Fair Use Disney Style

This is post #300 for me on this blog. I forgot all about our first anniversary back in February. I thought #300 would be done from the EduComm conference while I was in California, but despite starting a draft on the keynotes, that didn't happen. I've been caught up in a program this week at NJIT for some very gifted high school students, and the end of the year at Science Park High School.

One of the videos I used with the students during this week's "Media Matters" program at NJIT was "A Fairy Use Tale."  It was made by Eric Faden at Bucknell University. It's a humorous, but quite informative, look at copyright principles. It's done by stitching together many film clips from Disney films to deliver the content.

Why Disney? Well, they are strong advocates of extending the range of copyright (Protect the mouse!) so this fair use of their own clips is particularly effective. I think it's because the film sort of shoves it in Disney's face that the students enjoyed it. Of course, it's also because they know all these Disney films too. And it's funny.

You can find the video at the Stanford Cyberlaw site (a great site to use for discussions on this topic in itself). They offer it as streaming) video (blocked at my high school) or download (mp4) (blocked on my HS computer) or can you can watch a lower quality version on YouTube (also blocked at SPHS).

Despite the title, the video doesn't really focus on just the fair use doctrine but looks overall at copyright. Still, the video IS an example of fair use. (I like that they use a version of that FBI warning screen that we all have come to not read when watching DVDs to state their fair use case. I had to pause the video when I showed it on that frame so that the kids did read it and see what it's all about.) the video is cetainly a good fair use of clips for teaching (would it also fall under "parody").
Explaining the concept of copyright and fair use using the words and mouths of characters in Disney movies is very clever. Some of these students were working in podcasting and video groups and they certainly registered on the incredible number of hours that must have gone into putting this together.
It is part of Stanford University’s Fair Use Project.  Is it a definitive explanation of all this? certainly not. It is a terrific way to introduce this and spark conversation on the issues with student or faculty. Definiely being added to my workshop collection.
It is under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License and that's worth some discussion if you present this to others too.

Wikipedia in the Year of Our Ford 99

A discussion about Wikipedia really separates teachers. There are many teachers who don't like it, don't trust it and don't want kids using it. There are some who see value in it, but only with some guidelines and "read instructions before use." I haven't met many teachers who just flat out are for it. (This is not counting a much larger group that use it themselves all the time, but say "not for real research" - just for "looking stuff up fast.")

The students are pretty much unanimous in endorsing it and using it.

Even the Wikipedians are split.

Larry Sanger, a co-founder of Wikipedia, has become something of a critic of the open-source encyclopedia. He left Wikipedia at the end of 2002 feeling frustrated by its leniency towards vandalism and its tendency to put off scholars.

Dolly the cloned sheepWhat he put online last year is called Citizendium. It looks like Wikipedia and it is also an online, interactive encyclopedia that is open to public contributions. But it has guidance from academic editors. The idea is to give academics more authorial control.

His plans include phrases like “representative democracy” - a place where self-appointed experts will oversee the editing and shaping of articles. Anyone can contribute, but the editors will be people “the qualifications typically needed for a tenure-track academic position.” They get to authorize changes in articles and approve new entries.

There's a lower level protector of the truth too called a “constable.” They are administrators (25 years old and up) with at least a bachelor’s degree who will carry out the marching orders of the editors.

Citizendium was followed by Scholarpedia. That's another Wikipedia open-source-principled clone that tries adding academically acceptable peer review. It's not Wikipedia -
  • Each article is written by an expert (invited or elected by the public).
  • Each article is anonymously peer reviewed to ensure accurate and reliable information.
  • Each article has a curator (typically its author) who is responsible for its content.
  • Any modification of the article needs to be approved by the curator before it appears in the final, approved version.
For now, the site focuses on only three areas:Computational Neuroscience, Dynamical Systems,and Computational Intelligence.

It's a brave new wiki world. I wonder which site would attract Helmholtz Watson, Alpha-Plus lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering's Department of Writing?

Conference Presentations and the Good Old Days of Web 2.0

Looking over materials for two presentations I have coming up this week.

Monday I'll be doing a full day workshop at Passaic County Community College. Morning session on authentic assessment leading into the afternoon workshop on ePortfolios.

This is part of a Summer Faculty Institute done through a Title V (Improving the Pipeline for Latinos in Education) grant. They rotate where the institute is held (last year it was NJCU) but the audience is actually faculty from several NJ colleges. I have done workshops for them the past 2 years (so I guess the reviews were good).

That's over at 3 PM, then I rush home to catch my ride to the airport to head out to Anaheim, California to EduComm.

