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EdTech Update






Why one should never trust a spelling checker...

I admit it. I make errors. Public ones. Like writing this:

For those of us who were once English teachers, to funny not to share... Doug

And of course, the misspelling was brought to my attention:

I am a devout reader of your blog (not that I always agree with you), but I felt, as an English teacher, the need to point out the irony of the mistake in your first sentence...

"For those of us who were once English teachers, to funny not to share"

"too funny"

No offense intended!

So, OK. That was embarrassing. I replied:


Here are the possible reasons I made such an error:

  • I deliberately left out the second “o” because my computer is running low on them and I need to conserve.
  • I’ve always been confused about to, too, and 2 (as well as tutu – both the costume and the politician).
  • This was actually a contest to see who could find the error – AND YOU WON!
  • Like the Navajo blanket weavers, I purposely make an error in each thing I write, honoring the notion that only God is perfect.
  • I suck at proofing my own writing and need to take the time to do a better job of it.

Anywho, I will leave the error in situ as a lesson in humility. Thanks for the catch.

All the best,


While making such a dumb mistake and being called on it never exactly makes my day, it doesn't really slow me down much either. Nor should concern about your own writing being perfect prior to publication keep you from writing and publishing. Fear of errors keeps too (or to) many people from contributing to the common good.

After writing I don't know how many words in books, articles, columns and this dumb blog, you'd think I would get better at crafting a decent sentence and avoiding typos. But I still can't re-read a single thing I've written without the urge to re-write - even if just a little. And deliberate or not, I bet almost everything I've written still has grammar or spelling errors still in it.


On a completely un-related note, my buddy Ian Jukes is still suffering from a foot infection. In my last email to him, I suggested that he simply lose the foot and attach a wheel or inline skate or even a little skateboard. I listed several advantages:

  • easier to make close connections at airports with new speed
  • add a few LED lights and do a big “Starlight Express” number as a finale to his keynotes
  • big down hills = no need for taxis
  • twice the life from one pair of socks
  • add a generator to recharge the laptop and cell phone

I am sure there are other benefits as well. But I also realize that he is probably more attached to his foot than I am. This is my Heely-envy coming out. When will they make these things for my size weight person?

Could this be Ian's big finish to his future keynotes?



Do not remove under penalty of law

  • Tom Hoffman left this comment in response to Fair use scenario - Mr. Jones and YouTube: The thing is, some of this stuff isn't really ethics. I don't even know what it is. How do you categorize whether or not you ought to honor arbitrary terms of service statements on websites. Or, looking at it another way, I can't imagine what the "ethical" argument for not allowing you to save a local copy of a video you're viewing in a flash player.
  • Francey Harris asks whether the terms and conditions of a database or Fair Use guidelines take precedence when making a decision.
  • Several commenters state that they are very nervous about cracking copy protection schemes (criminal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) in order to use other's work within Fair Use provisions.

Ah, it seems that the use of intellectual property in schools may still be complex and worrisome even with new fair use guidelines with many interrelated moral decisions that need to be made. And, of course, there is another entire body of ethical choices around the personal, non-educational use of IP.

Increasingly I see the wisdom of the statement, "Applying fair use reasoning is about reaching a level of comfort, not memorizing a specific set of rules." from Temple University's 10 Common Misunderstandings About Fair Use. I suspect that if there are three people in a room, there will be three levels of comfort regarding how or if copyrighted materials should be used.

Perhaps one reason this topic is so confusing is that there is not "one right answer" to any of these choices we are making about IP, but only "individual right answers." Is it time to revisit our old friend Larry Kohlberg and his Stages of Moral Development from our Ed Pysch 101 classes?

