Fair Dealing

In Canada we use “Fair Dealing” as our language around using materials or work created by others. The laws around copyright in Canada have recently been updated to reflect the broad spectrum of available media and how that media is being used.

The way we use and interact with media is constantly undergoing change. Where we once were satisfied being an audience to other people’s “Funniest Home Videos”, we now upload our own, or make mash-ups of thematic videos we find online. Public domain becomes a grey area; someone shares an image on Flickr that may have originally been copyright protected by the original author, but is now an image of an image with the option to download and share freely. There is a cultural shift towards sharing the wealth of information and resources and knocking down some of the paywalls that exist. MOOCs, open learning and PLNs contribute to the ideals of open source initiatives.

As teachers, what does that mean for how we teach our students to access and use information? For me, the biggest issue is working with images. Every year, I have students who cite “Google Images” as the source for an image that they have copied and pasted into their work. When I show what an actual link to an image looks like (often 4 lines of text long, filled with random numbers and percentage signs), the students exhale and say “Ohhhhhhhh”.

And then I muddle them further by discussing that those images are actually owned by someone. How is that possible, they wonder. Any efforts to relate the ownership of online images to images in books are not understood, not relatable.

I try to set the bar for image use high for my students. Because I am hoping that the blogging and tweeting that my students do in class becomes a habit, I want them only using creative commons licensed images, or images that they have permission to use. I am hoping that my students continue to write and create publically and feel that they can expect to have their words and work respected.

My favourite search tools for copyright free material:

compfight.com – mainly searches Flickr for images

cc search – a tool to help you search multiple mediums, including sources for sound and video

If you are interested in learning more about Copyright law in Canada ERAC offers a free course for members.

Or, you can learn a bit about Copyright law from the “Fair Use” privileges in the United States, one of which allows for use of materials for the purpose of satire. Enjoy!


My own Digital Participation

Like several #tiegrad cohort members, I spent some time this weekend reflecting on my online presence. In our very first term of our Masters work, we were fortunate enough to have a visit with Bonnie Stewart who posed a similar question asking us to think about who we were online. Unfortunately, that was one of the blogs lost when UVic was hacked, but even so, my answer has changed over time. She shared our professor, Alec Couros as an example of someone who seamlessly blends his professional and personal lives online.

I am only digitally active in a few areas. I have a Twitter account, this blog, a Kidblog account with my students, a classroom Twitter account, a couple of social bookmarking sites, and dormant About.Me and LinkedIn pages. Oh, and I also was starting to develop a Fitbit PLN, until my Fitbit decided to part company with me. I am my most true self on my two blog sites. I try to include personal stories, and a few more personal pictures. I was very saddened to lose my UVic blog where I shared how I learned to read, with a picture of my brother and me outside of the Prince George public library. I still have a Word copy of that post, but I heartbreakingly lost my treasured comments from my family and my #tiegrad cohort. It’s funny that we teach about the permanence/footprint of our online identities – maybe it’s only the stuff that we wish we could forget that is actually permanent!

I am more careful with my words on Twitter. 140 characters leaves a lot of room for context collapse and I worry about what to say or share. I feel great when something I tweet is re-tweeted, but when I retweet, I feel like I might be perceived as fangirling!

I think that the main difference between my blog and Twitter is that few people actually read through my blog in its entirety, but anyone could stumble across my words on Twitter. We often snoop through each other’s lists to see whom people are following and what they have to say. My visualization of blogging is like walking through a semi-deserted street verbally telling a friend a story or answering a question. However, Twitter is like graffiti – very visual and left to linger for all to see. I still hesitate and hover over both the “Publish” and the “Tweet” buttons.

I liked the ideas by Melody and Suzanne of creating a Task List for developing a more well-rounded digital identity.

