Friday, March 23, 2007

Redefining Copyright....

I have been mulling over the ideas of copyright, since I saw MWesch's Video...and since Google has recently been in the news over their lawsuit with Viacom, I have started to think about it a lot more.

Many of the teachers with whom I work have been assigning multimedia projects... very powerful opportunities for the students to show what they have learned. However, the questions that the students have raised as they come to me to consult with their projects have cause me to think a lot about the ethics of internet content....

A student studying stereotyping in advertisements... goes right to You Tube for her content and finds it is filtered on our district server. Retro Junk is a site which is not filtered, but because content can be added by anyone really does fall into the same category. Does it count as a primary source? Can the videos be used under fair use?

What if the student only wants to use a piece of something-they want to download the content? If they are not taking the video from the primary source, do they have the right?

In reality, a savy student can do a simple search for video downloader....Once they realize the file is not in a form that can be edited....ok do a simple search for file conversion... and viola instant editable video. Developers have created these types of software and they are free.....hmmmmm has really got me thinking.

So this morning I decided to test the process, see how it worked. As I was following links to kid of test this process, I happened upon where you can find all kinds of trailers for movies, etc.... Kids COULD follow the above steps, find a trailer, download it, convert it and use it in a school project under the guidelines of fair use IF--they follow the fair use guidelines. HERE is a link to a ton of copyright resources. I really like the 2 page pdf chart from From October 2002 Technology & Learning Magazine . However I think that many teachers and students do not know these guidelines like they should when assigning (or completing) multimedia projects.

I try to convince the students that no matter what, these user contributed sites do not qualify as a PRIMARY source...that the content does NOT BELONG to YouTube, that sometimes the content posted on YouTube does not even belong to the poster. I try to steer them towards sites that are more reliable and often make the point that they are striving to make more effectively.

Some of the issues mentioned in this CNN video about the YouTube lawsuit by Viacom include Viacom's claim that even though they promised to remove over 100, 000 videos that violate copyright, tens of thousands of clips remain. While they suggest that YouTube establish a better filter system, the problem is that even when they do remove the videos in question, any user can put them back up. What was most interesting was that in my hyperlinking, this morning I ended up on Universal Pictures site. It was not surprising that a banner on the top of the site states "We have updated our privacy policy as of 3/20/2007. Please click HERE to view our new privacy policy. By using this website you are agreeing to be bound by our privacy policy and our terms of use." Of course these policies clearly state that everything seen or read on the Site is copyrighted unless otherwise noted, and may not be used except as provided in these Terms and Conditions without the written permission of Universal.

On the flip side, by going through the process to get what they need....are these students not developing higher level thinking skills, creativity, collaboration and all of those other great 21st Century skills we are trying to create?

Is it time for schools to start imposing stricter policies for violation of copyright in digital projects? And...just whose responsibility is it? OR do these uses constitute fair use?

Please offer your thoughts and help me wrap my head around this...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Is the TEST what matters most...

or is it the learning process? As PSSAs are going on throughout my district...makes you wonder.

Thanks to Chris Lehman for pointing out this song by Tom Chapin
Posted by ME in honor of the PSSAs that are going on this week
Not On The Test (click to HEAR this song)
Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math. Forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.

Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers. Their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.

The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they're caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school 'cause they're not on the test.

Sleep, sleep, and as you progress
You'll learn there's a lot that is not on the test.

Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you're in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
'Cause rational discourse was not on the test.

Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to, but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.
What struck ME the most was the last line "Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test." Today I sat in on a webinar that pointed out that college teachers are still lecturing because that is what is expected of them--that although kids learn are different and they learn differently, they also want to be successful. This high stakes mentality and high pressure makes kids want to be spoon-fed information rather than taking responsibility for becoming lifelong learners. In thinking about your experiences with high stakes testing...what stands out for you?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Are you smarter than a 5th Grader...

Is anyone else as disturbed by this show on TV as I am? Grown adults testing their knowledge against that of a 12 year old???? I guess it really does support the idea of how much of the content of what we teach is REALLY relevant outside of the 5th grade classroom. Research supports that kids who learn via traditional lecture and those who are involved in project based learning do retain information differently. Perhaps the adult contestants might fair better if they had been exposed to project based learning when they were in school. Or perhaps Thomas Friedman was right in his book The World is Flat when he stated "In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears- and that is our problem.”
The fact that these shows are making it on tv... pretty bad---the fact that I am actually watching and thinking about it :)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hello, Bonjour, Hola...

So I have received my first video comment on my Connected Classroom video.

Hello World" is the first thing people are taught to program in nearly every programming language. "Hello World" can also be translated into hundreds, if not thousands, of human languages....but how often do we really stop to say "Hello" to the rest of the world?

I challenge everyone that sees this to respond. You get two cards...the first should say "Hello World" in your native language. The second should be your message of hope, dreams or thoughts to the world on one card, five words or less. We will then compile the videos from all over the world and repost on YouTube...spread the word.

