Category Archives: Course Two -EDC 601

COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

More Copyright! This time for kids.

At the start of the start of this course, I never would have thought that copyright would have been the most interesting or informative part. As it turns out, I found it to be both and very applicable to what I am doing in the classroom. At the bottom of this post is a UBD “unit” that strives to teach students about copyright and fair use.

I really thought about how my views changed on the subject while in class. I think one of the hardest things about teaching is that you never remember how hard something was to learn once you actually learn it – because then it is easy. So when planning this unit about copyright and fair use, I really looked back to some of the things we did in COETAIL class.

I wanted to include some videos for several reasons. First, they are funny and catchy. I still sing that stupid “Copyright, What’s Copyright” song at random times during the day. One of main takeaways I want for students is that they are AWARE of these issues. Look no further than my post Teaching About Copyright to see how unaware my students are. Second is that they do a good job of getting some basic ideas out there. The videos are good discussion starters.

Another trick I borrowed from COETAIL is to have students use CC images and give attribution in their blog posts. I was kind of doing this before, but only because I had seen some COETAIL discussion on Twitter and professional blogs before taking the course.

Although I plan to run this mini-unit in the first semester next year, I am hoping to sneak in some of the ideas with my classes this year too. If I really believe it to be valuable (and I do), then I should be able to find the time. These issues are important.

COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

Collaboration: More Than a Buzz Word

I challenge anyone to read an article, or listen to a talk, or watch a video on 21st century learning without hearing how important collaboration is as a skill for students. It is so important, it even gets its own NETS standard! So do you really want to read another blog about why collaboration is so important? Lets both agree that it’s a biggie.

Technology can help our kids collaborate. We use it all the time, most often in the form of Google Apps, or Prezi, or Wallwisher or a number of other online tools. Technology though, shouldn’t become the sole method for collaboration. I get to see a class full students everyday and I would hate to have a class full of students collaborating together everyday without saying a word. There are, of course exceptions to this.

I Am Collaboration (And So Can You!)

Twitter might be the coolest tool for teachers since chalk. This past weekend, at the one-to-one technology conference, ASBUnplugged, I heard some version of, “If there is one thing you get from this conference, join Twitter” about ten times. If you are not on yet, I am guessing that you have been “resisting.” I heard that quite a few times too. I’ll let you in on a secret, you are going to join sooner or later, so you might as well get started.

Teachers on Twitter are always sharing. And asking for help. And giving help. I have seen Google Docs sent out where teachers could go in and add what they were doing regarding the topic. I have personally shared and used linked information that has directly help shape my understanding or instruction. It is a powerful tool.

The Web Is Brainy

Image: Flickr John & Mel Kots

Written text is like driving in America; you stay in your line. Web text is like driving in India; you can go in any direction at anytime. Everything is linked. Even the stuff that isn’t linked is now linked. On certain websites, or with the right browser app, any word you highlight is instantly searchable or defined or both.

One great tool that could really help kids to understand how concepts and words are interconnected is Tag Galaxy. Here, you can plug in a word (tag), or multiple words and it instantly connects other words. If you click on one of those, it takes you to a new level. And if you click on the center inside any of those levels, photos from flickr with that tag are displayed.

The non-linear nature of the web should be an easy conversation to have. In Humanities, I don’t let kids get away with linear thinking, because in my subject, that is simple thinking. As we use these web tools, the conversation needs to happen there. Teachers must take the time to make sure students are not just clicking links. They need to know why they are clicking them.


COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

Protecting Students Without Fencing Them In

Image from Flickr user woodleywonderworks

When I first started the readings for this section of the course I thought I had it figured out. Cyber bullying in schools is an obvious issue, I thought. The readings showed something different though.

The Pew survey results show that kids are in fact being bullied online, but it is not really any more widespread than bullying that is happening in person. This was somewhat surprising to me. In my personal experience and from the readings, it is much easier to be bold through a computer. I see “internet tough guys” all the time when I am online. Does this translate into more bullying online? What should educators do about these issues?

It seems quite apparent that both parents and schools must take an active role in help kids understand cyber-safety. This is illuminated by the Pew study regarding teen internet use, and there are several important lessons to be learned.

  • According to the survey, almost half the teens online said they lied about their age in order to join a website. This is an oft overlooked problem that I face as a middle school teacher. As our school moves to iPads next year, the COPPA 13 y/o agreement will be a major issue that we will need to solve. This affects many tools that we use – Prezi, iTunes, Glogster, etc.
  • One third of teens have shared their password with a friend. Do we file this one under the “mistakes you half to make in life” column? It seems that no matter how much teachers or parents or friends repeat the dangers of an issue like this, it takes getting burned for someone to actually learn.

One of the most interesting items I found was regarding who teens learned about online safety from and who they ultimately turned to when faced with an issue. Seventy percent of teens learned about cyber safety from teachers (eighty-six percent from parents), but when it came time to seek advice, only three percent sought out a teacher. Fifty-three percent went to peers while thirty-six percent turned to parents.

