Easy Source for Locating CC Licensed Photos for Use

selecting a photo

Whether creating resources for digital projects or projects based in paper, students (and teachers too!) often want to use images.  Often folks copy something from the web, but many of these are not legal to use.

So how do we find–and help our students find–photos with Creative Commons licensing for use and repurposing?

One great free resource is Photos for Class, a search engine that searches only images available for use in schools.

From their website:

  • Age Appropriate Images – All images are appropriate for the school setting, thanks to Flicker SafeSearch and our proprietary filters
  • Automatic Citation – Downloaded images automatically cite the author and the image license terms
  • Creative Commons – All photos shown are, to the best of our (and Flickr’s) knowledge, licensed by Creative Commons for public use

– See more at: http://www.photosforclass.com/#sthash.R1XOUgdG.dpuf

The photo at the start of this post is an example of a photo with automatic citation located on and downloaded from Photos for Class.

I can’t wait to share this with my own students, not only as a source for photos they can use, but as a teaching tool for how they can discover and correctly cite images they might find on their own from other resources.

The Power of Visual Notetaking

the power of visual notetaking
A Visual Note by author Sherrill Knezel

This recent (12/28/16) article from Educational Week–Teacher, by educator Sherrill Knezel, discusses why visual notetaking is such a powerful tool for education at all levels–as a learning tool and a method for assessment, done by students and teachers, created individually or collaboratively.

I have found it to be an especially effective tool for online education, in hybrid or fully online courses because the visual aspects of this mode of communication brings a power and intimacy that substitutes for the physical presence of teacher and classmates.

Of course, shared drawings focused on the course content is not the same as observing a classmate speaking, hearing the inflections of voice, watching the body language.

But observing how each person conceptualizes and depicts a concept or thoughts on a question, through a very personalized sense of design and line, does bring an individuality and power that is often absent from typed responses in a discussion forum.

Not to mention that it is visual.  And therefore, carries more impact that words alone.

The success of visual notetaking is backed by science. The Picture Superiority Effect refers to the phenomenon that we remember pictures better and longer than words or text. If students read text alone, three days later they only remember 10 percent of the information—but adding a picture to the text increases recall to 65 percent. And dual-coding theory says that our brains process and store visual information differently than verbal or text-based information. When students use images and text in notetaking, it gives them two different ways to pull up the information, doubling their chances of recall.

Check out the article!  What does this information inspire you to think about in terms of your online course materials?

Tips for Creating Effective Online Discussion

Enjoy this article, first posted on the Great Lakes College Association’s Center for Teaching and Learning website, with tips for creating an effective online discussion board.

The author, Berta Carrasco, gives examples from her own teaching of foreign language, however, her best practices can help instructors of any subject think about how to use this tool more effectively.

How to Create an Effective Online Discussion Board.


Consider Involving a Librarian (or Two) in Your Course Development

Check out this article from Inside Higher Ed for three “immediate and obvious” reasons a librarian should be on every course development and teaching team, especially for large enrollment introductory courses with online or hybrid components.

The library is often where you’ll find the digital specialists–folks who know about copyright, digital platforms, creation of infographics, and resources for just about everything else.  Depending on your institution, if you have instructional designers or digital humanities specialists, they may work as part of the library staff!

I can’t think of a better place to start your search for free, open educational resources, than with a librarian.




Using EDPuzzle to Create and Assign Custom Video Quizzes

Perhaps you have heard about or even seen interactive educational videos that stop in the middle, asking viewers to consider a topic, or answer a question or poll.  That interactivity keeps viewers engaged and helps you know what viewers are learning–or not.

One of the best–and free!–tools for creating such quizzes is EdPuzzle.   This post contains an easy-to-use tutorial written by educator and author Darin Stephenson, Professor of Mathematics at Hope College… and experienced user of EdPuzzle!  The full text is below.  If you want to see a version of the article with screenshots, click here.



