Wingman – Make it Accessible

In the spirit of Collection IV, I took D’Arcy up on her “Make it Accessible” assignment:

Task: An essential component of being a responsible and compassionate “digital citizen” (and educator) is making sure that your works are accessible to an audience whose abilities fall across the spectrum. For this assignment, go out of your way to make your materials more universally accessible. This could entail creating accurate closed captions for your video in YouTube (if using auto caption, go through and correct them), providing an accurate transcript of your audio recording, going back to your recent blog posts and adding alt-text to your images and/or making your links more accessible, using built-in styles for proper heading structure in documents (see the “Headings” section on the linked page), or something else. Create a post that links to your completed work and describe what you did to make things more accessible. Use the tag makeitaccessible for your post.

While I had been fairly consistent using alt-text with images last semester, it was a task that ended up on the wayside for this course. So, it was time to go back through and make my images more accessible by filling in all of the alt-text boxes. I started with my Barbaric Yawp and worked my way through each of the posts until I was caught up with the present. I used the website that D’Arcy linked to in her task description to help get me started. It was pretty interesting to read about which images needed alt-text, how the alt-text should adapt to the content, and the difference between the caption box and alt-text. Like D’Arcy, I also had some infographics that took a bit to explain and I had to do a little extra research on how to best express the content. I think those are still my weakest alt-text examples, but overall the content on my site is becoming progressively more accessible.

Points: 10/10


Grok & Korg – Tagging

While I was out browsing through the cohort’s blogs I stumbled upon Heidi’s post “Searching across blogs for “wingit” and since this was exactly what I was doing, I figured I should probably read it. First, HEIDI YOU ARE SO RIGHT! It seems basically impossible to search for specific assignments on the cohort blogs because it doesn’t include tags in the search results! Very annoying, but there had to be a way to make this happen (spoilers: there was). So, I proceeded to go through many of the same steps Heidi went through: searched cohort pages for “wingit,” messed with command+F, checked if my Feedly list would search tags. All of this was to no avail (and it’s not that I didn’t believe you, Heidi, but I had to see for myself). This entire summer our group has been diligently tagging, and until now I had no idea that you couldn’t go to another person’s page and search their tags unless it was chilling in a tag cloud widget or you serendipitously ran into it on a recent post.

Many of us learned how/why we should tag our posts with our very first assignment for ED654 tagged yawp. I count myself among the newbies to tagging, but I could immediately see how tagging my posts would help me organize my content. I assumed it would help visitors to my site find like post as well (apparently they’re pretty important to search engine results as well). When we were given the chance to “Bling Your Blog” almost half of the cohort specifically mentioned enhancing the tagging feature in their post: Erin, Linnea, Samantha, Tatiana, and Valerie.

Screenshot of a "tag cloud" in WordPress.

All of the ladies above added the “tag cloud” widget. As to why this was a popular widget, I think Linnea said it best, “so that the content of the website was more visual.” This clever widget shows you in a second not only what the blogger posts about, but how much play each topic gets relative to the others. The tags in the cloud are also clickable, which is kind of important once you realize that the tags don’t show up in the search results. Funnily enough, I had been way more focused on the actual act of tagging posts (see “Work Out Loud”) and did not have the “tag cloud” widget on my sidebar. That has since been remedied.

Tagging has been a requirement for every assignment we’ve turned in, so have we all been tagging and not searching? Are we only navigating the tags through the widget? How has only one person in the cohort posted about this weird issue (kudos to you, Heidi)?

I know that some people *coughChris* almost certainly have a sneaky work around to search tags, and I’m sure many of you have also found a way, but this has been a low-key issue for me all summer so I figured it was now or never. I had already messaged Tatiana (WordPress Queen) to see if there were any plug-ins to help the end-user (nope), and my next message was going to be to our fearless leader. But…I figured out a way to make it work thanks to some “page 2 Googling,” and it’s so easy I feel like I should have lied and told you I knew how to do it all along.

Type in the site:

And add: /tag/tagname/

Ex. would bring you to a list of my “Wing It” assignments

Pros: You can finally find everyone’s “Wing It” posts (or any other tagged posts)!

Cons: You’re searching each individual site and you have to know the name of the tag

So, for all of you who thought your blog was super duper user friendly because you were tagging your posts, consider a few additions. The “tag cloud” is a nice sidebar addition that shows the reader all the tags you’ve used and draws attention to your most tagged topics. But everyone should get one of the search plug-ins that will include things such as tags in the search results on your site. I decided to go with the plug-in “Search Everything.” This will help visitors navigate your site even if it kind of drowns them in search results. While it would have been sweeter to find a solution that allowed me to search tags on everyone’s sites, a “joy of helping others” ending will have to suffice.