OK, a blow to the ego maybe, but not entirely shocking. So does this mean that we are wasting out time? Of course not. Schools play an essential role in preparing students to give sound advice. When it actually happens, a teacher might not be the one to give direct help, but the kid who is in that position needs to have the skills and knowledge to help their friend. And isn’t that the business we are in anyway. We are trying to prepare kids to make good decisions and provide sound council in these situations.

Who’s job is it to teach these skills?

Lectures by uncool old people like me aren’t going to make teens who are engaged in dramas think twice about what they’re doing. And, for that matter, using the term “bullying” is also not going to help at all either. We need interventions that focus on building empathy, identifying escalation, and techniques for stopping the cycles of abuse.

The Dana Boyd quote from above comes from an article on “cyber-bullying”. When it comes to thinking about how to teach online saftey, I think she nails it. Can I also add, we shouldn’t call it “cyber-safey”, as I have several times throughout this post. We are teaching kids about solving problems and making good decisions. I do think thereexplicit discussion about these issues has to occur, but I would agree with her when she says, “technology is not radically changing what’s happening; it’s simply making what’s happening far more visible.”

As technology changes, teachers must face the issues our kids are dealing with head on. We cannot pretend they do not exist. Banning Facebook and Twitter is not an option; we must teach students how to responsibly use these tools and how to troubleshoot when problems arise.

COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

The Line Is Moving

I have a personal blog. In this blog I often post pictures of friends without their consent. Some of them might never know that these images were posted online. I guess this puts me on the liberal side of the online privacy line. The problem for the people on the other side of the line, and perhaps me, is that the line is moving.

This article from The Rebel Yell was written in 2009, and already some of the wonderings from the article are begging to show up today. The author wonders, for instance, what we will do when companies start changing user agreement. Sound familiar?

I suppose this is what happens when every phone is a camera and every picture you take is instantly uploaded, like with Instagram, Google+, Hipstamatic, not to mention taking the time to post it to Twitter or Facebook. We want privacy, but we also want to share our lives.

This becomes more true as families spread further across the globe. For expats, online sharing is incredibly important for maintaining relationships. But this shouldn’t mean that we have to share everything with everybody.

That is why social sites are getting smarter. Google+ has circles that allows you to choose who you share with. And even cooler, you can make it to where people you share it with cannot share further. This eliminates some of the problems that occur when you are friends with someone online who is friends with someone else who you might not want to have access to your pictures.

Managing what you put out there is the easy part. The more difficult piece comes when you have to be concerned about what others are putting out about you. And that is where education comes in.

As the world changes, we have to adapt to those changes. We have to be aware of our actions when we are in public places. We also have to educate our students about how to navigate the waters of online privacy. We are not going backwards. Kids, and adults and me for that matter, are not going to give up their phones, their online connections, their social networks. We just have to prepare them how to share what with who, a lesson my parents and teachers taught me long ago. The wisdom is the same, the application is what is changing.


COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

Saving Face, Digitally

When I think about managing my digital footprint, it all seems like common sense. Don’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your employer or future employer to see seems like a pretty good rule. But that view is a little simplistic. Take the case of Rick Santorum, who should be out of elected office because of the things he has said, not because of a websites attempt to make his name synonymous with, er, lets say poop. We must now be aware of what other post and what can be linked back to up. Somethings as simple as a joke with a twitter @mention could come back to haunt you.

Katie Lewis at put together a rather complete guide to managing your who you are digitally. One of the most interesting ideas about managing your online presence is that we have to make sure we post more good than bad. I’ve been teaching Animal Farm with my 8th graders, and I can’t help but think we have to all get in touch with our inner  Squealer to manage our image.

That view is probably a little dark though. I think that people, myself included, are a little squeamish about the idea of shaping how people see you online because it seems fake. Disingenuous. My view on this is evolving though. Don’t we shape how we present ourselves in person? Of course we do! The difference is that what is online is there to be seen by all, so we can’t put on different faces like we can in real life. I certainly act much differently in front of my students than I do with my colleagues, friends or family. And it always takes me time to warm up to people and show the looser side of my character until I have a certain level of trust.

Interestingly there was an article going around Facebook this week, What teachers really want to tell parents. Even though I might agree with some of what was written in this article, I wouldn’t want it linked back to me for fear that some parent my stumble across it, read only the title, and make a snap judgement.

The other side of the coin here is that managing your online presence can actually help you land a job. As more schools press onward with technology, a teacher with no online presence could find themselves in a less than stellar position. Conversely, look no further than COETAIL instructor extraordinaire, Dana Watts, who secured employment at AES on the strength of her digital portfolio.

