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Adapting Images for the Internet

As the internet evolves into the most popular medium, we too, have to evolve to adjust the expansion.

As the internet evolves into the most popular medium, we too, have to evolve by adjusting to the expansion.

As our digital age evolves, more information is being placed on the Internet. Hard copies of books, documents, and other forms of media are rapidly disappearing. The Internet has quickly become the world’s number one source for information and archival data. With this change in information access, people everywhere are noticing they too have to adapt to this massive virtual expansion.

Adapting to Virtual Expansion

Teachers are placing classroom material online for students, companies are doing business from their websites, newspapers and television networks are broadcasting their content online, and even the government is keeping the country informed with websites and email updates.

It is no surprise then, that the content we place on the Internet must also be adapted to accommodate the fastest loading speeds, and highest quality possible. This can be tricky for many Internet users, since there is no real rule of thumb for preparing material for the Internet.

Images on the Internet

Since images are usually the slowest elements to load online, I figured this would be a good place to start.

As a graphic designer, it is imperative that I adjust the images I’m working with if they are going to be placed on the Internet.

Here are some pointers that I’ve picked up and researched along the way.

When placing images onto the Internet, reduce the image size to 72dpi.

When placing images onto the Internet, reduce the image size to 72dpi.

72 dpi

Most images from the Internet are already at 72 dpi, dots per inch. However, images from digital cameras, scanners, and stock-photo websites tend to have a higher number, or more dots per inch. The higher the number, the slower an image is to open.

So before you post an image on the Internet, reduce the dpi to 72.

If you want to print an image, make sure the image is around 120-300 dpi for increased clarity.

Tip #1: Keep two separate images in folders: One at 72 dpi for inserting into webpages or sending over the Internet as attachments, and one at a higher dpi for printing.

Tip #2: Add onto the title of the image with a number that matches its dpi. For example, the photo titled “christmascard.jpg” should be title “christmascard_72.jpg” and “christmascard_200.jpg”

Dimensions

Another way to insure that an image opens in less than 7 seconds is to change the dimensions of the image.

Most images from a digital camera are around 24 by 16 inches, which is enormous. Change the dimensions to a smaller small size like, 6 inches by 4 inches, or whatever size you want on the web.

Change the size or dimensions before you insert the image. This way the image will load quicker than if you shrink it after it is already inserted into your web page.

256 Colors

The next way to help the image load faster is to reduce the number of colors to 256.

Any more colors are unnecessary on the Internet, since most computers only support this specific amount.

Depending upon the editing program you are using, sometimes there is an option to “save the image for web.” This will reduce the number of colors for you. But it’s always good to do it manually, just in case.

Editing Software

To edit images for the web, software designed specifically for the editing of images is definitely needed.

Purchasing Software

The industry standard for editing images is Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop also makes a cheaper, but limited version of their program called Adobe Photoshop Elements. This program is made for the purpose of editing images quickly and simply.

Macromedia Fireworks is another purchasing option. Macromedia Fireworks is about two hundred dollars cheaper than Adobe Photoshop. It is made specifically to optimize graphics, and create prototypes of websites and application interfaces.

The good news is, if you are purchasing software for educational use there is usually a substantial discount.

Free Software

There is also a variety of free image-editing software on the web. I talked about some of them in one of my previous entries on Art Technology. However, there are also a ton more.

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Accessible Online Education for Students with Disabilities

Providing access to students with disibilities in online distance education can help other students as well.

Providing access to students with disibilities in online distance education can help other students as well.

For students with disabilities, finding a college that provides the right learning environment can be difficult.

In the past few years, colleges and universities revolutionized the classroom by offering courses online. These online classes might provide an answer to their problem, but at the same time, the design of these courses have the potential to create barriers to participation for students with disabilities.

Primary Concern of Accessible Online Courses

Although many studies have been conducted over the past few years to determine if online courses are effective tools for students with disabilities, their success really depends on the individual student.

Well over sixteen million Americans use some form of assistive technology devices to help them manage their disabilities.

One of the primary concerns with online education is that it doesn’t necessarily accommodate this assistive technology necessary for students with disabilities. This can cost students with disabilities their ability to participate as much as the other students enrolled in an online course.

Benefits of Accessible Online Courses

Designing online courses for students with disabilities results in courses that are easier to use and understand for everyone.