My Task List:

  1. Refine my About.Me and LinkedIn pages (or start fresh!)
  2. Be more active on Twitter: I loved co-moderating our #anxietyined chats, and participating in #bcedchat, #byodchat, and #mschat. I am currently only participating in #bcedchat. Hesitate less, share more.
  3. Blog more frequently. It is an expectation of this course, but I also enjoyed completing the 30 Days Reflective Blogging Challenge in September. I need my blogging to serve me, not just be an assignment to complete. I may need to examine or reflect upon other areas of my life, not just my thoughts and learning as a Masters student. I’ve been managing to blog twice a week since the term began, but it has been entirely assignment-based. These posts will only engage my fellow Grad students. Time to broaden my focus.
  4. Get to know my PLN. I have gotten to know a few of the people I have connected with on Twitter, but mainly by asking questions. I need to look for more opportunities to connect and give back.
  5. Re-read and reflect on the article that was shared out by Valerie Irvine: The Guide to Social Media Time Management. Keep my task list in mind and refine my goals as I work.
  6. Maintain balance. Cultivate my in-person relationships as I develop my digital relationships.

EDCI 569 Initial Reflection

Inspired by Angela Dopp, I am beginning my weekly blogs for our new course EDCI 569 promptly. Our new course is titled “The Distributed, Blended and Open Classroom”. This is an area of interest for me long term, as I hope to shrink the walls in my own classroom. I believe in breaking down the divide between the learning that happens outside of the classroom walls and the learning that happens during formal class time.

Six years ago, I established a wiki for my learners. At that time, I admit that I was not fully informed about FOIPPA, but did establish some routines and expectations to keep my learning community safe online. For the first few years the wiki was driven and managed by me. Two years later, my students completely owned the wiki, authoring Khan Academy-style videos extending lessons on everything from the math being taught that day to novice lessons in Japanese. I became a learner in my own class as the students curated resources and connections for their peers and shared their expertise in other areas of interest. This wiki was profoundly exciting for me, but admittedly limited in its openness. Last year, my class began connecting on Twitter (@MrsJamesFamily) and individual blogs. That was when the walls of our classroom became more transparent! We experienced a humorous moment when we found out that a classroom thousands of miles away was more familiar with what was happening during our day than the teacher in the next-door classroom. Connecting on public blogs has given my students far more opportunities than I could ever offer as an individual teacher. My students have been more receptive to feedback from other sources, and eager to apply their new learning. My students discussed favourite novels with students in Italy. One of my students was asked to write a guest blog post on a teacher’s blog site. Blogging has opened a window to the world, shrinking distances and offering a perspective into a day in the life of students in other countries.

Using Twitter allows my students the freedom to participate in global micro-blog projects and receive the gratification of fairly immediate feedback. We find active hashtags to connect with, and share out our learning frequently. Twitter provides a window into the events, discoveries and learning in our classroom, and invites others to provide feedback, encouragement and conversation.

This year I am working with several teachers who are interested in having their students blog as part of their work on their #geniushour projects. They are starting with closed blogs where only the linked classrooms can read, post, comment or provide feedback. I am looking forward to seeing how writing for a larger audience impacts these students and their writing process.

I am still taking initial steps in my journey towards exploring alternate methods for my learners to connect, reflect and share. I really appreciate it when my students suggest alternate ways to share their learning. I hope that this course gives me new ideas to invite my learners to connect, share their voices and develop their own learning networks.

Sharing Student Blogging

I met with several colleagues today to discuss student blogging. I believe that student blogging is a great tool for Multimedia learning where the student becomes the curator and author of an educational experience. Last year was my first year hosting public student blogs, and I have been speaking about the game-changing nature of having students write for audiences beyond the classroom. We experienced exciting connections and global interactions that ignited a passion for exchanging ideas with others and writing for authentic purposes.

Today I spoke of the “Getting Started” portion of student blogs. I shared my rationale for hosting blogs and why I chose to have my students write publicly last year. I had previously hosted a private wiki for my students, where each child had their own space and as class we co-curated or shared common pages as well. This was a great little private gathering place that contributed to a positive sense of community and became a valuable resource. But, since our population was limited to our classroom, the conversation could only extend a short distance.