So to the 4 (5 as of this morning:) countries in which I have readers :) What do you say, are you up for the challenge? It will be interesting to see how connected we really are.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The difference between natives & immigrants

GAH--I love those bloggers who take such good notes that you almost feel like you've been somewhere...
While I find it hard to keep up with the number of Blog entries that Wesley Fryer has a day, the content of what he writes is always so amazing. Recently he wrote about Marco Torres' Keynote speech at MACE entitled Now What do we do with IT.
Some highlights for me (and I wasn't even there :P )

While Tech plans really reflect big differences in how kids and adults see technology
- adults see technology as a tool for RETRIEVING information
- kids see technology very differently than adults do
one uses technology, one does technology

I witnessed this first hand this weekend. We had gotten my 7 year old Nintendo DS for his birthday--within MINUTES of having it, (while I was still reading the directions) he had figured out how to pictochat his buddy...

Kids see technology as a studio, stage, and a community
Schools see it as a productivity tool

Case in point...the ongoing conversation about using PowerPoint

Wesley's notes also included an activity to have people name three events in history that have had a major impact on one's life

Always in the top 10....
– atomic bomb
- JFK assassination
- moon landing
- challenger accident
- berlin wall
- 9-11
Noting that no matter how many times this is done, no one ever writes down something they have read: It is always something they’ve seen or heard

anyhow...check out Marco's websites:

and while you are at it, subscribe to Wesley Fryer's Blog:

Sunday, March 04, 2007

More lessons...

I am continuing to reflect on Ken's post & responses to mine about the TOOLS kids need not being the tools of technology but the tools of learning--Jeff Utecht had a great post on the Thinking Stick about integrating technology and giving kids choices. Bottom line, they don't like it. However (and he said it about as well as anyone...)
We must reengage students in the learning process invite them back into the learning process and make them the center of learning, not the receivers of information. If we are going to teach students to ‘Learn how to Learn’ then we must at times push them to do so and get out of their way so they can.
One of my students in our class came up to me yesterday and said:

“What do you do here MR. U? I mean you never teach us anything.”

Exactly! ;)

I am trying to encourage teachers to create the rubric that demonstrates what they want students to learn, but allow the students to decide what that learning looks like to them. It is EASIER to assign everyone to create a power point or a digital storytelling or a wiki or whatever and often times that is what the kids want too--they want to know exactly what is expected of them....exactly what they need to do to get an "A" or to be "proficient". As the teacher becomes the guide rather than the all knowing giver of information, the teacher needs to turn control of the whole learning process over to the students. Only then are we truly preparing them for the world they are entering.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sharing a few GREAT finds....

So I SHOULD be working on my graduate work, but I made the mistake of checking my bloglines and Julie Lindsay had a couple of great finds that I had to take time to record. The first find is blaring in my ear as I type...Musicovery. You choose the genre, mood, time frame, whether you want to listen to hits non-hits or new discoveries--it chooses the music--and creates a visual web that it follows for about an hour. Find a tune you like? click on the itunes or amazon button and go to the store for purchase OR listen for free....pretty cool considering I am working at the Panera and left my ipod at home. The next is a cool little counter from NeoWORKS that I have added to my sidebar--so far the only one who has visited my blog today is ME --but what a fun thing to embed in a class blog for students to see who is reading them. I always feel funny blogging someone elses stuff, but these 2 were too good to pass up. If Julie is not on your blogroll, she is definitely worth adding.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Lesson in the Yellow Needlenose Pliers

Some of my favorite things I am reading these days are right from the classrooms of the CFTF teachers here in PA. Ken Rodoff posted that he was in the midst of a Wikipiphany. He had given his class an assignment to use the Teacher's First WikiWalkthrough and then "teach" a group of teachers about wikis during a "mock conference". As soon as the assignment was given, the kids turned to the computers to create PowerPoints. I had 2 thoughts when reading about his lesson and the way kids responded...
1. What a fantastic expression of 21st Century skills....they turned to the computers to collaborate, to be more efficient.
2. Why did they go first to powerpoint when you had given them a new tool that they could have used to present?

It reminded me of a great article I once read...from the Journal of Computing in Teacher Education called The Lesson in the Yellow-Handled, Needle-Nosed Pliers

From that article
"So, while we fill the toolboxes of our future and practicing teachers and
arm them with the knowledge to use the tools for educational purposes,
let’s go a step further to assist them in organizing those toolboxes so that
their knowledge and skills are easy to access when needed. I’ll bet you know
how to swing a hammer, but knowing when a hammer is necessary and
when the job calls instead for a wrench requires some knowledge in context
and perhaps a bit of problem solving. Perhaps we make it too easy on our
teachers. We teach them about using a tool, such as spreadsheet software,
and then give them an assignment using that same software. The result is
that they become good at following directions, but they lack the critical
knowledge of when to use which tools and for what reasons. Unfortunately,
no one will follow them through their careers, standing over their shoulders
to recommend which tools will extend their teaching for any given lesson."
Are we doing the same things to our students? How many teachers are assigning the kids to do a creative project but requiring them to use power point, iMovie, and not allowing them to develop the skills of determining the best way to present this information themselves? OR because they are the digital natives, will they figure this out for themselves...