That's Fair Use. I think. Probably.

I found a post on the Digital Digs blog that pointed me to a report from American University’s Center for Social Media called “The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy." The Center based its report on interviews with 63 educators.

Here's an issue that certainly bridges the two education worlds that we call K-20. And the results aren't good. Educators at the secondary school and higher ed levels are equally confused about copyright, especially the battlecry of Fair Use.

The report concludes that educators receive almost no training on copyright law and Fair-Use doctrine. As a result, they are not only possibly violating copyright, but also avoiding using materials because they are unsure about the legitimacy of that use.

I have done several presentations on copyright for educators and the two things that everyone is really interested in are when I present scenarios and "answers" and when they get to ask about their own situations. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to give definitive answers that have some precedent in an actual case. I have even heard lawyers give copyright & education presentations and say the same thing.

So, we have teacher#1 who creates his own advertising examples for a lesson on persuasion so as not to being in violation, and teacher#2 who posts excerpts from the movie version of the novel she is teaching into her online LMS. I'm sure that that #1 is within Fair Use. I'm fairly sure that #2 is safe too - but I'm not positive about that.

Though the report focuses on media-literacy teachers (who I would have mistakenly guessed would be better informed than many other disciplines about copyright), this is classroom issue that crosses all the lines.

The report's authors recommend that a solid set of best practices for fair use are needed rather than the usual "guidelines and rules of thumb" that serve as answers when educators ask for answers. I couldn't agree more. But who is volunteering to write those best practices?

Download a PDF of the report

Is your campus converging?

image via
Does your institution's convergence plan look like Jackson Pollock's painting "Convergence"?

One thing I always talk about whenever I do presentations on podcasting and iTunes U is using it as an entry into mobile computing. However, anyone who knows the live version of me knows that I don't get real excited about cell phones.

The launch of the Apple iPhone was not a stand in line moment for me. In fact, I only know a few people who own one. But there's no getting around the trend towards the smartphone as THE convergence device.

I don't think there's a definitive definition of a smartphone right now, as the technology is early in its evolution. Most users would agree that it is a mobile phone with advanced capabilities that make it more like a computer than a traditional phone. I'd say that (unlike your average cell phone) it would also be running some complete operating system software. And many people would add that is would also allow third-party applications to be added.

Apple was not one of those many when the iPhone first released. The phone was locked and there was plenty of attention given to both the hackers who tried (and suceeded) in unlocking it, and Apple's updates which could turn those unlocked phones into very pretty paperweights. Apple got a lot of bad press on that approach.

This month Apple made two announcements that it will support third-party applications on the iPhone and that Orange (Apple’s partner in France) will be selling unlocked iPhones for a slightly higher price.

Apple says it was always their intention to release a Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod Touch (probably next February after MacWorld) and that the delay in opening the iPhone was on the side of caution in protecting users from malware.

Apple has also created the iPhone Dev Center to provide resources (guidelines for optimizing Web apps for the iPhone, sample code, tutorials). It's part of the Apple Developer Connection, a Mac-heavy (free) community of developers.

Now, I am not a developer, and I don't live in a Mac or Windows only world. Some potential readers of this post already left after the first few paragraphs because of the Apple-heavy talk, so let me return to the original point. Convergence.

If your institution is using Web 1.0 or 2.0 applications (who in the crowd won't raise their hand on that?) from the Net, through an LMS, podcasting, RSS, distance learning course, emergency notifications etc., you can not ignore mobile computing. It's here. It's growing. It's where we are headed.

I wrote here almost a year ago asking "Are you .mobi ready?" - meaning are your web development team and instructional designers making content ready for use on mobile devices? I suspect that the majority of institutions are not .mobi ready, and don't take the entire issue very seriously right now. It won't be a tragedy on your campus (as with emergency notification systems) that will bring this to the table, but it will be an issue that eventually schools will need to address, and many will wish they had taken it into account earlier.

So how does podcasting and iTunes U fit into this? I see iTunes U as an easy way for a school to enter mobile computing by allowing Apple's team to enable you to deliver content quite easily to mobile devices - and that certainly includes their own smartphone. Our enhanced podcasts and video look really good on a iPhone.

