Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why I don't like the Olloclip Lenses for iPhones

Now that I have your attention, I really do like the Olloclip lenses. Just not for use in a school.

Bea Cantor's free book on using the Olloclip for macrophotraphy of insects got me intrigued. If you haven't seen her book, take some time to download it to iBooks on your iPad and read it.
Bea Cantor - Calling Nature (Free) -

The problem with using the Olloclip lenses in school is that they can only be used with the iPhone. You have to order it specifically for the iPhone 4s or the iPhone 5. They are not interchangeable. I have the Olloclip for my iPhone 4s, but it won't work with my wife's iPhone 5. Also, few of our students, especially at the elementary level, have iPhones they can bring to school, and we are not going to purchase iPhones for use by students.

I have the Olloclip lenses for my iPhone 4s, but prefer to use the Photojojo lenses instead. These are the lenses that I would suggest schools consider purchasing.


There are several reasons.

The Photojojo lens kit is less expensive. The list price is $49 vs $69.99 for the Olloclip.

The Photojojo lens kit can be used on any iPhone, iPad, or Android device. They can also be used on the 4th Generation iPod Touch.

The Photojojo lens kit can be used on three different iOS devices at the same time, where the Olloclip can only be used on one device at a time.

Since we are most interested in the maco lens, we can purchase the Wide/macro lens for $20 instead of purchasing the entire lens kit. We just ordered 20 of the Wide/Macro lenses to be used with iPads, iPad Minis and 4th Generation iPod Touch devices.

The Photojojo lens kit includes a 2X Telephoto lens which is not available with the Olloclip. We ordered five of these lens kits to get the telephoto lens and five more macro lenses.

If you aren't aware of the Photojojo site, take a look. They are starting a Phoneography 101 course (Note: not an iPhoneography course) August 1st.

Photojojo University is a 4-week course that teaches you the principles of photography through the lens of your phone. Twice a week you’ll get an email with a simple and fun lesson that ends with a challenge to help you solidify your new skills.

Whatever you decide to do, take a look at Bea Cantor's book and see how you can use macro-photography in your classroom.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What I learned about iPadography (not iPhoneography) during the ISTE 13 Photo Walk

During the ISTE 2013 Photo Walk in San Antonio, TX we met Carlos Austin. He is a professional photographer from Austin, TX who drove to San Antonio just to participate in the photo walk.

After our walk from the convention center to the Alamo, the 172+ participants started breaking into smaller groups to continue their photo walk. Carlos approached Larry Anderson and myself and offered to guide us around the Alamo grounds and Riverwalk, showing us photo opportunities we would never have found on our own.

I can't express enough how much Carlos added to our photography experience. He is a natural teacher, and actually teaches an extension photography course through the university in Austin.

Carlos helping Tony, just as he helped all of us during the day.

I have not learned so much about photography in a short time since spending three days learning about photography from Vincent Laforet in 2007 at an Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in Monterey Bay, CA. Carlos would watch us make a photo, and then kindly suggest that we try again from a different angle, framing it differently, work with the lighting and shadows, try different exposure settings, etc. I have several before and after photos - before Carlos' suggestions and after his suggestions - that I will use in future workshops. For one photo Carlos had me try it at least six times until I got it right :-)

Here is the photo that I made multiple times before this final image.

Here Carlos is helping Larry with the same photo, and using a reflector to fill in light in the dark areas.

I had first composed this photo cutting out the tree on the left. 
Carlos pointed out how it helped frame the photo.

Here I had originally made the photo without the boat. 
Carlos suggested I wait for one to come by and capture it as it just went under the bridge. 
He explained how the lines in the photo would draw your attention to it.

Even though Carlos came all the way from Austin for the photo walk, all he brought with him was an iPad and tripod. I had not considered the iPad as a serious camera since the iPhone has a better lens and is always with me. In fact, there is a new branch of photography people refer to as iPhoneography but is now considered to be photography from any smart phone. Carlos prefers the iPad as he used some Apps I had never heard of that provide adjustment tools that require the larger screen.

Carlos also uses a tripod, and usually sets a timer to make the photo so that he isn't getting the photo out of focus by moving the screen. This "trick" also allows him to get into the photo himself, such as the photo he made of our group at lunch. It also allows him to extend the iPad to make photos up to ten feet in the air or out over obstacles such as water.

