Created by Ruth Elliott

Welcome! Join me as I reflect on my learning journey with Web 2.0 tools. I'm sure I will find bandwagons to jump on along the way. Let's enjoy the trip.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Seamless and Ubiquitous Technology

In July of 2009, I began my love affair with social media tools. At first it was more like a love/hate relationship. I struggled to figure out each of the Web 2.0 tools. I still have not reached a total comfort level with all of the tools. However, with many of the tools, I would feel comfortable with teaching their use to others.

I believe that technology integration in the classroom must begin with the teacher. Shircliff (2009) said, "Teachers need to make the technology seamless in their lives before they can make it ubiquitous for the students." Teachers need to be comfortable with technology integration in their own lives before they can begin to integrate it into their classrooms.

There are teachers out there who are scared of technology. How would this work for them? I would suggest assessing the technology that they are using. Help them to see that they are on the digital continuum. They can challenge themselves with their own learning targets for moving further along the continuum.

Years ago I read a book by Howard Hendricks. He mentions that if you want someone else to bleed, you have to hemorrhage. (1972) Teachers need to find those technology tools and concepts that they have a passion for and then spread the word. Recently one of my classmates obtained a new job helping to integrate technology in her province. When she was asked how she got this job, she said, "I guess I was an advocate for myself. I kept sending 2.0 videos to people at the department. I found a few who were interested and I sent them more. I dreamed aloud around a few people who listened. And then :-D I got a phone call and was offered the job as they saw my vision-rants as a part of their needs!" (MacIsaac, 2010) Her passion for Web 2.0 concepts and tools carried the day.

I would like to propose a recursive model of technology integration for the teacher. (Recursive simply means that it turns back upon itself and repeats endlessly.)

Step 1. Identify my learning need
What is my need? (e.g. Right now I wish I knew how to create a 2-D model of my thinking, one that I could embed in this blog post.)

Step 2. Choose an underlying concept. (Advanced level)

Which of the 21st Century learning concepts underlies this need? (See this wiki, created by students in this class to delve into these eleven concepts by Henry Jenkins. The wiki is not yet in its final form. There is a VoiceThread associated with the wiki which will soon be available for your viewing and listening pleasure as well.)

Eleven concepts for 21st Century Learners (Core Media Literacy Skills) (Henry Jenkins)
  • Play: The capacity to experiment with one's surroundings as a form of problem solving.
  • Performance: The ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery.
  • Simulation: The ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes.
  • Appropriation: The ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content.
  • Multi-tasking:The ability to scan one's environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
  • Distributed Cognition: The ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities.
  • Collective intelligence: The ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal.
  • Judgment: The ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
  • Transmedia Navigation: The ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
  • Networking: The ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
  • Negotiation: The ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.
Possibly for my desire to create a model of the recursive process, I would use the skill of Appropriation. If I could find a similar model with a Creative Commons license on it, then I could build upon that model in order to create my own model. (In the end, I feel that I used Play and Distributed Cognition in this learning process.)

Step 3: Find the technology that will meet your need.

You could visit this Web 2.0 mind map created by Jesper Isaksson. It has many Web 2.0 tools on it. (E-Learning and Web 2.0 Tools for Schools) I go to the mind map. I think I will try Screencasting to display my model. I may be able to draw my model using Microsoft Word. I click on the "+" beside the word Screencapturing. I decided to use Screenr When I go to their site, they promise it will be easy. Unfortunately I have not created my diagram so I go into Word and create a diagram using their drawing tools to create a cycle drawing. It is only after I have completed my drawing that I notice that Microsoft Word actually has something available called SmartArt (click insert on the Menu bar and it will show up in the Picture tool area). I could have easily used it to create my diagram.

I have a diagram so now I will use Screenr to capture it.

Stop a minute. Screenr isn't the tool I want after all. It is more about capturing video of yourself to put on Twitter or YouTube. Have I been using the wrong idea. I head back to the Web Tool mind map and select a different tool.

Step Four: Use the technology to meet your need.

I have now selected ScreenToaster. I discover that I can use it to upload my screen view but I can also share my thinking by recording while showing my diagram. I decide to select that option. In the end, I can upload my screen capture to YouTube if I like. (However, I don't like how the words "Terms of Use" block out some words on my diagram. It should read Step five: Teach someone else to use that technology.) I will definitely upload a video to YouTube soon. I have never done this but have wanted to.

So here is my ScreenToaster video:

Step Five: Teach someone else to use that technology. I will teach the other students in my class.
(I have suddenly realized that maybe I need to revise my cycle. What about reflection on what I have learned? As I have reread my thinking about the process, I can see that I set out to do one thing. I did accomplish that objective but I gathered many other results of my learning along the way. So maybe this needs to be a six step process.)
a. Select a screen that you wish to share. It could even be moving from screen to screen. You could go through a set of Flickr pictures talking about your holiday. Possibly we could even use this tool to share with our professor, Joanne, our process of creating our final group project for this class.

b. Sign up for Screen Toaster. Go to this website: and sign up for an account. (Yes, I hear the groans. It's another application you need to sign up for.) They will send you an email but you don't need to wait for the email, you can start recording right away. (They are people after my own heart-instant gratification.)