Never been to that conference before. It's tied into InfoComm (which is very vendor and equipment oriented) but has a K-12 and Higher Ed track. Their description is-

Now in its fourth year, EduComm is the only national technology management conference focused on the integration of audio-visual and information technology to enhance the classroom experience. It's the one place where AV connects with IT while you connect with leaders in the field, as well as with your own colleagues and peers. And, new this year, Web 2.0. Find out how Web-based software - wikis, blogging, online collaboration tools and more - is changing the face of education.

The AV & IT doesn't get me very excited. Tools don't interest me as much as the ways to use them. The Web 2.0 might be interesting, if it's more than introductory level. Doesn't Web 2.0 seem old already?

My presentation is an ending session (never a good slot, as people rush off to the airport). It's called "Human Networking: A University, High School, Industry Partnership" and it's in the Higher Ed track (though it fits K-12 just as well).

I'll be talking about Science Park High School (the science magnet school that I'm working with now) which has grades 7-12 and focuses the students who plan to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) academic paths.

SPHS is the product of a pretty unique partnership between Newark Public Schools, University Heights Science Park and three public research universities: New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), The University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ (UMDNJ), Rutgers University at Newark, and Essex County College.

In the planning of the high school, all the schools were to collaborate with the students and teachers of SPHS. Some students take chemistry at NJIT, some take biology at ECC etc. But so far, NJIT is the first to step up and place 2 staffers (myself & an IT networking person) at the school full time. I just started in late April, so it has been very much a learning time for me. The network person starts in July and we have a list of projects for the summer so that we are at full speed in September.

The school also collaborates with the private industry tenants of Science Park who recognize the competitive business advantage of being physically adjacent to the universities with whom they have established cooperative research, licensing and development agreements.

My presentation is essentially a case study about NJIT's vision of a high school and university collaboration in science and technology and how it might affect the pedagogy of both schools, and how this model can be replicated by other institutions.

Keynotes at the conference include: the busy David Pogue, who I've seen several times, usually funny, busy with new gadgets and sometimes singing a parody or two - Wesley Fryer, whose blog speedofcreativity.org is on my Bloglines list and who is a rep from the K-12 world, and Alan Kay.

And then there's Anaheim. Been to Disneyland before - it seemed so small since I had been to DisneyWorld first, but I hear their California Adventure park is good. And then I should make a trip to see the Angels play the Astros to log another MLB stadium to my life list. Even though I don't have my sons to bring anymore, I'll still buy a mini-bat for the collection. One day the grandkids can play with them while Grandpa recalls the good old days of Web 2.0.

Wikispaces and FDU

A bit of a rant yesterday born of frustration, but I did want to say more about Wikispaces, which I have been using for a few months. It's a good way for teachers & students to get into the wiki world without worrying about software installations and server space.

This post is actually prompted by the "public" version of the Guide to Quality Assurance for Online and Blended Classes that was created by Fairleigh Dickinson University. The original writing team of Catherine Kelley, Sandra Selick and Paul Younghouse are part of their Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology. After some of the Center staff & several faculty members in their School of Education had taken training to become certified Quality Matters (see below) reviewers, they decided they wanted to develop a "faculty-centered, peer review-based approach to encourage improvement and assure the quality of FDU’s online and blended offerings."

The Quality Matters program is sponsored by MarylandOnline, Inc., a statewide consortium of Maryland’s community colleges, colleges, and universities. In 2003, MarylandOnline received a three year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to develop a "replicable pathway for inter-institutional quality assurance and course improvements in online learning.”

The method MarylandOnline developed uses a set of criteria (the Quality Matters Rubric) based on the research literature and national standards for best practices. As a part of the QM project, MarylandOnline also developed a training program and a procedure for putting together review teams and conducting reviews. The result has generated worldwide interest and earned national recognition for QM’s benefits for individual faculty and institutions of higher learning.

Rather than just adopting the QM rubric for use at FDU, they decided to make adjustments-

"...to fit the specific mission of FDU and our experience working with online and blended courses... We also felt it needed some expansion, to make the underlying goals or values of the approach more explicit. Finally, we wanted to take into account some specifics of our local technical infrastructure, especially our use of the Blackboard course management system."

After a year of discussions, they basically had written a book. They might have published it in the traditional way, or distributed to their community, but instead decided to put it online as a wiki.

It's not only a useful resource for evaluating and improving online and blended courses, but I'm very encouraged by their willingness to "open source" the document.

They decided to use Wikispaces and opted for the paid version that allows you to do some customizing and drop the ads that sponsor the site. It's not totally open for editing - you need to request to "join this space" and create a Wikspaces account (free & easy). The FDU admin will "approve" you as a participant. If you do join, let them know who you are (school, position) and what your interest is in the wiki. (Mention this blog and get a free mug! No, not really. But you might mention it anyway. I know these folks and I'm a member of the space too.)

