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All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


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My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

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EdTech Update





Fair use scenario: Doug's digitizing strategy

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

Doug's district is planning to purchase V-Brick or a similar video digitalization system. The media and technology department would like to digitize as much of the district's current video and DVD collection as possible and give teachers access to the materials via the computer network rather than have to schedule and circulate physical media. He is considering this strategy in dealing with copyright issues:

  • The staff will digitize titles only as they are requested.
  • At the time the media is digitized, Doug will write the producer/distributors informing them of this project, carefully explaining that the use would be within our district only. He will ask that they respond only if they do NOT grant permission to do this.
  • If the district is denied permission, it will destroy the digital copy, but they will not remove a title if they do not hear back.
  • The district will keep a record of all correspondence.
Given the amount of published information that is in the "gray zone" - no contactable ownership but not out of copyright, Doug considers this to be the only practical means of going about the task.
  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 helping with this event? Are there any changes or limits you might like to see that would make you more comfortable?

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

You comments are most welcome.


Reflections on reflecting

: a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation
7: consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose - <>

Kim Cofino, in a very good blog post The Next Generation Conference, writes:

Time for Reflection As much as I loved the Hong Kong Summit, there was simply not enough time for reflection and metacognition. No matter how much you know about a topic, there is always a need for discussion after an engaging session. After each session, a group leader could facilitate an unconference style discussion, with a focus question or Visible Thinking routine to get people processing the information. ...

Time at a conference for reflection? Conversation? Hmmmmm. When I put on my manager hat, I recognize that while I am indeed paying people to think (reflect), I am not sure I actually like them doing so while on company time. My first reaction to Kim's suggestion is that conference sessions are like coffee beans and the time for reflection is like the water you also need. Yes, you do need both the Sumatra and the hot water to make a mug of coffee, but for some reason I am fine with paying for the first, but not the second. Isn't the time to refect on the conference on the ride home?

And yes, I flatter myself thinking that I too am a reflective practitioner.

On the way home Saturday morning from a very enjoyable NHEMA conference, I ran into my friend Nick Glass who runs TeachingBooks in the Minneapolis airport. He asked: "Are you doing good?"

I thought he was asking how I was doing financially. I mumbled something about keeping a roof over my head and keeping the LWW living in the style to which she has become accustomed.

"No," Nick clarified, "What I am asking is if feel you are doing any good? Do you feel your speaking and workshops are making any difference?"

It's a scary question to reflect upon.

Some days I feel great about what I do - when someone e-mails or comes up to me at a conference to say that I have been helpful to them. But I also wonder what the hell I have been doing for the past 20 years when more school library positions and programs are in greater peril than ever. Either my strategies are flawed or the message hasn't gotten through in my work trying to make the profession more relevant, more critical, and less dispensable to schools.



Cave in and read the book


A North Shore Wedding

Certain place names simply conjure up adventure. I noticed this on the trip this weekend to attend a wedding on the North Shore (the area between Duluth and the Canadian border along Lake Superior). How could you not find excitement in places like:

  • Castle Danger (sounds like an Alistair McLean novel)
  • Gunflint Trail
  • Devil's Kettle
  • Magnetic Lake
  • Gooseberry Falls
  • Cascade, Temperance, Knife, Devil's Track and Baptism Rivers
  • Tettegouche (sounds sort of erotic)

In my experience, only Arizona with its colorful place names like Rattlesnake Frontage Road, Heat Stroke Township and Dead Man Meadows subdivision* comes close to the North Shore in great names.

Goliath Cave is another place name that carries with it both excitement and a bit of dread. The cave itself is one of the main characters in Cary Griffith's latest book, Opening Goliath. (Full disclosure: even if this book was really bad, I would still say I liked it since Cary is a true friend. Happily, I can say this is a very enjoyable book, and keep both my friendship and my credibility.)

Like Cary's book Lost in the Wild, Opening Goliath is a natural for both adults and young adults who enjoy true life adventure stories. Each of three sections of a book details the exploration of separate cave systems in Minnesota, one which resulted in the loss of life. Written in the present tense like a news documentary, the story relentlessly pulls the reader along non-stop.

Anyway, pick up this book for your middle and high school readers who want a claustrophobic thrill.

* Names reconstructed from memory.