Category Archives: Site News

Hacked

No, I have not gone into the business of selling recreational pharmaceuticals.  One way or another, a malicious entity got access to both my MySQL database as well as FTP access to my server.  The links have been removed, the files restored, and (with luck), this will not happen again.

Should you encounter anything wonky or suspicious, please let me know by mailing theartguy [at] gmail.com.

(For the curious, I actually used this post by another victim to help fix my problem.)

Going Public

For a variety of reasons I’ve decided to make 3 of my World of Warcraft characters public knowledge and start blogging about how what they’re doing relates to education.

I will not be doing that here.

While I do think that posting about World of Warcraft would stay within the bounds of the “Art, Education, Technology” tag line that I’ve had since I created this blog, the majority of my target audience here is probably not interested in what my level 10 dwarf did last night.

I feel the same way about teacher blogs where they’ve just discovered Second Life, really.  More power to them, but Second Life doesn’t really interest me so I tend to read those blogs less if they suddenly are infused with posts about it.

Instead, I’ve created another blog just for that.  Posts that involve Warcraft and education will go there.  Posts that involve Art, education, technology, and not Warcraft will go here.  Hopefully this will keep everyone happy.

What can I do with these? Review

What do I do with these?The first WCIDWT was posted entirely on a whim.  The tech person at one of my schools gave me some interesting pieces of plastic, and the pack rat in me just couldn’t say no.

Of course I had no idea what to do with them, so I snapped a quick picture with my BlackBerry and used Flickr to post the photo and my description/question to this blog.  The whole process took less than 5 minutes, but the responses were nice enough that I ended up using the same post as a warm-up for my Art Club.

What do I do with these? (Part 2)Part 2 was a similar situation, except that the source was waste scrap paper that was just too small for most of the projects I’ve done with my students.  Again, 5 minutes of work yielded some awesome responses from both the followers of this blog and my Art Club.

So … I think I’m going to keep this up.  As I find new, unusual, unorthodox, or just plain industrial waste materials, I’ll post a picture and brief description and ask for your insights.

Creativity can be an awesome thing.  It can be even more awesome in a group setting.

Apologies

The rumors of my demise … yadda yadda yadda.

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much. I’ve been somewhat active, to which my Plurk stream will attest, but a variety of projects other than this website have left me either short on time, short on creativity, or a combination of the two.

I’ll admit, when this school year started I bit off more than I could chew.  Not because I had started too many projects (which I had), but because I also have additional duties outside of school that were either nonexistant or not as time consuming as last year.

So this break I’m going to re-evaluate a few things.  I don’t want to give up this blog, but I may be cutting back on other things to give myself more “free” time for other projects.

… anyone want to manage the Teachers20.com community?

Academic Aesthetic 162: Corporate Shill

SoundwavesToday’s episode is brought to you by Sound Waves™

<announcer voice> That’s right, in today’s modern world there are many kind of waves, but only Sound Waves™ are capable of taking this podcast and transferring the information from your speakers to your ears in a format that you, the listener, can comprehend.

Sound Waves™: helping you hear quality audio … and this show, too.</announcer voice>

…wait a minute, who wrote this ad, anyway?

But seriously, lately I’ve been thinking a bit about commercialization on educational websites. It’s a topic I’ve visited before, though I think it bears revisiting.

Richardson's BookI don’t know exactly why I’ve been thinking about it recently. It might be because of some recent large purchases I’ve made. It might be because sites like Tips From The Top Floor and Twit.tv are doing pretty well with ads in their podcasts. Perhaps it’s because Professor Bob from the History According to Bob podcast is able to sell CDs of things he originally gave away for free on his website, and even the great and powerful David Warlick and Will Richardson sell their books and/or ask for donations to their Starbucks cards on their websites.

Maybe its because sites like Makezine.com, Craftzine.com, and DiscoveryEducatorNetwork.com are essentially advertising models for their parent companies – though I’ll be the first to tell you that they’re brilliant ad models because they draw in visitors with high quality content that makes them worth visiting repeatedly.

Or … perhaps … it’s because of some emails I’ve seen over the past few months. You may have gotten them too, in fact.

How I feel when I sell things“I represent [insert company name here] and we’d like to pay you to blog about [insert product name here]. We’re going to assume that [insert product name here] fits with the general theme of your website because you’re a blogger and right now you’re probably just happy that someone, anyone, has managed to find your little corner of the internet. We’re certain that you’ll be satisfied with the meager amount of shiny coins in exchange for linking to us repeatedly in your blog post and thus increasing our ranking on Google, even though it will most likely destroy your integrity and make you lose the small collection of loyal readers you’ve worked so hard to build over the years.”

