Archive for May, 2014

A visual summary of my posts for COETAIL so far from both Course 1 and 2. I used a simple gif generator online called imgflip although there are many out there that work just as easily.

What would use to make a gif?

Gifs are also great for making short tutorials using screencasts and there is a great one using animated gifs on G Learning.

The Ethical Crossroads visual note on using images ethically by Nicki Hambleton

The Ethical Crossroads visual note on using images ethically by Nicki Hambleton

The Scroll society

In a world where to scroll is the new flicking (through pages), it seems that images are the most important factor in gaining someone’s interest and attention. In the commercial world it takes just a second to capture or lose a potential customer and if you haven’t grabbed their attention they won’t look any further.

In my field, individual art making is a result of days or months of development, trial and error, experimenting, failing, scrunching it up and starting again. An artist never stops planning or trying something new and is rarely happy with the result. With Middle School students they are a mix of this: perfectionists and dabblers, experimenters and non artists alike. But as they flood through my doors each week, don’t they deserve the respect and credit like anyone else?

Whether you are an artist or not you use or respond to images every day, throughout the day. Whether scrolling through Facebook or searching for an image to use on presentation or worksheet, poster, webpage or blog post, you cannot avoid images. We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, so it is hardly surprising that they feature heavily at every glance. Infographics, gifs, videos, animations, they are all intrinsic to our lives. Images help us to understand easier, we learn better from them and we respond faster to visuals. The attention span of our audiences is much shorter these days so images are quick to help comprehend what is being communicated.

What’s mine is yours
Photo Credit: Lollie-Pop via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lollie-Pop via Compfight cc

Google image Search is like a candy shop to visual searchers and it is through this easy and quick method of finding images that, for so many years, people have used them without care for the ownership. Whatever did we do before the Internet, when it came to using images on school projects or for presentations? I remember using images from magazines or drawing them myself from a book or encyclopaedia- we just didn’t have access to the millions of images available now at the tip of our fingers and just a click away. I remember getting inspiration from the vast library at my university when coming up with a new idea for the latest Graphics project we were set or scrolling Creative Review or Design Week for fresh direction.  Do youngsters these days realise how easy it all is? But, as I said in a previous post, with power comes responsibility.

We trust others to share ethically online but can we always trust creative commons licensed work? In a previous post, Clint Hamada queried one of the images I posted from Compfight, listed as cc. Delving deeper by using google image search to find its origin, I find that the image appears in 100s of websites, most of which it has not been credited at all. The first use of the image that I could find since October 2007 was on an article about a Pre-Uni new college and the most recent, on Peach County High School’s front page, with no link or reference at all. Returning to the Flickr site where the image was first uploaded in 2007 there are similar style photographs of staged set ups and on further inspection there are a lot of Stock style images in the album, so it is unclear if the originator took it themselves. Being a trusting individual, I like to think that people tell the truth and act ethically but I am also realistic. How do we know if what we see is all it says it is? How do we go about checking? But more importantly why are so many people, businesses, websites using other’s images so blatantly with absolutely no reference to the owner?

Photo Credit: pennstatenews via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: pennstatenews via Compfight cc

I love to share and I am more than happy for others to use and share my work if it helps them and others to learn. Until recently it didn’t occur to me that anyone might want to use my work and so I hadn’t considered making them cc. But as I grow as a sketchnoter and run more workshops referencing my inspirations, I realise that it is crucial that we acknowledge other’s work that we as learners build from. Developing a presentation and a future ebook, I asked permission of some of my sketchnote gurus if they wouldn’t mind being in my book or workshop. Most are fabulous and happily allow this through their cc work on Flickr. If someone isn’t, again that is fine, it is their choice.

In today’s society, with its share and remix culture, it is imperative that we, as Art teachers in particular, spread the word quickly and simply to all our students that sharing is fine but stealing is not.

Steal like an Artist

In a conversation with a Grade 7 student the other day he thought it would be fine to take an image off google to use in his Common Craft style Stop Motion animation to share the plight of street dogs in India. I explained that if we were to share his animation online, on Youtube, or in an ebook about the work of our Global Concerns group, then he would be responsible for attributing the source of these images and it might be that the creator is difficult to find or may not want their images used. He could not see what the problem was and stated that “everyone does it”. I agree, I see it all the time. In presentations, on posters and other people’s youtube videos. Clearly the message has not got out there to the millions, or even within my school it seems.