When you record your first screen capture, you have the option of simply using your screen, adding your voice recording, or even adding a webcam image. I only tried the screen capture and my voice. I could not figure out how to maneuver the rectangle to capture only a part of my screen so that is why I used my entire screen. I know that my students (THAT'S YOU) will soon surpass me in understanding how this works, so please tell me the secret.

Once you have finished recording, you can upload directly to YouTube or simply upload to ScreenToaster where you can add a title, tags, and a description to your video. The video is easy to share since they give you the link or the embed text.

Go forth and multiply those ScreenToaster videos, my children. However, after you master it, remember to go and teach someone else how to do it, too. Spread those technology ripples ever onward and outward.

Repeat Step One and so on: It is a recursive process which keeps coming back to itself and repeating again and again. Identify a new need. Ask the person you taught to identify a new need and have that person engage in the process as well. As the cycle spirals around and around, the people involved in technology integration keeps getting larger. The spiral would not be one neat tight line circling outwards. Instead it would be a wildly chaotic number of spirals developing crazily in all directions.

Digital Continuum-- Each person is at some point on the digital continuum. If you unrolled each person's spiral or cycle of technology integration, it would also be carrying them further forward on the digital continuum. Today I already feel that I have moved forward on the continuum because I have now figured out how to easily create and upload a YouTube video onto the internet.

Digital Ripples--When you throw a stone into a pond of water, ripples will emanate from that stone. Each time you learn to use a new bit of technology and then teach someone else, you are spreading the digital ripples of capacity and agency out into the real and virtual world.

I have shared with you my suggested cycle for technology integration. Here is another more complex diagram for assessing and meeting technology integration needs.

Use this ICT in Education toolkit (you need to sign up in order to use it) to assess the technology needs in your school and to develop a systematic plan for meeting those needs.

If you need more inspiration for integrating technology in your life and in your classroom, please watch this video. I have noted some key quotes below the video.

Learning to Change--Changing to Learn (video)

Key quotes from this video:

"We've got a classroom system when we could have a community system."

"Start with the teachers. If I want my students to make global connections, I start with my teachers first. Provide the teachers with opportunities to connect with teachers around the world."

"We have to develop a narrative that sustains 21st Century Learning."

"The jobs our students will be having don't call for a right answer, vending machine approach."

Wonderful links if you need a place to start

I need my Teacher to Learn (Version 5)

Teachers are key in the job of integrating technology in our schools. Don't be afraid. Start with a need that you have today. Figure out how to meet that need using technology. Teach someone else. (Then ask your students to teach you in turn--whether it's how to text or how to download an i-Tune.) Then talk about your learning and develop that narrative to support Web 2.0 and social media use in our schools.


Hendricks, Howard. (1972). Don't fake it...Say it with love. London: Victor Books.

Jenkins, Henry. (n.d.) Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Retrieved from

MacIsaac, Dawn Elaine. (2010). Class communication on Blackboard site. EDES 545 class. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta.

Shircliff, P. (2009, July 24). Comment on Richardson, W. If every student has a computer. In Weblogg-ed. Message posted to

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Just-in-time, Just-for-me Professional Development

I recently watched a video posted to YouTube by Dan Brown (no not the author).

An Open Letter to Educators video

Dan talked about learning and about why he recently dropped out of university. He said, "My schooling was interfering with my education."(pogobat, 2010) I have experienced this strange phenomenon for myself. At the present time, I am a full-time student in the Masters of Education program through the University of Saskatchewan. (I graduate on June 2, 2010--Yahoo!) In the September to December term of 2009, I found that the requirements of my university classes were interfering with the learning that was intriguing and engaging me. I had to pull away from the concepts that were important to me in order to focus on what my professors said was important to them. Often my professors have commented that it is great to see how I have made connections to my own life and current experiences in my assignments BUT where was the evidence (quotes, references) of the learning from the readings I was asked to do for class. If the concepts really resonate with me, if they are going to be sticky (new term for the take-aways from a learning experience), don't those ideas need to connect with me on a personal level?

I'm going to jump off my soapbox for a while to discuss what professional development (PD or pro-D) has looked like in the past for myself as a teacher. Generally it has been a top-down model in which either at the school board level or at the school level, someone has determined what the priorities for teacher learning should be. Then an outsider is brought in to teach us about that subject.

Unfortunately this type of PD did not always resonate with me. At times I was reluctant to leave my classroom for the day and go to learn about what someone else said was important. "The schooling was interfering with the education" (pogobat, 2010).

