YouTube Royalty-Free Music bank

May 1, 2014

When adding music to a video, there is always the point when you want to reach for your audio collection, be it iTunes, Amazon or that pile of dusty CDs and import your favourite song and use that.

Yeah, that’s called copyright infringement.  It’s so easy to do, but ethically and legally it’s a big NO.

Copyright infringement joke

The irony is not lost on me

The big problem is what do you do if you don’t (or know someone who does) have the talent  to create music for your video.  And let’s face it, even if you do, that’s a whole extra level of work.

There are royalty-free music websites out there, but whenever I’ve tried to use them, I’ve found it near impossible to find the right type of music for the mood I’m trying to convey.

The closest I’d found was Video Copilot, which sells a CD of audio effects and includes some music ambience tracks.   These tracks aren’t bad, but they are limited.

The Solution!

Last time I uploaded a video to YouTube* I noticed a new feature, Creation Tools.  And in there, is an Audio Library link.

YouTube's audio libraryThe mp3 files are catalogued by genre, mood, instrument, duration and sub-categorized as well.

And just like that, problem solved.  A decent, well organised collection of royalty-free music.

Thank you, YouTube*!


* It’s a video hosting website, some of you may have heard of it

FIXED: Controlling image widths in Frog

February 15, 2012

We, like many schools, use Frog to display notices to the staff and students.

Something that always bugs me though is when a teacher adds a picture to their notice that is far too large for the display frame.  It pushes everything out of alignment and adds scrollbars.  (I know: real world problems etc…).

Anyway, I’ve stumbled across a quick and easy solution which resizes pictures if they are over a certain width:


$(document).ready(function() {

$(‘img’).each(function() {

if ( $(this).width() > 290) {

$(this).css({‘width’: 290});

} });



The code, which just sits in an HTML brick, scans through all images and if the image width is over 290 pixels (in this case) sets the stylesheet width to be 290px.   All smaller images are left untouched.

Now, if I can just figure out how to get them to stop uploading the pictures to their private user area…

LiveWeb – Web pages in PowerPoint

August 2, 2010

MS PowerPoint is a great presentation tool but I often advise against teachers using it.  It’s nothing to do with Microsoft or compatibility.  Even the iPad can show PowerPoints so if Steve Jobs says they’re ok…

The reason (mega-corp rantings aside) I advise not to use it is often educators will want to link to a web page or resource and PowerPoint tends to be unpredictable about how it handles that link.   Because you present from PowerPoint fullscreen sometimes when you click a link to open a web page it pops up behind the presenation. 

If only there was a way, some sort of plugin for PowerPoint that allowed you to view web pages in a slide, just like a movie.  Oh wait…

LiveWeb's user interface

LiveWeb is a free Add-In for our favourite presentation tool (yes I got fed up typing PowerPoint) that once installed allows you to view web pages just like videos.   You can even link to documents on your computer (although it is a little awkward). 

Personally I’d love it if the designer would add an internet toolbar so you could go backwards and forwards move easily, but other than that, this is a great tool and very handy in presentations.

TV studio

July 29, 2010

So typical, after just promising that there would be no drop off in blog posts, I’ve been away from WordPress for a week!

I do have a good excuse though, we’ve spent the better part of the first week of the holidays rewiring our greenscreen TV studio.

Greenscreen TV Studio

I’m very proud of that studio, which unlike most school’s was entirely fitted by myself and colleagues.  There are some excellent companies out there, like PlanetDV who will do all the heavy lifting for you, but they do charge for the fitting.

Also, the majority of systems use professional software which adds another layer of complexity to the filming process.  With the best will in the world, students don’t need high-end products as a studio when used correctly is more about confidence building and public speaking skills.

The studio cost less than £7000 to fit completely (compare this to a nearby City Learning Centre’s £250,000).  I’ve often talked about sharing how we did this and so it’s about time I did.  

In the coming weeks alongside the 20 tips, I’ll be posting a breakdown of how I designed the studio, the choices I made and the impact it has had on teaching and learning.  Hopefully by the completion you’ll have a shopping list of everything you need to replicate the facility, if you so desire.  and if not, you might be a little entertained along the way.

My job

July 23, 2010

Cramlington made it official yesterday, elevating me to the lofty role of VLE Coordinator.

A VLE (when used best) is the portal for everything the school does.  Like The Force and Gaffa tape, it binds us together; providing a one-stop shop for lessons, homeworks, notices and safe social networking.  While many platforms are little more than file storage, a VLE should be so much more.   Teachers can pull down resources for the class, and push out work to the students.  As gateway, a VLE can be the launching pad to encourage research and collaboration and independent learning.  A communal meeting point, it can bring a school together through shared experience.

We use Frog as our Virtual Learning Environment which can be used “out of the box” but like all products pushing it to its limits takes additional effort.   I’m very pleased and honoured not only by the school’s senior team for this promotion but also from the reaction of the teaching staff which has been positive to say the least.

 Don’t worry loyal readers 🙂  I’m sure my new duties won’t interfere with writing this blog and more 20 tips and poor english real soon!

Google App Inventor

July 13, 2010

I’ve just come across this very intriguing site from Google.  Called the App Inventor, it is going to allow non-programmers to build Apps for Google Android devices.

Google App Inventor

This is going to make the mobile market very, very interesting.  Right now, Apple leads the charge on App numbers for their iPhone and iPad.  They’ve also resisted attempts to allow non-Mac owners and non-programmers to be able to create Apps.

Google, by offering this App Inventor, will no doubt see a massive surge in their market place and I can imagine this will quickly draw them level with Apple.   Add to the mix the number of different Android tablets scheduled to come out this year and Apple are going to have a fight on their hands.

That’s the business report out of the way.  For us regular users interested in e-learning, I suggest buying an android phone next time your subscription is up.  Imagine building your own quizzes and getting your students to complete them from their own mobile devices?  Or how about building a GPS game and watch as your students conduct mapping and measuring exercises.   Augmented reality – how about virtual teachers located around field trip sites?

If Google pull this off, the future of e-learning could get a LOT more mobile.  I’ve signed up already and am waiting for my account.  Expect e-learning App posts soon!

Windows Snipping Tool

June 16, 2010


A great free program for screen grabs

Some software isn’t glamorous or particularly mind-blowing; some just make your life that little bit easier.  Windows Snipping tool is this type of software and what it does, it does really, really well.

Preinstalled on Windows 7 and free to download for Windows Vista, the snipping tool allows you to very quickly grab a still image from your screen.   Excellent for highlighting eror messages for IT Support, for pasting images into PowerPoint or even WordPress blogs :),

The images can be sent directly to email, or saved, or annotated.