Copyright, Fair Usage & Our Obligation as Educators

Respect is one of life’s fundamental virtues. It means accepting the views of others. It can be hard when we think we know better. As educators we do our best to instill this virtue in our students. As an individual it is an area I must admittedly continue to develop.

As an educational technology specialist I want as deep a digital footprint as possible. I want to be found so share as a matter of course to manage this important part of my public life. Often when faced with contradictory opinions that impact on my ability to do so I admittedly become a little agitated. I always feel that, from an informed perspective, any rational person in the digital-age would understand. Not, perhaps, very respectful.

I am learning though. In my new role as the director of technology at “technology curious” school I am daily faced with the opportunity to develop this skill further. A perfect case in point would be at the recent coffee morning I was asked to run to inform interested parents about my new role and the use of technology at the school in general. After my incredibly engaging and informative (bias alert) presentation I performed a little scene to drive home my point about digital footprint management and respecting the rights of others.

Parent Address 1 ELCI asked the Principal to play along and take a camera to the back of the hall. I asked if any of the parents objected to the backs of their heads being published on the internet. (None did.) I then asked for a photograph of myself posing as the presenter and shared my thoughts (above) about digital footprint management and self-promotion. Everyone shook their head in agreement. Great, right?

But then came the real lesson (along with evidence of my very own growth as a respecter of ideals other than my own). I then told everyone that, had I asked for the photo to be taken with a different slide presented, say, one of a photograph of a child or one of a child’s graphic representations of their project work, it would not have been usable if I wished to protect the school’s belief in absolute privacy on both of these fronts.

Now, some further elaboration of my own thoughts, beefed up by citation to the thoughts of others.

As many have pointed out copyright is largely an outmoded legal concept created before the proliferation of the Internet. Organized forward-thinkers, like those at Creative Commons, have started the ball rolling on a freer version of some rights reserved as a response to this fact. The idea being that non -commercial use of material (one would hope especially for educational purposes) in the world of the digital open-source movement would better serve, well, basically everyone. With big companies liked Wired magazine getting on board the movement appears to be gaining momentum.

Our Obligation as Educators
We have a responsibility as educators to teach respect for copyright in the classroom, as outlined in the International Society for Technology in Education‘s NETS for Educators. Modeling is perhaps one of the most effective and purposeful methods by which we can teach anything. As such, however, I believe it is important that it starts with the school NETS for administrators. Policy needs to be in place outlining expectations in order for consistent, meaningful application. Many schools currently take no stand on the issue leaving it largely up to the classroom teacher but schools have the responsibility for setting the scene.

Fair Use
This is where most of us end up. We must decide for ourselves just how far we go in obtaining permission to use other people’s work. If I use a Van Halen song in an Animoto slide show for my class and put it on YouTube am I a criminal? I think not. If I sell tickets to a viewing of work from my classrooms over the years, using nothing else and make a profit I have probably crossed a line, easily provable should I get caught. Sell copies of DVD’s used and who wouldn’t find for the record company?

To borrow authority I will now defer to Stanford University Libraries’ Copyright and Fair Use Center site dealing with copyright and fair usage which states, “Fair use is a copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. For example, if you wish to criticize a novelist, you should have the freedom to quote a portion of the novelists work without asking permission. Absent this freedom, copyright owners could stifle any negative comments about their work.”

Case in Point
Having studied the importance of urban green spaces in Social Studies and formal writing in Literacy lessons recently it seemed a natural outcome to marry these new understandings (from the former) with our developing skills (from the latter) in order to embed the use of digital technology through the use of an MS Publisher template to produce pamphlets promoting the parks designed by these small groups of sixth graders. We further had to learn how to print them double-sided within the page margins not to lose any of the design aesthetic or obscure important information. Students then converted their edited work to PDF format for publication on their blogs. We turned the whole thing into a contest to see which park the rest of the elementary school would choose to have built in Chiba where the school resides.

The whole thing about copyright comes in to play here. I gave the students carte blanche. There was no mention of copyright infringement or citation made prior to the creation of these promotional materials. The students made beautiful brochures and we are set for our contest. Now, I could leave it here, dust off my hands and cry, “Fair usage!” After all, no money was made or lost. No one was defamed and, even when I try to publish the the lot with an explanation on the school website for promotional purposes, I dare say no one will ever be the wiser. What a lost opportunity that would be. I have plans for the students to now go back and make a list of references for their work to reinforce the notion of how important it is to do so whenever planning on using other people’s work from the outset.