Finally, since we are educators, we need to think beyond ourselves to how we can help students make wise choices about their online lives. Of course, we cannot make decisions for our kids; they are going to make mistakes. But we can try to limit those mistakes by making them aware of how the image they portray online will stay with them. I read a story last week about a big-time football recruit who had scholarship offers from Michigan and Notre Dame pulled because of offense remarks he wrote on Twitter. Sharing these types of stories is important to help students understand the consequences of what is said online.

I know more than one adult who have said “Thank the Lord there was no Facebook or Twitter when I was growing up.” At least as kids we could burn our embarrassing pictures; now you have to flood your digital profile with better representations.

All images mine.
COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

Teaching About Copyright

When thinking about what our obligation as educators is regarding the teaching of Copyright, I immediately think of a project we do with our 8th graders. The idea is to create a video highlighting an issue that is caused by industrialization. When I say create a video though, what I really mean is create a story that uses images and video that have been created elsewhere. The video is narrated and background music is included to add to the effect of the video.

As teachers, we stressed how important it was  to “cite your sources!” Students had to create a works cited page to show where they gathered information in order to create the script for the project. Students also had to include citations on the works cited for any music they used and for any video clips. When it came to pictures though, we just required a URL.

So did we do enough?

I think the intentions were correct. We always try to err on the side of giving credit. I think the biggest issue in my own teaching was the presentation. The premier obligation of educator is to make sure students have a clear grasp of WHY they should credit an image or song they use in a video.

In my last post, Jason Coleman left a comment about a conversation he had with his kids. The student said, “Why would people upload their photos to Google if they don’t want people to use them?” This is a student who participated in the project described above. Sure, they understood that they need to give credit, but could they answer why?

One final thought on this obligation of teaching Copyright. If this “why would people upload photos if they didn’t want them used” line of thinking is representative of our students, then it highlights the importance of making kids aware Copyright and intellectual property. Not only so they do not offend others, but so they themselves do not become victims through ignorance.

*Photo is mine.

COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

Vigilante Copyright Law

One of my favorite comedy shticks used to be a simple line, “Cite your source.” It was my go to way of punctuating a great idea or line. “You can use that,” I would say, “just cite your source.”

Currey, Isaac. The Great State of Texas. 2004.

Of course, I was joking. But behind every joke is a grain of truth. On some level, I was under the impression that I owned what I was saying. The sad truth is that most of what comes out of my mouth is probably ripped off from a book, movie, or friend. In fact, the “cite your source” line is something English teachers have been badgering students with since the days of Gutenberg (German teachers?). Even the way I used the line has, I’m sure, been used by plenty of people. (Please leave a comment with the date you began using the phrase so we can see who owes who money…or credit.) Thankfully, I got married and my wife is slowly helping me to get over myself.

So what can I do to ensure the kids I teach don’t end up like me, expecting everything they say to be etched in bronze for eternity? How can we teach Copyright in age of digital piracy?

When kids come to my class, there are always a few who want to cite an image as ‘Google’. As in, “Thanks for the picture, Google.” I know there is no way any teacher has let them get away with that, but nevertheless, those kids show up in my class every year, in every county I’ve been in. At the beginning of the year, I try to make it as clear as possible, Google is not a source. “It’s like citing Library,” I tell them. And yet, kids still give me these long URL’s that start with…

This should tell us something!

Photo by Rutger van Waveren. Flickr rvw  (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Do students really understand why they are crediting a source? Surely students (and adults) do not believe that Google is taking all those photos. The students are not concerned with given credit so much as they are concerned with getting a good grade. That is why they give us the links in the first place. And really, even when students give a link that is not google, it is usually a link to a page that is using the image from somewhere else, so the author is still not receiving credit.

So the conversation with students has to begin with the question, why do we credit the work of others? Students have to know what having a creation ripped off feels like. Fortunately, most students have a story like this. From there, its a matter of helping them come to the conclusion that if little Johnny had told little Isaac that the reason Johny’s drawing looked like his was because he was so inspired by it, that little Isaac might not be so upset.  True story: In 5th grade, I had to create a family shield with a motto and symbols. When we were finished, I noticed that one boy in class had copied my motto word for word. I WAS FURIOUS. When Mrs. Angle hung the shields on the wall outside, I slightly ripped the other boy’s shield when nobody was around. Vigilante Copyright justice at its worst!

The second part is getting students to start using CC licensed images and properly crediting the authors. Smarter searching. More intentional searching.

I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. The idea of transformative versus derivative and what is and isn’t free use is a great conversation to have with students. It is a necessary conversation to have with students and colleagues alike. I think that introducing some of the vocabulary and concepts through kid friendly videos like this and this are great places to start. The world of Copyright is changing; it’s good to join the conversation.

(CC BY-3.0)

COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

Our AES.

When learning about copyright, what better way to learn than to create something and assign a copyright to it. Jason and I created a video about AES. Enjoy, and because it has a Creative Commons CC-BY-3.0 tag, feel free to use it in anyway you imagine.