis for visual communication.

The auditory nerve transmits sound to the brain and is composed of about 30,000 fibers. Contrast that with the optic nerve which sends visual signals to the brain through 1 million fibers (Burmark 2002). Basically, you’ve got a dial-up connection from the ear to the brain and broadband from the eye to the brain. Teach kids to take advantage of the connectivity, and the raw capacity of the brain to process visually, and then teach them that…

Emotion, depicted through visual means, sells the message.

Students must learn how to convey meaning emotionally. That’s why digital storytelling, when done right, can be such a powerful learning experience. Anyone that has seen 4 Generations: The Water Buffalo Movie can attest to that. View that movie…how many of you would pony up $250 after viewing that? And take the video obituary (called the Final Word) of Art Buchwald at the New York Times where he says “Hi, I’m Art Buchwald and I just died” and they go on to tell his life story. Bizarre, yet powerful because of the intersection of emotion and medium. And then teach them that…

The most powerful producer of visual imagery is the individual, its you.

Digital cameras, cell phone cameras, 100 dollar Flip Video cameras, citizen journalism, photos of the London subway bombings, of Saddam Hussein’s execution, and 2,474,956,178 billion photos at Flickr attest to the capability and absolute unmitigated power of the individual to produce visual material and bring the world home. But simply producing this is not enough, because…

You have to share it. Understand Creative Commons. Post content online that others can use, that enable you to connect to other users, collaborate with others, create with others and contribute to everyone. So, teach kids to be able to do that, and in the process emphasize that…

Individuals must be capable of working in multiple mediums to create visual messages, in accordance with the principals of visual literacy.

They have to do something with that visual imagery and it has to be done the right way. Create. Remix. Mashup. Post to YouTube, TeacherTube, SchoolTube, DNATube or create your own “Tube” with . Use Google Earth to combine imagery with place. Use the content of Google Streetview in a Web page or wiki; blend this with other media and primary source content to create a mixed-media platform of resources that can be the raw material of learning. Additionally, use online content creation systems like JumpCut and, MogoPop to create messages for the distribution of content on the networks of the Web, and to make content transportable. Why is this necessary? Because…

Visuals, when combined with other multimedia, provide individuals with a competitive voice. One that can be heard. One that can be measured. One that says “here I am, and here’s what I think, here is what I have to contribute. Now what do you think?” Kids have meaningful things to say, so challenge them to produce visual content with purpose and with pride. Help kids understand that the world is more connected then ever, and that producing visual content like this becomes even more powerful in 2008 because…

Networks for sharing and collaboration extend that voice; that voice can contribute to a conversation as a contributing member of a community. 150,000 videos are uploaded to YouTube per day (Wesch 2008). Between 1 and 2 million photos are uploaded to Flickr each day (Flickr main page). Both platforms enable commenting, and YouTube encourages videos to be produced in response to others. Complete conversations around a single photograph occur in Flickr, an idea that is explored by Clay Shirkey in Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing With Organizations. The potential for rich dialog can occur (as well as hateful dialog), so kids need to learn how to be a part of that, and in a positive way…

And then emphasize that in 2008:

Everyone can learn from each other, independent of time, space and place. (Ryan Bretag).


Burmark, Lynell. Visual Literacy: Learn to See. See to Learn. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2002.

Bretag, Ryan. Personal Communication. 2008.

Shirkey, Clay. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. New York, New York. The Penguin Group,

Wesch, Michael. “YouTube Statistics.” Digital Ethonography. 18 May 2008. Kansas State University. 7 May 2008 <>.

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I’ve created three screencasts of Google Streetview.

An Introduction to Streetview: the basic interface.

Streetview and The Grassy Knoll: using Streetview to explore Dealy Plaza, site of the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Embedding Streetview: using the onboard embed code to place Streetview maps into any tool that accepts embed code, in this demo I use a pbWiki page.

The screencasts were done in Camtasia and uploaded into my account. allows you to create playlists which have an RSS feed. I plan on producing several more, so subscribe to the feed if you are interested.

Access the playlist. Enjoy!

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I’m beginning to work with different kinds of media to get comfortable creating immersive visual learning environments for students. The sophomores in the two schools I work in don’t even remember Michael Jordan playing for the Bulls (there is something very wrong with that), and a 32 year-old teacher wasn’t even born when the VietNam War ended. So, why not recreate historical environments for students to give them a context for understanding, using the rich resources and tools available to us.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know my first attempt of this will be with the Kennedy Assassination. I was four years old (OK, do the math to figure out how old I am), and don’t remember anything about it. I do remember when RFK was shot, and I do remember the King Assassination-both vividly. I’ve also been to Dealy Plaza several times and I’m always amazed at how small it is and that it looks like any intersection in America. I’ve stood on the famous grassy knoll, and I’ve been on the 6th Floor of the Texas School Book Depository, and stood next to the sniper’s nest. It’s very difficult to describe…

So, why not use Streetview to show students the actual physical layout.? Why not take them down the assassination route? Why not tell them the story, but also show them? With Streetview we can do this. Here is an embedded map from Streetview, and of Dealy Plaza:

View Larger Map

I’ve started you out facing the Book Depository. Move up to see the 6th floor window where Oswald allegedly was (its directly to the right of the three lights of the traffic signal). You can even zoom in, and get a really sinister feeling. Zoom back out, move down the street by clicking on the arrows in the yellow paths (how cool is that?) and locate the grassy knoll to the right. If you are good, you’ll see an X on the street that a local tour guide paints on the street to mark the location of the fatal shot. People stand on this spot when there is no traffic and take a photograph up at the 6th floor.

