education, technology, and everything else

Posts Tagged ‘education’

making student videos interesting

Posted by Miranda on January 13, 2008

I’ve just been reading a very interesting discussion over at Students 2.0 which begins with a post by Anthony Chivetta: Teaching the Process of Design (or, making student videos interesting).
I think anyone interested in incorporating video into the educational process would find it illuminating.
I did. But it is now time to get off this computer and haul some wood, I’ve got a cord sitting out in the driveway and I need to get it under cover and up on the porch.

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teaching digital literacy

Posted by Miranda on January 6, 2008

Just before the holiday break, one of the students came to me with a request. He and a buddy are planning to bicycle across the US in order to raise money for a school his father and others are building in Kenya.
He asked if I would help him construct and maintain a web site on this topic, because he was at least digitally literate enough to know that raising money for his cause would be aided by having a web presence.
I told him I could not commit to maintaining his site but I would certainly commit to giving him the knowledge he would need in order to do that himself.

He didn’t know what a web host was when we started discussing that, didn’t know how to go about getting a domain name registered to him, didn’t know how to code a web page (and still doesn’t, but he’s learning). He did not know that .com denotes a commercial venture and .org a non-profit.

Yes, I know it would be easy for him to get a free blog on one of the hosting sites available. But he wants to do some things with his site that a free blog hosting service wouldn’t provide and a site of his own will give him a little more flexibility.
I have suggested that he think about incorporating a blog. He didn’t know what a blog was.

Last night he got his first page up. Yay!

I’ve also been thinking about my son. He wants to learn about web design and I think he’ll have a much better chance of getting into his chosen (so far anyhow) college, the Savannah College of Art and Design if he has a spiffy online portfolio. So over the weekend I bought him a domain name and an account at ICDSoft, where I have a couple of sites hosted already. His first assignment is to design an index page with links to my subdomain. Because I need a place to play, and my free space at ValleyNet is pretty limited.

Then, this morning, I was doing my usual browse the blogs over coffee and I ran across this at the Fischbowl, from a post in September, Is It OK to be a Technologically Illiterate Teacher:

The more I think about it, the more I think it’s analogous to the 20th century. In the early 20th century, people who couldn’t read or write could be pretty successful. By the middle of the 20th century, that was still true, but it was getting harder to be successful (and certainly those that could read and write had much more opportunities available to them). By the end of the 20th century, there was very little chance of being successful if you couldn’t read or write. (Note that I’m defining “successful” both in economic/employment terms, and in terms of citizenship/personal fulfillment.)

There is no teacher at the school where I work that can guide Peter through buying a domain name, a hosting account. There is no teacher that can guide him through designing and coding a site, optimizing for search, using the Google Webmaster tools.
There is only me and I’m staff and busy staff at that. Most of my communication with Peter has been via email, although we’re meeting for 45 minutes on Monday.
I know this isn’t stuff that is considered important to a student in a high school but in their future lives won’t they need to know how to use the Web? Not just access it, not just read it, but create it?

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Video and Copyright

Posted by Miranda on December 16, 2007

We launched a new service at school this fall, a media sharing server. My priorities when we began talking about it last year were

1. To have a video sharing site inside our network that would not tie up our bandwidth to the outside
2. To have the site be student-run

I had noticed that students in our video editing class invariably uploaded their finished works to YouTube (and why not?). I wanted all that stuff to end up inside the network and not have it clogging our pipe to the outside. I also wanted the site to be student run so that students could learn by wrestling with policy. One thing that concerned me in the video editing class was that there was no discussion about copyright as it applied to music being used as soundtracks for the video.

It was set up as an “Activity” somewhat like an afternoon sport.

I will not even go into the agonies that I went through setting up the server although they were considerable. The script I bought: Social Media by EntertainmentScripts runs on Linux. Not only did I know nothing about Linux, the script requires a lot of add-ons to Linux which proved to be not at all easy to configure.
But anyway. The kids who signed up for the activity had a lot of discussions about copyright and drafted a long terms of service which they boiled down to one paragraph which appears right before a user hits the Browse button to find the video file to upload. It goes like this:

It doesn’t matter:
*how long or short the clip/audio/image is
*where you got it from
*whether you are giving credit
*whether other people do it
*if you are not selling it to make money/gain fame
*whether it contains a copyright notice
It is still copyrighted. You need the copywriter’s permission to use it.
Please read our full terms of service.

I then added this:
Be sure to check out our links to copyright-free material.

And we have two pages of links to copyright free audio and video. One student video, made the year before, had been shown in All School Meeting and everyone had loved it. The administration wanted that to be the first video uploaded. The only problem was, it used a song by Johnny Clegg and Savuka as the soundtrack. I posted on Johnny Clegg’s web site on his Scatterlings blog asking permission to upload the video. Lo and behold, a week later Mr. Clegg posted back, giving permission and asking for a copy on DVD, which I sent off to South Africa, along with a fan letter from the student. (And by the way if you’ve never heard Johnny Clegg’s music with either of his two groups, Juluka or Savuka, you are missing some of the best music in the world, I am a rabid fan)

So far, so good. But teachers are now posting video, mostly of sports events, with soundtracks. And those soundtracks are copyrighted material. One teacher admitted to me he had never read our little paragraph.

What are our students learning from this?

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Doris Lessing and the Internet

Posted by Miranda on December 10, 2007

I read with interest a blog post this morning at TechCrunch claiming that Doris Lessing, the author who just won the Nobel prize for literature, said in her acceptance speech that the Internet makes us dumber. (And I have to say that the title just goes to prove Ms. Lessing’s point.
There’s plenty more such as this article in the Sydney Herald
Net dumbs us down: Nobel prize winner.

New Nobel laureate Doris Lessing has used her acceptance speech to rail against the internet, saying it has “seduced a whole generation into its inanities” and created a world where people know nothing.

I read the full text of Ms. Lessing’s speech and it doesn’t read to me as if she’s railing actually. Her comments about a generation seduced by the Internet are a tiny proportion of the speech.
There seems to be a certain defensiveness in many of the on-line comments.
And I think Ms. Lessing has a point.

Information literacy isn’t literacy.

It is my experience, speaking with my son’s high school friends, that the friends who read books appear to be better educated than the friends who don’t. I thought that might just be my generational bias, so on the drive to school this morning I asked him:

“As a general question” I asked him ” do you feel that the kids you know who read books are better educated?”

” I have two types of friends” my son said “preppy friends and stoner friends.The preppy friends read books and the stoners don’t. The stoners come across as dumber. They don’t have the vocabulary for one thing,” he said,” and you need vocabulary to express yourself. I know my vocabulary is way better than most of the people I know, and it’s because I read a lot, mostly novels.
“It’s just like the NewSpeak in 1984” he said ” if you take words away from people you can regiment their thoughts just the way you want, because if people don’t have the words to express what they think, they don’t think those things.”

The Internet is not all bad. I don’t believe it makes me dumber. If it wasn’t for the Internet I might not even have know that Ms. Lessing won the Nobel and I probably wouldn’t have been able to read her speech. But I do think there is a tendency to believe that if we have access to the Internet we have access to everything we need to educate ourselves and that just isn’t true.

As Frank Zappa said

“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library”

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