Podcasting Made Easier

If your school has been considering entering the world of educational podcasting and you're searching for answers and guidance, I have to recommend a 3 webinar series from Higher Ed Experts that will be offered next week. Full disclosure: I'm doing one of the three webinars, so, yes, 1/3 self-promotion.

The series kicks off on November 6 from 1PM-2PM ET with "Podcasting 101: How to record and produce your podcasts with ease." This is the technical & production side of podcasting. Micah Ovadia, from the University of Cincinnati is the author of "PoducateMe, Practical Solutions for Podcasting in Education," and he'll discuss what you need to know to get your institution started with podcasting. He will share a simple plan to get your institution ready to plan, record, produce and publish its first podcasts in 30 days.

Dennis Miller is the director of marketing and public relations at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, and he will focus in webinar #2 on marketing and how podcasts can become powerful tools to engage students and their parents. He will share best practices and good tips to make sure your podcasts find their audience. That's on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 (1PM-2PM ET)

My session is on the 8th in the 1-2 PM time slot - a webinar called "To be or not to be an iTunes U(niversity)?" In this webinar, I'll be focusing on what it takes to join Apple iTunes U (and if you should consider applying to Apple ) and how NJIT planned and implemented our iTunes U program over the past year. I'll also address how you might optimize your presence there, and in other platforms. NJIT was one of the original sixteen schools to be featured by Apple in iTunes U in May 2007.

E-Learning Pick of the Day

It's good that others are keeping up on things because I am falling behind.

I haven't posted much lately about e-learning, but Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies posts her E-Learning Pick of the Day - a daily item of e-learning interest.

She was smart to narrow her blog's focus. With all the categories I have here, there are still things that I want to write about that don't fit in any slot.

Here are 3 examples that I pulled from her daily picks:

Web2PDF Online is a free HTML to PDF Conversion service for your websites that allows your visitors to quickly save useful information in your blog/website to PDF files.

OpenProj - a free, open source project management solution to replace Microsoft Project, and other commercial project solutions. Ideal for desktop project management and available on Linux, Unix, Mac or Windows.

LectureShare lets instructors make lecture notes, audio and video available to their students - or the world - by giving "students access to course materials without the burden of maintaining your own webpage or the hassle of complex web-based solutions."
Students can "stay organized with course materials and announcements for all of your classes is gathered in a single location.

An Emotion Machine Perhaps As Smart As A Child

I'm watching (well, more like listening) to a video from MIT of Marvin Minsky talking about his book, Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind. He is one of the founders of the field of artificial intelligence, and helped establish in 1959 what would become the MIT AI Lab.

Marvin Minsky is here critical of many current researchers in artificial intelligence researchers who he feels have gotten bogged down in theories of machine learning. He sees this as a crisis point in a time of an aging population that he feels will need help in performing many tasks.

"We have a computer program that can beat a world chess champion, but we don't have one that can reach for an umbrella on a rainy day, or put a pillow in a pillow case." For a machine to have common sense, it must know 50 million such things, and like a human, activate different kinds of expertise in different realms of thought, says Minsky.

The machine he envisions will have a very high-level, rule-based system for recognizing certain kinds of problems like humans do.

Then he, in his good scientist way, classifies things - like the parts of the brain he calls “critics” that are selected for a particular situation, while other critics turn off. His machine reasoning architecture has 6 levels of thinking that attempt to emulate the different kinds of human reasoning such as learned reactions, deliberative thinking, reflective thinking (sometimes several simultaneously).

Complication is necessary: with at least 400 different areas of the brain operating, “if a theory tries to explain everything by just 20 principles, it's doing something wrong.

I actually take some hope in his despair about AI because it tells me that scientists are still trying to understand some of the amazing but "simple" things that we humans do. What he is really proposing is a kind of AI that might eventually result in a “really resourceful, clever thinking machine...with knowledge about how to do things,” and which “can do the broad range of things children can do.

Ah yes - the things children can do.