Category Archives: Musings

Is it legal? Is it fair? The letter vs. the spirit of United States copyright law

Some rights reserved by harrystaab

At the last meetup of Kuwait COETAILers, we conversed at length about creating our Course 3 videos and particularly about selecting the media used therein. There was a lot of confusion about what we were allowed to use, and today when I sat down to plan out my own video I ran into the issue headlong. After researching fair use, I came to the conclusion that while grabbing photos from the internet and songs from your hard drive will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend making your video and result in a higher quality product, it is probably not permissible under US copyright law – but it should be. Continue reading Is it legal? Is it fair? The letter vs. the spirit of United States copyright law

The Original Infographic

via the Economist

In COETAIL Course 3, we’ve been talking about visual literacy and using mixed media to present a compelling message. I’ve always been more comfortable with text, but I’m coming around to the advantages of other mediums. It’s far from natural for me, though. The written word is thousands of years old, but infographics are much younger, so it’s no surprise they haven’t become a fixture in our lexicon. Florence Nightingale was one of the first:

Although remembered as the mother of modern nursing, Nightingale was an accomplished statistician too. She was particularly innovative in presenting data visually. The example above, of a type now known as “Nightingale’s Rose” or “Nightingale’s Coxcomb”, comes from her monograph, “Notes on matters affecting the health, efficiency and hospital administration of the British army” published in 1858. In the same year she became the first female fellow of the Statistical Society of London (now Royal Statistical Society).

Read more about one of the first infographics.

One way to solve bullying

photo by dbking

Here’s one approach to the issue of digital citizenship and cyber bullying:

A teenager in Georgia has decided to take things into her own hands after her school and police said they could do nothing about the classmates bullying her on Facebook.

Fourteen-year-old Alex Boston and her parents are filing suit against two classmates and their parents for libel after the two classmates allegedly created a fake Facebook account in her name, using a photo of her that they distorted. The account was also used to post a racist video to YouTube that implied that Boston hated African-Americans, and to leave crude comments on the Facebook pages of other friends, suggesting she was sexually active and smoked marijuana.

My first instinct is that this is a typical misuse of the US legal system: suing someone over a personal disagreement. Couldn’t the situation be dealt with through a conversation, a sit-down between the aggrieved parties? Boston and her parents pursued several avenues of recourse: contacting school officials, the police, and Facebook. But nowhere is it indicated that they tried to contact the bullies and their parents directly to address the situation. This demonstrates why a lawsuit is an excessive response: simple personal contact wasn’t attempted.

On the other hand, online bullying takes a schoolyard activity and puts it into the context of the real world, where we might call it libel or harassment. Even if the suit doesn’t go to trial, might this be the smack across the head that the bullies need?

Pimp My Whiteboard

My school is finally jumping on the smart board bandwagon and installing several dozen Hitachi Starboards over the coming months. My understanding is that by the time the next school year starts, every instructional space will have one, and that this is part of an initiative to have our school be a model of technology use in our city (I would rather have a one-to-one program, but I’m not one to inspect the oral cavities of equine gifts). I was fortunate enough to be in the initial pilot group, so in mid February the school installed one in my room along with an Elmo document camera. I didn’t have any formal training for the Starboard since I was out of town on school trips and conferences for both sessions, but I’ve been playing around with it and collaborating with my common planning colleague. I’ve always thought that smart boards had more applications in the maths and sciences where graphing was important, but I’ve also seen several distinct uses in high-school level humanities that I presented to my department at the last meeting: Categorization, Annotation, and Visual Notes.
Continue reading Pimp My Whiteboard

…like herding cats

I was thrust into the role of tour guide this past weekend when chaperoning a group of 30 swimmers and parents to Athens for the 7th ACS Swim Gala at ACS Athens. It’s the kind of trip that is more challenging because we generally get around on public transportation and stay in hotels. Such an unstructured itinerary makes it more demanding on the trip leaders – similar, perhaps, to the challenges that Week Without Walls organizers face. I’m therefore sharing a few of the lessons I learned in the hope that others can learn from my experiences.

Continue reading …like herding cats

Teaching Research in an Internet Age?

In line with our curriculum’s emphasis on research, the 9/10 history team at my school has been discussing the best way to teach research. We’ve adopted (and adapted) the English Department’s handouts on what constitutes a reliable website and how to take notes on sources and cite research. To these we’ve added a research process flowchart to impress the importance of synthesizing sources and continuous research to fill in gaps. We felt the need to add two components to our modeling of skills: 1) how to construct a search query and scan search engine results pages, and 2) how to find information quickly in books. Why? Our students are great at typing words into Google and clicking the first three links, but they rarely evaluate whether those links are worth clicking on in the first place. They also have trouble when faced with the relative breadth of a book compared to what they can scan on a webpage. Hopefully our approach will address their deficiences. I’m curious as to what other teachers see are the research skills students need in this world of “connectivism” – how important is book-based research? Why require “print” sources when so much print material is duplicated online?