I’ve done that myself.  Let me tell you, it sends absolute chills up your spine.

You can open Streetview by going to Google Maps and clicking on the Streetview icon. A Google login is not required to use Google Streetview so that’s good. Additionally, if you would like to the embed the video as I have, click on the Link to this Page link, and the code will be there. Embed in a blog or a wiki, or yes, even a Google Earth placemark (v4.2 on the PC side, sorry Mac users).

Think of the possibilities for this subject…could you have multiple Streetview maps embedded in a wiki that would enable kids to travel the assassination route? Engaging? Certainly. Would this improve learning history?

In the next several weeks, I’ll build out some lessons which utilize different media tools that enable educators to create mixed media learning environments. I hope that you will join me, and suggest strategies and tools for this project.

Here’s the Google Video that explains more about Streetview:

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I’m experimenting with Camtasia and to produce some screencasts that support my blog post from yesterday. In the post, I described how to use an online HTML editor to create content for Google Earth everest.jpgeverest.jpgplacemark windows, and how to put that content into a Google Earth placemark window. I’ve broken the screencasts into smaller clips to speed download as well as to give users a choice of specifically seeing what they are interested in. So here the are:

An Introduction to the Process (online HTML editor

Entering text and hyperlinks

Adding an image

Viewing the HTML Code

Adding a YouTube Video

Creating the Placemark file

I created these screencasts with Camtasia v4.0, but they could have also been created by using Jing or any other screen capture tool. The videos are hosted at which hopefully is available to most teachers (read “not blocked”). So far, I’m satisfied with (I have a basic account that I paid for, but free hosting is available) and see it as a nice alternative to YouTube and TeacherTube.

I’d be interested in your perceptions of the content, as well as how performed on your machine.

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UPDATE: print instructions for this process are available as a PDF document.


I’m preparing to teach six sections of Biology 2 (junior-senior alternative to AP Biology, and a course I helped to develop when I was a classroom teacher) next Tuesday on creating a product in Google Earth that demonstrate the students’ understanding of the effects of extreme environments on human physiology.

Basically, the students will conduct their research on the effects of extreme environments (altitude, deserts, ocean, etc.) on the physiology of human beings. They’ll put together a tour of these environments using Google Earth, while using placemark windows as containers for different types of media that support their analysis and explanations.

So here is a part of the presentation of adding content to placemark windows in Google Earth.

Several things first. To add content to a placemark other than text, you have to know some HTML. I’ll address that in a moment. Second, I’m operating on the most current version of Google Earth (v4.2) on a PC platform.

So let’s get started. If you want to see a larger version of this post, with larger graphics, click on the diamond in the upper right portion of this post. That will expand the post to full-screen.

To address the HTML requirement, I’m using a very simple and nice online HTML editor (Mac users can access this editor if they use Firefox) from the Brookhaven National Laboratory. It looks like this:


So, I’ll begin entering content including some text, an image and a hyperlink. To add the text, simply type. To add an image, locate an image (mine came from the attribution pool of the Creative Commons portion of Flickr), get the address of the image (I accessed that through the image properties), click the image tool, and paste the address in. To add a hyperlink, type the text you want to become the link, hilite it, and use the link tool in the tools menu, and then paste or type the link (URL) in. It looks like this:basic2.jpg

By clicking on the HTML Toggle Source button in the online editor, I can see the code:


UPDATE: Evidently, embedding YouTube content in Google Earth does not work on the Mac. See this post for details. Thanks to Dean Shareski for the link.

I’m doing this at this point because I want to add a YouTube video on high altitude to my code that will eventually be placed into Google Earth, and I need to add the embed code. This can be found on any YouTube video page. After I copy and paste that code into editor window, it looks like this:


I’ll now copy this code to my clipboard.

Clicking on the HTML Toggle Source button returns me to the WYSIWYG editor. Here is the editor, with my YouTube video now in place.


Now it’s time to jump over to Google Earth. I’ll open up Earth, type in Nepal in the search (I’m not interested in the exact location for the purposes of this post), and go to the upper menu bar, and create a new placemark.

In the placemark window, I’ll paste the code from my HTML editor. It now looks like this:


Click OK, and then click on the placemark itself in Google Earth and this is what you see:


The Google Earth placemark now has text, a hyperlink, an image and an embedded YouTube video.

Once a placemark has been completed (or is still being constructed), the student(s) can save the placemark locally to a USB drive or network space by going over to the Places menu (left margin of GE), right-clicking on the placemark and selecting Save As. Be sure to save it as a kml file (although kmz would work).

To add more content to the placemark once it has been saved (for instance, the class period ended, and students are back working the next day), simply go to the File menu, select Open, and select the kml file for the placemark. The kml file will launch in Google Earth, and then the placemark can be edited to add more content. On aPC, you would right-click on the placemark icon and select properties.

To put all the placemarks together in a tour, create a folder in the My Places area of Google Earth, and open each kml file. The kml file will appear in the Places menu. Drag those to the folder you created, or copy each placemark if moving them in the places menu is awkward, and paste them into the folder (once each has been opened in GE).

Save the folder as a kmz (z = zipped) and in this way, all placemarks can be packaged together, and distributed as a single file. These kmz (or even kml) files can be shared in a variety of ways, but I like posting them to a wiki. Clicking on either type of file launches Google Earth and the users can see the placemarks.

If you are interested in seeing the end result live, save this file to your machine and click on it to launch Google Earth.


image of Everest from mckaysavage

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