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EdTech Update





Your computer's desktop picture

What does your computer's desktop picture say about you - your goals, your values, your motivations?

The picture I see when I turn on my computer and throughout the day is usually one of my grandsons. Increasingly they are the ones I keep in mind as I think about the decisions I make at work and the things I write about schools and libraries.

Now don't look at this as me being all noble or anything. I pretty much ascribe to the sociobiologist theory that most of a person's actions and decisions can be explained by his lizard brain doing what is most likely to perpetuate his DNA via his offsprings' survival. But not that I don't love my grandsons as well.

Anyway, what's on you computer background? Your spouse, your house, you dog, somebody else's spouse, your car, Megan Fox in a bikini, a quiet beach with swaying palm trees? And does it reflect what is important to you*?

Rorschach eat your heart out. This is easier.

*Or does it say that you don't know how to change the picture on your computer's desktop?


A man goes to a psychiatrist. To start things off, the psychiatrist suggests they start with a Rorschach test. He holds up the first picture and asks the man what he sees.

"A man and a woman making love in a park," the man replies.

The psychiatrist holds up the second picture and asks the man what he sees. "A man and a woman making love in a boat."

He holds up the third picture. "A man and a woman making love at the beach." This goes on for the rest of the set of pictures; the man says he sees a man and a woman making love in every one of the pictures.

At the end of the test, the psychiatrist looks over his notes and says, "It looks like you have a preoccupation with sex."

And the man replies, "Well, you're the one with the dirty pictures." <>

 Ba dum.


It's not just AASL...

Before all of us Librarians 2.0 get our undies in a bunch over what is perceived to be ALA/AASL's overly restrictive copyright protection of its student standards, maybe we ought to see if the rights to use other groups' "standards" are more permissive...

First, from AASL's Standards for the 21st Century Learner pdf booklet:

Permission to use, reproduce, and distribute this document is hereby granted for private, non-commercial, and education purposes only.

Seems pretty positive and friendly to me. But maybe others are more generous?

From the ISTE NETS website:

World rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system—without prior written permission from the publisher. Contact Permissions Editor, ISTE, 180 W. 8th Avenue, Suite 300 Eugene, OR 97401-2916 USA; fax: 1.541.302.3780; e-mail: or visit


From the Partnership fo 21st Century Skills:

Permission for use of the Framework for 21st Century Learning or other information produced by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills must be made in writing with a clearly defined request and description of how the material will be used. Permission will be granted provided that the content remain unchanged and that attribution be given to the Partnership for 21st Skills. Please send all requests to

Not here either.

Understanding by Design materials are published by ASCD that states:

ASCD recognizes and respects intellectual property rights and adheres to copyright law. The following information will provide you with a better understanding of the rights ASCD exercises in all of its published content and how you can obtain permission for further use of ASCD publications for both academic and non-academic purposes.

Copyright Clearance Center, an authorized agent of ASCD, handles most permission requests to photocopy and for electronic use. However, some requests are handled by other divisions within ASCD, as indicated below.

All permission requests, whether directed to ASCD or Copyright Clearance Center, must be submitted in writing. Please note that using one of our online request forms to submit your request will result in the fastest response time.

Habits of Mind

All materials in the Web site not specifically identified as being reprinted or secured from other sources are Copyright © 2000–2008 by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick. Permission to download and make copies for classroom or community use is granted. Reproducing or distributing any material from this Web site for commercial use, however, must have written permission from the authors

OK, friendlier. But did you notice that nobody, nobody, puts their work into the public domain, free of any restrictions. (Even Creative Commons users often specify for "non-commercial" use only.)

I don't want to sound like an apologist for AASL, ISTE or other educational groups, but I've served on enough of their boards to know that finances are a real and ever present consideration to these NPO member organizations - national, international and state. Revenue generation generally comes from only a few major sources - member dues, conference profits, vendor sponsorship/donations, and publications. If revenue from one source drops, others, often membership dues, go up if the organization is to keep offering what it's been offering for member services. An ugly truth...

Chris Anderson's article (and now book) Free expressed the philosophy, hopes and perhaps wishful thinking of the "make everything available for nothing" school of business plans. But before you drink Anderson's Kool-Aid, read Malcom Gladwell's response to the concept in the NYT.

The "free" model will work, I'm sure, for some people, for some organizations, and for some purposes. But to date it is largely an untried model of putting bread on the table.

It's OK for my professional organizations to fiscally prudent as well as cuttin' edge and socially responsible.

My dues are high enough already.

Image source:

Right idea, wrong device

A recent paper by the New Democratic Leadership Council advocates for "A Kindle in Every Backpack." Thomas Z. Freedman lays out a solid argument for how replacing print textbooks with e-textbooks and Kindle-like readers is a sound move for both educational and financial reasons.

It's great to see e-texts get some mention outside "techie" circles. I've been a proponet for the shift from paper to silicon for quite awhile:

I suspect, however, that this proposal would be more widely accepted had the brand name Kindle not appeared in the title. The overly proprietary nature of its content format (Kindle only really reads Amazon supplied texts) raises lots of concern in some educational circles.

Don't get me wrong. I love my personal Kindle and think it is terrific device. I am willing to accept that I can buy only from Amazon and I have no ability to share, trade, sell or give away books I have purchased.

It's just not the right tool for the job Freedom wants it to do.

While an e-textbook reader will need to be able to read some commercial textbook content that is protected by password, software or other DRM scheme (OK, Peter, start writing!), I also want the device to:

  • read text from multiple textbook providers
  • read content from a wide variety of free sources including Curriki and Gutenberg
  • allow customization of content by teachers and re-mixing of content by students

My best guess is that commercial textbook providers will look to a model similar to that used by DiscoveryStreaming, ProQuest or other subscription-based content providers as an economic model. Textbooks will accessed and read primarily online with a GoogleGears-like application to make materials available for off-line reading.

Now if we just had a netbook that used e-ink for easy reading and extended battery life. I'm sure someone, somewhere is working on such a device. Scott-Foresman, how about giving such a device away with every five-year subscription to your textbook series?

Image from <>