It was on Week 3 of Course 2 that the proverbial penny really dropped. Being a Copyright Criminal was what bothered me the most about today’s take-take society and it was here that I felt, as an Art teacher that I could make the most difference. If  we could get students to understand the importance of respecting other’s work as well as protecting their own we would help to spread the word to others.

Photo Credit: opensourceway via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: opensourceway via Compfight cc

I would like to work closer with our communications department at school, who frequently share their own photographs through their own an image bank for all staff to access. Today I was sifting through years of images for some photos to support a parent presentation I am co-running on Monday. By sharing our own photographs, we can create image banks for each other and who better to do this but the Art department.

Some companies have cottoned on to this by developing their own online site for both creators and users, as IMGembed shows you:

I am wondering if art students could start a trial business online to see how far their image is used and how popular it is. Personally I am happy for them to share their work for free but with so many businesses in need of images it could be a lucrative idea! Ethically, students making money? I’m not so sure but it could all be for charity, so why not? If not then a share-alike Flickr album would be a great place to start, teaching them about adding Creative Commons licenses to their work.

Collaborative planning

…….and so the collaborative unit was born between Matt and Anne and I. Each of us will no doubt run it in a different way, possibly with different outcomes, yet the journey and the destination will be the same: to foster awareness and develop an understanding of the origin and use of images and how we use them ethically in today’s society.

Picasso once said ” good artists copy but great artists steal” highlighting that everything has been done before and that influence is a huge part of being an artist. Despite this we owe it to each other, as fellow artists, designers and photographers to show respect for the act of creation and to give credit where it is due.

Steal like an artist is a book by Austin Kleon


Connecting and Linking on the web by Nicki Hambleton

Connecting and Linking on the web by Nicki Hambleton

Back in 1968 Andy Warhol was quoted as saying “everyone in the future will be world famous for 15 minutes” at an exhibition of his work in Sweden. 46 years on and there are countless websites referring to this quote, whether he actually said it and who else has referred to it since. Photographer Nat Finkelstein claims Warhol originally said in a photo shoot with him “Everyone wants to be famous” to which Nat replied “Yeah, for about 15 minutes”. Whatever the truth, the phrase is firmly fixed in our minds and none more true in today’s society.

“Looking at the proliferation of personal web pages on the Net, it looks like very soon everyone on Earth will have 15 megabytes of fame.” ~M.G. Sriram (Aditya Todi – Living Outside the Box)

Photo Credit: Anne Helmond via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Anne Helmond via Compfight cc

It seems today almost everyone has a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram or Youtube account. Achieving your world wide famosity for 15 minutes, or at least 5 minutes, is not as difficult as it might have seemed back in the 60’s with the Internet at out fingertips. I wonder what Warhol’s Instagram would have been like had he been alive today.

We search online for everything and everyone, through LinkedIn to connect with other professionals, on Facebook to reconnect with lost friends or colleagues, micro blog on Twitter and share with like minded individuals, and watch or post videos on Youtube to learn or entertain ourselves. Anything is now just a click away, or a few clicks at the most, to take you to another place, to discover a new skill, read about a topic or learn about the world around. Facebook is becoming a place to spread news, stories, awareness as well as images. Just this week I have clicked links that have ranged from an artist recycling trash (Gregory Kloehn) to make homes for the homeless, read how Sarah Milligan fights back against her haters on Twitter, shared a story and image of a couple’s lost SD card from their honeymoon (Richard Pussell says he has reunited them now thanks to the online network!) and how James Aspey in Australia (Voiceless365) has given up speaking for a year in support of animals who cannot speak up for themselves. The Internet is an amazing source of intriguing, informative and often downright weird resources and it is easier today with such prolific sharing social media trends that we can find ourselves reaching far out around the world at the drop of a hat. Be my guest and click the links if you have the time or the inclination!

The World Wide Web dates back to 1990 when Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, first created what we know as the Internet today. The first web site is a very humble version of what we casually stumble on today yet it was here that history was written. With simple links to other information the whole concept of Click and Learn was begun. Now it is easy to get lost in the links that transport you in different directions from your original search and intention. There is a nice visual on Behance on the History of the Internet.

