LWC: Killing YouTube pre-roll, online timeline tool, and metadata

(LWC means “Last Week: Curated”. In these posts, I pull together the highlights of tweets I shared and articles I saved in Evernote.)

There are three things that I’d like to share together from last week. One related to privacy, another between privacy and technology, and the final one simply technology.

EFF shows how “metadata” collection is bad for freedom of association

If you do not yet understand the value of metadata from articles on subjects like finding Paul Revere through his relationships (aka his metadata), the Electronic Frontier Foundation has submitted 22 stories of people who hesitated to associate with a group because of the threat of the NSA’s metadata collection. You can find out a lot by just knowing who a person contacts or what sites a person visits without knowing what they discussed or did. If someone visits a site on lung cancer, calls a cancer specialist, and looks at information on alternative treatment methods of lung cancer, there is a pretty good chance that the person has lung cancer, information that is normally very private. With the knowledge that the NSA may be collecting that data, someone may hesitate to join a particular group because of the possible exposure that it creates.

AdBlock Plus blocks YouTube pre-roll advertisements

If you have used a YouTube video in a presentation, you have likely had to deal with the occasional pre-roll advertisement. AdBlock Plus is an extension available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer that not only blocks a good chunk of advertising around the web but also video advertisements on sites like YouTube. Now you won’t have to wait for an advertisement to play while you are giving a presentation.

Web-based timeline creator Dipity

Dipity is a web-based timeline creation tool that makes this storytelling format easy to create. You can quickly build a timeline with event titles, dates, descriptions, locations, links, and videos. Visualizing a timeline can be very useful in helping communicate a complex series of events.

LWC: Defining journalism, engaging students, and web literacy

(LWC means “Last Week: Curated”. In these posts, I pull together the highlights of tweets I shared and articles I saved in Evernote.)

Last week’s highlights are dominated by classroom and educational technology readings, but let’s start first with an interesting article arguing against a definition of journalism that determines who is or is not a journalist by their profession.

Let’s Stop Defining Who Is a Journalist, and Protect All Acts of Journalism

Josh Stearns at NPR was driven to write on this topic as journalism works to find its footing for the future. A pair of PBS professionals came up with a well-researched definition and in the end decided to throw it out. Why throw it out? They decided to ditch it because it would be a “fatal blow to new forms of journalism”. Stearns shares a lot of people’s perspectives that focus on journalism being an ethical act of service to society. I think I can go with that.

Metta: Combine videos and add your own annotation

Sometimes other people say it better than you can, but they sometimes say it with more words than you want or need. Metta is a site that allows you to combine multiple videos into a single video. You can then add your own annotations and interactive elements like polls. I’m not sure how accessible it is, but it is worth spending some more time examining this interesting storytelling tool.

Students will watch 6 minutes of video at a time

If you are moving your lecture content out of the classroom into pre-class activities, you will want to make sure your videos are no more than 6 minutes long. This particular study comes from an instructor on the edX MOOC platform. Using something like Metta could make it possible to string multiple pieces together into digestible bites, broken up with interactive elements.

Using Google Docs to give live feedback to students in a writing class

One of the most productive collaborations I have had that produced a document as a deliverable was done using Google Docs. The ability to allow writers to work simultaneously and see each others edits as they type is a very powerful one. This article discusses a teacher who used it in a writing class to give immediate feedback to their students as they wrote.

Web Literacy Standard 1.0 from Mozilla

Mozilla has released the 1.0 version of their web literacy standard. The standard is an attempt to define what it means to be capable of using the web as a consumer, creator, and collaborator. Someone who has the skills to meet the standard will be better at reading, writing, and participating on the web.

Shares and saves: curating last week

Since reflection is key part of learning new things, I thought I would start doing reflection of the previous week’s content that I have shared via social media or saved in Evernote.

Twitter beats Facebook among teens

In a recent study seeking insight into the teen market segment, researchers found that Twitter has overcome Facebook in terms of popularity for teens. As a father of a 14-year old, I can attest to her total lack of interest in Facebook. Many of her peers also seem to have the same outlook. As these teens move from high school to college, it is interesting to consider what more usage of Twitter means for back channel discussion during lecture, out of class discussions, and interactions with students.

Active learning classroom research shows better grades, better student engagement

The campus hosted a summit on active learning classrooms that was quite interesting. Active learning classrooms typically do not have a “front” where the instructor teaches. They typically have round tables spread all over the room for students to discuss and actively participate in their learning. Many of the activities in an active learning space is built off the idea of Edgar Dale’s “Cone of Learning” which depicts that after two weeks we retain only 10% of what we read but 90% of what we say and do. The linked paper from the Journal of College Science Teaching shows 5% better course grades over traditional spaces and 15% better student engagement.


This site makes an attempt to gamify news consumption. I was looking at it as a possible tool in a freshman discovery course on media literacy next year. The idea is to get students to think about the information they consume and the value it has in their perceptions of the world.

Thoughts on technology, leadership, and media