Don’t blame the students. It’s my job to see that they ask these questions. Truth be told this whole citation after the fact lesson came out of necessity. My plan for the pamphlets was to use Creative Commons but the site has been out of service for some time now! Hey, I’m a teacher… I thrive on innovation and work-arounds. On the plus side, I have to say that when I shared my online free book, The Sharing Tree, inspired by Shel Silverstein’s The Giving TreeI was taken to task for my own copyright infringement. Another teachable moment put to good use and a rewarding discussion had. The details I will leave to your imagination.

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Rethinking Google+

google+-logoI have to admit it. I was a little reluctant about Google+ at first. I did my due diligence with Twitter and had some good traffic going through my websites, blog, YouTube Channel and slideshare.

Felt I had the whole PLN/digital footprint thing going well enough. After all, I need some time offline, right?

But I see now that I need the Google+. It has things the others don’t. Circles, for one. I can divvy up who I share what with in the same platform/account. There are tonnes of great communities to join with events like the new Google Educators Group (GEG) for central Bangkok (and more being made as I type!).

And, you can see how much traffic you are producing which is not an obvious functionality in Twitter.

Final word.. If you are in the game you should add this to your connectivist corral.

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Digital Citizenship: The Everything Intro for Elementary Students

The title sounds like a pretty tall tale but I promise you, is isn’t. As an introduction this project is nothing if not ambitious. It is the culmination of many thoughts, lessons, study and based on my work with international school elementary students in Japan and Thailand. Seeds of it can be traced back to a much smaller Digital Footprint Project.

Click the image to go to Example as Thinglink currently works only with self-hosted WordPress blogs as doesn’t support third-party plugins.
Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 9.57.27 PM

We explored the concepts:

  • online safety (tied to the similarities with “real life” safety)
  • digital citizenship
  • digital footprints

We learned the skills:

  • research skills and search engines for younger learners
  • recording and sharing research findings through cloud computing with Google Sheets
  • basic citation

Now for the BIG ProjectScreen Shot 2014-11-09 at 10.25.34 PM
Ourselves Online: A Digital Footprint Guide for Children

We are making a book.

  • Definitely a real, hold-in-your-hand, flip-the-pages hardcover
  • Maybe an eBook
  • Maybe downloadable
    • More on self-publishing eBooks here

I will share all of the details with you now. I cannot, however, share the end result as we are still immersed in it. A handful of students have produced pages already. We started with Grade 6 and are working our way down. Naturally, we are differentiating for the younger grades.

As important as this content is there are a number of skills with other devices necessary for successful completion of the project. As students complete their pages they become experts and assume responsibility for mentoring others.

Now for the nitty-gritty. Forgive the change in verb tense to future but this is drawn from my original proposal:

The Idea
What I would like to do is support students from across my elementary school in the production of a book called, Ourselves Online: A Digital Footprint Guide for Children. It will be a hardcopy book made by children for children. At a minimum there will be one made for each class, underlining student ownership of the work. This will require differentiation by year level. Older children will act as peer experts for younger.

If I can convince everyone I can extend the learning further by producing an ebook with Smashbooks that can be formatted for sale on Google Play and Amazon.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 11.07.29 PMThe Tools

  • Macs
  • The Internet
  • Google Drive
  • Age Appropriate Search Engines
  • Scanners
  • Wacom drawing tablets
  • Paint X Lite
  • Keynote as an image editor
  • weebly as a platform for content management and sharing
  • (Smashwords, Google Play & Amazon?)

The Skills & Understandings
The project will be the platform for introducing online research skills differentiated for younger learners. We will discuss such strategies as :

  • word selection
  • search term refinement
  • use of multiple search engines (and what they are)
  • use of search engines that filter the web for age-appropriate material
  • creative commons images and use addressed

The children will develop these skills to help them learn about digital citizenship, online safety and digital footprints.

Cloud-based Collaboration
Children will share research in a Google sheet in an account created for them addressing cloud-based collaboration.

The Creativity
We will use Wacom drawing pads to digitally transform traced, scanned versions of their feet, stylized with Paint X to develop creative skills with original backgrounds (adding appeal for our audience).

Responsibility & Respect (An Introduction to Citation)
The ‘footprint page’ each student produces will also have a citation, imparting responsible habits and respect for the work of others.

This project is not for the faint-hearted. The level of follow up and organisation to manage not only the students (who are all at different stages of production almost from day one) but schedules with teachers, access to devices and making sure all work is saved and accessible is at least on par for difficulty with:

  • managing a whole school Moodle,
  • producing yearbooks, or
  • undertaking flat classroom projects

Google Drive made it possible. Folders for overall organization and access and Sheets for tracking who was where in the process.

I welcome feedback through comments to improve this further. Feel free to also take a look at these pages of the website created to deliver the classes and make content and explanation readily available to students from anywhere. (Simplest to just click the top link and peruse from there.)

