Bing's Creative Commons filter country specific

I rarely use Bing. Ok, I never use Bing, but a Twitter conversation with Laura Gibbs earlier today had me checking out the search engine.

Laura sent a tweet responding to a conversation I had earlier in the day with Dave Cormier about finding OER science images (as an aside, Dave ended up aggregating the tweets recommending possible sources of OER science images using Storify; a nifty way to use Twitter & Storify to crowdsource, aggregate and archive on the fly).

One of the suggestions I had for Dave was to use the Google advanced license search to filter image results by open license.

Laura saw that tweet and responded that you could also use Bing

I didn’t realize Bing also let you filter by license type, so I followed Laura’s link and saw a collection of images in Bing, but there was no way that was obvious to me on how to filter my license. This is what I saw:

Chem1No license filter. So, thinking that there is another place where this is set, I start rooting around the Bing settings, but find nothing to filter on license types. So I ask Laura, who responds with a screen shot of what she sees.

Wait, what is that license dropdown on her menu? Why don’t I see it on mine?

Turns out, the license filter was not appearing for me because my country settings were set to Canada. If I changed my country settings to US, the license filter appears.


So it appears that Bing’s license filter only works if you have your country settings set to US. Which strikes me as odd. Why not just make it default for all geographical locations? t first I thought that maybe there was some legal reason why they restrict filtering on license by country, but then though if that was the case, why would they let users so easily override it by switching their country settings? Wouldn’t they have some more sophisticated geo-location mechanism in place if that was a serious concern?

At any rate, if you use Bing and want to use it to search for Creative Commons licensed material, you need to change your Worldwide settings to US.

Oh, and as was pointed out on the conversation thread by Pat Lockley…

You do sometimes find images that are not correctly licensed. If you get the feeling that the CC-BY licensed image might not be, do a bit more digging to find the source of the image. TinEye is a good tool that might help you track down the source of the image.


Is Desire2Learn search really this ineffective?

I was reading Jacob Nielson’s new research on how College students use the web and this little tidbit popped out at me.

Students are strongly search dominant and turn to search at the smallest provocation in terms of difficult navigation.

Now there is no doubt that students turn to search on Google a lot. However, research byAlison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg (pdf) of the University of Washington’s Information School show that, while Google and Wikipedia are important sources of information for students, many will begin their search with the resources given to them by their instructor.

Almost every student in the sample turned to course readings—not Google—first  for course-related research assignments.

Students are turning first to the content given to them by their instructors. As more instructors at our institution use the LMS as a content management system for their course notes and presentations, it seems logical to assume that students are turning to the search function in the LMS to find the content they need.

This got me thinking about search in our LMS, Desire2Learn. To be honest, I haven’t really paid much attention to the content search in D2L. When we work with faculty on course content, we spend time talking about how to structure content in modules and topics, but not a lot of time considering how to design our content to be search friendly within the LMS. But according to both the Neilson and Head & Eisenberg studies, perhaps we should be paying more attention to designing for search.

Or so I thought, until I dug in under the hood and checked out search in D2L.

Turns out, we really can’t do much to make content search friendly in D2L because the D2L search only searches for content based on the title of the content. Search does not look within the body of content to find search terms. I could forgive D2L if it looked only in the body of HTML documents and didn’t index the content of other document types, like PDF, Word or Powerpoint files (in which case I would have another fine piece of ammo to use to rally against using those types of file formats in the first place), but to not even search the content of an HTML document makes the search engine useless.

I may be missing something here. Perhaps there is some setting that can be tweaked to enable a full text search in D2L (and please, if you know of anything like that, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments), but this seems like a pretty big piece of underdeveloped functionality. If students really do rely on search to the degree that research suggests, then a robust search function that will scour the course content for the exact piece of information a student is looking for should be an important feature of the LMS.


MIT Lecture Browser – text search for video content

I just came across the MIT Lecture Browser and am a bit smitten.

Essentially, it’s a combination speech to text converter and search engine for video lectures at MIT. Enter in a word and the search engine will not only find the videos that the word is used in, but it will also take you to the exact spot within the video where that word was used and give you a running transcript.

With more than 100 million videos online and another 100,000 being uploaded each day, there is an awful lot of great content that is, for the most part, hidden away from search engines that do nothing but search on tags, keywords and descriptions.

I imagine this kind of search will be much more common in the next couple of years – in fact, there are already some options emerging in this area.

The speech to text recognition isn’t perfect. I used the example search term of “wine”. one of the videos returned was from Nicholas Negroponte, talking about the hundred dollar laptop at the 2005 MIT Emerging Technologies Conference. I was intrigued. Where in that address did Negroponte talk about wine? Well, here’s the text quote:

show you a few slides so wine doubt laptop it does you could that that creek slips out and see sells word eat else can slip and

And here is Negroponte’s actual quote:

show you a few slides. It’s a wind up laptop. (bit of a stumble) that crank slips out and c cells or d cells could slip in

So the speech to text is a work in progress.

But besides the technology, the ability to access and search the MIT lecture library for content is also very cool. However, it looks like there isn’t a heck of a lot of content there yet. Do a search for “television” in the category “Media” and you only get a single video returned. I suspect the word “television” might be used in a few more classes than that in a Media Studies program.

Maybe part of the reason I am smitten is that it reminded me of a project I was working on about 5 years ago. We have a large collection of digitized audio and I was trying to build a web based application using an XML based language called SMIL that would do something similar with audio clips. That project eventually died, and I was a bit sad that the use of SMIL was never really mainstreamed, despite being a W3C technology. It looks like the MIT site uses some SMIL program and that brought back some warm fuzzies of my bygone project.

Really, how can you not love a programming language called SMIL?