Well, they went something like that, at least. I might not have remembered the emails word for word, but I think that’s an unbiased representation of what they said. You might even think that this posting would discourage future offers of a similar nature, but I don’t think those people actually read the blogs they contact so I’m out of luck, there.

I’ve also gotten at least one offer from someone who wanted to be a “guest blogger” on my site. It was essentially very much like the previous email, except she offered to take the hard job of writing the post that would destroy my reader base off of my hands.

Not all emails from businesses were that bad, however. I’ve received at least one offer to sponsor my podcast on a repeated basis with a short audio ad placed in each show, which I politely turned down because while the product was educational in nature I hadn’t used it myself and therefore felt uncomfortable promoting it.

Monopol-E-CommerceI even went so far as to hand out some books at this year’s MICCA conference, but only because after looking through them I felt they were useful resources. The copies they provided for me to keep as “payment” were also given away, but that was because I already knew a lot about the subject mater already.

I’ve toyed now and again with turning my website into a moneymaker, but this was mostly through the addition of Google Ads – and those tend to mostly work on the kind of people who aren’t likely to visit this website. Over the years they’ve been on and off of the site, but in all that time I still haven’t earned enough for them to cut me a single check. To be perfectly honest, even if they did pay me all of my earnings right now it would be a drop in the bucket compared to what I’ve paid for domain name registration, hosting (my hosting is cheap, but not free), and equipment.

I’ve also included Amazon affiliate links in posts from time to time, but those have made even less revenue than the Google Ads – mainly because I’ve only ever done that for products I’ve owned, and zero minus the price of said products equals a negative number.

I’m not saying this to complain, mind you, but to prove a point that I’m not blogging or podcasting for the money. If I was, then I would have quit a long time ago. I do this because it’s fun, and I enjoy it when I can become part of a conversation that is truly global in nature.

And then the bills come in, and I begin to think about how I can supplement my teacher’s salary.

So, (and I hate to admit this,) I’m going to try a little revenue building experiment. No, I’m not going to be embedding ads in every podcast. Nor will I be placing flash banners where you get to shoot chickens or pick the next president all over the site either. I’m going to try something a little more low key than that.

On my site I’m creating a new page. That page will have links to things where if you buy them I might get a buck or two sent my way.

Maybe.

I think.

If you don’t like seeing ads on education themed sites, then don’t go to that page. If you don’t mind, and throwing me a bone is something you might consider doing, well then you can go and check it out. My intention is to only become a corporate shill for products I’ve owned/used and enjoyed myself, so while I may be destroying my integrity here it shouldn’t burn quite so bad.

And who knows – maybe I’ll end up writing a book and promoting it there, eventually retiring from teaching to run around the world giving lectures and working as a freelance consultant.

… or, maybe I’ll just make enough to pay some of my server costs.

5 Essential Learner Outcomes in Art and Technology

Back when I taught high school, I was often in buildings that were fed by middle and elementary schools that did not hold art education in high esteem. This meant that I had to tailor my lessons to cover things most students learn in their K-8 years but make them interesting for a high school audience.

It also meant that I was able to make a list of things that, once I eventually taught elementary, would be able to drill into my students to prevent premature baldness and graying amongst the high school art teachers.

This list included the following five things:

  1. People ON sticks, rather than people who ARE sticks.People are not sticks. (I don’t mind if a 3rd grader tries to draw a person and it doesn’t turn out, but a 3rd grader drawing a stick figure isn’t even trying.)
  2. Trees are not lollipops.
  3. Not every tree has to have a hole in the trunk. (Honestly, half of them draw the holes so they’re wider than the trunks!)
  4. I’ve never seen a blue cloud in a white sky.
  5. Sky touches ground. (A blue bar at the top is … a blue bar at the top. Not a sky.)

Granted, I didn’t cover these things in every grade and every lesson. Not all students are developmentally able to comprehend my little list, and I still have room in my curriculum to do lessons that are more fun than they are nitpicky.

But at least by the time they leave elementary school all of my students know:Kindergarten kids paint the sky down to the ground!

  1. A way to draw people that have at least enough mass to wear some clothes.
  2. A way to draw trees that are more accurate depictions than a circle (or green cloud) on a stick.
  3. That because it can exist on one thing does not mean it exists on everything.
  4. More than one way to make cool looking skies , including sunsets, storm clouds, and more.
  5. What a horizon line is.

My official curriculum is much more detailed than this, but I suppose these items are my “pet peeves,” if you will.

