Category Archives: Course 2

Course 2 Final Project

Sitting here wondering how we’ve come to the end of Course 2 already when it seems like  yesterday this CoETaIL journey was just beginning. But, of course, since then, I’ve become a diligent reader of my ever-growing RSS feed, started checking my Twitter account a bit more regularly (and perhaps even using it from time to time), and found a growing desire to keep pushing forward to learn more. I think that this is the greatest accomplishment, finding that motivation within yourself. It is what we strive for with the students in our classes.

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#intrinsic motivation?

For this project, of working to develop an Acceptable Use Policy for your school, I responded to a Twitter request from Mike Nonato who works at Pechersk School International in Ukraine. We took a relatively relaxed approach to this project, basically just sending each other Google Docs and emails and offering feedback along the way. I’ve read some blog posts that seem to indicate a more formal process and document, but I think what we’ve done works all the same. You can find Mike’s blog here.

Since I currently work at the American School of Milan, I set out first to find out what kind of AUP was already in place. I found that our Parent/Student Handbook offers a few pages of information and rules mostly designed for our Upper School One-to-One Laptop Program. (Our program is essentially a bring your own device model, where the students purchase a computer that must meet certain requirements. We offer a model (Dell Latitude) that many students purchase and others bring a different device of their choosing.) There is a section on Appropriate Technology Usage Guidelines, stating that you must bring a working laptop to school every day, that you are expected to have a fully charged battery and bring your charger, that playing digital games not assigned by a teacher is prohibited, along with using file sharing software and downloading, distributing and collecting pirated software and other digital media. Consequences are referred to the general discipline section of the handbook.

There are no separate guidelines written for the elementary school. So, since Mike and I are both Integration Specialists in K-5 settings much of our conversation centered on what we would want to use for students in this age group.

The document that I’ve put together is something that I think could work for many elementary buildings. I researched some of the AUPs from other schools and referred often to International School of Bangkok‘s document designed for grades 4 and 5. (Thanks to Cheryl Terry for posting this on her blog.) I thought it was a great jumping off point and gave me a framework for how I wanted to format to be.

Here’s what I’ve put together. Because it is a K-5 setting I think that using positive statements is important, along with keeping it short and to the point. I think that with grades 3-5 you could discuss this document as it is, but for K-2 a more broken down version using less text and more pictures and images would be important.

Thoughts? I’d appreciate the feedback and hope to work with my school administration to consider implementing a document like this and allow us to be proactive in our approach to technology use.

Drawing the Line…Part Two

When I last wrote about “Drawing the Line” it was more in reference to where we set the boundaries for using images in the classroom and what we teach our students about this and the rules of “Fair Use”. This time, however, I’m using the phrase again to reflect on what I’ve been reading about the role of students, technology and keeping them safe.

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It seems that one very difficult question to answer is where the line is between responsibility of the school and that of the parents to manage students’ online behaviors. I read about instances of one family’s determination to eliminate texting as part of their children’s cell phone packages, hoping to improve face to face communication. I read about Avery Doninger’s story, where she was punished at school for comments she posted online about the school administration.  I read about where schools have gotten involved to remove inappropriate Facebook pages.

So, as a teacher, what is our responsibility to our students?

I believe that if we are using computers, the internet, and other technology tools in the classroom, then part of our instruction must include relevant discussions about being a responsible digital citizen, observing standard netiquette practices, and considering the digital footprint you leave behind.

The following sources may be good places to start finding resources for helping your students be better prepared for living in today’s online world.

Common Sense Media’s CyberSmart Curriculum– A large collection of activities that cover a broad range of internet and computer safety topics.

Learning Lab– A website from the Virginia Department of Education that uses Garfield to teach kids about computer safety and some other topics as well. Most lessons are three part, and include a video and an activity or two.

NetSmartz Kids– From the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, this animated website has videos that help kids learn about the dangers online.

Teaching kids about their digital footprint– An article I found on KC Kids Doc website written specifically for parents, but I thought it offered some interesting perspective to helping students understand the concept of a digital footprint.

Teaching Kids to Manage their Digital Footprint– The Innovative Educator’s blog post on the topic, with resources included below the post. It also has a promotional video for Daniel Pink’s book Drive embedded, which I thought was an interesting connection to thinking about your life and how you’d want your digital footprint to reflect upon you.