Here Carlos uses the tripod to hold the iPad out across the water to 
make a photo of a mother duck and her ducklings.

Here Carlos used the tripod to hold the iPad up closer to the butterflies to make this photo.
He set the timer so he had time to hold the iPad up and arrange it where he wanted it.

This is the iPad holder he used to attache it to his tripod.

Some of the Apps Carlos used extensively are PureShot, Hipstamatic, Snapseed, Crop Suez, iwatermark, pixlr express +, PS Touch, Flickstackr, Awesome camera, icolorama, distressedfx, over (text app), mpro, fotor, lensflare, lenslight

I have been doing iPhoneography workshops for some time, and have collected around 60 Apps I recommend. Only about ten of them are Apps that Carlos uses.

Here are the Apps Carlos had on his iPad, with prices where I could find them and a link to the App in the iTunes Store. They are grouped in the same way Carlos had them organized in his folders.

PureShot ($1.99) -
Hipstamatic ($1.99 - iPhone) -
Hipstamatic Oggl (Free - iPhone) -
Snapseed (Free) -
Crop Suey HD ($1.99) -
Pixlr Express PLUS (Free) -
iWatermark (Free, the $1.99 version removes their watermark) -
A Clear Watermark ($1.99, embossed watermark) -
HelloCamera ($1.99) match filters -
PS Touch - Adobe Photoshop Touch ($9.99) -
FlickStackr for Flickr ($1.99) -
Camera Awesome -
iColorama -
Distressed FX ($0.99) -
Over ($1.99) -
MPro ($1.99) -
Fotor™ ($2.99) -
LensFlare ($1.99) -
LensLight ($1.99) -

iPhoto -
Pixlr-o-matic (Free, also a $0.99 version) -
Photo fx Ultra ($4.99) -
Adobe Photoshop Express (Free) -
Laminar Pro - Image Editor ($0.99) -
Perfectly Clear ($2.99) – Photo Correction (Automatic) -
Filterstorm -
Filterstorm Pro is $14.99 and is for the iPhone
Jazz! ($0.99) - Edit photos with powerful filters, effects, unlimited vintage  -
TouchRetouch HD ($0.99) -
Process ($14.99) -
Image Blender ($1.99) -
Gridditor ($1.99) -
PhotoTangler Collage Maker HD -
Geló ($0.99) -

Handy Photo® ($1.99) -
PhotoMagic HD ($1.99) -
PuddingCamera (Free) -
Color Lake ($1.99) -
Momentsia (Free) -
PicsArt Photo Studio (Free) -
PicShop HD - Photo Editor -
FX Photo Studio: pro effects  -
PhotoWizard-HD Photo Editor ($2.99) -
SubtleColor ($0.99) -

Glaze (Free) -
Tangled FX ($1.99) -
Art Set -
Repix Inspiring Photo Editor (Free) -
AutoPainter HD ($0.99) -
Painteresque ($1.99) -
PhotoViva ($5.99) -
PhotoArtistaHD ($1.99) -
Etchings ($0.99) -
Aquarella HD ($2.99) -
Flowpaper ($0.99) -
My Brushes Pro ($2.99) -
MyBrushes (Free) -
Sketch, Paint, Playback on Unlimited Size Canvas
Mobile Monet HD ($1.99)- Photo Sketch and Paint Effects -
ArtRage -
Procreate ($4.99) – Sketch, paint, create. -
Moku Hanga HD ($2.99) -
ArtStudio ($4.99) - draw, paint and edit photo -
Deco Sketch -

An app for an iPhoneography community
Mobitog Community (Free) -

For keeping up with the latest news on mobile device

Not essential for photography, but for planning
Radar Cast Pro ($1.99) to check the weather -
LightTrac ($4.99) -
to see where the light (sun, moon) will be coming from

A portable light source Carlos had with: CN-160 video light

Austin Photography
Carlos Austin
Austin Tx 78748

Reflections on the Photo Walk at ISTE 13

The ISTE 2013 Photo Walk Sunday morning was enjoyed by 172 (or more) ISTE members. After a group photo at the convention center, the group walked to the Alamo where a second group photo was taken, making photos and connecting with other ISTE members on the way. After the group photo people broke into smaller groups and continued their photo walk, some staying around the Alamo and others headed for the Riverwalk. Some people headed back to the convention center for 8:30 am sessions.

