Saturday, June 9, 2012

You Graduated! Now What? Lessons for Grads

Today, my students at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School are graduating. Some of them will be going into military service, some are going off to college in the fall, and others will be entering the work force full-time. No matter what their next steps are after commencement today, they all have hopes, dreams, and expectations for the future. I wish them all the best as we all do.

TED Ed has a small collection of commencement addresses and questions to accompany them. The collection is called, You Graduated... Now What? The collection includes talks from Steve Jobs, Bill Cosby and Ellen Degenres. All have good advice for students.

Applications for Education
I would add to the collection Bill Cosby's recent commencement speech at Temple University. You don't have to be graduating today to learn something or be reminded of an important lesson in these talks. In fact, Bill Cosby's talks provide solid advice anytime of the year. I might even show his talk to Temple University students at the beginning of the school year.

The Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers This Week

Good morning from Hartford, Connecticut where later today I'll be watching one of my younger brothers get married (he's the one with the duck in the picture, and he might kill me for posting that picture). As I do every week regardless of where I am and what's happening I have put together a list of the most popular posts of the week. I do this every week for two reasons; it gives me a sense of what people are interested in and it gives you a chance to catch up on what other educators found useful this week.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 93 Android Apps for Teachers to Try This Summer
2. Google Blockly - A Visual Programming Language
3. A Nice Guide to iPad App Evaluation
4. Widbook - Collaborative Creation of Multimedia Books
5. Free Speech - Augmentative and Alternative Communication App
6. The Last 18 Years of News In a Flocabulary Rap
7. Drop Canvas Provides Super Simple File Sharing

Bonus Item: While it didn't rank as one of the most popular posts of the week, it made me smile to watch and post Mister Rogers Remixed so I'm posting it again. As I said on Facebook this week, if you loved Mister Rogers as a kid, you will love this video.

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What To Do When Your Work Is Plagiarized

As I noted yesterday in my post about how to share the blog posts you like, there have been a handful of edubloggers experiencing plagiarism of their work this week. Since I was asked, "what do you do about it" I think it's appropriate to share the process that I go through when I see my work being plagiarized. Most of what you will read below is content that I've published before with a few recent updates added to it.

What to do when you see your blog posts being stolen. 
If you find yourself in the position of seeing your content improperly reused, here are some steps you can take to remedy the problem.

First, if you are at all concerned about people reusing your content you need to monitor your digital content. Google Alerts provides a very easy way to discover the unauthorized reuse of your content. Simply create a Google Alerts account and create alerts using keywords and phrases common to your blog. For example, I have alerts set up for many variations of my blog's title and for my name. My friend Sue Waters has some great advice about monitoring the use of your content and name online. In that same post Sue also explains how to use some other services to monitor your content and name online.

When you find your content reused by someone else here is a progression of steps you can take to remedy the problem.

Step 1: Try to determine if the person is doing it maliciously or innocently. This is important because it influences how I take my next steps. Determining this can be tricky, but generally if the blog reusing your content doesn't allow comments, doesn't have a contact email or form, uses a lot of inappropriate advertising, and or is reusing the content of many other blogs in the same way they're using your content they are intentionally stealing your content. In some cases though I've had teachers/ principals reuse my content innocently because they didn't understand fair use.

Step 2a: If there is a contact form or contact email available and if you think the person is improperly reusing your content because he/she doesn't understand fair use, send a strong, but polite (I left out polite once and I later wished I hadn't) email explaining the person that what he/she is doing is improper practice. Be sure to include some suggestions for properly reusing your content such as using truncated feed widgets. Feel free to share the info in this post with them.

Step 2b: If the offending blog doesn't have a contact form or email address posted, run a WHOIS search using Go, or Whois-Search to see who has registered the domain. When there isn't a proxy in place it's easy to locate the contact information (email, phone, fax, mail) for the person who registered the domain. Use that information to contact the offending site or blog's owner. In some cases the person who registered the domain might have used a proxy to hide their contact information. If that is the case it can be hard to find the contact information. Likewise, a Whois search will not work for subdomains. An example of a blog on a subdomain is

Step 2c: If the blog plagiarizing your content is hosted by Blogger, Report a TOS Violation/ DMCA Complaint. If the blog plagiarizing your content is hosted by, report it here. For Posterous-hosted blogs you can contact their legal department with a DMCA complaint ( read the directions they have outlined here in their TOS.

Before going any further I need to remind you that although I did well on the LSAT I am not a lawyer and do not pretend to be an expert on copyright and intellectual property law. Consult your lawyer if you think you need legal advice.

Step 2d: Provided you've found the contact information for the person improperly reusing your content and you think he/she is doing that maliciously go ahead and use the phrase copyright violation in the email you send. Sternly tell the person that they are violating your copyright rights, provide an example for the person, and give a clear deadline (48 hours is more than sufficient) by which they must remove your content from their site. Be sure to include wording indicating that you will pursue legal action if they don't take down your content. Usually, this takes care of the problem. Sometimes I hear back from the offending party and other times I do not hear back from the offender, but they do remove the stolen content.

Step 3: If you cannot get in touch with the offending party and or they do not remove your content, you can try to contact their hosting service. Inform the hosting service of the problem and be sure to give specific examples of plagiarism. I've done this only twice. Once I got a response and the other time I didn't get a response.

Step 4: The public option. If you cannot get anywhere using steps 1-3 above go ahead and publicly "out" the offender. Post it on your blog that someone is stealing your content, post it on Twitter, and generally try to embarrass the offending party into taking down your content.

If all of the above fails, then you have gone beyond any steps I've had to take and suggest that you consult a lawyer if you want to pursue the matter. But take solace in the fact that most splogs don't last very long.