Fire Away – ADA Questions

Before this collection, I hadn’t given much thought to a student with disabilities’ rights at a postsecondary institution. My knowledge of disability legislation was limited to its role in the PreK-12 world since that’s where I’m employed. I’ve seen all the accommodation notes on the course syllabi, and I guess I just assumed that the disability services from the secondary system extended to postsecondary as well. But this isn’t necessarily the case, even if some of the accommodations look familiar. I looked into this transition from high school to college a little further with these sites, Differences Between Secondary and Postsecondary Education and Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education, but I still have a couple questions:

  1. How, and how well, does this work? What kind of preventative measures are in place so that students with disabilities don’t fall between the cracks as they transition from high school to college? How do we go from IDEA where the parent is the most powerful advocate to the student stepping into that role? Who prepares them to self-advocate? What kinds of numbers do we see for ADA student retention rate at universities?
  2. Why does the definition of “unreasonable” change in this transition? Secondary teachers are often asked to modify the essential requirements/fundamental nature of a course for special education students, but postsecondary professor are not required to do the same. I can’t decide if I think this makes high school look like they are just trying to push kids through, or if it makes universities look like hard-asses. Is there more to this than just one is required and the other is voluntary? For some reason, this issue struck a nerve in me. What about when you’re teaching an AP class (or an actually college class) to high schoolers and they are earning college credit? They would still be covered under IDEA, but how much modification is permissable when successful completion of the course represents work done at an academically higher level?

My third question kind of bounces back to the end of my “Exploring the ADA” project. We can adequately provide for students with disabilities at the school I work at, but only to a certain extent. Students with severe disabilities are bussed to a larger school an hour away to receive the support they need. I ask a few other questions in my write up about balancing financial hardship of the district with the hardship endured by a student with disabilities having to commute outside of their community, but I realize that there are still resources available for those students, which certainly isn’t the case for most of Alaska.

      3. How do these disability rights laws work when it seems close to impossible           to support a student with severe disabilities in a rural/isolated location?                  How do village schools in Alaska support these students? Is there money                           specifically set aside to support necessary accommodations or new special                       education hires? Are students ever removed from their community because the                   school is unable to meet their educational needs?

Exploring the ADA

Exploring the ADA

I developed this project primarily using Adobe Spark (which unfortunately doesn’t embed anything but a clickable headline). I’ve used their “Page” templates in the past, and while it doesn’t provide much room for customization in the format, I think it pulls together a collection of ideas really well and the product has a nice flow. You’re able to insert videos to the “Page,” which also gave me a chance to play with Adobe Spark “Video.” Again, not a ton of customization in the formatting, but it’s clean and straightforward. I had anticipated using the whole Adobe Spark suite for this project just to see how they all worked together, but their “Post” feature was incredibly underwhelming, so the two infographics I included were made using Canva.

Cohort Collab —> Tech Support Collab

Screenshot from Minecraft game. Character holding egg falls backward into lava.

Image Source:

Well…damnit. I can’t tell you all how much I wanted the multiplayer Minecraft world to work, and I promise it wasn’t for lack of trying. This was a project that should have had a test run before the idea was brought to the group, and in retrospect I should have figured out a better way to communicate with them throughout the process. But it was an interesting/frustrating/time-suck of an experience regardless (which is everything a good group project should be, right?). So, after losing a week of my life to test running Minecraft Education Edition, I’m ready to throw on some rose-colored glasses and see if I got anything out of this. Here are my top contenders for “most important thing I learned “:

  1. I am more stubborn and motivated by frustration than I previously thought. Part of me didn’t want to let the group crash and burn after going along with my idea, and the other part of me had rage eyes and forgot there was a group at all. At some point it went beyond earning 20 points, and what was a low key project turned into this battle to overcome all technological barriers (and firewalls) to make this game work. And I had never even played Minecraft before, but clearly that didn’t matter.
  2. There are other people who are equally stubborn when it comes to fixing tech problems (and God bless them). If I continue down this tech-focused career path, I’m glad to know that there are tech savvy saviors just an email away. And if they don’t know the answer to a question they will find someone who does, and that person will help you at a moment’s notice even if they’ve never met you. Your router provider may charge you for this help, but everyone else…free!
  3. I learned more about my computer in the span of 5 days than I have in 5 years. I’m relatively new to the Mac world, so figuring out how to use terminal for entering commands, and how to open ports and download servers was all brand new to me. And not just being able to do it, but then being able to communicate what you had done without DM-ing someone a novel. Even when letting my group know about how to access the game, or writing to tech support, it was a challenge to use language in a way that was both precise and accessible.
  4. Minecraft Education Edition was not ready to be released, but software developers don’t really get “take backsies” so I guess it can only get better. My first email to Minecraft Education Edition support was on July 8th and went non-stop until July 14th. Their last message, “We’re sorry you are experiencing this bug. We will log it so the developers can make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Stab me in the heart! I thought we had developed a rapport. Don’t leave me in the wilderness! But really, they had no idea how to help me, and there was zero online community discussion about it because it was so new (and don’t confuse Minecraft Education Edition with MinecraftEDU which has lots of community support but of course doesn’t pertain to the former at all).