Please share your thoughts with me. Love it, hate it, plan on trying any of it? I would like to know.

Are You Interested in Becoming a Published Bestseller?

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Google Apps: Find Everything Fast

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 7.13.03 AMShared this trick with my  #iTeach #GAFE’rs yesterday and thought I’d share it with you too!  Share it around.


More Google Apps slideshow tutorials here and a whole #GAFE Flipped program here.

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Learning 2.014 Asia Reflection

L2-world-logos-7xWell I finally made it.

Learning 2.0the educational technology for learning conference that everyone wants to attend. I was lucky enough to have moved to the city where it was being held and further convince my new employer of the value of sending me. As the new Director of Technology I did my best to arrange for others at the school to be sent along as well. All who attended raved about the experience and vowed to help raise the technology game in their classes.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.08.46 AMHaving completed Jeff and Kim‘s Certificate of Educational Technology & Information Literacy (COETAIL) program I am already a big proponent of the collaborative, active learning style also employed at #learning2 events. Instead of a room full of people taking notes while one person stands at the front lecturing, the style of this event is about hands-on, collaborative learning. Yes, one person stands up front directing action and sharing good practice, but there are constant prompts for participant feedback and opportunities to jump right in and use the tools addressed. I often learn as much from peers in these sessions as from the person up front. In fact, another impressive point worthy of mention here is that these session leaders are not afraid to say, “Hey, does anyone know how to..?” proving that co-construction is just the way it works. Sorry for the self promotion here but this sits very well with a guy who runs an educational technology website with the tagline, “With technology we are al learners!”

cropped-COETAIL-RGB-1000pxWhile the leaders of sessions (pre-conference whole day, extended, one-hour workshop, “unconference” or cohort follow up) are expected to be knowledgeable experts of the topics addressed, much of the learning is participant driven. Everyone has something to share and, naturally as the conference has a technology focus, much of it is done so through cloud-based services making material readily available after the fact.

Unlike many other conferences, participants are able to direct there time to tailor it to their individual needs. In my case I was able to go to sessions focusing on areas I am working towards introducing in my own school as well as attend some sessions as brush-ups hopeful to get some takeaways on areas I personally present on.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.11.34 AMThere was an array of topics on offer from 3D Printing to Visual Note Taking, Design Thinking to Presentation Tips touching on segmentation theory and the dopamine effect. As my habit is to no longer take notes but produce webpages on my educational technology site I am able to not only go back to all the gems I gathered over the course of the conference but to further develop my personal learning network (PLN) and raise my site’s stats through sharing right from the start. (Sorry, some of the sessions were far to labour intensive for webpage creation!)

No reflection on an L2 would be complete without mentioning the networking. You won’t find a better opportunity. And what a place to catch up with like-minded educator friends you’ve been collecting over the years. Cohorts from COETAIL in Japan, Apple Distinguished Educators met in Bali, International Baccalaureate Educator Network co-inductees and previous co-presenters from Beijing… Talk about when worlds collide! Refreshing these relationships further helps keep your connectivist world vibrant and alive.

If there were something I would like to see improved it would be the ability to realize that, hey, I have made a mistake and this is the wrong session for me and move to something more valuable and suited to my situation. I understand the logistics of something like this must be challenging. Some participants, however, have a difficult time making it these conferences. Some have to foot the bill themselves which can be quite expensive coming from another country and staying in a hotel. Maximizing learning is imperative. I sat in on one session that, despite the skill and knowledge of the presenter, was just not right for me. I participated whole-heartedly and feel my contribution was helpful. I learned of a few new tools I may be able to use as well. I just wish I could have quietly left to join the other session I had considered and, having spoken with a colleague who attended it, would have benefitted from more.

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.31.50 AMI have been to workshops all over the world for well over a decade now. I have learned from scores of incredible educators.  I have worked hard to collect accolades and special qualifications. I love presenting, networking and constantly developing myself professionally. Since I took the COETAIL course I have a renewed energy and vitality for my career. I need to get involved in this conference somehow. I will attend again but hope to contribute in any capacity from working a desk to offering workshops to giving an L2 Talk someday. (Forgive liberties taken in photo)

All told, the experience lived up to the hype. I am better off than when I went. The pink shirts (L2 support staff) were helpful and friendly at every turn though they must have been tired and a special kudos must go out to Clint Hamada for his superior efforts at helping me out on day one.

If you haven’t been to one of these you need to go.

I have embedded my COETAIL final video here for those who are considering the course (DO IT!) The original blog post is here.

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The Nature of Technology: Could we change it if we wanted to?

We spend years interfacing with technology. Clearly if you’re reading this, you have access to the internet but what of electricity, cars, books, hammers and wheels? It all qualifies as technology. In terms of digital technologies, this volume of interaction seems certain to increase for the foreseeable future.