Participants were encouraged to post their favorite photos to where you can view them. Participants were asked to give permission using Creative Commons so that educators and students could use them in their presentations, projects and reports.

Organized by ADEs (Apple Distinguished Educators) Larry Anderson, Gordon Worley, Cristina Popescu, Anna Adams, Helen Mowers, Michael Hernandez, Gayle Berthiaume and myself, this was the first time the ADE  event was opened to all ISTE members. Previous events have been held during ISTE in Washington D.C., Denver (Rocky Mountain National Park), Philadelphia and San Diego.

All the feedback we have received about this year's event was extremely positive, most coming in the form of verbal comments or via Twitter using the hashtag #iste13photo.

One group, including Larry Anderson, Nia Ujamaa, David Warlick, Carlos Austin, Tony Baldasaro and myself went until the afternoon, some of us making photos until 4 pm.

The concept behind the photo walk was to get ISTE members who have an interest in photography together to meet each other and share their passion and photography skills. Participants were helping each other with their camera features as well has ideas on photo composition, handling lighting conditions, etc. Everyone was encouraged to add their best photos to Flickr at

While at the Alamo several of us ended up give a short 10 minute presentation to a group of spectators after they noticed us using macro lenses attached to our iPhones to make a photo of a flower with a bee inside.

Tony Baldasaro, who had a Canon camera with a to-die-for telephoto lens, struck up a conversation with Larry and ended up joining our group as we were leaving the Alamo.

Carlos is a professional photographer from Austin, TX (yep, Carlos Austin from Austin) who drove to San Antonio just to join the Photo Walk. In another blog post I will talk about all we learned from Carlos, including how he used the iPad as his only camera on this photo walk. Tony mentioned that his wife was going to regret him joining our group as he made a list of all the new "stuff" he was planning to get for use with his iPhone and iPad.

Tuesday afternoon Larry and I presented to a packed breakout session about Photo Safaris and how they could be replicated to people's own cities, schools and classrooms. A photo safari is more structured than a photo walk, breaking people into smaller groups with a knowledgeable photographer in each group who can help others improve their skills. Several educators stopped afterwards to tell us how exited they were to get their own students interested in photography through the use of a photo walk or photo safari.

Larry has published a free e-book on how to organize your own photo safari. It can be downloaded by going to

If you will be at ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, consider participating in the photo walk Sunday morning. We have already started planning for it! Contact Larry or me and we will keep you posted as planning progresses.

Craig Nansen
@cnansen on Twitter

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Our Tech Enhanced Trip from ND to Denver

Back in the "good old days" a 12 hour drive from Minot, ND to Denver, CO involved intermittent AM radio stations, some reading material (for the passengers), and conversation when the passenger(s) were awake.

How things have changed.

This past Thanksgiving my wife and I drove to Denver, but with some technology to enhance the trip.

Before leaving, we loaded our iPods with music and podcasts to listen to. We also added a few movies and books to our iPads.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Drinking from a fire hose

Trying to get information from the Internet using tools like Twitter, Diigo, Google+, and blogs is like trying to take a drink from a firehose. You can only take a little bit at a time and most of it goes right on by. This is reality.

Another example would be going to an evening social event at an educational conference with a large group of people from your own grade level or subject area. You can't be part of every conversation. There might be some real interesting conversations going on across the room that you aren't part of. And when you decide it is time to leave and get to bed, the conversations may still be going on and you will be missing out on them.

One more example would be walking into a library or bookstore and being overwhelmed by the books, magazines, newspapers, and other resources. You can't possibly read or browse through them all. We have learned to manage this situation though - we only go to the library or book store when we have time and it is convenient. When we go to the library we are usually looking for something specific and we go right to the sections that we have an interest in. But when I go to the bookstore, I am usually just browsing for something interesting, again in an area I am interested in, but not really knowing what I am looking for.

This is how you need to handle the information coming at your from Twitter and other online resources. Don't feel you have to check every day or read everything you come across. Check Twitter when you have time and when it is convenient. Use Google Search when there is something specific you need to find information about.