Using EDpuzzle to Create and Assign Custom Video Quizzes
by Darin Stephenson, Professor of Mathematics, Hope College

For teaching my “flipped classroom” version of Math 341 at Hope College, I had created many lecture videos for the students to watch outside of class. I wanted a way to embed quiz questions into these videos so that I could find out how well students were understanding the lecture material. The EDpuzzle website (https://edpuzzle.com) has filled this need nicely. This blog post will explain how to create video quizzes in EDpuzzle, how to assign them to your students, and how to track your students’ progress. I will also comment on the ease of use of the editing and course tools, as well as what I’d like to see in future iterations of this tool.

The first time you go to EDpuzzle, you’ll need to create a free account. You’ll need to choose whether you are creating a teacher account or a student account, and you’ll be asked for some basic information (such as your name and e-mail address). Some enhanced grading features are available with a paid EDpuzzle account.

Quiz Creation

Making an EDpuzzle quiz requires starting with an existing video. When you log in as a teacher and choose the “My Content” tab, you can click the “Create” button either to upload a video from your personal computer or to load a video that is available on the internet (by specifying the video’s web address or searching one of several possible sites such as YouTube and Vimeo). I wanted to get one of my own videos which is already posted on YouTube, so I pasted its web address into the search bar in EDpuzzle.

Once the video is loaded, you are presented with four basic editing tools: Crop, Audio Track, Audio Notes, and Quizzes.

  • Crop allows you to cut down the video and use only the part you want.
  • Audio Track allows you to record an audio track for the entire video (for example, by recording a voiceover from a microphone attached to your computer).
  • Audio Notes is similar to Audio Track, except that you can record short audio clips that play at specific places in the video.

Since my videos were already cropped and had a complete audio track, I only used Quizzes.

  • Quizzes allows you to insert questions at designated points in the video by clicking the green box with the question mark below the video “scrubber” bar. Clicking this box when the scrubber is at the desired question location in the video will insert a question there. Questions are either multiple choice or free-form response. The location of a question within the video can be changed after the question has been created, but the editing tool lacks fine control of this. It takes several attempts to get the question in exactly the right place if you are trying to move it over by just a few video frames. You can use formatting in the questions and answers, and you can even input mathematical equations using the equation editor or LaTeX code. When you have added all of the questions that you want (and have made sure they are in the correct locations) click “Finish” to save your video quiz. You can edit the quiz later until it is actually assigned to students.

Creating and Managing a Class

After you have created one or more video quizzes, you can create a class to assign them to. From the main EDpuzzle window, choose the My Classes tab to view your existing classes or create new classes.

Once you have created a class, go back to the My Content tab, select a video, and click the Assign/Share button to assign the video to one or more classes and set due dates.

The final step is to get your students connected to your class. Each student will need to create a student account on EDpuzzle. (You might want to have them use their real name and/or official institutional e-mail address so that it is easier to identify them.)

The button on the My Classes tab will provide you with a course code to share with your students. After your students have created their EDpuzzle accounts and have logged in, they can use the course code to access your course.

You can track your students’ progress on assignments. EDpuzzle will tell you what percentage of a video each student has watched and each student’s score on the quiz questions. You can also sort by question to see how many students have missed a specific question. EDpuzzle will keep track of your students’ grades on each assignment, and the grades can be exported to a .CSV file (which can be opened in a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel).

Pros, Cons, and Desired Features

I found the EDpuzzle tool to be easy to learn and use. It was relatively straightforward to accomplish the tasks I wanted to accomplish, and the tool tracks student performance in helpful ways. Students also found the sign-up process to be reasonably easy, and the video/quiz interface seems to make sense to them. (For faculty using Moodle in their courses, video quizzes can also be embedded from EDpuzzle directly into a Moodle page, so that the students can find everything very easily.)

There are a few drawbacks of using EDpuzzle, and these could be improved in future versions.

