Sunday, June 28, 2009

SUP228 --Best Practices in Fair Use for 21st-Century Educators

It's only Day One of the NECC 09 conference and already I feel like I could leave tomorrow, a happy woman. I already gotten more than I came for in this trip!

Yesterday, some colleagues and I did the White House Tour. I applied for tickets last January and we were fortunate enough to get in. The Obamas have made their lives in the White House so much more visible than previous presidential families. It was an honor to trace paths that they cover every day and to see the public rooms of state first-hand. The docents (FBI agents?) were personable and knowledgeable historians and contributed greatly to the experience. From the front gate, I was able to see the vegetable garden that has gotten so much press. And while shooting photos, Obama came out onto the balcony, causing an uproar from cheerful crowds shouting his name. He waved back to us!

Best Practices in Fair Use for 21st-Century Educators

Renee Hobbs, Temple University, Media Education Lab with Katie Donnelly, Kristin Hokanson, Michael RobbGrieco and Joyce Valenza
Sunday, 6/28/2009, 12:30pm–3:30pm WWCC 145 A

Today, I attended a pre-conference workshop on Copyright Confusion, put on by a team of educators from Temple University who are the creators of the new fair use doctrine, BEST PRACTICES IN FAIR USE FOR MEDIA LITERACY EDUCATION. (You can download a copy of the doctrine here).

The Temple University team are no lightweights in the area of copyright law. Their research was funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation. They also were backed in their efforts by Peter Jaszi - Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University Washington College of Law. Peter is quoted frequently in their videos. The Fair Use doctrine has already been adopted as official policy by the NCTE.

These people are like rock stars to me. I was familar with Media Education Team Leads, Renee Hobbs and Kristin Hokanson because I've seen their training videos so many times. But the big surprise was uber-exhuberant Michael Robb Grieco, who is the author/producer of the two music videos, Copyright, What's Copyright and Fair Use/User Rights, Section 107 . He is a caricature in his own videos! Michael's songs bring clarity to issues that might otherwise be difficult to explain. They are pure genius.

I have been using the Temple University Media Literacy materials this year to educate school administrators about the new interpretations of copyright law. The team has done such a superb job at developing and sharing teaching materials, (videos, lesson plans, case studies, worksheets etc). The copyright tune comes with a lyric sheet which I like to turn into "Copyright Karaoke." I warn my own workshop attendees that those songs will be spinning in their heads all day. You may even find yourself singing them in the shower.

Kristin's classroom scenario case study is the deal-breaker in all of this, as a real-life application of the doctrine of Fair Use. A brilliantly-executed exercise with a class of high school students, it shows all of us that not only do we have to train school administrators, gatekeepers, librarians and classroom teachers, but also copyright owners need an education about the rights of users.

The Temple University team has developed an assessment Tool for Reasoning Fair Use which allows students to exercise their critical thinking skills to decide if their choices and uses of copyrighted materials are appropriate under the new guidelines. Kristin says that the worksheet for students was developed after her classroom scenario case study and that it would have been a helpful tool to guide her students.

One concern expressed by educators in California is that they are afraid to hold open houses for parents and community when students have developed media-rich presentations. They fear that they will be called to task on issues of copyright infringement. Since the Best Practices interpretations of Copyright are so new, I highly recommend that educators use an Open House as a learning opportunity for the community. It would be fairly easy to use students as teachers to explain the new concepts.

Hall Davidson has always been the King of Copyright Law in education arenas. Those of you who have been using his famous charts on Copyright from 2002 will be happy to know that he has also switched over to this new reinterpretation of copyright law. In fact, Hall has an excellent video on Fair Use Section 107 that totally supports the message of the Temple University team.

Because I was familiar with the Best Practices in Fair Use document and the training materials put together by Renee Hobbs, I knew walking into this workshop that it would be life-altering for those in attendance. It was almost as much fun for me to watch their changes in attitude as it was for the presenters.

The big disappointment was that this workshop was not a sell-out. It should have packed the house!!! Teachers everywhere are involved with use of media-rich materials for teaching and learning. Perhaps the title wasn't catchy enough - or maybe educators simply don't know that all of the rules have changed.

Everyone who came to this workshop walked away invigorated and eager to share their new knowledge! Those who did not come, missed out ... big-time!

Look for the NECC workshop wiki here. You can also find the complete set of curriculum and training resources at

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Twitter as a Personal Learning Community

I am often fascinated by the number of people who simply "don't get twitter!" They see it as a waste of time.

Celebrity usage of twitter has brought it to the forefront of attention in recent months. Twitter is also regularly cited by the mainstream press. Every news anchor and talk show host seems to have a twitter account these days! With all of the media attention, droves of new users are flocking to Twitter to check it out. For celebrity watchers, it's like a backstage pass into their lives. But for professionals in just about any field, the true value of twitter isn't simply reading about how one person goes about their day. Nor is it simply a place to drop by and announce to the world that you're at Starbucks having a cup of coffee. For quite some time now, astute members of this microblogging community have come to recognize Twitter as their own personal learning community.

I am on Twitter for mere minutes each day. Yet, there is rarely a day when I don't walk away from there having learned something new and valuable. It is the collaboration and sharing of ideas and experiences with colleagues in the field that drives this community. The quality of your experience on Twitter is only as good as the network that you build there. And the more you contribute, the more you are rewarded with new insights and experiences from others who share your passions in Education.

Being in educational technology, learning tools and best practices are constantly changing. The Twitter community accelerates the pace and flow of new information. Educators from across the globe provide first-hand information on how they are using technology for teaching and learning and we all benefit from their experiences. For technology leaders who like to stay on the cutting edge, it's a perfect fit.