Recently my school division has encouraged us to set individual learning targets in the areas of most interest to us. This is a step in the right direction but most of our PD time is still devoted to our school board's priorities. It still feels like a "banking model" of education which is Paulo Freire's concept. Paulo talked about the teacher who knows everything and the learner who knows nothing. The teacher must fill up the learner just as coins would fill up the empty piggy bank. Of course, Paulo disliked this idea. He wanted educators to honour the worlds and understandings of their students. (Freire, 1970) (Anti-banking chapter) Paulo said that stopping people from establishing their own lines of inquiry was an act of violence. (Freire)

It is a balancing act. I have a boss who tells me what the priorities of my job are for the year. Possibly next year it will be a focus on problem-solving (which could be applied within each subject while encouraging students to determine their own questions). Teachers are asking for PD related to board priorities. Is there a way to make the PD rise up from the teachers in the classroom rather than being imposed from the board room?

I would propose the model of just-in-time, just-for-me professional development. There may still be large group PD sessions to build foundational understandings. However we need to move away from the "sage on the stage" in order to engage learners in the subject matter. As David Weinberger said at the Building Learning conference: "The smartest person in the room isn't the person at the front of the room. It's the room." ( How can we tap into the wisdom of the crowd?

I believe that part of accessing the wisdom of the crowd is participating in online learning through your Personal Learning Network (PLN). (Collection of many PLE/PLN diagrams

I like this PLN diagram from D"Arcy Norman (link)

As Mickaleh said in response to pagobot's video (2010), "One of the greatest transformations that's happening because of the internet isn't access to knowledge; it's access to people." So how does one develop this PLN? I will share my story with you of how I developed my PLN.

In the summer of 2009, I took an online University of Alberta class in the use of Web 2.0 tools . My professor shared about a live-streamed Elluminate session that was taking place with George Siemens and Dave Cormier. I decided to attend the session as a virtual attendee. Everything happened so fast in the session. The conversation zoomed from topic to topic and the chat room was full of articulate guests who typed their thoughts while asking and answering questions. I timidly entered the conversation. One of my questions was answered by another virtual attendee while one of my questions was not answered until months later. (See my blog post and read the comments where Dave Cormier answers my question several months later.) That night I learned about the Open Education Conference that taking place in Vancouver the following week. I attended this conference as a virtual attendee (my blog post about this experience). Since that time I have found many live-streaming conferences to attend. At each conference, I have met some new virtual friends (like Alastair Creelman [@alacre] in Sweden and Joyce Seitzinger [@catspyjamasnz] in New Zealand). I joined an open education class taught by Alec Couros (@courosa) at the University of Regina. This class had 20 for-credit graduate level students and 200 not-for-credit students. Through each online learning setting, I added more people to my Personal Learning Network. I added many more people via Twitter which has become an easy tool to augment my learning and to share my learning.

In the future, I will continue to access my PLN in order to discover new options for learning. I will pursue my passions and interests by following the virtual rabbit trails (or "link flow") through blog posts, YouTube videos, and TEDTalks. I will check out live-streamed conferences such as TEDxOntarioEd (taking place on Friday, April 9) and use this wonderful list to find other learning opportunities.

So this takes care of my own technology professional development. What about other teachers who also want to learn about the use of technology in education? In my own school system, I believe that we have enough computers however "technology infusion without professional development wrapped around it just doesn't work, and can backfire" (Ketterer, 2008). If you had a digital projector and a classroom pod of computers but didn't know how to integrate technology into your teaching, how would you feel after watching this video?

You Can't Be My Teacher video (made by teacher in Saskatoon)

After watching this video, I would feel guilty if I did not know how to integrate technology in my classroom. So how can those of us with this expertise help those who want to learn to use technology in the classroom? We need to be willing to take on leadership roles in this area. McLeod (2007) talks about the need for technology experts to learn more about being leaders. So how should or could we share with others? We need to discover the "felt needs" of those teachers and support the use of technology tools that will help them meet that need. It may be teaching the use of social bookmarking so that the addresses of their favourite websites travel with them from computer to computer. It may be teaching the use of an RSS feed like Google Reader so that the content comes to them rather than them needing to search for the content. It may be teaching the use of Google Docs so that they can access their document without the use of USB keys or emailing documents from one computer terminal to another.

Manitoba Education created a worksheet for technology experts who are visiting classrooms to help with technology integration. (Needs Assessment for ICT for Teachers This article (Hargadon, 2010) has more suggestions for technology PD. We could direct people to our blog posts on various educational technology applications to give people some foundational information about the Web 2.0 tools. Jesper Isaksson has created a mind map with many Web 2.0 tools on it. (E-Learning and Web 2.0 Tools for Schools) I have shared this mind map with teachers who wanted to learn to use some of the tools.

My new ideal for professional development is just-in-time, just-for-me learning when I need it. I am willing to be a leader in scaffolding this kind of technology PD for my teacher colleagues. Only with this type of "where the rubber meets my road" type of learning will digital immigrants become comfortable in working with the digital natives in all of our classrooms.


Freire, Paulo. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Seabury Press.

Hargadon, S. (2010, March/April). Educational Networking. MultiMedia & Internet@Schools. 17, 2, 10-15. ProQuest Journals.

Ketterer, Kimberley. (2008, June/July). A professional development menu. Learning & Leading with Technology, p. 11. ProQuest Journals.