From "Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development" (at

Level 1. Preconventional Morality

  • Stage 1 - Obedience and Punishment  The earliest stage of moral development is especially common in young children, but adults are capable of expressing this type of reasoning. At this stage, children see rules as fixed and absolute. Obeying the rules is important because it is a means to avoid punishment.
  • Stage 2 - Individualism and Exchange  At this stage of moral development, children account for individual points of view and judge actions based on how they serve individual needs. In the Heinz dilemma, children argued that the best course of action was whichever best-served Heinz’s needs. Reciprocity is possible, but only if it serves one's own interests.

Level 2. Conventional Morality

  • Stage 3 - Interpersonal Relationships  Often referred to as the "good boy-good girl" orientation, this stage of moral development is focused on living up to social expectations and roles. There is an emphasis on conformity, being "nice," and consideration of how choices influence relationships.
  • Stage 4 - Maintaining Social Order At this stage of moral development, people begin to consider society as a whole when making judgments. The focus is on maintaining law and order by following the rules, doing one’s duty, and respecting authority.

Level 3. Postconventional Morality

  • Stage 5 - Social Contract and Individual Rights At this stage, people begin to account for the differing values, opinions, and beliefs of other people. Rules of law are important for maintaining a society, but members of the society should agree upon these standards.
  • Stage 6 - Universal Principles Kolhberg’s final level of moral reasoning is based upon universal ethical principles and abstract reasoning. At this stage, people follow these internalized principles of justice, even if they conflict with laws and rules.

Do we get a variety of answers about IP use because each of us may be at a different level of moral development?

It's interesting that the arguments that Lessig is making in his book Remix and that Richard Stallman and others in the Free Software movement fall squarely into Stage 6: Universal Principles - that society's ability to use and build on IP property should be given precedence over unlimited control of the IP by its owners.

At what stage do your responses to questions of intellectual property use fall? Does it still make you nervous to rip the "Do not remove" tag from your new mattress?


Fair use scenario - Ms DaVinci and the wiki

In a continuing series of scenarios that explore educational fair use issues.

Humanities teacher Ms DaVinci’s assignment asks students to examine how different ancient cultures portrayed the human figure. Students search subscription databases containing high quality art images, as well as the free web, to find examples of the art works they will analyze. Students share the images and collaborative analyses using a wiki only accessible from within the district. This year, Ms DaVinci wants to open the wiki up to the general public. The media specialist is concerned doing so would violate the terms of use of an art database often used.*

  1. What is the copyrighted material? Who owns it?
  2. Does the use of the work fall under fair use guidelines? Is the use transformational in nature? Can this be considered "educational" use?
  3. What is your level of comfort in helping create such a product? Are there any changes or limits you might like to see that would make you more comfortable with this project?

Your level of comfort with this use of copyrighted materials: High 5 4 3 2 1 Low

You comments are most welcome.

* This scenario was based on a question posed by Frances Jacobson Harris (author of I Found It on the Internet) from the University of Illinois Lab School. Here is her further discussion:

*The fourth principle of the new Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education addresses student use of copyrighted material in their own academic work. It makes specific mention of comment and criticism, which is the purpose of this exercise. We find that though password protecting the wiki isn't crippling for students, it raises one more barrier to access and simplicity of use. The third principle addresses the rights of educators to share media literacy curriculum materials. In this case, password protection means that other teachers and librarians cannot draw on this unit in creating their own instruction. In my mind, the new Code would allow us to un-password protect this wiki, at least on those two grounds. The kicker comes in this phrase of the Terms and Conditions of Use for the art database we use the most: "You may not distribute, make available, and/or attempt to make available, any of the Content in the XXXX Digital Library (whether alone or incorporated into other materials) to persons and/or entities other than: (a) your institution and/or other Authorized Users at your institution." It goes on to make exceptions for scholarly or educational presentations, etc.

So my question is, what wins out? The TOA or the Code?

Francey adds: As an epilogue, I think I'll go ahead and open access to the wiki, but I should probably let the appropriate administrators know. Our principal often reminds us that he doesn't like surprises and I can't really blame him!

Other scenarios you'd like to see discussed here, readers?