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Saturday
Feb032018

BFTP: 7 habits of highly effective technology trainers

Seven qualities of highly effective technology trainers

from Johnson, Doug. The Classroom Teacher's Technology Survival GuideJossey-Bass, 2012.

Here are some attributes of people who can effectively teach others to use technology. Find others in your building or district who do these things and make them your tech teacher.

  1. The problem is on the desk, not in the chair.When a problem arises, the best trainers assume that it is a result of a hardware or software flaw - whether an actual bug or a design in the user interface that makes the technology confusing for normal people to use. It’s sometimes tough to help people increase their knowledge without making them feel stupid or incompetent, but good teachers can. Phrases like, “My third graders can do that.” “You know it works better when you plug it in.” and “No, the other right arrow.” are not recommended.
  2. No mouse touching. Good trainers are patient. One sure sign of this saintly virtue in teachers is that they never touch a learner’s mouse or keyboard. No matter how exasperating it becomes to watch that ill-coordinated person find and click on the correct button, good instructors’ hands stay well behind their backs, no matter how white knuckled they become.
  3. Great analogies. There is a theory that the only way we can think about a new thing is if we have some way to relate it to what we already know. Good trainers can do that by creating analogies. “Your email account is like a post office box. Your password is like your combination to get into it. Your email address is like your mailing address – it tells the electronic postmaster where to send your email.” Now here’s the catch: truly great analogists know when the comparisons break down, too. “Unlike a human postmaster, the electronic postmaster can’t make intelligent guesses about an address. A mising dot, the L instead of a 1, or a single juxtaposition of letters will keep your mail from being delivered.”
  4. Clear support materials. Few things are more comforting to technology learners than being able to access a “cheat sheet” about using a new technology. Until multi-step tasks are repeated several times, most of us need reminders that are more descriptive than just our notes (and more permanent than our memories.) A short menu of task steps illustrated with screen shots is a gift for most technology learners.
  5. Knowing what is essential and what is only confusing. A good trainer will have a list of the skills the learners should have mastered by the end of the training. As instruction proceeds, that list will be the basis for frequent checks for understanding. As an often-random thinker, I find such a list keeps me as an instructor on track and provides a roadmap for the learner. Now here’s the catch with this one: truly great technology teachers know what things beginning learners really need to know to make them productive and what things might be conveyed that only serve to impress a captive audience with the technologist’s superior intellect. (“The email address is comprised of the username, the domain name, the subdomain name, the computer name, all referenced in a lookup table at the NIC.” Like that.) It’s an alpha wolf thing, especially common with males. Be aware of it, and look for a teacher who uses charm and a caring demeanor with the pack to achieve dominance.
  6. If it breaks, we’ll fix it. Kids catch on to technology with amazing rapidity for a very good reason. They aren’t afraid to push buttons. They know if they mess something up, it’s an adult’s job to fix it. That’s one nice thing about being a kid. However adult learners also need the courage to experiment. Rather than always answering direct questions about technology, good trainers will often say, “Try it and see what happens. If you mess something up, I’ll help you fix it.”
  7. Perspective. Many of us who work with technology do so because we love it. We play with new software on the weekends, search the Internet deep into the evening, and show off our new gadgets like other folks show off prize winning zinnias, new powerboats, or successful children. I hesitate to use the term “abnormal,” but we are in the minority.

Most teachers see technology as a sometimes helpful thing that should occupy about one percent of one’s conscious thinking time. Good trainers who can remember what it was like before there were computers – the green grass, the singing birds, the books to read, the parties to attend, the fishing trips, the face-to-face human communication– tend to be more empathetic.

Original post Jan 16, 2013

Friday
Feb022018

Acknowledging loss in the change process

It’s rare for anyone’s first reaction to a call for change to be all positive. Much more often those pushing for change don’t realize that they are devaluing everything colleagues hold dear. Sometimes the call for change makes people feel like everything they’ve been doing up to that point has been wrong and bad for students. Worse, it can sound like a devaluation of how the teacher learned and, by extension, those who taught her. That’s a personal loss. Educators react negatively when they are asked to change not because they don’t want to do what’s best for kids, but because they feel bereaved. How School Leaders Can Attend to the Emotional Side of Change Mind/Shift 10-22/17.

Acknowledging loss as a part of the change process is something to which I pay far too little attention. Yet I have know for a very long time that grieving is necessary for a healthy organization and for healthy workers.

As a library supervisor, as well as consultant, writer, speaker and professional organization member, I have been pushing for change in school libraries for 40 years. And I am very proud of the transition that many of our school libraries have made - embracing technologies, becoming learning commons, addressing social learning needs, and spearheading efforts like digital citizenship, information literacy, and personalization in our schools. The school library of 2018 gives far more value to students, staff and the community than did my first library in 1978.

But it is also important that for many librarians, we might also mourn the passing of some traditional library roles that attracted us to the field, that once had value to those we served, and that defined in some core way what being a "library" actually meant.