Benefits of Accessible Online Education For Everyone

Accessible online course:

  • Contain features like alternative text for HyperText Markup Language (HTML) which helps all students
    • Understand and utilize graphic elements
    • Search for key words and primary phrases
  • Have additional textual content that helps students learn information
  • Help those whose primary language differs from the language of the course
  • Are more compatible with second-generation browsing devices (wireless computers, Internet capable phones, Internet capable music or storage devices
  • Are easier than customizing a course for a specific student

Benefits of Accessible Online Education for Students with Disabilities

Designing accessible online courses especially helps students with disabilities if they

  • Choose to hide their disability
  • Have problems with
    • Communication
      • Helps student’s speech become legible
      • Helps student learn by providing extra time to think about information
    • Organization
      • Helps student review material multiple times
      • Helps student locate important class information
    • Physical handicap that makes travel or note-taking difficult

Sources:

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Blogs and Wikis: How Can They Help Students with Disabilities?

Blogs

  • Classroom Blogs: Teachers can post assignments, classroom notes, lectures, and other material on their blog.
    • Can help students with an attention or auditory disorder to review class material multiple times.
    • Can help students with a learning disorder and ADHD if they misplace or forget schoolwork by providing a central location for students to locate important class information, like handouts or worksheets.
    • Can help all students who struggle with organization.
  • Online Discussions: Classroom blogs can facilitate class discussions on almost any assignment.
    • Can help students with learning disorders, like dyslexia, by allowing the student to think about their answer and post it when they’re ready.
    • Can help students with writing learning disorders, like dysgraphia, who may struggle with in-class writing prompts by allowing the student to participate fully, particularly if he or she uses speech-to-text or word prediction software to assist in drafting their writing.
  • Personal Blogs: Can be a great way of expressing thoughts and feelings and encouraging writing.
    • Can help reluctant or struggling writers to write more frequently.
    • Can help students with learning disorders to become stronger writers by improve language and reading skills.
  • Blog Software: Teachers can use educational blog software to have complete control over content.
    • Can help ensure that student blogs don’t become places for inappropriate comments and bullying.
    • Can help students follow internet safety and appropriate online behavior.

Wikis

  • Classroom Wiki: Teachers can use wikis to have students collaborate on a specific topic they’re studying.
    • Can help motivate struggling writers to write more frequently because of the collaboration involved.
    • Can help students with learning disorders to working with others to share knowledge.
      • Writers can edit each other’s work, comment on information, and share their areas of expertise.
    • Can help provide students with learning disorders valuable feedback on their writing.
    • Can help give students with learning disorders a platform for sharing something they know a great deal about, which can help with self-esteem and strength recognition.

Although blogs, wikis, and other current digital communication, like e-mail and text messaging, can help students with disabilities academically and socially, they also have the potential to confuse students. Since there is an explicit difference in the formal language required for written communications, and the less formal language frequently used in blogs, e-mails, and text messaging, teachers should set expectations for correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure according to the specific assignments.

Tip #1: To help with this language requirement, teachers can utilize software that helps with spelling, drafting, and grammar.

Tip #2: Teachers can edit student work before putting it up on the web, or they can assign another student edit their work, so students with learning disorders can produce at the same level of expectation as their peers.

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Art Technology

Although many schools across the nation have computer labs, the practice of integrating technology into art class still isn’t prevalent. However, technology can be a great tool in the art classroom.

According to each age level, students can learn about art by pairing it with technology. After students learn an age-appropriate art history lesson, they can translate their knowledge into projects of their own, using software and freeware on the Internet.

Older students, from 6th grade to high school, can begin learning design programs like the the Adobe Creative Suite to edit original photographs, or create graphic advertisements and other types of artistic compositions.

Free Downloads! Since buying the Adobe Creative Suite can be expensive, there are a variety of freeware options that work very much like their Adobe counterparts.

  • Paint.net – For Windows. Similar to Adobe Photoshop. Supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of tools, from Lasso to Gaussian Blur.
  • The GIMP – For Windows, Mac OS X, & Linux. Similar to Adove Photoshop. Supports channels, layers, masks, more than 100 filters and effects, tabbed palettes, RAW support, editable text tools, and color operations such as levels.
  • Inkscape – For Windows & Mac OS X. Similar to Adobe Illustrator. Vector based software that supports paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, patterns, and grouping.
  • KompoZer – For Windows, Mac OS X, & Linux. Similar to Adobe Dreamweaver. A web-authoring program that supports easy html-editing with a one-click Publishing icon, one-click buttons for Image insertion and Table/Form creation, font (size and style), and a site manager.