Monday, January 14, 2008

ITOUCH History

Earlier this year, CTAP Region IV established a partnership with the California Digital Library and UC Irvine History Project to collaborate on ways to promote best practices for teaching with primary source materials and to show teachers how to incorporate technology solutions into their teaching in ways that will excite and engage students. Two-day educator training sessions were designed with the designated target audiences of history/social studies educators (teachers and library media teachers), primarily in grades 4, 8, and 11. The focus is a study of how different cultural groups shaped California through resource allocations, political authority and social organization.

In a competitive application process, districts qualified to send a team of three (credentialed teachers, librarians and/or technology teachers) to training sessions in both January and March at their choice of two sites. Thirty-three teachers were accepted into the program. In return for the training and resources (Apple ITouch, AV cables and Snowball mic), teachers commit to using Calisphere resources with students and will bring back the results of the learning experience to the 2nd session. Teachers also agree to disseminate the information to colleagues at their site and in the district.

The first session took place on Saturday, January 12th at the Marin County Office of Education. Teachers received an overview of Calisphere Digital Library and were trained by the UC Irvine Literacy Project Director on how to view images as a historian and how to place what they see in a broader context of history. In the afternoon, teachers were put through the paces of learning how to use their new ITOUCH hardware with AV equipment, so they could share images and video presentations with others. The excitement and passion of the day were expertly captured by Cheryl Davis in this video presentation. A second cohort group of teachers will start the training in early February.

In a MacWorld Expo announcement today, Google released a complete new update to the Google web suite with full optimization for iPhone and iPod Touch, which will further add to how our teachers can use their ITOUCH devices. In experimenting with uses of iTOUCH in education, I can't help but think that this is where the Palm handheld always wanted to go, but somehow never got there. The ITOUCH has huge potential!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Writing Tech Plans: PB Wiki to the Rescue

Writing an educational technology plan that passes the rigors of state requirements can be a daunting task, even for seasoned professionals. If you've ever had to write a district technology plan, you know that it requires:

1. Collecting District documents
2. Organizing teams
3. Distributing Assignments
4. Scheduling meetings
5. Keeping teams on a timeline
6. Monitoring progress
7. Filling in the gaps.

Wikis have become the ultimate collaboration tool for undertaking such a massive project. I like PB wiki for its ease of use, even for first-time users. It's also free. We were able to accomplish a lot, without ever purchasing premium levels of service.

Wikis make it easy to break down a large document into chunk-size, digestable pieces that can be easily written, discussed and edited by many people - even if participants are not housed in the same building or at the same site. Not only can one team see the work of its own contributors, but each team can see how their work relates to another. The wiki also serves as a convenient repository for all of those documents that are scattered far and wide and that are needed for reference in creating the new technology plan.

This year, I worked with five school districts to develop district technology plans. Using PB wiki, I was able to develop a template that could be recreated for use by each district. Once I had a working model, all I had to do was cut and paste the word prompts and localize the links.

For District project leads and me, the best part of the process was that PB Wiki notifies you every time there are changes. Sometimes, that can be a nuisance. But for a time-sensitive deadline, it's nice to have that reassurance that people are actually working! You can see a model of our work at

A bonus benefit of using a wiki to write a tech plan was that it provided on-the-job training. Administrators and teachers who had never used a wiki before began to see reasons to create wikis of their own.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Google Summer Institute


The kids are gone. The classrooms have been packed up and vacated. But teachers still have much on their busy agendas. There may be travel, home projects and family gatherings on the horizon, but this was a week for learning.

In Northern California, CTAP Region IV has been host to 50 teachers at two sites where overlapping Google Summer Institutes are scheduled all this week. The four trainers (Kathleen Ferenz, Cheryl Davis, Jerome Burg and Kyle Brumbaugh) are all rock stars with Google-certified credentials and decades of classroom teaching experience! They have pulled together a fabulous roadshow that puts teachers through all the paces of using Google Earth, Picassa, Docs & Spreadsheets, Blogs and Readers -- on their own and in collaboration with others.

On the other side of the Bay, teachers in Day Two of the training are opening blog accounts and posting to Google Groups. Here in Marin County, (where it is Day Three of the Institute), teachers learned how to gather and save photos from Calisphere to the desktop. They created a Picasa photo web album, turned it into a slide show and embedded it in their blog. Whew!

Here are some photos I took last September in Florence, Italy that I happened to have on my laptop in IPhoto. They were easily exported into Picasa so I could bring them into my blog as a slideshow. What fun!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bad Behavior in the BlogoSphere

Dan Fost, Tech Editor for the San Francisco Chronicle had a prominent front page/ top-of-the-page story on Kathy Sierra's incident in Thursday's paper. Kathy is an active and widely respected member of the blogging community. After receiving viscious death threats from a cyberstalker, she was forced to cancel a speaking engagement at the ETech Conference in San Diego because she feared for her life. The blogging community rallied behind Kathy and declared March 30, 2007 as Stop Cyberbullying Day, with hundreds of journalists and community bloggers covering this event as an opportunity to educate the public about the cruelties of cyberbullying.

You can find Dan's full article at SF

It's disheartening to see this as an adult problem, when we're working so hard to get kids on track.

For information on the CTAP Cybersafety Project, check our web site.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Student CyberFair

At Bel Aire Elementary School, Principal, Patti Purcell knows how to keep students motivated and excited about learning. Recently, she staged "CyberFair 2007" to give six classes of fifth graders a chance to "show what they know" to family and community. Hundreds of guests packed the school's multi-purpose room as students led visitors through a winding maze of exhibits that showed how digital technologies were used at the school. From robotic demonstrations and digital microscopes to video production and Garage Band, kids were the teachers for the day.

You can view photos of the event at CyberFair 2007

Why not empower your students with a CYBERFAIR, next year!