I might go days at a time (or even a week or more) without checking Twitter. I check it when I have time, and when it is convenient. Usually in the evenings when I am watching TV during commercial breaks. And like in the library or bookstore, I just look for things I have an interest in. And when I find something of interest, I don't feel I have to read it immediately. I bookmark it in Diigo to check on when I have time or I pass it on to someone who I know would be interested in it.

I would like to respond to a few of your comments from Saturday's check-in form. Nobody mentioned searching for hashtags in your subject or grade level.

Kiersten, Elizabeth, and Amber; Have you tried searching on the #engchat or #engteacher hashtags?

Sally, Leslie; Have you tried searching on #3rdchat?  Marla and Jenna on #4thchat? Marie and Jenna on #5thchat? Becky on #kinderchat and #kedu?,  Kiley on #1stchat?

Kathleen;  Have your tried searching on #gtchat?

Susan; I just did a search on #reading and found this - Is Writing Practice the Key to Helping Struggling Readers?   - however #reading is a generic hashtag that people use for things like "I am #reading" - I will keep looking for a hashtag specifically for reading teachers.

Several of you mentioned the time it takes to find something. Because I am putting an expectation on you to find things on Twitter you may feel this way. Remember that I stress you use Twitter when you have time and when it is convenient, basically browsing to see if you find anything interesting. Pinerest is more visual, but I find it even more general than Twitter. I find a lot of things that I pass on to other teachers, but I can't narrow down things or carry on a conversation on Pinterest.

Several of you also mentioned it is not easy to find specific information on Twitter. This is basically true, it is more for finding out what is currently being discussed, current articles, blog posts, etc. To find specific information you need to post your question to a chat group like #edchat. In my case I add the hashtags for #adedu (Apple Distinguished Educator), #googlect (Google Certified Teacher) or #edtech (educational technology). Or you need to build up the number of followers so when you post a question you have a large number of people that will read it.

Don't forget about my notes in Evernote on all the educational hashtags you could possibly search on.

Please take a few minutes and read Sally's blog post about "The Value of Twitter." I hope you all get to this point by the end of this course :-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Different Way of Handling AUPs

A Different Way of Handling AUPs
Jan 21, 2007

Note added on October 10, 2013 : a lot has changed in the past six to seven years, but our AUP hasn't :-)

Every discussion about Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) either online or at tech conferences, at some point touches on signed forms or implied consent. In the first case, each student and parent is required to turn in a signed form before the student can access the Internet through the district network. In the second case it is assumed that every parent and child has read the AUP and agreed with it – if not then the parent needs to sign a form requesting their child not have access to the Internet through the district’s network.

Since the first AUPs were written in the mid 1990’s, the use of the Internet in schools has changed drastically. We don’t have a Macintosh or Windows XP computer in our district that is not connected to the network, and thus to the Internet. Our daily routine is now dependent on the network. When we have network problems, it is a major concern to our teachers and administrators.

So what do we do with a student who does not have permission to use the Internet, has not returned the required signed form, or has lost the privilege to use the Internet because they violated the AUP? Basically they have lost access to any computer access! And in our district this means that they can’t access the library lookup stations, take our online assessments, complete research and writing assignments, enter data for science experiments, or do a presentation using PowerPoint or Keynote. In some classes, such as keyboarding, word processing, accounting, web design, and photography they couldn’t complete a many assignments.

Asking teachers to create alternative assignments and the technology department to set up computers that can’t access the Internet puts an extra burden on people who are already busy.

Networked computers and Internet access are now essential to our curriculum, not some “extra” that we should treat differently than textbooks.

Last spring I presented our AUP to the school board, but with a new twist. We now treat computer, network and Internet access just as we do a textbook. We no longer ask for a student and parent signature. We do not use “implied consent.” All students will have access to the computers, network and Internet for school and curriculum use. If a parent has concerns about this, they will go through the same procedures as if they had a problem with a textbook or other curriculum material.

Principals and/or counselors will visit with concerned parents and explain all the uses of the Internet in a school environment and the filters and other types of supervision provided. If the parent still has concerns, a plan may be adopted that will allow the student to have access to those technologies that are absolutely necessary to complete the requirements of the teacher and school.

Instead of removing all Internet privileges from students who violate the AUP, a similar plan may be put in place for them. Building principals will decide on the consequences for violating the AUP, just as they do for many student acts during the school year. We don’t have a policy prohibiting a student from having a nude centerfold hanging in their locker, yet we still deal with that situation. That is how we deal with inappropriate use of our computers, other technologies, network and the Internet.