McLeod, Scott. (2007, November). An absence of leadership. Learning & Leading with Technology, p. 17. ProQuest Journals.

mickeleh. (2010, March 2). Re: Re: Re: Dan Brown's open letter to educators. You Tube video. Retrieved from
pogobat (Brown, Dan). (2010, February 22). An open letter to educators. You Tube video. Retrieved from

Friday, March 12, 2010

Transparent and Professional Online

A few minutes ago I received one of those phone calls that delights and excites every teacher's heart. The mom of one of my former students called me up to tell me her daughter had been accepted into the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. Her daughter has also received a scholarship. As soon as this grade 12 student heard the news, she said, "Mrs. Elliott would be so happy." So her mom called me to share the good news.

What is so amazing about this is that I taught this student in grade 2 and again in grade 5 (a long time ago). I haven't seen her or her mom for four years (I did attend her grade 8 graduation). How did they track me down? It's not really too surprising. I always give out my home phone number with every group that I teach. I welcome phone calls at home and love to build a partnership with the parents of my students. That student's mom knew that I would welcome a phone call sharing this special news about her daughter's success.

I realize that this kind of openness about my contact information could backfire on me. However, I have chosen to be transparent and professional in my real-life dealings with parents and students. As I look at the topic of privacy online, I will grapple with some of the issues of being transparent and professional online as well.

What is privacy?

"Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves thereby revealing themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals" (Working, 2009). The Australian Privacy Foundation (Australian, n.d.) describes four dimensions of privacy:

1. Privacy of the Person (physical)

2. Privacy of Personal Behaviour

"This is the interest that individuals have in being able to behave however they wish, without undue interference by other people and organisations. This relates to all aspects of behaviour, but especially to sensitive matters, such as sexual preferences and habits, political activities and religious practices, both in private and in public places. " (Australian, n.d.)

For the purposes of this blog post, I will highlight unjustified publication of personal data, web-usage surveillance and denial of anonymity as being three of the personal behaviour privacy parameters.

3. Privacy of Personal Communications

"This is the interest that individuals have in being able to communicate among themselves, using various media, without routine monitoring of their communications by other persons or organisations. This includes what is sometimes referred to as 'interception privacy'." (Australian, n.d.) This area would include the aspects of ISP-usage surveillance, email surveillance, e-chat surveillance, and denial of anonymity.

4.Privacy of Personal Data

"This is the interest that individuals have in data about themselves. People expect that data about them should not be automatically available to other individuals and organisations; and that, even where data is possessed by another party, the individual must be able to exercise a substantial degree of control over that data and its use." (Australian, n.d.) All of the aspects under this category connect with this blog post. I would encourage you to go to this link and scroll down to read through the list. Items like data handling, identification (biometrics, Google Streetview), and profiling occur under this topic.

Let's revisit each of these aspects of privacy and how it may relate to teachers and students.

1. Privacy of the Person (physical):

Location Based Services(LBS) are the latest occurrences in the online world. A chip in your cell phone is linked to the GPS which will allow people to know where your physical body is. (Anonymous, 2010) Can you imagine in the future that you will walk

into a clothing store carrying your cell phone? Within minutes the sales clerk has assembled clothing on a rack--everything in your size with the styles and colours that you prefer.

The store's LBS reader read your preferences one milli-second after you walked in the door. Now you may think you could fool the store by giving your friend your cellphone (as if you would ever do this). However, your LBS has also linked to the biometrics available on you.

2. Privacy of Personal Behaviour

People have moved beyond merely consuming information on the internet. They routinely create content on the internet. This may be through posting information, photos, and videos to Facebook or YouTube. Teachers, parents, and future employers can gain a large picture of your personal behaviour through what you post online. For a site such as Facebook, they have defaulted to public and you must take action to make your information private. Future employers will feel that if you have posted it online, it is acceptable for them to view or read it. (Shirky, 2007) One anonymous viewer of this video said, "I think that we are robbing young people the chance to live and make mistakes"(pienutty, 2009).

On a video (link) posted by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, these questions are suggested about posting information online (Privacy, 2007):

  • What judgments or conclusions might others form with my information?
  • Are there some details about my life I would like to keep personal?
  • Who might view or purchase this information about me?
  • Will this information reflect well on me a year from now? Or fi ve years?
  • Would I want my best friend to know this?
  • Would I want my boss to know this?
  • Would I want my mom to know this
  • (I add: Would I want my children or grandchildren to know this?)

Nussbaum wrote a fascinating article on the topic of the younger generation and the end of privacy (2007). As she says, she grew up locking her diary with a real lock, so it has been interesting for her to interview people, like Xiyin, who are less concerned about keeping their lives private. She noticed three things:

Change 1: They think of themselves as having an audience.

"All sorts of opportunities—romantic, professional, creative—seem to Xiyin to be directly linked to her willingness to reveal herself a little." Our professor in this class said the same thing--that she has obtained jobs and established friendships through her willingness to be open online.