What they would like to see happen is that others will edit and use the wiki at their schools. There are guidelines (Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike Non-Commercial License version 3.0.) but they are quite liberal. Two goals of any public wiki are to share your information with more people, but also to get a wider group of people working on the document.

So what will happen in their space? Probably, at first, not much. I created a wiki about wikis more than a year ago just to see how much attention it would attract on its own without promotion. I have found that portions of it have been copied & used on other sites, and that's fine with me, but not much revision and editing happening there.

Wikis are still pretty new to education and I have found that teachers don't always get it at first. When my first wiki went up and I told participants at a conference to use it, the first 3 people who did sent me emails with suggestions of what to change! They didn't want to "mess anything up."

I suggest you drop by the FDU wiki and join up if you have an interest in their topic. If not, click on the badge below anyway and take a look at what Wikispaces offers. Create your own space. If you, let me know with a comment link below and the rest of us will take a look.


Collaboration, Customer Service and Metcalfe's Law

I read a post on a blog called The Fischbowl some time ago and scribbled some notes to myself about using "customer service" as a topic for my own post.

It's like when I scribble notes in the car for a poem or write down a dream in the middle of the night - I read it later and think, "What was I going to do with this?"

His blog is for high school teachers "exploring constructivism and 21st century learning skills" and my note says "customer service in education." I looked back and he wrote:

  • "We're so accustomed to the way things are that we end up accepting things the way they are."
  • "As teachers we are the "customer" of building and district administration. As adminstrators we're the customer of the Board of Education, who in turn are the customers of the state legislature and state board of education. And, of course, going the other way, students and parents are the customer for all those folks previously mentioned."

I was flipping pages today in a Professional Development Committee meeting and came across my note. We were in the middle of arguing about what should be the focus of our PD work this summer on things to start the year in September. No one agreed on anything.

At one point, we were talking about needing the students to collaborate more, but we couldn't collaborate on how to do that.

I have been using different types of collaborative tools the past few years. I'm interested in free and open source tools and now that I'm working with a high school on instructional technology that seems even more important.

Collaborative software (AKA groupware) is application software that integrates work on a single project by several concurrent users at separated workstations. In its modern form, it was probably pioneered by Lotus Software with the popular Lotus Notes application.

network effectSoftware becomes more valuable when more people use it. Insert leap here -

Metcalfe's Law applies to this collaborative software, and I am applying it to our Professional Development Committee's task to provide better customer service.

Now I won't pretend to truly understand Bob Metcalfe's theory, and I'm proably misapplying it, but that's OK. It seems people are trying to use it to explain social networks the way it explained Ethernet style networks, so I'm not all that far off.

Metcalfe did a guest blog post where he writes:

"Metcalfe’s Law points to a critical mass of connectivity after which the benefits of a network grow larger than its costs. The number of users at which this critical mass is achieved can be calculated by solving C*N=A*N^2, where C is the cost per connection and A is the value per connection. The N at which critical mass is achieved is N=C/A. It is not much of a surprise that the lower the cost per connection, C, the lower the critical mass number of users, N. And the higher the value per connection, A, the lower the critical mass number of users, N."

So, when I'm suggesting to the teachers that we use some free online apps (lower cost) and try to get as many teachers involved beyond the committee (critical mass of users), I don't think I'm breaking the spirit of the law. (I might well be breaking the letter or number of the law though.)

For example, calendaring becomes more useful when more people are connected to the same electronic calendar and keep their individual calendars up-to-date. Even a simple application such as a collaborative to do list can be really useful for project management with a committee.

In a true collaborative writing environment, each contributor has an equal ability to add, edit, and remove text. The writing process becomes a recursive task, where each change prompts others to make more changes. Of course, it is easier to do if the group has a specific end goal in mind, and harder if a goal is absent or vague.

Our goal(s) were definitely absent today.

I started using Writely and Writeboards (see below) for online collaborative writing and I know people are using Google Documents for this too. 

The wiki software that runs Wikipedia evolved from a free software philosophy for similar collaborative applications, and there is certainly something Metcalfian going on there.

So I took all the information the committee had gathered through a survey and a workshop day that was supposed to help point them towards creating "exit goals" for grades 7-12, and I put it in a wiki. I invited everyone to go in & start working on revising, commenting, collaborating.

Two weeks and nothing has changed except all my additions.

I can't get the C in this C*N=A*N^2 any lower. And I know the value of A is pretty high (stakes) for next year's customers.

I feel like when I was in summer school after 8th grade for Algebra. That wasn't a good summer.

Want to try out a collaborative Writeboard? This is one I created just to show 2 colleagues what it was all about - go to http://123.writeboard.com/da9c073d4a087d38e and log in with the password trivium. I just put in some information about the trivium and you can take what's there and move it forward or take it in some other direction. Feel free to edit and play with the "compare" function, make comments...