Part 1 – Copyright & Creative Commons

The information for this week is very informative and of interest to me. The videos talking about Fair Use spelled it all out in an easy to follow format.  The copyright laws for use on the Internet have had to redefined so they are not so restrictive.  If someone is doing something for the greater good of society, like teaching, then the needs of teacher supersede the rights of the owner under the law.  The restrictions were interesting in the sense of the limitations on limitations which was not for use of entertainment, rewards, and videos & CDs.  I was a little bit fuzzy on this in that many times teachers will “reward” students with movies.  I am guessing because they have purchased the DVD or rented it, then this is ok under copyright laws. But they are not allowed to download a movie and show it.  It was interesting to know that any tests, worksheets, scantrons developed by companies for schools were not allowed to be copy.  This stands to reason, as was talked about in the video, if we as teachers want to keep these companies going we need to purchase the products.  Another idea which caught my attention was “face-to-face instruction trumps copyright laws.”  There is a lot of latitude available to teachers, if they are aware of the laws governing copyright issues.

The YouTube video was great in the sense it gave kids a good idea of what copyright infringement is.  I felt like it went along with what the thinking process in children tends to be, especially for the younger ones.  The graphics were not only entertaining but also something kids could and would understand.  The written info with the fast talking announcer would be lost on most kids, though.  Too much information, too fast talking, and I could see them just glossing over it.  I understand YouTube’s need to include the information, just as car sales commercials to too, but it was distracting also.  I am not sure how this could be changed.  As an adult it was a positive graphic reminder of the basic copyright laws for using YouTube.

Being a newcomer to the Internet and teaching in general, I am very excited to learn about Primary Sources and the use of them in the classroom!  Most of what was available years ago when I first taught, it all had to be in books which were not easy to come by, then had to be copied in some way.  I think the use of the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, National Archives and museums across the nation and world opens up some exciting ways to use the Internet within all areas of the curriculum!  For myself, I will need to push myself to get completely immersed in the information available.  From my other classes we have talked about how do we as teachers get the students more interested in school and the subjects which we teach. I believe this is the way in which to do it.  I looked at a lesson plan done for 4th grade math and it was teaching skills about geometric shapes.  It used the idea of quilts.  There were several pictures of quilts and then went on to talk about the different shapes which make up the quilts.  After class discussion they went on to make their own math quilt.  Very innovative and inspiring to me! This also ties into the discussion about creative commons by the ability to use another teacher’s lesson plan to teach a subject.  Plus looking at what others have done, gets my own creative juices flowing and I can see ways in which to go off in my own direction from there. I like the creative commons  http://creativecommons.org/ video talk of  “Share – Reuse – Remix”.  The wheel does not need to be reinvented in teaching all the time. 

NETS standards for teachers plays out a lot in this weeks topics.  The first standard talks of “Facilitate and Inspire Student learning and Creativity.”  With the use of primary sources to enrich the learning it can get students fired up about learning.  Another NETS-T standards is “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” using different sources on the Internet will also enhance learning, and meet one of the standards goals.  As a future teacher, I believe when I am excited about a subject or subjects the students will pick up on that and become excited to explore and learn also.  Since the possibilities to develop all lessons are awesome on with the web, it will be important to me to remember to narrow my focus to the subject at hand, and not get overwhelmed by the process.  I will be in a learning mode, too, as I work in the digital age.

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Digital Citizenship

Tony Wagner discusses seven skills students need for their future. They relate to Digital Citizenship in these different ways:

1) Critical and Problem Solving – By being part of the world and the information which is available to anyone on the web, this skill is one of the NETS standards which helps students do identify problems and questions to research, analyze data, making informed decisions and thinking about possible alternative solutions.

2) Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence – By working with the best people for a job, around the world, from different cultures, races, religions, and can have different ethics.  The NETS standards have collaboration as a skill which each student needs to possess by having global awareness and engaging with other learners from other cultures.

3) Agility and Adaptability – By being flexible and able to adapt to new situations and issues presented.  The information which is available at any time of the day or night is constantly changing.  This generation is able to go with the flow because it is all they known about their world.  NETS standards has this skill under digital citizenship in the form of being about to have positive attitude towards using technology which supports learning and productivity.

4) Initiate and Entrepreneurialism – This skill does not relate to Digital Citizenship in a direct manner.  It is more along the line of using technology to develop commerce and ways in which to promote oneself in today’s market place.  NETS standards do not reflect this skill.

5) Affective Oral Communication – This could be in conflict with Digital Citizenship because it is an oral or verbal form of communication.  NETS standards has a requirement for students using the digital media to express their thoughts and ideas effectively.  They need to be able to contribute to project teams to come up with original works and also be able to solve problems.

6) Access and Analyzing Information – By being able to get to the information needed and knowing how to access the different features available on software programs.  Having the ability to look at the data and pick out the information desired to answer the questions asked.  NETS standards have analyzing information under the heading of research and information fluency.  Students should be able to apply digital tools for the purpose of gathering, evaluation and how to use the information.  Also under technology operations and concepts the students can show a “sound understanding of technology concepts, systems and operations.”

7) Curiosity and Imagination – This does not relate directly to Digital Citizenship.  NETS standards has it under the creativity and innovation section.   Students can show curiosity by their creative thinking and developing exciting new products and processes using technology.

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Privacy

It was interesting to hear Eli Pariser talk about what he calls “filter bubbles.”  Information is being filtered out without us even knowing it.  Google and Facebook are personalizing what we click on and making choices as to what information we receive when browsing.  This is a disturbing thought for me because I am not allowed to choose my own ideas about what information I want to view.  I will not even be aware of other information available to look at.  A quote from Eric Schmidt, Google, says, “It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.” Pariser goes on to say as yet there is no ethics embedded in the algorism.  There needs to be filters which allow for things which are relevant, important, uncomfortable, challenging and other view points in our choices.  I agree we need some control of our choices.