"In essence, every young person in America has become, in the literal sense, a public figure. And so they have adopted the skills that celebrities learn in order not to go crazy: enjoying the attention instead of fighting it—and doing their own publicity before somebody does it for them."

Change 2: They have archived their adolescence.

Change 3: Their skin is thicker than yours.

"What happens when a person who has archived her teens grows up? Will she regret her earlier decisions, or will she love the sturdy bridge she’s built to her younger self—not to mention the access to the past lives of friends, enemies, romantic partners? On a more pragmatic level, what does this do when you apply for a job or meet the person you’re going to marry? Will employers simply accept that everyone has a few videos of themselves trying to read the Bible while stoned? Will your kids watch those stoner Bible videos when they’re 16? Is there a point in the aging process when a person will want to pull back that curtain—or will the MySpace crowd maintain these flexible, cheerfully thick-skinned personae all the way into the nursing home?"

3. Privacy of Personal Communications

This would encompass the use of Facebook to communicate with friends. Here's a video about how to configure your privacy settings in Facebook.

Video on How to Configure Privacy Settings in Facebook

Another aspect of privacy in personal communication is the prevalence of cloud computing. "Rather than running software on a desktop computer or server, Internet users are now able to use the 'cloud'--a networked collection of servers, storage systems, and devices--to combine software, data, and computing power scattered in multiple locations across the network" (Cavoukian, p. 5). Read about some of the privacy issues related to cloud computing here (

4. Privacy of Personal Data

Every time you do a Google search, data is collected. They collect what your search query is and the IP address for your computer. They leave a cookie on your computer which is a small file that helps them with future searches (e.g. English used). They keep a file about your search. Watch this video (link) to learn more about their privacy principles. The Google privacy principles are listed below. (For a Google engineer's perspective on privacy watch this video.)
  • Use information to provide our users with valuable products and services.
  • Develop products that reflect strong privacy standards and practices.
  • Make the collection of personal information transpare nt.
  • Give users meaningful choices to protect their privacy.
  • Be a responsible steward of the information we hold.
Some people see this collection and use of our data as our payment for online services. You may receive targeted advertising based on your searches. It will be assumed that your friends may like the same things as you so your friends may receive directed advertising as well.

"The problem with buying things with your privacy is you really don't know how much you're paying. With money, five bucks is five bucks. But what is the value of your list of friends? If it's not worth much, your membership on Facebook may be the deal of a lifetime. If it's incredibly valuable, you're getting massively ripped off. Only the techies know how much your info is worth, and they're not telling. But the fact that they'd rather get your data than your dollars tells you all you need to know." (Lyons, 2010)

Through this type of data-mining, "computer scientists and policy experts say that such seemingly innocuous bits of self-revelation can increasingly be collected and reassembled by computers to help create a picture of a person’s identity, sometimes down to the Social Security number." (Lohr, 2010)

Given the status of privacy in our world, what are the implications for educators and for our students.

Implications for Educators

At the beginning of this blog post, I shared the story of a phone contact with a parent which was welcomed because I share my home phone number with parents. However, in my online class, with students from all across Canada, some are not comfortable with sharing a home phone number with parents while others have even accepted their students as friends on Facebook. I think each educator, after weighing up the options for communication with parents and students, must choose those options that they are most comfortable with. For some, giving out an email address may be the best way to maintain their boundaries between their public and private selves. Last week many in the education technology community had a Twitter discussion about how best to communicate with parents. You can follow the tweets here.

If you are interested in using Facebook as a tool for classroom communication, read this blog post with tips about how to use Facebook as a teacher. (link) You could also visit this wiki-page with additional resources about using Facebook or other social networking sites in education.

If you are interested in checking out your privacy settings on various applications, visit Google Dashboard. In one location, it shows you all of the Google services that you have interacted with and makes it easy to change the privacy controls. You could read this blog post about Google Dashboard and watch a video as well. (link)

The last piece of advice for educators is to begin to use Open ID for log-ins and password protection for all new applications that you join. Read an explanation of OpenID here.

Resources to use with Students

I found so many great resources to use with students that I will just list them here. Educators and parents need to inform students about the pitfalls of being unaware of privacy needs online.

At the bottom of the blog post, I would like to share two of the winning videos in this year's My Privacy and Me video contest. These videos were uploaded earlier this month.

Before the videos, I would like to give the last word to a very wise 15 year old who made this comment on a blog post about privacy, "there's a simple rule I like to follow, that being if you're worried about the whole world seeing it, just don't show it. Simple as that." (Jourdy288, 2010)

Take care out there and (as Red Green would say), keep your stick on the ice. Keep track of what's happening to your digital image and your privacy.