And after all this you’d think I’d never want to see that little blocky world again, but in all honesty I can’t wait to get into my computer lab at school and see if I can get the multiplayer worlds running. Never say die!

Big shout-outs to the following:

  • my ever-patient group members (sorry guys!)
  • Chris, for sticking it out and trying every possible solution with me
  • Owen and D’Arcy, for running “Add Server” tests at the drop of a hat
  • Philip, for not only knowing how to play Minecraft but being willing to teach me how
  • Minecraft support, for emailing me back even when I started using exclamation marks, and pretending to care even when they had no idea how to fix the issue
  • Linksys support, for charging me to poke around on my computer and eventually just telling me to contact Minecraft support

The (Creative) Commons

Creative Commons icon.

For this assignment, I decided to license the photos from the photo essay I posted back in June. I licensed them as CC BY-SA after reading about each of the licenses and using the Creative Commons “Choose a License” generator. All of the icons in this post are linked to their corresponding deeds. Click here to see my updated post with all the photos and their shiny new CC licenses.

Features I included in the CC license for my photos:

Creative Commons Attribution icon.

Attribution – I am not as good a person as Garrison Keillor (see my recent post about IP); I want people to give me credit for my work. I thought I could overcome this and just set all my photo free into the Internet, but I couldn’t do it. There’s a bit of ego in this decision, but I put time into these photos and I think it’s okay that I want recognition if other people use them. Now that I’ve decided to include attribution, there’s a certain requirement on me to make attribution relatively painless and properly tag all of my licensed photos.

Creative Commons Share-Alike icon.

Share-Alike –    I read more about share-alike because I was confused about where it sat on the  freedom scale. A license with attribution and share-alike is heading towards the middle of the freedom scale because share-alike puts more limitations on future users. But I think that the share-alike feature actually perpetuates the freedom in the license; it means that the next person using the photo may make money off of it, but they can’t decide to slap a non-commercial license on it and stop the next person from making money off of it as well. This way all of the derivative works also end up in CC. I like that I get a say in how my work retains its freedom in the future and promotes the growth of CC.

Features I decided to forego in the CC license for my photos:

Creative Commons Non-Commercial icon.Non-commercial – I went into this assignment thinking that I wanted BY-SA-NC on each of my photos. It’s the license with the highest number of flickr photos, and it feels safer(?). I did a little more research, and found that adding that NC isn’t explicitly frowned upon, but it kind of defeats the purpose of CC and where most of us hope to go with a more open Internet. It may be less restrictive than “all rights reserved,” but it isn’t really helping anybody. I hadn’t thought about the bloggers who make money from their pages being excluded either. "Approved for Free Cultural Works" seal.And while I would be excluding them, CC would be excluding me from this great little green badge, and I really, really wanted the green badge.

Creative Commons Non-Derivative icon.

Non-derivative – I can definitely think of some pieces of work that I would want to apply the non-derivative feature to, like capstone/final projects that you’re not ready for people to mess with. But for my set of photos it didn’t really make sense to hang on to this right. If someone likes one of my photos, crops it, and throws it into a presentation on Kodiak that is public on Prezi, then I say go for it. I see the non-derivative as being one of the most limiting features because it is so rare that a piece of media is useful as a whole for new projects.

Proper use of my work under the CC BY-SA license:

A small business owner in Kodiak sees one of my pictures and wants to use it as the header image for their business website where they not only sell their goods, but also host ads. They resize and crop the photo to fit the space on the site. Seeing the need for attribution they attach the appropriate information to the new CC license, including my name, changes, and the continuation of attribution and share-alike features. Way to go, small business owner!

Improper use of my work under the CC BY-SA license:

Another small business owner, who doesn’t know much about CC licensing, likes my picture so much that they want to put it on a poster and sell it. But, they forget to attribute the work to me. When the poster becomes a hit, the business owner figures he should put a CC license on the image so no one else can profit from it. So, they slap a CC BY-NC-ND license on my CC BY-SA image. If and when I see the poster featuring my image for sale, I’ll look for the attribution and unfortunately it will be missing. With a little more digging I may also see the new CC BY-NC-ND license. My first step would be to contact the business owner who is using my original image. With a strongly worded letter with plenty of legal terms I’m sure they’d come to their senses. If not, I can report the infringement and ask for a take down notice and for that person to lose their rights to my image. Along the way I’d probably need to find legal help, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.