I will admit to having twinges of sadness when thinking about losing the school library as a sanctuary space of quiet and concentration. I have fond memories of pouring over the print encyclopedia and regret that today's kids will not know that pleasure. Are school librarians now fine resources for finding digital resources and troubleshooting tech problems, but less able to point students to their next favorite book?

Maybe it is OK to be a little sentimental. To say we miss something that we have long held dear. That it's OK to mourn past pleasures that our children and grandchildren will not experience.  C

Clinging to an obsolescent library programs is not healthy.

But then neither is denying the loss that accompanies change.

Thursday
Feb012018

Putting old yearbooks online - just do it

Last week on LM_Net, a Ilana, school librarian, had the temerity to ask:

We are thinking of scanning our old yearbooks and putting them online for alumni.
Have any of you done this? What privacy concerns did you have? What have you found to be the best format for this? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thoughtfully, completely and authoritatively, copyright lawyer and library guru Carol Simpson replied:

Copyright issues regarding yearbooks are not at all clear. Each book will require some research to establish whether the photos and/or the book have been protected by copyright.

As a rule of thumb, the copyright of the photos in the yearbook belongs to the person who took the photo. Consider that you have photos taken by employees, students, parents, and professional photographers. Each photo will need to be assessed separately (for example, many schools allow seniors to have their senior pictures taken by outside photographers).

Any photo taken before 1923 is in the public domain in the US. (all the rest of these dates apply to US Copyright law. If you are in another country, your mileage may vary).

Because the yearbooks were sold, they are considered "published" and the photos in the yearbooks will also be considered published.

Any yearbook published between 1923 and 1977 that has no copyright notice in the work is in the public domain. That is not necessarily true for the photos. Check each photo to see if there is a photographer's copyright notice (it will be very small). Better yet, excavate the school's contract with the photographer to see if the photographer retained copyright of the photos. For any yearbook published without notice between 1923 and March 1 1989, a copyright could have been registered with the Copyright Office after the fact, as long as the registration was made within 5 years of publication. So that will mean some research in the Copyright Office database. Yearbooks published between 1977 and March 1 1989 without notice that were not later registered within 5 years of publication are in the public domain. Each individual photo is a separate copyrightable work that will need to be researched.

The status of yearbooks published between 1923 and 1963 including the necessary copyright notice will be determined on whether the copyright of the work was renrewed following the first copyright term. That information will be in the Copyright Office database. If the copyright was not renewed, the copyright lapsed after the first copyright term. If the copyright was renewed, the copyright will expire 95 years after first publication.

For works published with notice from 1963 to 1977, the copyright expires 95 years after publication.

Works created after 1977 through March 1 1989 and published with a copyright notice will be protected for 70 years from the death of the author (for the photos) or for the yearbook (which is a work of corporate authorship most likely) the copyright will endure for 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.

A work created before 1978 but published with notice between 1978 and March 1 1989 (think old family photos or school photos taken before 1-1-1978) is protected for the longer of 70 years after the date of the author; 95 years from date of publication or 120 years from date of creation, whichever expires first (corporate works); or December 31, 2047.

Works created after 1977 and published between March 1 1989 through 2002 are protected for 70 years after the death of the author, or if a work of corporate authorship 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever comes first. NO NOTICE IS REQUIRED TO HAVE A VALID COPYRIGHT FOR ANY WORK PUBLISHED AFTER March 1 1989. If the work was created before 1978 and first published during this period, the same periods apply except that the time limit is the longer of the 70 year, 95 year, 120 year or December 31, 2047 dates.

After 2002, no notice is required, and all copyrights last for 70 years from the death of the author, or for corporate works for 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation.

As you can see, it isn’t a simple decision. Carol Simpson, LM_Net Jan 28, 2018

First, I have great respect for Carol's expertise and values. If you don't want to get your name in the paper for being sued for copyright infringement, listen to Carol. For many years, my thoughts around copyright have not been mainstream and are probably dangerous. So it is best to stop reading now.

Lawyers, like Carol, have a professional obligation to always give the safest advice. Were I to approach any lawyer and ask "May I drive 56mph in a 55mph zone, she would say, "No, you are breaking the law and may wind up getting a ticket and paying a fine." As I ranted back in 2008 about downloading a YouTube video having the same degree of criminality of driving a mile over the speed limit or stealing a sugar packet from a restaurant, digitizing a damn yearbook seems about as risky. The risk/benefit ratio tips to the benefit side.

If the school is nervous about a lawsuit, look for an alumni organization to sponsor the project. Is anyone going to waste money suing a group that has no money?

Post away, Ilana and others who would like to digitize and put online old yearbooks. If someone has a privacy or copyright concern, take those parts down. And ask forgiveness.

Image: Doug's 1970 high school yearbook senior photo. I can only hope the photographer (if still alive) doesn't sue me for posting it.