Think Before You Click Video (One of the winners in the contest this year)

The Spanish Lottery Video (A winner in the junior category in the contest this year)


Anonymous. (2010, March 6). Follow me; Location-based services on mobile phones. The Economist, 394, 8672, p. 85. ProQuest Journals. Retrieved from

Australian Privacy Foundation. (n.d.) Dimensions of privacy. Retrieved from

Cavoukian, Ann. (2009). Privacy in the Clouds: A white paper on privacy and digital identity: Implications for the internet. Toronto, Canada: Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Retrieved from

Jourdy288. (2010, March 15) Comment on Caroline Knor blogpost. You're not as private as you think. Message posted on

Lohr, Steve. (2010, March 16). How privacy vanishes online. New York Times. Retrieved from

Lyons, Daniel. (2010, March 1). Google's Orwell Moment: On the Web, privacy has its price. Newsweek, 155, 9. ProQuest Journals. Retrieved from

Nussbaum, Emily. (2007, February 12). Say everything: Kids, the internet, and the end of privacy: The greatest generation gap since rock and roll. New York Magazine. Retrieved from

pienutty. (May 2009) Comment on Shirky, Clay. (2007, November 6). Facebook killed the private life. (YouTube video) Retrieved from

Privacy Commissioner. (2007, November 7). What does a friend of a friend of a friend know about you? (Video, 2:41). Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Retrieved from

Shirky, Clay. (2007, November 6). Facebook killed the private life. (YouTube video) Retrieved from

Working Group. (2009). There ought to be a law: Protecting children's online privacy in the 21st century. (Discussion Paper) Canadian Privacy Commissioners and Child and Youth Advocates. Retrieved from

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dwarfs on the Shoulders of the Giants

bacon-_flowchartImage by i am indisposed via Flickr

When I was training to be a teacher, one of my professors often told us that it was acceptable to beg, borrow, and steal lesson plans and teaching ideas. He did not mention anything about respecting the intellectual property created by other people. Nowadays there seems to be a dichotomy in which many things are freely available while others are locked away behind a copyright wall.

I recently watched a video in which Lawrence Lessig talks about the hybrid economy of copyright and Creative Commons. Lessig is the developer of Creative Commons which was launched in December of 2002. For many products uploaded and licensed under Creative Commons, as long as you attribute the work to its creator, you are welcome to use the work free of charge.

At times, during my years as a teacher, there have been reminders of the importance of abiding by copyright restrictions. The copyright police have even descended upon some schools and scrutinized each use of the photocopier.

When I think about copyright, intellectual property, being a good digital citizen, combined with my cheapskate ways (FREE is my favourite price), I wish I had a copyright flow chart (similar to the bacon flowchart above. Hint: Click on the creator's name to go to Flickr for a larger version of this flow chart.) The flow chart would begin with the type of media or content. As I answer various questions about the product I wish to use, I will follow through on the flow chart until I reach a definitive answer on whether I am abiding by copyright regulations. One of my classmates (Hancox, 2010) suggested the following questions:
  • What is the purpose of the original copyrighted material?
  • What is the purpose of my own use (teaching, scholarship, criticism, comment etc)?
  • Are you crediting the original author of the work?
  • How is my purpose for using the copyrighted work different from the author's original purpose?
  • What is the nature and amount taken? Was it appropriate considering the nature of the copyrighted work and the use?
  • Did the unlicensed use "transform" the material taken from the original copyrighted work by adding value? Is the use of copyrighted material contributing to a unique new creative work, or does it mostly repeat the work for the same intent and value as the original?
  • What is the effect of my actions? Does the effect of my use impact the potential market of the original? Will it compete with the original work? How would I feel about this use of the copyright work if I was the author instead?
  • Is the project being used only within the school?
Until I discover a copyright flowchart that walks me through these questions, I will simply have to grapple with the issues and try my best to understand them. (There is an Exceptions for Instructors eTool using U.S. Copyright Law. This is similar to a flowchart as you work your way through the questions.)


Butler says that copyright "is a privilege of law, given to owners of tangible works...the owner...[can] reproduce or copy, distribute, publicly perform or display and create derivatives of it" (Butler, 2005, p. 41). Much of the professional literature around copyright has been written outside of Canada. In order to understand Canadian copyright laws, visit the Canadian Copyright Act website. Access is the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (website). At their site, they have a section to answer frequently asked questions for elementary and secondary schools in Canada. This agency will assist you with getting the rights to copy certain materials. If you are outside of Canada, Copyright Watch collects copyright regulations from other countries (website).

Teaching about Copyright
  • Show this video which is American and oriented towards commercial interests. However, it presents basic information about copyright and issues related to it.
  • Temple University has created a webpage that collates a number of resources for teaching about copyright issues.
  • Educators could use the Library Copyright Slider with middle years or high school students. Students could use this interactive tool to work with books on the library shelves.
Fair Use and Fair Dealing

In the United States, there are fair use agreements that allow educators to use copyrighted materials. In Canada, the educational use of copyrighted materials are managed under a concept of fair dealing. To read about both of these concepts, please visit this website. There is an online Fair Use Evaluator. Temple University has developed a pdf which can be printed out and used to determine the fair use of content or media. It would be helpful to have a similar pdf file developed that meets the slightly different Fair Dealing criteria in Canada.