I shared several blogging tools and the teachers discussed their own purposes for student blogging. The biggest question was “What do you do with the child that won’t blog?” Because it happens! When the teachers thought about the question being asked of them, they all discovered a certain level of discomfort in being told that they must write publicly. One teacher suggested encouraging the use of a shared paper notebook for some students to write their blog posts in and seeking feedback or comments from other students, possibly even students from beyond their own classroom.

After discussing parent permissions and FOIPPA we moved on to initial starting activities. My favourite launch for blogging is asking my students to create paper blogs – an idea shared by Pernille Ripp. My goals for the paper blog experience is to show my students the idea of writing becoming public – viewable by anyone;IMG_1081 and also the idea of using comments to engage in conversation. After the paper blogs are written by the students, they are posted onto the student’s lockers. We leave them up for several days encouraging students and guests to read each and every blog post. Students are given a stack of sticky notes to write comments on the paper blogs. We read several online blogs and comments and look for comments that create more dialogue. We called those comments “open” comments because they opened a discussion. “Closed” comments were comments that stopped a conversation or were difficult to reply to. Students were asked to write open comments, and “post” their sticky notes on the lockers with the blogs. Students were excited to be receiving comments and wanted to reply, so they learned about nesting their notes, or attaching their replies to the original comments so that the conversation could be read easily. The blogs were left up for about a week afterwards, and guests and students were welcome to continue commenting.

We discussed how the students might choose to use their blogs and what content they may want to include, such as images, stories, reflections or classroom
IMG_0864assignments. It becomes a personal platform for learning and sharing out. I shared one of my favourite quotes “Consuming content takes you places. Creating content lets you to take others with you” via @sjunkins.

I believe that blogging becomes a great Mulimedia learning tool for our students because it can grow into a personalized learning tool and a platform from which to spring into new conversations with other interested parties on topics that may not be traditionally emphasized in our schools. Blogging bridges the learning at home/learning at school divide by opening a window between the two spaces. Students can share their knowledge on a variety of topics that may not otherwise come up. Blogging will also enable more students to share their learning in a manner that connects closely with their learning process. If they learned with Multimedia sources, it will be easy for students to not only credit these sources, but link out to share these resources for other interested learners. Using a blog as a reflective tool, a curation tool and a tool for discussion relates closely to Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning. A student blog can be a place to share out useful sources of information and it can also be a place where students make sense of the information that they are curating. This can be a collaborative effort, where they filter, organize and make meaning of new information through their conversations and posts. Blogging has been a great tool for #geniushour in my classroom, as students could reflect openly and seek help and guidance when they were taking initial steps on new topics.

I am excited that more classrooms will be blogging in my school this year! #geniushour has a strong foothold in our school and it will interesting to learn from these students as they engage in their inquiries.

Reflective Teaching – Day 23

Te@chThought‘s Day 23 Challenge is: “Write about one way that you “meaningfully” involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don’t yet do so, discuss one way you could get started.

I am not sure if using a single way to involve the community can meet the criteria of being meaningful. Involving the community requires offering multiple access points into your classroom. It was a difficult process for me to be comfortable welcoming other adults into the daily routine of classroom teaching. I still get stage fright! It can be scary to invite others in and possibly face criticism. But, the flip side of having an open door policy means that you also welcome the exchange of information both ways. Instead of criticism, more often helpful suggestions or ideas are offered by guests. Sharing out ideas and experiences helps to form connections with experts, other classrooms and new voices for our learners to hear.

