Friday, June 28, 2013

Fair Use, Copyright, and Educational Blogging

Last night someone on Twitter asked me for advice about how to respond to discovering that his blog posts were being re-used without permission. This morning I read Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano's post No! You Can't Just Take It. In that post Silvia expresses her frustration with teachers who take articles and graphics from her blog without permission, without giving attribution, and then use those materials as their own. Unfortunately, these are situations that I've dealt with a lot over the last five plus years. If you find yourself in a similar situation in which you discover someone taking and using your materials without permission, I have a couple of pieces of advice on how to handle it. You can find all my advice on the topic in my post What To Do When Your Work Is Plagiarized.

At the end of her post No! You Can't Just Take It Silvia asks what can be done to stop the practice of people taking materials from blog under the belief that Fair Use means teachers can just take and use things they find online. My response is to first educate people about what Fair Use really means. Two good sources of information on this topic are Copyright On Campus and Wes Fryer's Copyright for Educators.

Fair Use does give educators more liberty to use copyrighted materials than the general public has. However, it doesn't mean that you can just take anything or copy anything. Think about how a book publisher would respond if you made fifty copies of a book, distributed those to your students, and just said "well it's for education so it's Fair Use." Publishers make money by selling books. Likewise, many education bloggers make money through advertising and through supporting their written materials with workshops. When you copy and paste their materials and redistribute them without permission, you're negatively impacting that blogger's earning potential. And even if the blogger isn't trying to make money, you still can't copy and paste without permission. A practice that I see a lot is copying and pasting entire posts then placing a small link to the original. When done without permission that practice isn't okay either. In short, unless it's clearly labeled as public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license, ask permission before using someone's materials.

Google Alerts and Your Organization's Digital Reputation

Earlier this week I facilitated a workshop about social media for leaders of schools and organizations. Two of the questions that I posed to the group at the beginning of the day were; 1. What happens when someone Googles your organization? 2. What is being said about your organization without your knowledge?

After presenting those questions I gave folks time to try to find some answers to those questions. There were a few people surprised by what they found. My suggestion to everyone in the room was to create a set of Google Alerts for the names associated with their organizations. I encouraged people to create Google Alerts for not only the proper names of their organizations but also the nicknames and abbreviated names that people use for their organizations. Google Alerts makes it easy to find out when someone publishes something new about your organization online.

Another suggestion that I often make in workshops about social media is to look at popular social networks like Facebook and see if there are groups formed about your school or organization. And while Myspace is no longer popular with kids, the story that Clay Shirky shares in the video below (start at 2:15 into the video) is a good example of why you want to know what is happening in social media.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Digital Explorer - Follow Expeditions and Learn About Science

Digital Explorer is an organization that helps students learn about science and geography through the study of expeditions around the world. Digital Explorer publishes educational materials that are connected to expeditions. The organization has also connected classrooms to expeditions through live video conferences. Whether or not your classroom follows expedition you can still find useful materials to use in your lessons.

Applications for Education
Take a look at the Digital Explorer resources bank to find materials like Google Earth-based science and geography lessons, marine life fact cards, videos from expeditions, and ideas for experiments to try in your classroom. There are materials in the resource bank that are appropriate for middle school and high school students. You can filter your search in the resource bank according to topic, student age, and material type.  

You will need to register on Digital Explorer in order to download materials from their resources bank.

TED-Ed Lesson - How Big Is the Ocean?

Anyone who has stood on a beach looking out on the ocean has probably wondered, how big is the ocean? The TED-Ed lesson How Big Is the Ocean explains some of the answers to that question by putting the size of the ocean into perspective compared with well-know landforms. The lesson is suitable for students in grades three through eight.


Three Google Sheets Scripts That Help Teachers Save Time

One of the great things about technology is that it can help use do things more efficiently which in turn means we get to spend more time on the more enjoyable parts of teaching, like working with students instead of working with paperwork. If you're a Google Apps user there are three Google Sheets (spreadsheets) scripts that I recommend trying. These scripts can help you save time on on sorting, grading, and assessing students' work.

Flubaroo is an easy-to-use script that will grade multiple choice quizzes for you. You can even set-up the script to email all of your students their grades with just one click. Complete directions for using Flubaroo can be found here.

gClassFolders is a script that will create folders for you for as many course sections as you need. The concept behind it is this; students have a "dropbox" folder in their Google Drive accounts that you have shared with them. To submit work students drag files into that "dropbox" folder. From there gClassFolders sorts submissions to the correct folder for each student. You can find complete directions for gClassFolders here.

Doctopus is a Google Spreadsheet script that can help teachers manage the flow of shared work in in their Google Drive accounts. The basic concept behind the script is to enable teachers to quickly share documents with all of the students on a roster, monitor usage of shared documents, and give students feedback within that roster spreadsheet. Find directions for Doctopus here or watch the videos embedded below.