  • The tool lacks fine control as to where questions are placed. It is often hard to get the question in exactly the right spot in the video, and it is hard to move the question incrementally within the video once you’ve misplaced it. (I haven’t tried cropping video in EDpuzzle, but I assume similar issues exist with cropping at the right spot.)
  • I often want to place questions at locations where there is a pause in the audio track — at the end of a slide or between sentences. It would help to have a separate audio track meter that shows where these pauses are, and that would help with proper questions placement. There were several occasions when I intended to put a question at the end of a slide only to find that the question ended up in the middle of the last sentence of the slide’s audio.
  • It would be great to be able to save questions for future use in other quizzes. It would also be ideal to be able to save answer templates for the multiple choice questions. I gave several True/False questions, but had to create the two responses “True” and “False” every time.
  • Documentation for the tool is still a little sketchy at this point and largely exists within YouTube videos. The videos are great for learning to use the tool, but not as helpful if you want to look up how to do a specific thing.
  • The documentation isn’t entirely clear about how answers behave in multiple choice questions — for example,  is the answer order randomized or is it the same for every student? It might also be nice to be able to allow students multiple tries on questions. As it is configured currently, students get one try on every quiz question and then cannot answer that question again.

The tool allows for automatic feedback for each quiz question, dependent upon which answer the student selects. The instructor can also go in and give individual feedback on student answers.


Overall, EDpuzzle is a helpful, free tool that is reasonably easy to learn and use for both students and teachers. The learning curve isn’t too steep, but the tradeoff at present is the lack of some more sophisticated editing functions. I recommend EDpuzzle if you having interest in making quizzes for your students based on existing video content.


Many thanks to Professor Stephenson.  Feel free to contact him at stephenson@hope.edu).


Why and How: The Gradebook in Moodle

One of the features of technology and learning that college students express the most interest in is updated online access to their grades, in the context of the overall grading system for the class.

They want to know how they are doing.

And I’m just old school enough to think, well, you have your scores, and the syllabus lays out the grading for the entire class, so you can do some basic math and figure it our for yourself.

But, as I said, I’m old.  When I grew up, that’s how we did it.

Traditional college students now have grown up in K-12 systems where their every score is entered into online gradebooks available to them and to their parents.

And they would like the same at college.

I made the switch from keeping my own gradebook to using the gradebook on my LMS, Moodle, a few years ago.  I had to take the time to learn how, but that time has been made up many times over given the ease with which I can now do it, and the information it provides to students.

I encourage everyone to give it a try.  Even if you don’t use an LMS for every aspect of your course, set up your gradebook and use it.  In every class, for at least three semesters, so your confidence grows.

See what you think!

You can find a terrific, thorough guide to using the gradebook feature in Moodle here, courtesy of UMass Amherst.

Could Practicing Mindfulness Help You Teach?

“Teaching is inherently a stressful occupation, and by many accounts, it’s getting more so.”

Photo by Edu Lauton
Photo by Edu Lauton

This is an interesting read about how practicing mindfulness can help teachers succeed in the classroom and in professional relationships.

From a very interesting blog powered by NPR/PBS WKQED called Mindshift.


Resource for Types of Classroom Video Projects and Software to Do Them

Richard Byrne, author of the wonderful blog, Free Tech for Teachers, has compiled a wonderful PDF entitled “Six Styles of Classroom Video Projects” that I found incredibly useful.

First, he breaks down the different types of video projects from easiest to most complicated.  Quick response videos, which he calls “one-take videos,” through slide shows and animation and so on.

But best of all, he includes an annotated list of software (much of it free) which students can use to create these projects.  He is clear to indicate whether the software works on Macs, Windows, Android or iOS.  And he provides links to the downloads and, in some cases, to his own tutorials.

If you are thinking about using video-based projects in your classroom, but you aren’t sure what you might do or how to do it, check this resource out!  It will make great reading over the holiday break.

This is the last post of 2017.  The blog will resume on January 8, 2018.  Hoping you have a great holiday season, and a happy New Year.

drawing New Year Lilly
A New Year Lilly, NYPL Digital Collection, public domain