Archive for January, 2013

Copyright Images

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Image courtesy of Fotopedia The White House

In order to locate this image of the White House that has a Creative Commons License, I used Advanced Google Image search. This license states that I am able to share the image, i.e. copy, distribute, or transmit it, assuming that I attribute the image to the licensor and do not take credit for the work myself (I do not). This particular photo was originally posted on Flickr by “LollyKnit,” however I located the image on Fotopedia.

Fotopedia is a photo-encyclopedia (as the title implies). What Fotopedia does is link out to dozens of different image-hosting sites (Flickr being chief among them), and because it supports Creative Commons licenses, these images are reusable and share-able through the site. Fotopedia also features an awesome travel app, which combines interactive Google maps with beautiful photos (if you’re interested).

I found it interesting to learn via The Creative Commons video that works are immediately copyrighted upon creation, so, for example, this blog post will be copyrighted as soon as I post it. The default, then, is complete ownership and re-useable and share-able works are the exception. Our students do not know this. I did not know this until just moments ago. This means that our students could easily fall into a legal situation of which they were completely unaware. Just like a driver’s ed teacher must help students understand traffic laws, we must teach our students how to properly and legally use the internet in order to prevent them getting into bad legal situations. They will likely moan and groan about the inconvenience of it, but sometimes we have to stop at a long red light even when we’re already running late.

And you know what, it is a pain and an inconvenience to find these public domain images and to reference every source, but also it is important to see the other side. Creative Commons gives the example of a random man taking the liberty to record a bass line to White Stripes songs– songs that had been written and produced by the White Stripes without this man present. Although Jack White gave him spoken approval later on, I think what this man did was both audacious and wrong. Writer and philosopher Ayn Rand often emphasizes the importance of those who can and do create– she calls them Prime Movers. These creative minds, these Prime Movers, Rand argues, are what moves society forward; they are the very foundation of capitalism (Rand, 1943). Certainly a kitten picture on Google images is no Mona Lisa, but my point  is that there are people who are passionate and serious about their work, and the internet makes every person anonymous. The picture that one nabs off the internet without thinking may very well be another person’s finest work. By protecting the rights of creators, we ensure that our society still values pure thought over mindless recitations, and that’s a good thing.

References

Creative Commons. Creative Commons- Get Creative. Video retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io3BrAQl3so

Rand, Ayn. (1943). The Fountainhead. New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.

The White House. [photo of the White House in Washington, D.C.]. Fotopedia.com. Retrieved from http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-517753698

21st Century Skills Vs. Core Knowledge

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Alan November just blew my mind. Often I debate with myself whether or not technology brings us (humanity) closer or whether it isolates us from reality; more and more, I think the latter is true. What resonated with me the most in watching Alan November’s piece is that we use the Internet to seek out our own versions of the truth. I am guilty of this, certainly. When I use the Internet, I visit the sites that pertain to me and my interests and my opinion of the world; in fact, most often, I just check my email and Facebook and then dilute my stress with funny videos. Does the Internet allow us to avoid reality?

Or has the Internet created an alternate reality? Follow me on this one. Consider the Digital Immigrants and the Digital Natives—here we have two sects of people that exist internationally and that are bound not by nationalism, but by the type of “reality” they exist in. In this way, although I do not speak Japanese and have never even visited Japan, I equally understand and “exist” in the same digital reality as a 24 year old that lives in Tokyo. Digital Immigrants feel like immigrants regardless of what country they’re in or where they originally from, so in this way they are related in a shared sense of isolation. However, I would argue that it is the Digital Natives who are actually isolated—those who do not confront reality.

November argues that modern Digital Natives have been robbed of the opportunity to contribute to the larger community, and he is right. Although I’m not suggesting we send 10 year olds out on oceanic ships, 18th century style, I am suggesting that our kids need more interaction with reality and real people. The Internet can be used to make real connections; we just need to make the choice to use it as such. I recall having an international pen-pal in the third grade, why not use email and Skype to allow students to connect internationally to other students? And I absolutely loved November’s idea of having students search for and create their own assignment for the content area. Why not? We have the tools at our fingertips.