So, in the spirit of involving others in day to day life:

  • we tweet from a classroom Twitter account. We use hashtags to organize our thinking and to connect to others. We proudly share our learning and our questions. A new term this year is “WOW” – Worthy Of the World: moments to share out.
  • we blog. Students can write on any topic, seeking support, guidance, feedback and connections from around the world. Twitter helps facilitate and amplify our student voices by sharing blog post links.
  • I’ve always had a class wiki, but this year I am trying a general classroom blog. I am hoping that the authorship of this blog will shift and become a student perspective/sharing out.
  • we invite in guests or travel out to visit new learning sites. We learn from experts and venture out on adventures together!
  • student work is shared out in the school newsletter.
  • we attend conferences, or participate on committees – students are welcome to share their voices at some conferences or at the Board Office, and our learners play a key role on some committees at school.
  • we participate in Global Projects, reminding the learners how small our world is. This Autumn we will be participating in Global Read Aloud and Dot Day to begin our year and we will once again embark on Genius Hour.

Providing opportunities to connect or windows into the learning our students are doing is important. Forming connections between home and school is vital to extend the learning that happens in both environments. Encouraging students to embrace feedback from more than one source as they explore and learn will also grant our learners access to a greater wealth of information, ideas and opinions.

Reflective Teaching – Day 20

Te@chThought‘s Day 20 Challenge is: “How do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves?

Ah, this is the dream! The unfortunate answer is that I don’t curate student work. Our province has very strict rules about student privacy and we don’t yet have a plan for storage. I dream of eportfolios in my future!

We curate in limited ways. Before parent conferences, or reporting periods, I have my students identify works showing improvement, showing areas of strength, showing change. I have students self-select items for assessment. We use Social Media carefully in our class, and sometimes we share out moments or artifacts of learning that are meaningful.

I think that Middle School aged learners should be encouraged to curate their own personal learning artifacts. They can select items for their own purposes, and we should be listening to their reasoning about why they selected particular pieces. Curation can be on a large scale, such as eportfolios or on a smaller scale, such as scrap-booking or archiving. Sharing can be global through Twitter or blogs, or can be private between students/families/teacher.

Reflective Teaching – Day 13

Te@chThought‘s Day 13 Challenge is: “Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.

I love educational technology! It was difficult to rank by effectiveness, because in reality the use changes based on student preferences and needs. My list is somewhat in order, but I’ve shared my thoughts related to each tool.

  1. Data projector: mine is always on. It is used in connection with a SMARTBoard, AppleTV, a huge variety of dongles, a hardwired “teacher” computer, etc. It allows students to quickly see what others are seeing. It makes sharing easy. I think that this suite of technology (projector, SMARTBoard, AppleTV, VGA dongles, speedy computers, and good quality speakers) are an essential minimum in a classroom.
  2. Student devices (BYOD): this has its challenges, but is still so new to me that I am enjoying the possibilities. Having students choose their own device means that they are using something that they have selected. They have personalized it. And most importantly, it travels with them. BYOD helps to break down the walls between home and school learning. The challenge is the variety of devices. You cannot become partial to particular apps!
  3. A single classroom (ideally 5-10) iPad(s): having an iPad dedicated to your own students is ideal! We had a single iPad that was only for our class use. Actually, it was intended as a “teacher” iPad, but I prefer to use my personal iPad. This iPad has our class Twitter account open, class blogs open, and a variety of other commonly used apps available. This iPad became the chosen tool for creating projects, for filming our antics, for a quick “Google”, and trying new apps before deciding to add them to personal devices. Having a class iPad was helpful for when students left their own devices at home or when we had issues with depleted batteries. I would really like to see about 10 dedicated devices in each classroom.
  4. Class set of iPads: I had this for a few months. It was great! It gave a lot of control to the teacher. It was easy to set up the iPads and extract what students were creating. We have strict Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy laws in British Columbia. The issue with a class set of iPads is equitable distribution. They now have to be shared throughout the school, which means you can not count on having them available when something comes up, document and project management becomes a bigger challenge, and the iPads can be returned in a variety of conditions!

Thinking about the edtech that I’ve enjoyed over the years makes me wonder. . . What’s next?