What do you teach your kids about in terms of their online safety and being responsible digital citizens? Does your school regulate their online behavior out of school?

If you have any other websites that you’ve found particularly useful, I hope you’ll share them in the comments!


Drawing the Line

Thinking about copyright issues this week and where we need to draw the line in the sand, so to speak. After reading several articles, including several posts by Wesley Fryer, like his information about the use of iTunes in education and his Copyright 101 story, I still had several questions running through my mind. For one, why is an article from 2003 still at the forefront of articles on this topic? Are there better, more informative, and more current pieces of information out there? And, why are so many educators okay with ‘toeing’ the copyright line?

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Fryer makes many good points in the article, including stipulating, “Not only do educators have a responsibility and legislative mandate to model ethical, legal, and appropriate respect for US copyright law in their own teaching, but they must also educate the next generation about the importance and requirements of intellectual property law.”

I think for many years teachers have always told their students about the hazards of copying written work from another source and passing it off as your own. Despite knowing that they shouldn’t do it, I find kids repeatedly copying sentences and paragraphs from the web and thinking that it’s no big deal. To me, this indicates one thing: we have to do a better job teaching students how to digest information and make their own meaning from what they read. We need to teach them how to research and pull apart what they are reading. Too many teachers assume that this is a step that can be skipped and just send kids off to research. If students had a better grasp of how to research, understand, and make their own meaning, then I think the plagiarism of the written word would become less of a problem.

However, with technology making images, music, and other work more available than ever to anyone in any location, we now must share with students the importance of protecting everyone’s rights to their own creations beyond just written work, like pictures, images, presentations, and music to name a few. Education World has a five part series on their site called The Educator’s Guide to Copyright and Fair Use. It talks about all the main points of copyright and the ins and outs of ‘Fair Use’. I think that it is a good reference point for educators looking for information.

So, all this thinking about copyright and a phone call with a friend reminded me of another issue I had on my mind lately. My friend mentioned her use of the site Pinterest, and I said that I hadn’t been on there in awhile because I had read some interesting articles about copyright violations through ‘pinning’ pictures and the site’s Terms of Service (which not coincidentally were updated just a week ago) leaving their users high and dry if you were accused of pinning copyrighted work. A little research led to a slew of articles.

This article was really interesting because it clearly explains the problem that Pinterest is having with individuals as they ‘pin’ work to their boards. Greekgreek demonstrates how the Creative Commons licensed image she uses in the article was pinned several times, but while she links it back to the original owner, the Pinterest pics link back to her article, failing to credit the original creator. There are also more comments on the article than one could read, but some from people whose images are being illegally pinned and how it is affecting their work. Plus, Greekgeek links many other resources on the topic.

This article gives details about the lawyer and Pinterest user (Kirsten Kowalski) who first ‘blew the whistle’ on the copyright issues with Pinterest.

There is also an update to her original post about the new Pinterest Terms of Service.

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So, do you ‘pin’? How does this knowledge affect your use or non-use of the site? I’m curious to see where everyone ‘draws the line’. As of now, my account is still there, but I haven’t pinned anything in months because of these developments. Let me know what you think!

Online Privacy- Does it Exist?

So, the question this week surrounds the issue of online privacy. Can you protect your identity and yourself while still operating in an internet-filled and gadget-laden world?

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Many of us, especially those of us involved in the CoETaIL program lead technology-heavy lives. We’re linked to dozens of sites professionally and personally, and living internationally makes the internet a key component to staying in touch with our loved ones around the world.

In recent weeks, I’ve Googled myself to see if there’s anything new to learn about myself. There is apparently a Dr. Carrie Zimmer in Wheaton, Illinois and and while I tweet occasionally from @carrie_zimmer that search result comes up after @carriezimmer, from Tucson. She stole MY twitter handle! (chuckle, chuckle) But, thankfully, nothing looks unusual or concerning as of today.