The teacher is not “the boss,” this is an Industrial-period student-teacher relationship and, guess what, it’s not 1820 anymore. Perhaps the Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants need not to exist in different realms. By having students work collaboratively with each other and with adults, we can bridge that gap. When students learn how to effectively use technology to actually create something, then they can enter into adult society as a fruitful contributor; in this way, the adult “Immigrants” will view the “Natives” valuable assets. Learning how to use technology is easy, but using it to make real and meaningful connections is hard; I hope I learn how to do that in this course. (tall order).

And so, last but not least, I will finally answer the question posed to me: should our modern schools do some “21st century spring cleaning” and eliminate antiquated materials and instructional practices? Yes. Should we deprive our children of classic literature? Absolutely not. It is very possible to use 21st century skills to bring our students to a greater understanding of such texts. It is also possible for us to create a new, modernized “core curriculum;” we can create a curriculum that prepares our students for the global marketplace, for collaboration, and for advancement (of technology and society). I see no reason why “The Old” and “The New” cannot work together.

References

November, Alan. (producer). (2011). The Myths and Opportunities of Technology in the Classroom. The Learning Institute. Video retrieved from http://vimeo.com/12642950

The Technology Integration Matrix

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Cheesecake_Factory_MenuHave you ever been to the Cheesecake Factory? The Cheesecake Factory has this extensive menu that is literally pages and pages long, you have to flip through it like a novel. First you find something you might want to have for dinner, but then you keep flipping through the menu and find something else you might want—an appetizer, perhaps, or a completely different entrée—and then you feel overwhelmed and doubtful. Well, The Technology Integration Matrix is just like that Cheesecake Factory menu; the problem is too many delicious options.

I found myself most drawn to the Constructive approaches, especially having students create their own mini-movies and podcasts. These two projects in particular require not only creativity and critical thinking, but also technical aspects, not to mention the time management skills that such projects demand of students. Making a movie requires a HUGE amount of planning and is inherently differentiated: researching, script writing, costume designing, filming and staging, acting and directing, and editing (Solomon, 2010, p.115). Anyone who has ever edited film know that it’s a major project in itself, and one that a precise, detail orientated student would excel at. In this project, the artsy students and the technical students can contribute equally, and the apathetic ones can help crack a few jokes in the script or find items of clothing for costumes (and hopefully get more inspired while being involved in the process). Although this type of project would also require lots of instruction and step-by-step scaffolding, this is one of those big projects that is really worth the effort—finalized videos can be posted on YouTube or Vimeo, and you never know what can go viral.

The Technology Integration Matrix is filled with many other creative usages of technology besides making a movie, I found little ideas all over the place, but there were a few that I felt were uninspired. Although I think educational games are a wonderful tool, I did not need The Matrix to tell me about them. In several videos, students are playing a phonics game on StarFall.com; games like these serve as great rewards for students who have finished their work early and have ten extra minutes at the end of class, but I would never use them as an instructional tool. To me, games like these are purposed for review and positive reinforcement.

Unfortunately, as seen in my field experiences, these games are the most frequently used of all these technological tools. Especially at the middle school level and below, students fall comatose and silent at the sight of these games, which explains why they are implemented so often. At the high school level, technology allows boring instruction and assessment occur more quickly and paperlessly. Recently I subbed for two different marketing classes at two different schools, on each occasion students were taking online multiple choice tests. Once the students finished taking their tests, they would play games or find sneaky ways to check their Facebook online. So instead of using technology creatively and exploring its vast array of usages, it seems to me that it most often used as a convenience. It’s like going to the Cheesecake Factory, looking through that vast and exciting menu, and ordering a plain ol’ burger. How boring.

 

References

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: how-to for educators. Washington, D.C.:    International Society for Technology in Education.