Photo Credit: Frank Wuestefeld via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Frank Wuestefeld via Compfight cc


Hyperlinks are the keys that unlock a whole new world of possibilities. They take you deeper into the subject or to a new connection to expand your knowledge. Berners-Lee called them “the heart of the web”. In my 23 tabs open world,  this chaotic state is often a result of clicking a link posted in a blog or article that literally opens up new ideas and possibilities for me. There is so much information out there now we can (and do) lose hours just browsing. Twitter is a constant source of links for me. I can scroll down the feeds and see something of interest, click the link and find new learning in a flash. It is through these connections online that we grow and share the most and I am constantly interested in how these connections develop. Searching online I see visualisations of connections and try out the LinkedIn visualisation to spot the groupings. I am relatively new to LinkedIn and have a different set of connections than on Twitter or Facebook but nonetheless the imagery is fascinating:

LinkedIn connections via LinkedIn mapsLinkedIn connections via LinkedIn maps

You can make your own by following this Youtube video:

Paul Butler, on Facebook says ” Visualizing data is like Photography. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, you manipulate the lens used to present the data from a certain angle.” Visualizing Friendships

Paul Butler’s Visualizing Friendships

I love visualisations, Infographics and would love to know of any other forms you have managed to do with regard to Twitter or Facebook, Youtube or other social media involving connections or friends. Please reply in the comments with a link if you know of any!

Hyperlinks and Copyright

Recently I read about the case of Barratt Brown and copyright infringement through the use of hyperlinks. It amazed me that this even went to court as the use of links are so ingrained in our culture now and imperative in referencing a source. However, the dispute centred around a subscription company, Retriever Sverige AB, who link to articles already available on the web. According to

“The problem came when Retriever published links to articles published on a newspaper’s website that were written by Swedish journalists. The company felt that it did not have to compensate the journalists for simply linking to their articles, nor did it believe that embedding them within its site amounted to copyright infringement.

The journalists, on the other hand, felt that by linking to their articles Retriever had “communicated” their works to the public without permission. In the belief they should be paid, the journalists took their case to the Stockholm District Court.” Andy, Torrentfreak February 13, 2014

The Court queried whether the “clickable links” were illegal if permission had not been sought from the copyright owner. In this case they would be illegal. A complex issue that resulted in the following report: “The Court of Justice decided two things. First, it said that it is legal to hyperlink works that are freely available on the open web. In such cases, the logic goes, people who stumble upon the hyperlink could just as easily have stumbled upon the original work, so they are all members of the same “public”. Second, it is illegal to hyperlink material in a way that gets around a firewall, subscription or key. This is because the hyperlink will involve communicating to a “new public”, broader than the original public for which the communication was intended.”

Julia Wiles on asks the question: “But what if you don’t know if it is authorised or not? The legality of uploaded content is far from clear in many cases, particularly when you consider content on hugely popular sites such as YouTube,BuzzFeed, and Gawker. The decision also assumes that the hyperlink will be to the exact same work, and that it will be in the same format as the original communication. It is hard to say what would be decided if there were an alteration on either of these points; though the implication from other cases cited in the decision is that there is a large risk of illegality.” “Copyright needs a drastic rethink for Digital Realm“,, February 14, 2014

It leaves a lot for us to think about, as we happily add a hyperlink to our blog posts in the thought that we are helping others to track our research and build their own understanding. I am sure what we are doing is fine, but it has put a little uncertainty back into what we do. How do we know we have the authority, the right or the legality to link to another? Teaching our young students the correctness of posting, sharing and linking has become more complex that we originally thought.

Photo Credit: t r e v y via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: t r e v y via Compfight cc

A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain. William James


Pull the Plug on Cyber bullying by Nicki Hambleton

Pull the Plug on Cyber bullying by Nicki Hambleton

Power, Control and Relationships

In my school we are lucky that physical bullying is so small an issue – but today bullying  takes so many different forms that does it go unnoticed or recognised?

Taking to my tutor group, I challenged them to find me on Facebook to see how my Privacy settings are and I searched for them too. It is clear some of them have a way to go when securing their online activity and need some lessons in ethical posting and commenting. Through this I stumble on, a site I abhor for its blatant abusive questioning and how students respond in a way that they clearly wouldn’t F2F. Its problem lies in the option to ask and respond anonymously and it this feature that leads to its abuse. Back in August 2013, a British teenager committed suicide following a tirade of bullying abuse on the site and it came under fire to close down to prevent such behaviour happening. A petition to stop the site allowing anonymity appears on but currently with few signatures. Father of the victim, Hannah Smith says stricter rules should apply to social media and that stricter guidelines are needed to prevent cyber bullying. the BBC reports that “Mr Smith has called for tighter controls to be applied to social networking sites such as “I have just seen the abuse my daughter got from people on ask fm and the fact that these people can be annoymous is wrong [sic].” BBC leicestershire, 6 August 2013

In light of so many incidents, Facebook and Formspring (the US site that was modelled on) have brought in extra moderators to police commenting and track down perpetrators but appears to be running as it always has.