In searching for information about online privacy, I read bits of the Wikipedia article on the topic, which offers some ‘experts’ questioning the existence of this privacy. It’s a valid point to think about and one we should continue to discuss with the students we teach. Recently, I was demonstrating a skill to my 6th grade students. I don’t remember what website I was using, but it was laden with ads about traveling to Paris. One of my students said something about it, and I questioned them as to why they thought those ads were there. I had recently traveled to Paris, and had been conducting plenty of internet searches on the city. We talked about how sites collect your information and target their ads towards your interests. This discussion was short, but it was evident that students lack understanding how their online behaviors may affect them.

My search also lead me to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse website. This is a non-profit consumer organization, providing advocacy and information. It seemed to offer a lot of quality information in regards to protecting your privacy and rights. It was updated in March of this year, so the information is current and up-to-date.

I know I should be more conscientious about what my privacy settings are, what tools and sites I allow to access my information, what apps I use, but I simply haven’t been. However, reading Cult of Mac’s article about the Girls Around Me app should start making all of us be a little more careful. This article demonstrates the inherent dangers in not protecting yourself through privacy settings and common sense. After reading the article today, I searched for this app on my iPhone (I finally gave in and navigated the treacherous waters of phone service in Italy) and was unable to find it. Hopefully that means that the updates on the article are true and that the app has been disabled, for now.

I think the most important thing to remember is that you must be smart in your online life, as you would in your daily activities. As a woman, I wouldn’t walk alone at night in too many places, so why would I check in everywhere I go, state when I leave for a vacation, or share the specific details with everyone in the online world? Using a little bit of common sense goes a long way!

What are you doing to protect yourself online? What are you teaching your students about protecting themselves?

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Quality, Not Quantity

So, here we are, starting off the beginning of CoETaIL Course 2 already. I really am enjoying the community spirit amongst my fellow CoETaILers, from reading each other’s blogs to seeing that someone new is following meon Twitter. (I will eventually make ‘tweeting’ part of my routine, right?) My RSS feed seems to grow by the week, and not because I’m not keeping up with the reading, but that I keep adding more blogs to the list. I aim to focus on writing truly quality posts for those of you who so nicely take the time to read my blog…so, put your hairnets on…the quality control staff is in the house!

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In my Course 1 Final Project post, I mentioned the use of Prezi amongst our 5th grade students. Those projects are slowly wrapping up and I am anxious to share the students’ work here in this blog. Working on these projects has brought some great discussions up between myself and one of the 5th grade teachers, particularly focusing on the use of pictures in their work. So, when the class focus this week was on Creative Commons and your digital footprint I was excited to see what useful information I could learn. The Creative Commons website helped me to understand that its purpose was to help bridge the gap between old copyright laws and today’s technology. This allows for more universal access. As a teacher, I think it is my responsibility to help students understand the value of someone’s work, whether it’s text printed in a book, a track of music, or a picture they find on the internet. So many of us are guilty of simple hitting up Google Images whenever we need ‘just the right’ image. It’s fast and has a huge bank of millions of pictures. But, you never quite know where the original image came from or whether or not you can use that image without consequence. My blog readings led me to a new source of knowledge this week from Bill Ferriter’s The Tempered Radical blog, and in particular his post “What Do YOU Know About the Creative Commons?” In this post, he shares a story of how his use of using Google Images led to a hands-on lesson in copyrights. Two videos are linked in his post to help explain to adults and tweens why we should all pay more attention to the ownership of the pictures we are using. I plan to use them to help educate my 5th and 6th graders further on this issue. I’m proud to say that I managed to add the Creative Commons license to all three of the websites I post to regularly.

I was also really interested in the Positive Digital Footprints article from Educational Leadership. As I look back at the article to write this post, I’m realizing that the author of this post is also The Tempered Radical’s writer. Seems like Bill Ferriter is a pretty good source for information surrounding the idea of your online presence in education. The article does a great job defining some basics, like offering that digital footprints are “online portfolios of who we are, what we do, and by association, what we know.” Ferriter goes on to explain that while many educators are worried about teaching the dangers of the online world, we should not forget the importance of teaching what this new connectivity can do for us in a positive manner. He stipulates, “Instead of teaching students to be afraid of what others can learn about them online, let’s teach them how digital footprints can quickly connect them to the individuals, ideas, and opportunities that they care most about.”

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