And this sort of got me thinking: Since I might become a technology teacher in a couple years, how will my list change? What are my technology pet peeves that I’ll feel I must cover, above and beyond the official standards?

I came up with something like this:Tools of the Trade

  1. Be safe! There are ways to be safe from online predators, stalkers, identity thieves, cyberbullies, and so on. Use them.
  2. Be creative! The great thing about the internet is that anyone can create content, including you!
  3. Be skeptical! The bad thing about the internet is that anyone can create content, including people who mislead others. Take the things you see online with a grain of salt.
  4. Be cautious! Also, what happens on the internet stays on the internet, but not in a good way. Anything digital can be copied and archived, as well as indexed for easy searching. Don’t put it online unless you want your mom, teacher, principal, significant others, and any future bosses to see it.
  5. Be clear! There media (PowerPoint, website, movie, etc.) should never be more important than the message it’s used to convey. Overworked and poorly designed projects can both keep people from remembering the very things you wanted them to learn.

Well, that’s my list, at least. What’s yours?

Academic Aesthetic 157

Help!In this podcast I’m looking for a few good podcasters.

I’ll be presenting a session at MICCA called “Podcasting Tips and Tricks.” As I’ve done before (*cough* Edublogging 101 *cough*), I’ve created a wiki rather than print out a bunch of dead tree copies. I think I have it fleshed out enough for a 45 minute presentation, but it could always use more work – that’s where you come in.

If you’re someone who’s learned something while creating podcasts, or even if you just know of a good resource or how-to guide, why not go over to my wiki and add it in? Even if you do nothing more than add a link to someone else’s wiki on podcasting, it’ll still be a big help.

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Totally Self Referential

Because it was something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and because, against all odds, it was still available, I am now the proud owner of AaronBSmith.com.

Don’t bother going there yet, for two reasons:

  1. It takes a while (sometimes a day or two, although I have seen it work in a couple hours…) for new domain names to actually work right.  It’s a little complicated.
  2. When it does start working, all it’ll be doing is pointing here.  Why? Because I don’t know what to do with it!

That’s right, I actually registered a domain with no idea what to put there content-wise.  The important thing for me now is that I have the option of putting something there without worrying about another Aaron B. Smith snatching up that URL.  Believe me, there’s enough of us.

But the question of what to put there is nagging me a bit.  I don’t want to move content from here over to there – I’ve spread myself to thin before – but what SHOULD I do with that domain?

Comments welcome.

Academic Aesthetic 149

New Year's ResolutionThat’s right, I’m podcasting again! And how about that, this isn’t even a horrible recorded-in-the-car-using-a-cell-phone-cast, either!

I won’t speak for everyone, but for me December is a time to look back on the past year and ask “Where did the time go?” Of course it’s also a time to look forward and ask “Wait, I have to do all that again?” Then you get to sit down, eat a Christmas cookie, and say “I’m getting too old for this!”

…ok, I added that last one this year, since I turned 30. And now everyone who’s older than me can laugh at how the young guy thinks he’s old. Go ahead, it’ll relieve some stress.

But seriously, as I look back on this past year I really slacked off on being a content creator. Compared to the year before I barely podcasted or blogged at all, and my Flickr photo postings have been sporadic, at best. This new year, my resolution is to fix that.

You could say this episode is an early start on just that, but I need to set up a regular schedule again – and this time, I need to stick to it. Maybe even record shows early so I have a backlog in case of emergencies. We’ll see.

LogoT20.jpgI’ve also tweaked the Teachers 2.0 Twitter account to make it, in my opinion, more usable. I used twitterfeed.com to set it up so that any time someone saves a link in del.icio.us and tags it “teachers20,” it’ll show up as a Teachers 2.0 tweet. The only glitch is that it has to be a NEW link – going back and adding the “teachers20” tag to old links won’t make them show up on Twitter. Of course you can still write something a little more in depth and post it on the Teachers 2.0 Ning site, and that’ll show up in the feed as well. I’m hoping that since we now have well over a hundred members we’ll start to see these services used a little more often.

I have a lot more to say, but I still like the format of a short and sweet podcast, netcast, or whatever you want to call it, so I’ll just hold that over until next time. Hey, now I won’t have to brainstorm a new topic!

Until next time, stay subscribed, fare thee well, merry Christmas, and happy holidays, everyone.

Should I be proud of this?

I have mixed thoughts here. On one hand, this is the level I teach. On the other hand, elementary students are not this site’s target audience.

What do you think?

cash advance

As a side note, I think that (assuming this web tool is accurate) this would be a good resource for assessing sites you’re thinking of using with your students. I wouldn’t rely solely on it, but it’s a another tool to add to the toolbox I think.