But it is not just in the UK this such anti-social behaviour happening, it is worldwide as this video shows:

What can be done – is tougher action needed? Who is to blame?

“Cyber bullying is a secretive and growing behaviour among children and teenagers.  It has replaced the piece of paper that used to be passed from student to student across the back row of a class-room while the teacher wasn’t looking. This new medium has enabled a victim of bullying to be targeted in her own bedroom and at any time of the day or night.  Teachers are often unfairly blamed for not responding to bullying in school.  The reality is that most teachers are unaware of any animosity between two girls or groups of girls, as teachers have no control over what a child/teen is engaged in while that child/teen is at home in her own room!  Yet teachers are blamed.” Robert Pereira, Why we Bully Bullying Prevention 

How can we as educators police it? We cannot access their sites or read their pages. All we can do is educate them advise them.

In the article on Hannah Smith’s suicide, The Department for Education said in a statement that “no-one should have to suffer the fear and victimisation of bullying. The law is clear that what is illegal off-line is also illegal on-line. Perpetrators of grossly offensive, obscene or menacing behaviour face stiff punishment. Through the UK Council of Child Internet Safety we are working with social networking sites and internet providers to make the internet a safer place for a young people. It also added that under the new curriculum children would be taught from the age of five how to stay safe online, and how to communicate safely and respectfully”. BBC Leicestershire, August 6 2013

Another angle we should be aware of is the age laws of social network sites. The law is there for a reason and despite this parents allow their child to sign up. In many situations though, parents are not aware their child is on these sites so they cannot protect, monitor and advise them accordingly. As educators we MUST advise students from an early age; to guide them through the labyrinth of behaviour online and its problems and pitfalls. Leo Kelion reports that says “users must be at least 13-years-old to join and requires them to provide a valid name and email address when they register, although reports suggest younger children sneak through using fake credentials.”

Sticks and Stones

Throughout the Grade 6 programme through Life Skills and the tutor, a key skill is taught; that of being an upstander rather than a bystander. The following video demonstrates the ongoing issue the public has with taking a stand against others and it is through this sort of resource we work with our youngsters to help them understand their responsibilities as a part of our community. One such task is Rings of Responsibility where students explore their relationships and subsequent responsibilities on and offline.  (Common Sense media)

What is a good citizen? How can we change others?

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 07.50.25Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 07.50.08

Kevin Honneycutt‘s posts on Twitter last week rang true to me and he points out that awareness is crucial in helping to stamp out bullying online. Back in the UK, I remember a bullying policy of No Blame, yet it has progressed further since then in addressing the issue before it develops. Helping youngsters to think before they post is an important step towards preventing such harm to an individual and encouraging students to speak out confidently. It all boils down to a matter of ethics and teaching this is our job as educators.

Think before you post

Grade 7 Bullying poster courtesy of Frank Curkovic

Grade 7 Bullying poster courtesy of Frank Curkovic

The story of Amanda Todd cannot fail to touch everyone yet still people are posting hateful comments even now. To what lengths do individuals go to to upset or continue the pain? This is a lesson all students should be taught and hopefully put a stop to such awful behaviour. You can see how Amanda’s story affected teens on this video link.

Pull the plug on cyber bullying

Writing this post, as not only an educator of youngsters but as a mother, has really affected and upset in me and I feel compelled into action to prevent this happening in our school or others. What will you do to help spread the word and to stamp out cyber bullying?

My Action:

I will use these stories and videos to spark understanding and to inspire action. In Life Skills I will get students to work together to produce a PSA about cyber bullying, teach empathy and the consequences of actions online.

Leave only positive footprints

Copyright Criminal

Copyright Criminal visual note drawn by Nicki Hambleton

Have you ever used an image from Google search without looking at who or where it originated from? Have you dropped a nice music track into a video without thinking of who owns it? I am sure most of us have in the past and I am sure many of our students have no idea about the ethics of posting images and using music from the internet.  It’s time to bring in the Internet Inspectors and show them this video:

Common Craft also explain it visually in their video on their site here.

Nowadays it is much simpler to find and use images and music online that the owners have allowed wide spread use. There is no excuse for teachers or students to not consider the original designer, photographer or musician.