Creative Commons

The motto on the Creative Commons website is: Share, Remix, Reuse - Legally. This site was launched in December of 2002 by Lawrence Lessig. Lessig realized that copyright restrictions (all rights reserved) were more protectionist than many content creators wanted them to be. There was no simple way to signal an artist's willingness to share their content. Lessig created a framework called Creative Commons that content creators may use to signal their ownership wishes. "Creative Commons helps you publish your work online while letting others know exactly what they can and can't do with your work. When you choose a license, we provide you with tools and tutorials that let you add license information to our own site, or to one of several free hosting services that have incorporated Creative Commons." (License your work site)

I believe that as people remix content that is available through Creative Commons, they are being encouraged to use and reuse information. They are making their own connections with content and with their own lives. The reality is that all content is derivative. Years ago, my university professor said that every story stands on the shoulders of another story. This idea comes from a quote attributed to Bernard of Chartres who said
"We are like dwarfs standing [or sitting] upon the shoulders of giants, and so able to see more and see farther than the ancients." (On the shoulders of) If Bernard (who wrote this around 1100) could acknowledge that all thought is derivative, who are we to kick away the giants and start from ground level.

Teaching About Creative Commons
  • View this Slideshare presentation (What every educator needs to know) to learn about Creative Commons (website)
  • Encourage students to use the resources on Joyce Valenza's wiki page of copyright friendly tools (website)
  • Have students take digital photos. Upload them to Flickr and license through Creative Commons.
  • One issue with using Creative Commons is that it is time consuming to uncover the best resources. Have students work on projects of meta-tagging information and photographs in order to help people access the resources available through Creative Commons. At the Wikimedia Commons there is a request for people to help with the images donated by the Tropenmuseum.
  • View this video: Wanna Work Together (Explanation of Creative Commons)

Digital Citizenship

I recently visited some student displays of author studies. I learned a lot about some children's authors. What disturbed me (in light of our copyright discussions this week) was the lack of attribution or referencing for the information shared. There were over fifteen displays with no references listed on any of them. Some information was obviously printed directly from the internet (with the URL location cut off the bottom). Some information was rewritten in the students' own words. However, no books or websites were cited. This displays poor digital citizenship skills. We need to teach students to give credit where credit is due.

Last week I visited a school library in which the grade four students were working on Powerpoint presentations as the culmination of an inquiry learning unit. I was intrigued to hear the teacher-librarian reminding the students to create citations using ISBN numbers. They were using a program called OttoBib which allows you to easily cite your sources. This teacher was helping the students to demonstrate good digital citizenship skills.

In closing this blog post, I really appreciate the generosity of strangers who give so much away on the internet. However, I don't want those strangers to go broke producing wonderful content for thrifty people like myself. I was very intrigued to come across the story of Nina Paley and her creation of a movie called Sita Sings the Blues. This movie is freely downloadable online. Nina is still making money with this movie. Watch the video below to see how she is doing this. (I love her copyright song at the end of the video.)

The Revolution will be Animated (Video of Nina Paley discussing her film, Sita Sings the Blues)

The Revolution Will Be Animated from Marine Lormant Sebag on Vimeo.

We also have our Canadian remix artists who are standing on the shoulders of other giants. RiP! A Remix Manifesto has received a Genie Nomination (website).

As Canadian educators, let's encourage our students to stand on those giant's shoulders. However, make sure the giant doesn't mind (ask for permission) and make sure the students name the giants who they are standing on.


Butler, Rebecca. (September/October 2005). Intellectual property defined. Knowledge Quest, 34, 1, 41-42. ProQuest Journals.

Hancox, Lori Jackie. (2010). Discussion post for EDES 545.

On the shoulders of giants. Retrieved from

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bridge over the Digital Divide

Opening of the Victoria BridgeImage by Sheila Steele via Flickr

I live in the "City of Bridges" on the Canadian prairies. The city of Saskatoon currently has four traffic bridges and two railway bridges allowing trains and vehicles to cross over the South Saskatchewan River. In the early days of this city, there were no bridges. Since the settlement was established on both sides of the river, people used a ferry boat in the summer and crossed the ice in the winter. However, in the spring and fall, there was no way to cross the river. There was great rejoicing when first a train bridge and later a traffic bridge were built across the river.

As I think about the geographical divide in my city of Saskatoon, I apply the thoughts of divisions and bridges to the digital divide in the educational technology world. In an era in which students and teachers are encouraged to use the resources of the internet, both within and outside of school, many divides can prevent this ideal digital world. In a blog post, mmardis (2008) suggests that there are four dimensions of digital divides--access, skill, motivation, and policy.

Access: A group in the United States called Internet for Everyone (website) posits that lack of internet access is related to social class, geographical location, and race. In Canada, a Stats Canada study found that in 2003, within the lowest income quartile, only 22.6% had internet access at home. For the highest income quartile, 75.8% had internet access at home. (Hick, Graham, & Jones, 2008) It costs money to purchase high-speed internet access at home.