This is flies in the face of many of the NETS standards for students.  Under creativity and innovation the main points are to generate new ideas and processes, create original works by means of personal expression, and identify trends and forecast possibilities.  If Google is filtering what information is coming in, how could these standards be met?  Only some of the information is available for the students to use. And if the filter comes from what is clicked before, it would be difficult to get an accurate picture of a users needs.  Mainly because computer use is usually restricted in schools.  Under research and information fluency the main points are to locate, organize, analyse, evaluate and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media, process data and report results, and select information sources based on specific tasks.  Students can do this with the information they gather but if key info is filters out, how accurate will their assignments be?  Will the truth come through in their projects because they do not have all the facts concerning the subjects they are researching?  We have been conditioned to use Google as a source to gather information.  Can it be trusted?  It is disturbing to be censored for the one piece of technology which we are being taught to rely on – the Internet.  However, on the flip side, there needs to be a balance and as Pariser says “a gatekeeper” with ethics and responsibility.  How soon this will happen we will have to wait and see.

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Week 1 – NETS

I am coming into this course a week late and trying to catch up.  As I read and watched the videos I have to say it made my head swim with thoughts going here and there.  I will try to gather them together and make some sence of them.

The NETS standards aspire to collect all of the information which is needed to teach students how to be technologically savvy in an ever changing world.  Their core issue is that digital age skills are vital for preparing students to work, live, and contribute to social and civic fabric of their communities. Digital media literacy is rising to importance in leaps and bounds as to how we think, communicate, learn, and process the world around us.  The public education field needs to prepare students to be able to work within these changes.

One of the standards which is important is promoting digital citizenship and responsibility.  Howard Rheingold discusses its importance with universities and employers being able to look-up information about a person from as long as they have been on the web.  Some people are be denied access to universities because of pictures and text from years past of drunken parties.  Employers are passing on the opportunity to hire someone from threads which continue back to past aggressive behaviour shown on social media sites.  Being responsible with how students use the digital age is something that can be far reach into their futures.  Students need to be taught responsibility on the Internet in all social media at a young age.

Learning how to collaborate and publish with peers is another important NETS standard. Howard Rheingold talks to this standard by saying even within his classes at Stanford and Berkeley he was surprised at the wide variation of digital knowledge with his students.  He had to set up new modules for his classes which address learning with the individuals having a voice to speak as he was teaching.   As the world continues to become more global and communication between all areas of life are connected together, instantly, being able to collaborate with each other is paramount.

Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making are a NEDS standard which could very challenging to teach.  A lot is put on the students to come up with understanding from data.  Students have been trained, over time, to believe what a book says is true and not to question the authenticity of the information within it.  Anyone can put anything on the net and say anything they want to say.  It will take some time and effort on the part of the educators to teach how to analyze the information students are finding.

The differences between the NEDS standards for teacher verses students come in the approach of meeting those standards.  Student standards are geared towards how the students will be able to participate within the structure of the Internet.  They need to learn how to be creative thinkers, create original works, engage with others from different cultures, and learn how to evaluate information, using digital tools to process the data.

NEDS standards for teachers come from the prospect of how they are going to engage students in the learning process.  They need to use their knowledge to promote and model creativity, design and develop learning models for the digital age, be fluent in the technology available, understand digital citizenship and responsibility, plus engage in their own professional growth.

I come from an elementary background and struggle with these standards.  There seems to be a huge gap between what the NEDS standards are promoting and what is currently going on in the public schools.  Many of the school districts do not have the funding or resources to properly meet these requirements.  Many of the teachers who have been teaching 5+ years are not wanting to change their teaching style to accommodate technology.  As Howard Rheingold says, “Change doesn’t take place quickly in public schools.”  I was amazed about his comments of the “wide variation on digital knowledge” in his classes.  And this comes from a professor at two of the top universities in the nation!  My thought was, if college students in 2010 have such a wide variation in their knowledge of the digital world, how are the public schools expected to met the high NEDS standards any time soon or in the near future?

I asked my own daughters about their experiences with the digital age in their public schools and this is what they said.  At the elementary school in 4th grade the class had a computer lab time once a week for about an hour.  5th grade there were no computers in the room, but there was a cart with laptops to plug into which traveled around to different rooms.  When they were on the computer they were only allowed to use search engines to gather specific information with limited time on the computer.

My 8th grader, in middle school, had more access to computers.  They used Ipads, laptops, desk tops, and teachers had smart boards.  There was a computer lab which had about 30 computers in it and the library had 10 computers.  Many classrooms had computers in them also.  She said about 1/2 of the teachers used the smart board and its features.  The other half only used them to project something overhead.  One of her teachers even said,”Don’t tell anyone but I don’t know how to use the smart board!”  This makes me see the gap in educating students in the digital age really starts with educating the teachers and more than a quick run through.  I have heard from teachers of how some of their colleagues do not want to teach with new technology and fight the process.  It is difficult to learn new ways of teaching something one has taught for many years.

On a personal note, I can say I am on the side of having to learn about the digital age in my own future classroom.  I am excited to see all the things one can do with the technology but on the other hand it can seem overwhelming to me.  I do not participate in the social media of today but can see the need to get connected with others and to use it, getting myself firmly planted in the 21st century.  Lucky for me I have two children who are dragging me, sometimes kicking and snarling, along so I will get there eventually.

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Greetings!

I am starting this blog for a class I am taking at Western Oregon University. This is a new form of communication for me, (Yes, I am just a little bit behind everyone!) and I am on a big learning curve. I look forward to the process and am excited to be able to post my findings about using the Internet within the classroom and for my own knowledge as a future teacher.

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