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Monday
Apr072008

Have you voted for Gordon yet?

The ISTE Board Election will close this Friday, April 11, at 5 P.M. Pacific.

My thanks to those of you who’ve already cast your ballots. And if you haven’t voted yet, I urge you to do so NOW. Every ballot counts as we work together to improve opportunities and outcomes for all students. Learn more about this year’s inspiring ISTE Board candidates at http://www.iste.org/elections/votersguide. Then vote!

Login is required to vote and to view each candidate’s answers to three critical questions. Can't remember your login or password? Visit ISTE's support page for assistance. If you need further help, you may speak with an ISTE Customer Service Representative at 1.800.336.5191 (Int’l 1.541.302.3777).

Help shape the future of your professional organization—and the field of Ed Tech. Cast your ballot today!

P.S.: Please remember that you'll need to login as a member to view the slate of candidates, read their statements, and vote. Voting is a privilege—and a responsibility!—of membership.

Yeah, yeah, the above is a form letter. But it is heart-felt form letter from me just to you alone, the Blue Skunk Reader. If I had mail merge, I'd have used it. My choice of candidates can be found here.

Saturday
Apr052008

Paradox land

fbi.jpg     fairyuse.jpg

Second image from Eric Faden’s “A Fairy(y) Use Tale” at  Media Education Foundation <http://www.mediaed.org/>

I had started today's post meaning to suggest in a rational, ethical and legally-defensible way how educators should change their approach to both the use of and teaching about intellectual property. Instead, I've gotten caught up thinking about all the paradoxes and contradictions that the last couple of posts have forced me to consider. And regular readers all know how thinking makes my head hurt. Ouch!

Few subjects about which I blog tend to draw more praise, criticism and questions than the topics of intellectual property, copyright, and digital rights management. When a single post draws criticism from both Peter Rock who insists there is no such thing as "intellectual property" and Barbara Braxton who asks "even if the rules/laws don't make sense, or we don't agree with them, does that mean we still have the right to break them when it suits us?", I must be doing something right! Or terribly, terribly wrong.

These are areas where I feel less and less certainty that as a professional I have a firm understanding - or a defensible  philosophy. Increasingly, I feel beset by paradoxes of intellectual property:

  • While intellectual property, especially in digital formats, becomes an increasingly important "wealth generator" throughout the world, the laws surrounding it are becoming less understandable, more complex, and less relevant, especially to this generation of re-mixers and content-sharers.
  • While today’s students want to use others' digital works, often without regard to the legal protections they may carry, many of these students’ own creative efforts will be the source of their incomes and they will need a means of protecting their own work and want others to respect intellectual property laws.
  • While protection of individual property rights is given legal precedence, many argue there is a moral precedent and there may be economic value to placing all intellectual works into the public domain as soon as possible.
  • Prohibitions are ubiquitous on media, but the warnings disregard fair use and may not be legal. Case law related to the use of digital media is scarce. Technology changes faster than the legal system can keep up.
  • While librarians are considered the copyright experts in their buildings, they too often become the copyright “cops” instead. The experts on whom practicing librarians reply give "safe" advice that tends to honor the rights of intellectual property owners, not consumers.
  • Thoughtful teachers and librarians be intellectual property use role models by being:
    • followers of the letter of the law who err on the side of the information producer
    • or questioners of the legality and ethical value of current law and practices who err of the side of the information consumer
  • While intellectual property shares many qualities of physical property, it also has unique properties that many of us still struggle to understand. A physical apple and copyright protected song from Apple both may sell for $.99. Your assignment: Compare and contrast the "unauthorized acquisition"  in financial, moral, and practical terms.

The teaching of copyright and other intellectual property issues is overdue for an overhaul in our schools. The mindset that “if we don’t know for sure, don’t do it” does not fit the needs of either students or their teachers. Changes I am thinking about recommending include:

  1. Changing the focus of copyright instruction from what is forbidden to what is permitted. (Sneak preview, see Pamela Burke's post here and read “The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy.”
  2. When there is doubt, err on the side of the user. (Are we being "hyper-compliant"?)
  3. Ask the higher ethical questions when the law seems to make little sense. (Look where it got Socrates. Well, yeah, there was that hemlock bit...)
  4. Teach copyright from the point of view of the producer, as well as the consumer. (Does having others using your work without authorization or remuneration change your perception of intellectual property issues?)

Confused at a higher level? Then my work here is done.
 

Thursday
Apr032008

Meme: High School Daze to Praise

Paul at Quoteflections has tagged me for this meme:

  • Select and briefly review one teen novel, classic or modern, which is a sure antidote to the daze of high school.
  • Title your post Meme: High School Daze to Praise
  • Include an image with your post.
  • Tag four blog colleagues.

While I have been a constant reader all my life, I've developed sympathetic amnesia of most of my high school years and have a very tough time remembering any novels that may have personally helped me better cope with high school.

endersgame.jpgBut from my experience as a school librarian, I can certainly endorse Orson Scott Card's 1985 novel Ender's Game. Enjoyed by both young adults and old adults, I call it science fiction for people who don't like science fiction. Ender Wiggins, the protagonist, is the classic underdog who Brer Rabbit's his way through military school, relying on wits, not physical strength. His educational program foreshadows the role gaming should play in education. And Card's "Internet" allows children a voice in public political discourse -  with Ender's siblings being judged by the quality of their ideas rather than their age or appearance. It is a very cool book.

I hope Card's recently publicized homophobic views don't keep kids from reading this book. It is certainly one of my favorites and one which has gotten any number of kids hooked on reading.

I tag:

  • Chris Harris
  • Cathy Jo Nelson
  • Kim Cofino
  • Rob Darrow
  • Carolyn Foote