Sunday, April 12, 2009

What's your take? Copyright, CC, Fair Use

After hosting a Earth Week design contest at school and picking the winner a discussion started about if the winning design was a copyright violation. Parts of the picture were taken from the web and the original was not referenced. The winning designer did have his own name on the design. This was a copyright issue, but we tracked down the designer and had him change that. Once that was sorted we thought the design fit under the Fair Use policy for education until we realized the designer was about to win a prize for his work and that again might be a violation. Nevertheless, the design is used for educational purposes and if needed the prize will be withdrawn.

Have a look and see what you decided.

Also check out the Earth Week video.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thank goodness I was bullied in the 80's

Back in the good ol’ days of bullying a bully physically, and sometimes mentally and emotional, harassed his or her victim. We have probably all grown up on one side of this situation at one point or another. It’s a rough time in a kid’s life, and if worrying about school and girls were not enough, I had to find random trails home for lunch and after school every day. I had an older, and much bigger and meaner, neighbor that got his kicks out of torturing the few of us who were on this route. Each day it was a guessing game; ‘do you think he went through the softball path or the back trail. Unfortunately, these were the only two options so you had a 50/50 chance of being pummeled. Both paths were through a forest so the bully had several hiding spots. Usually the only thing that gave away the bully’s location was when you heard the screams of another boy was just got caught. Those were rough times, but I feel lucky that I am not going through today’s version of bullying. Of course, the bigger nasty bully still exists, as does the smaller, but sharp tongued emotional bully. Nevertheless, the new kind of bullying is the cyber bully.

The cyber bully may not hold your head in the snow until it feels frostbitten, but what makes this bully more powerful is there is virtually no escape from it. This form of bullying through mobile phones, emails, chat rooms, you tube, social networks, and so on, follows you everywhere. Normally the best part of your day when you are the victim of traditional bullying is getting to your house. You feel like, whew, I did it and now I am safe. But, cyber victims are never safe. Another problem is it is not normally just one bully after you, it can be a number of people and you may not even know who is doing it; leaving you feeling like you are always being watched or even stalked and you are not sure who is doing it. Obviously, this can be very emotionally and socially damaging to a student and no one should have to go through this.

So what should schools do about cyber bullying?

Based on my experience in various schools I would say that most are reactive when dealing with this issue rather that proactive. This is probably because it is a relatively new problem in society and many are not aware of it or not sure how to deal with it. I suggest the first thing to do is to change this reactive way of thinking and take preventative measures. Perhaps, this means teaching it in health class when we normally cover traditional bullying. However, I don’t think that is the most effective method. Developing a ‘social wellness’ program throughout the school might be better. This program should educate students and teachers about what the problem is, how serious it is (including the legal consequences for the bully), followed by how to recognize it and deal with it. Most importantly, students should know how to prevent it. That means having a school program that deals with this issue on an appropriate grade level basis. In the ISB middle school, synergy would be the best forum and Comm. Groups in the high school. I honestly don’t know if it is needed in the elementary school. I think this proactive campaign should be run at the same time for everyone to bring about more timely awareness and make the message clear. Then there should periodic reminders about the topic. Anything less might actually just teach students how to cyber bully and increase the problem. If a program is in place to help students and they know tips such as do not delete a cyber bullying message; instead take it to the appropriate person in the school, and then you can deal with the problem before it becomes an unstoppable mess. Students should know to report cyber bullying.
I’m curious as to stories, experiences, policies, and proactive measure others schools/teachers might have. Care to share?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Copyright… what is copyright?

What's our role as educators in copyright usage in schools?

The more I read about this topic the less I understand. Most of the articles seem to be about copyright in USA. However, I am a Canadian and I teach internationally, with no intentions of teaching in America. I’m not saying this doesn’t concern me, but is there something more applicable to my situation or a global copyright law? I live in Thailand where copyrights, patents, and trademarks are broken everywhere. Nevertheless, as an educator I want to role model the right behavior. As Cindy B put it in her blog, Our role in the Use of Fair Use, "We ourselves, as educators, need to be good models and follow the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. Instead of "Do as I say, not as I do", it should be "Do as I do!" My problem is I don't understand what it is I should and shouldn't do.