We still publish our Technology, Computer and Network Facilities AUP in the student handbooks, on our school web sites, and make them available to parents.

Our previous AUP was quite general in nature, was last approved by our school board in 1997, and last year stood up in two separate instances under close scrutiny by lawyers. It was written to cover changing technologies and general use. The only new items we introduced were to cover intentionally bypassing the district filter and the taking of digital pictures with phone cameras.

This is the AUP that was approved by our School Board last spring. (A PDF version can be found at

Technology, Computer and Network Facilities
Acceptable Use Policy

The Board of Education is committed to the goal of having technology, computers and network facilities used in a responsible, efficient, ethical, educational and legal manner in accordance with the mission of the Minot Public School District.

Acceptable uses of the network are activities which support teaching and learning. Network users are encouraged to use technology, computers and the Internet for purposes which meet their individual educational needs and take advantage of the computer and network functions;

Acceptable uses of technology, computers and the network include, but are not limited to;

•Minot Public School and Minot Public Library online catalogs;
•NWEA MAP testing;
•network file storage;
•word processing and other software;
•electronic mail;
•accessing databases such as Grolier’s Online and ODIN (Online Dakota Information Network);
•accessing Internet resources such as web sites and United Streaming

Unacceptable uses of computers and the network include, but are not limited to;

•accessing Internet resources or visiting web sites deemed inappropriate by the staff and administrators of this District;
•violating the privacy rights of students and employees of this District;
•gaining unauthorized access to computer systems or files;
•copying print, software, music or video for use in violation of copyright law;
•inappropriate content in e-mail, other documents or online postings;
•using profanity, obscenity, or other language which may be offensive to another user;
•using the network for financial gain or for intentionally spreading computer viruses;
•downloading, storing, or printing graphics, videos, files or messages that are profane, obscene, or that use language that offends or tends to degrade others;
•taking and/or publishing digital images that are inappropriate, embarrassing or harassing to other students or MPS employees;
•intentionally bypassing the state-wide and/or district-based Internet filters;

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Favorite Podcasts

I responded to a post on a listserv, and thought it was worthwhile posting to my blog.
> What are your favorite podcasts?
> Techie:
> Specifically Mac:
> Specifically Windows:
> Just for Fun:
> Anything Else:
> All opinions are appreciated! Thanks in advance!

I did a presentation this fall on Podcasting at the Great Plains Technology Conference in Fargo. The online handout, with educational, technology and personal interest podcasts can be found at:

I try to keep it current so that I can use it in the future.

I recently co-authored, with Camilla Gagliolo, the first of what we hope to be an ongoing series in the ISTE Learning and Leading with Technology magazine (Dec/Jan 07/08 issue). This article is titled “Get CNN Student News via Video Podcast.” One of the interesting things about this article is that Camilla and I had never met face to face until the article was almost complete. Everything was done online using some e-mail but mostly a wiki where we could both make comments, additions and changes. We did meet face-to-face for the first time at NECC in Atlanta, and again at the Apple ADE Institute in Monterey, CA. We are both ADEs, class of 2007, and first connected through a listserv because of a common interest in the use of podcasts in the classroom. We continue to collaborate on future articles, but it has been six months since we completed the first one and don’t have another one ready yet – just not enough time.

My current favorites that I listen to whenever they post a new episode are This Week in Tech, Mac OS Ken, The Tech Chick Tips (two teachers in Texas), net@nite and Webnation (with Amber MacArthur), KidCast – Learning and Teaching with Podcasting, Connected Learning with David Warlick, and The Savvy Technologist (a tech coordinator from Minnesota). Even if some of these (like Kidcast, Savvy Technologist and Connected Learning) haven’t been posting new episodes lately, their previous podcasts are very useful.

If you haven’t tried the Power Search in the iTunes store (the link is in the upper right hand corner of the page), give it a try. You can limit the search to just Podcasts, and can even narrow it down more to title, author, description and category.

One other great resource to check out is Conference Connections. This is an area, produced by a group of Apple Distinguished Educators, that interview many of the keynote presenters and other well know educational technologist at major conferences like NECC.

And whenever you find a good podcast, alway check the box at the right hand side of their podcast page that lists podcasts that other listeners also subscribe to.