There’s a reason they’re called coffee table books!

Last week we challenged you with the task of redesigning your COETAIL blog while keeping in mind the need to keep it easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing (subjective, I know…), and readable. Reid asked some great questions about the limitations of the platform we are using. Be sure to read Jeff’s reply as well. Matt detailed his thinking as he went through the process and found that with a little basic HTML and a solid vision of the look he was trying to create (plus a bit of the Google) he was able to make some modifications that aren’t readily apparent.

I think it’s important that all of us have a basic understanding of HTML and how to manipulate the code behind the blog (at a very basic level) to help achieve the look we are after. During my first few years of blogging I always had Maria Andersen’s cheatsheet close at hand until I figured our I could just look up the bits of code that I need.

Enough about last week… Let’s take a look at this week.

When was the last time you walked into somebody’s living room and picked up a huge novel and were instantly engaged? For me, it was probably… never. I have, however, walked into a room and been instantly enthralled with the photos of Ansel Adams, or images from National Geographic, or of motorbikes carrying ridiculous things in Vietnam.

How does this idea fit into our classrooms and schools? Dan Meyer has changed how a lot of people think about (and think about teaching) math based on his use of visuals – both still images and moving images. There are loads of sites dedicated to visual writing prompts. There’s an entire Flickr group dedicated to making Great Quotes About Learning and Change come alive through the combination of imagery, typography and a thoughtful quote. All of these examples use imagery for different reasons and to different effect. The Dan Meyers “What Can You Do With That?” series and the visual writing prompts are about using images as provocations to hook viewers into the discussion. The Flickr group is about making or emphasizing a point in a way that will impact the viewer. In each case, there are examples that don’t quite work or that may resonate more strongly with you. What is it about the ones that work well that have an effect on you? What do you think you would need to do in order to have an effect on your students?

The task for this week is:

Use Creative Commons image search to find an appropriate image to use in at least one of the classes you teach. Include this image in a blog post and share how you plan to use it in the classroom. How can visual imagery support your curricular content?

Searching for the right image is hard work. If you’re not sure where to start, learn from the master in the video embedded in the course material. Also, look back at what we did in Course 2 to refresh your memories about Creative Commons images, how to find them, how to attribute them, and what the different parts of the license mean you can do with them. Just remember, if you are going to do any sort of modification to the image whatsoever (adding text, cropping, using in a collage, etc.) you need to ensure that it is not licensed as a “No Derivatives” image!

It can be time consuming and frustrating, but there is a definite sense of accomplishment once you have located, embedded and attributed that perfect image!

Calling All Mythbusters

Did you know that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text? That’s the line that you often cited in presentations and in research papers, but is it true?

Alan Levine, aka cogdog, aka the man who made that awesome bookmarklet to help you attribute CC licensed images on Flickr, asked that question in July 2012 and offered up $60 to the first person to send him the actual source (and not just a citation) of that astounding statistics. Some of EdTech’s biggest and brightest research stars have tried to cash in on that deal, but after two years the prize money remains unclaimed. Is this the 21st century equivalent to Fermat’s Last Theorem???


2 thoughts on “There’s a reason they’re called coffee table books!

  1. Hey all,

    I was turned on to this great site from a tech integrator at my school – The Basics of HTML It was my go to for any and all things HTML as I was tweaking my site. Hope it helps!

  2. Speaking of visual appeal, you can install the “profile” widgets by going to your Dashboard<Appearances by the red and blue bands.

    Speaking of, can I put in a comment that perhaps the widgets can have smaller icons or perhaps can we pick the colour of the icons like a neutral beige (blasphemy I know, as Facebook is synonymous with blue!)? The coloured bands are too large, a bit overwhelming to the eyes, and sort of take-over the sidebar. My 2 cents! 🙂


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