But what is this technology we spoke so regularly of?

We want our children to blog and learn code, develop personal learning networks and create with 3D software and printers but where do we stand on how it impacts on us? We are analog, social creatures. Though we talk at great lengths of the marvel of our evermore connected world, possibilities for collaboration and connectivism, the truth is that these are not the same sort of humanistic interactions that necessarily result in greater personal relations and connection. Working with emerging technologies to learn how they work and support us creatively does not address the human context in which they are operating. What about the bigger humanistic and societal questions?

  • Do we need all of the technologies we have?
    • How do we decide?
  • How are these technologies developed?
    • Who decides?
  • Does our growing reliance on digital technologies change us?
    • Does it change how we interact with others?
      • For better or for worse?
        • How so?
        • Could we change it if we wanted to?
  • Do we drive the technology or does it drive us?

Since our technology has always been a reiterative force on human thinking and development how does its ever-increasing pace of development impact on us?

Metaphorical Nature of Technology

This post is not about the evils of technology. Far from it.

It is about understanding:

  1. the nature of technology (Thou art that), and;
  2. the reiterative nature of our relationship with our technology

The Nature of Technology

Technology moves fast. This is a fundamental part of its nature. It is reiterative. Recursive. Present growth increases the rate of future growth. It snowballs… avalanches. With each new technology we further strengthen the metaphor of the human need to use elements of our environment to further manipulate it and take our metaphorical development ever further; Be it a physical manifestation enabled by our abstract thought processes allowing us to cure polio or something more completely abstract helping us create expressive art through digital manipulation of light or sound, each new expression compounds on previous creations producing a synergy that spurs continual progress at an increasingly faster pace.

This growth has risen to such a pace as to render it impossible to keep up with it. It has altered the course of human history, giving way to new epochs from agrarian to industrial to information ages. As the advent of the printing press removed the dominance of memory and oral traditions to authorship and the written word, so too has the pace of knowledge creation demanded we bow to and embrace connectivism and other means of managing something as basic as knowledge!

While technology comes from us it also acts on us and changes the landscape of human activity and even the way we live and learn. Should we perhaps now pause and wonder if the cart has jumped ahead of the horse? At the very least, should we not be considering what it means for the future of human interaction? Would we not be better served by planning for these social changes by trying to understand them even as they are taking place?

In many ways, society doesn’t just happen, it is made. If the technology we must create has now tipped the scales of influence in our symbiotic relationship in its own favour we must consider what this means at the micro level if we ever hope to extrapolate wider trends.

It is time to enact curriculum that asks tough questions like, “How can we design new technologies (metaphors for us) before deciding which new one to learn?” By thinking in this way we take back the control to some degree and are less swept away by the last iteration.

Or, more simply put, how important is it to understand how the technology we create, in turn, affects us?

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Integrating Synergy

Our Grade Five class just wrapped up a unit on Advertising & Media. As the technology integration specialist my role was to support students in the creation of a collaborative website demonstrating their conceptual understanding of the Central Idea as it related to the Transdisciplinary Theme of How We Express Ourselves.


The idea was to have students take turns with each of the identified content areas. Week after week each student added content to their assigned page. Before final publishing the student page editor (who claimed a page at the start of the process) had final say on layout referring to previously developed visual literacy skills (derived from C.R.A.P. Design and other common elements of digital story telling).

The volume of skills touched upon in the unit was amazing. I have given a taste of it from a technology perspective to this point but honestly, I wish I had had more time to further harvest this opportunity. Actually, I took more.

As an extension my colleagues were flexible enough to give me time to use the publishing of the site to inquire into the power of networking, social media and online promotion. I introduced Twitter, Search engine Optimization (SEO) and other social media outlets.

In the first week we did no promotion. Today I sent out the first tweet, sent out both Google+ and Facebook posts and am now writing this blog post. In all of them I have asked people to share it along in their own Personal Learning Networks (PLN) to help demonstrate how far it can go.


Posted in Collaboration, Digital Learning, IB, Literacy, New Media, Producing, Publishing, Sharing, Project Based Learning, PYP, Visual Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To: Develop your PLN and Up Your Online Presence

I produced this slideshare for a number of reasons. First off, I was introducing a class to digital-age promotion using social media. I also wanted to support those who are interested in developing their own personal learning networks or take them to the next level. I also thought I could use it to share my free pdf Ebook, Deepen Your Digital Footprint: A Beginner to Intermediate Guide to Increasing Web Traffic & Online Presence.

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Meaningful Online Search Techniques

I made this to support students and teachers at my school. I hope it can help others too.

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2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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