It would seem to me like the original reason for copyright was to protect creativity and increase progress of ideas. However, it seems to have lost its way and now it actually can hinder creativity and stop progress of ideas. I assume this is where Creative Commons comes in, but I don't quite understand that either. So rather than pretend I know what I am talking about here, let's try this:

Blogs are all about reflecting and hearing other opinions and perspectives, so let’s put this blog to good use and draw knowledge from the global world. Is there anyone out there that can help me get a clearer idea of what copyright actually is? What it is used for? And most importantly, what's our role as educators in copyright usage in schools?

Don’t be shy, let me see the power of blogging.

UPDATE: While adding the pictures on to this site I decided to link them because I thought that was the right thing to do to reference the pictures. However, the copyright photo linked no problem, yet the Creative Commons photo said I could not add it. However, as you can all see it is there. Is this picture now there illegally? How would I get it legally?

Online Privacy – Is there any such thing? Part 2

Beware of the Google car...
Just like Santa, it knows if you've been naughty or nice; except it tells the world.

While reading “The Thinking Chick” blog about online security it made me think when she stating “Where did we develop this concept of what privacy means? In other cultures, how is privacy viewed?” It reminded me of the differences I noticed when I finally left Newfoundland to travel the world. In a geographically large province with only 500,000 people in total, I was used to small towns and wide open spaces. Large crowds and lack of personal space was very new to me.

The article went on to discuss issues such as a privacy of pictures on Facebook. Later she stated “do we need to rethink what privacy means?" I definitely think privacy need to be given some serious consideration. However, as I started thinking about how lack of privacy might cause some people to ‘run’ away from technology just to avoid these problems, I realized technology is chasing you regardless. It’s not just what you put online. Recently, I’ve seen people in England getting very upset because a ‘Google car’ is driving down their street filming everything and will later put this online on Google Street. So even if you isolated yourself completely from the internet they can still find you. Although, I think Google Street is very cool, I wouldn’t want it filming my street, would you?

This is a video you should all watch about the Google car. Unfortunately, it had the embedding option disables, so you will have to try the link.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Online Privacy - Is there any such thing? Part 1

Yes, there are boxes to check and terms of agreement before signing up for most things online. Then you have to type in your user name and a password before accessing information. Thus, one would think your things are secure, however, more and more I am starting to believe that nothing is total secure online. Ok, if you are posting photos up on Flickr, Facebook, or another site with a similar purpose, then you should realize these sites are intended for public sharing. Nevertheless, you are supposed to have some say in who gets to see what. It is not uncommon to hear of unwanted material showing up online nowadays, so I question if the system is working at all. Of course, this could be friends posting something about you that I you did not want posted. I really hate being tagged in a photo and everyone gets to see it before me since I don't go to Facebook everyday. I wondered why Facebook didn't allow the 'tagee' to approve it before being posted.

However, what Facebook recently did is much more serious. How can a company like this decide on its own that it will change the terms of service without consulting with its customers first. These new terms, according to Samantha MacConnel, who wrote the article 'Don't over estimate privacy of online information', would "ensure the site's [Facebook] permanent claim on personal content posted by the user. This would enable Facebook the right to use content even after a person's profile has been deleted." In other words, they own everything you posted and can do with it what they want. It's bad enough that they would have that policy, but what worries me the most is when people signed up initially they agreed to a certain terms of service and Facebook can change that without their consent.

Although, I don't think in today's set up we can ever be completely secure, there are some ways of increasing your online security. Here are 12 ways to increase your online security.

Also check out this video to see what some schools are doing about this problem. "EMPOWER THEM NOW"