For younger students, mainly Primary and Intermediate school, interactive games, like Art Edventures, are useful. These games allow students to learn how great artists created their famous works, while learning tips and techniques for creating their own art.

Lesson-Plan Example

  • Age Group: Primary School
  • Project Focus: Tesselations
  • Have the class research the history of tessels on the Internet. Tell them to include discussions on the beginnings of tesselation, artists like M.C. Escher, and how tessels apply the principles of symmetry. Lastly, show students how they can make tessels of their own on the computer.
  • Plugins or software, like Tesselmania, can guide students through the process of making tesselations.
  • This is not only a way to teach art history and symmetry, but it’s also a great tool in the field of mathematics and geometry.
  • Tip: Compiling all the information about tesselations onto a classroom website or blog would create an easy classroom web-project. Designing the site could be a way to make this lesson appeal to older students, who could create design mock-ups of how the website should look and break up the information.
  • Free Download! Download a free trial of the Tesselmania program here

Preschoolers can write their own short stories on a curriculum topic they have been learning about. They can pair their storybook with illustrations designed on the computer, and print it out when completed. There are plenty of kid-friendly art programs to help young students with the illustrations for their story. Kid Pix and Storybook are just two of these programs that help children make a fully illustrated storybook of their very own.

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Podcasting in the Classroom: Why do it?

Click here to listen my latest podcast on how podcasts can be a useful tool in the classroom setting.

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Podcasting in the Classroom: How To

Currently, in my Electronic Publishing class we’ve been talking about podcasting. I realized this was a great tool for online education, and will be blogging about it for the next two weeks. This week, I’ll offer a quick how-to on making podcasts. Next week, I’ll elaborate on podcasting and it’s benefits in the classroom through a podcast of my own.

An quick, easy, and independent way for students to communicate ideas about their curriculum.

Podcasts: A quick, easy, and independent way for students to communicate ideas about their curriculum.

How to Make a Podcast in the Classroom

1) Have students write a script for their podcasts based around a topic in the curriculum.

Tip: The best kind of script is usually an outline of topics to be discussed. This makes the podcast more conversational, and interesting to listen too.

2) After approving their script, teach students how to record their podcast.

  • GarageBand=Create a “New Podcast Episode” in GarageBand. Choose the track you would like to record on (either Female voice or Male Voice), and then click on the record/pause button.

Remember: If you are using an external microphone, go to the GarageBand menu and choose “Preferences.” Then click the “Audio/MIDI” icon to chose what microphone to use for recording.

  • iMovie=Click on the Audio tab and use the record/pause button.

Remember: Make sure your settings reflect an external microphone as your input if you are using one.

  • Audacity=Click on the microphone icon in Audacity’s Meter toolbar to turn on monitoring. Push the Record button and start talking. When you finish recording, press the yellow square Stop button.

Remember: Connect your microphone to the microphone-in connection on the PC. Open the Audacity Preferences window from the File menu. On the Audio I/O tab, verify that your sound card is selected as the device for both playback and recording. In the Channels drop-down box under Recording, choose 1 (Mono), unless you are using two microphones.

3) Once they have a recording they are happy with, save the file.

Tip: Now is the time to make any edits to the podcast using the audio editing software you recorded the episode on. You can find podcast editing tutorials at the end of this entry.

4) Export (under the Share menu) your podcast and play it for the class, burn a CD, or post it online.

Podcasting Tutorials

Free Digital Sound Editing Software

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Purchasing Inexpensive Computers for the Classroom

Start building your classroom computer lab with recycled computers.

Start building your classroom computer lab with recycled computers.

Before students can begin an educational journey on the internet, computer stations are needed. Since not every school can afford the latest technology, building a computer lab may be difficult.

Luckily, there are organizations that teachers can contact to receive refurbished and recycled computers for classroom use. Computers for the Classroom and Computers for Schools are two of these non-profit organizations that aim to provide a low-cost alternative for achieving technology in the classroom.

What do these organizations do?

Basically, these two organizations accept donated computers from corporations and homes across the country. They then refurbish them, clean them up, and then sell them at a low price to schools

What comes with the computer?

Computers for Schools installs a Windows based operating system on each computer, as well as a few basic applications, like a word-processor and spreadsheets.

Each computer comes with a mouse, keyboard, and a monitor. Sometimes there are offers that allow you to purchase a printer as part of the package deal.

If you’re interested in purchasing an inexpensive computer for your classroom, it’s definitely worth it to check out their websites for all the details.

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