The Speech from the Throne in 1997 promised to make Canada the most connected country in the world. (Dowding, 2008) Many cities and university campuses have free wireless internet. However, in rural settings, high-speed internet is often unavailable.In some geographical locations, the only option is dial-up access. My sister lives in rural Saskatchewan and refuses to open any digital photographs (sent as email attachments) because it takes so long using dial-up access. Internet for Everyone would call this the "digital dirt road". They documented people's stories of living far from ideal internet access in rural America. (website)

In the end, this lack of access to high speed internet results in a limited experience of the value of connectivity. "What a person can accomplish with an outdated [computer] in a public library with mandatory filtering software and no opportunity for storage or transmission pales in comparison to what [a] person can accomplish with a home computer with unfettered Internet access, high band-width, and continuous connectivity. (Jenkins, n.d., p. 15)

Another issue with access is the hardware and software needed to use technology. I recently visited a school library which had nine computer terminals. However, when I sat down to search for a book for a student, I was shocked to discover that the mouse had NO SCROLL WHEEL. I have become so accustomed to a scroll wheel that I did not know what to do for a moment. At this particular school, the computers in the library and in their computer lab are receiving only minimal upgrades because their technology budget is going to purchase pods of laptops that can travel from classroom to classroom.

Some schools have outdated computer equipment and many students have no computers at home. Last year in my classroom, only half of the students had computers at home. These six and seven year old students did not even know how to manipulate a computer mouse. If students with no computers at home do not learn how to use computers at school, the gap between the rich and the poor will grow even wider.

In Canada, the government recognized that it needed to provide computers for the community. In 1994, the Community Access Program (CAP) was created under the auspices of Industry Canada. It aimed to "provide Canadians with affordable public access to the Internet and the skills they need to use it effectively. Public locations like schools, libraries and community centres [acted] as 'on-ramps' to the Information Highway, and [provided] computer support and training" (Dowding, 2008, p. 100). The CAP program continues to provide some funding for CAP sites across Canada. (website)

Some organizations (Geekcorps, EduVision, Inveneo) are working to provide lower cost technology options such as laptops, notebooks, handhelds, tablet PCs and low-cost wireless internet options. (Wikipedia)

Skill: Another type of divide is in the skill level that people bring to technology. Some may be very talented with texting using a cell phone but clueless about how to create an Animoto video. Some may be an expert in Web 1.0 innovations but unfamiliar with some of the new Web 2.0 tools. I recently attended a computer in-service regarding setting up a wiki. One of the Information Technology managers who co-lead the workshop talked about his unfamiliarity with Twitter. He was unwilling to develop a skill in this new direction.

Motivation: The above example also extends to motivation. People need to see a reason for learning about new technology. That IT manager did not see any value in Twitter and was unmotivated to push himself to learn about it. There is also a divide between those who love technology and those who are tech-averse. I think that it is helpful to tell these people that they are on the "digital continuum" as they learn and develop technology skills.

There are people who are motivated to be early innovators and adopt each new technology innovation that comes along. These people will be the ones learning about ChatRoulette (see blog post) and figuring out what to tell the rest of us. Then there are other people who are afraid of using a computer mouse because they might break the computer.

Policy: I recently visited a local school where the administrative assistant showed me the school portal online. She said that parents could give the school an email address and be permitted to access private information on the school website. They may check the school attendance and learn about assignments and read classroom newsletters. This is a new policy for the school division. What about those parents who do not have a computer, internet access at home, or an email account? They will be left on the other side of the digital divide for home to school communication.

When the city of Saskatoon was divided by a river, the citizens built six bridges to help vehicles and trains to cross that river. As educators, we can do a lot to help people overcome their digital divides as well. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Advocate for wireless internet access in schools and public settings so that laptops, phones with internet access and handheld devices can get online.

2. Support programs for recycling computer equipment that can be refurbished and given to low-income families.

3. Apply for CAP grants to support technology purchases and classes in your school.

4. Consider training adult volunteers (possibly even senior citizens) to assist young students in computer use. This will develop technology skills for both age groups.

5. Encourage school systems to invest in more hardware (desktop computers, laptops) and less software. Educate them about cloud computing and programs such as Google Docs and Slideshare so that costly site licenses are not necessary for software such as Microsoft Office.

6. If your school is one of the more well-to-do in your area, develop a program for sharing computers with schools in more socio-economically needy areas. In schools with wealthy parents, more funds are raised for computer purchases. Just as some schools have "book drives" for less-advantaged schools, your school could have a "computer drive" for less-advantaged schools.

Here are two videos that give a few more ideas for how to overcome the Digital Divide. Good luck with your bridge building.

Video from India about Bridging the Digital Divide

Project regarding bridging the digital divide in a rural area (video)


Dowding, M. (2008). The digital divide: Canada's access as a neo-liberal commodity. Rivista Mexicana de Estudios Canadienses, 97-110.

Hick, S., Graham, J., & Jones, M. (2008). Navigating the digital divide. Currents: New Scholarship in the Human Services, 7, 2.

Jenkins, H. (n.d.). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century.

mmardis. (October 30, 2008). Web 2.0 in schools: Our digital divides are showing! AASL Blog.

Wikipedia. Digital Divide entry.
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