Today we find that even more options are available to us. Recently I was told by Vivian on Twitter, that Getty is now offering 35 million images from its extensive database for non-commercial use.  In Timothy Vollmer’s article on March 7, 2014 he says:

“Getty is clearly seeing its images appear across the web anyway, so it’s decided to go down the embed road, similar to how other content providers like YouTube handle the media they host. By requiring embedding, Getty will be able to track where its photos are being used online, and reserves the right to display advertisements. The announcement demonstrates a general understanding that Getty needs to meet users halfway in providing content in ways that is affordable, useable, and aligned with how people wish to share online today.”  (

Using images ethically

Currently we are able to grab imagery from a number of easy sources, and upon asking students where their preferred method of image finding is, they nearly always state Google images. It is apparent that the message of Creative Commons and Copyright has not got through and it is our job to spread the word and educate first the teachers in order to pass on to their students. I wonder how long it will take google to work with Creative Commons and ensure students and adults are able to choose that option up front when visiting the site. Would it be that difficult to add a simple filter to Google images front page or install it as default? As an educator this would be invaluable until the day that students fully comprehend and are responsible in their usage of images. Today through Compfight, Flickr Advanced Search and Bing to name just a few, we are able to search countless CC images. In Jeff Plaman’s post, Doing what’s right, not just what’s legal  back in 2011, he talks about the law being different in US compared to China, yet it is making ethical choices that is more important. Jeff says,

“just because the law is different in the place where you currently are, doesn’t mean that you should necessarily change your behavior just because previously banned behavior is legal in your new location.  Therefore, an ethical approach that transcends locale, founded on respect for the work of others is preferable.” (Their Future, September 23. 2011)

In respect of this, and in my job as an Art teacher I will ensure all our staff teach their students how to search and use imagery effectively and ethically and it is in developing the UBD lesson with Matt and Anne that this will be possible. Using a one off lesson format with the opportunity to expand or extend this practice, students will understand how their own images can be made available for others to use through the Creative Commons licences.

Back in my blog post Stepping Safely into Cyberspace, the video “Once posted you lost it” resonated strongly with my tutor group of 13/14 year olds. Talking them through my post and allowing them to share their thoughts about posting and commenting made me realise how much they lacked in knowledge and ethics. It seems to make sense that I approach this unit directly with them first as the age group seemingly most in need of advising. Students will always take the easy and quickest solution so it might take some convincing for them to change their habits.

Photo Credit: Barbara.K via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Barbara.K via Compfight cc

Music is a huge part of teenager’s lives and features heavily in their day to day social interactions. They make or watch videos on a regular basis but are not aware of the laws of using other’s music.

Stealing or Sampling?

Recently on the ADE Singapore camp we watched a short film called Copyright Criminals (well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it) centring around the use of sampling in the music industry. It was fascinating to watch the progression of this art to what we know it to be today, from its humble beginnings and its impact on creative individuals. It triggered heated conversations about how much a musician may use and confusion over whether in fact sampling was a crime or creativity. What are your thoughts on this? Should musicians be allowed to use parts of or backing music and remix other’s music without their permission? My thoughts initially were that without their permission this was surely wrong as in the case of  Clyde Stubblefield the “funky drummer” with James Brown, who is arguably the most sampled man ever, yet he received no money or acknowledgement for his part in the huge success of modern music. Where there is blatant copying, is it right to prosecute? But how far can this go? What if someone uses 3 notes or a sequence of chords that resemble another? Clearly there is a blurred line between what should and should not be used in the music industry. Perhaps artists, like photographers, could have a code of usage that they license their work with, allowing the creativity of modern day remix music to continue yet reviving the original song or piece with correct attribution.

Nowadays, asking on Twitter “what are your favourite go-to sites for CC music”, there are several choices to pick from: Jamendo, with over 350,000 audio files from different countries and in different languages and unlimited streaming and downloading; Free Music Archive, Soundcloud and the most popular ccmixter. CcMixter is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, and interact with the music. You can find more links to music downloading in the article on Hongkiat.

Photo Credit: Jeezny via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Jeezny via Compfight cc

In my day and throughout my teaching career, plagiarism has always been that word that puts the fear of god into a student submitting an essay or project. These days Turnitin helps teachers to track how much work is similar or taken from other sources and even where or from whom that source is similar to. My husband teaches Physics and he uses it to feedback draft work to students as well as check that they are writing authentically. He was able to see that one student’s work was remarkably similar to another student’s in Singapore and could approach him to see whether they had worked on it together. It is imperative that our young learners are educated in ethical ways as we were when we were growing up.

You wouldn’t submit a book or article based purely on copied text from another, so why does this not apply to images and sound? Surely this use of others’ material should apply to the world of music and art?

Clearly this is a contentious discussion and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

 By the way……..linking back to early on in Course 2, have you seen Banksy’s new artwork in Cheltenham on Privacy?