Notes from Danielle Nicole DeVoss’s Opening Keynote at NWP’s “Digital Is…”

Danielle Nicole DeVoss asks us to think about what digital was then and is now…

Digital is…

  • Networked — we compose in networked spaces
  • Collaborative — people are able to connect and create through these networks (LolCats)
  • Multimodal — typography, kinetic type, digital stories
  • Re-Mediated — taking a media object and recreating it so it moves across media; moving across text to audio to video (StarzBunnies)
  • Remixed — taking bits and pieces and parts of other media to create new messages and meaning
  • Policed — digital millennium copyright act; You Tube copyright issues (Fair Use)
  • (Requires) Critical thinking — because of the visuals (Harry Potter, Redbook)
  • (Can be) Democratic — Iran and Twitter, YouTube Debates

Writing is Digital — this is, as Elyse put it, our moment.


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Announcing MIT’s International Journal of Learning and Media

Today, I received an exciting announcement from Kellie Bramlet with MIT Press Journals. In addition to the series of books that they released last year with a Creative Commons license, they are now offering the following new journal:

The International Journal of Learning and Media

MIT Press, in cooperation with The Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE), is pleased to announce the publication of the first issue of The International Journal of Learning and Media (IJLM). A first of its kind, the journal is devoted to examining the intersection of media and learning in multiple contexts. Volume 1, Issue 1, edited by David Buckingham, Tara McPherson and Katie Salen, is now available for FREE at http://ijlm.net . While IJLM retains the peer-review process of a traditional scholarly journal, its editorial vision and electronic-only format permit more topical and polemic writing, visual and multimedia presentations, and online dialogues. IJLM will allow the broad community interested in digital media and learning to share its insights using the tools of digital media. Sections of the journal range from shorter pieces on critical issues of a timely nature, through longer essays on keywords shaping the landscape of learning and media today, to traditional peer-reviewed scholarly articles.

http://ijlm.net is currently in its beta stage and we welcome your comments, questions and thoughts on how to improve the site. Please contact us by clicking on the Feedback button in the upper right corner at http://ijlm.net

The development and publication of IJLM is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of its 5-year, $50 million, initiative in digital media and learning.

Clearing Up Copyright Confusion Session

Copyright Confusion Session

Kristin Hokanson with Renee Hobbs

  • Exercising fair use demands an expanded conception of literacy that includes mass media, popular culture, and communication skills
  • Copyright confusion — the end has arrived with the  Code of Best Practices for Fair Use
  • Purpose of copyright: to promote creativity, innovation, and the spread of knowledge — Article 1, Section 8 of the Contitution
    • Copyright was not designed to have forceful restrictions
  • How teachers coped
    • “I am going to do what I want”
    • “Close the door”
    • “Hyper-comply”
  • Problem — the educational use guidelines are still confusing
    • These are negotiations between media companies and educational groups
    • But, these “guidelines” are not the law — these documents give them the appearance of law, but they are not and the guidelines have a negative effect on education
  • Transformative use
  • Creative Commons looks at owner’s rights
    • Lessig’s idea — let’s give the owners some options
    • But, users still have rights under fair use, too
    • Think of Creative Commons as an owner right and fair use as a user right
  • TEACH Act and Digital Millenium Copyright Act have limited fair use
    • No teacher has ever been sued under fair use — but cease and desist letters are used to create fear and uncertainty
    • This is all the copyright holders can do — not really force you to take something down
  • Almost all parodies are protected under fair use
  • There are fair uses that are not transformative, too
    • Some can be illustrative, so long as it benefits society more than it harms the copyright holder
    • All fair use is based on informed opinion — did we make a good faith interpretation, especially for educational purposes
    • Fair use is an interpretation that we, as educators, are obligated to do under the law

Brief Review of Webb and Rozema’s “Literature and the Web”


Earlier this summer, Allen Webb and Robert Rozema published their text through Heinemann, Literature and the Web: Reading and Responding with New Technologies. I received a copy as a gift, and just got a chance to read it over Labor Day. Besides thanking the two of them for mentioning my blog in the book, I also want to compliment them on the way that they approach the task of teaching with technology.

The text makes the idea of using technology very approachable because they maintain a consistent thread through the entire text, one that focuses on how we ask students to respond to literature and how technology can support that response. So, beginning in the introduction, they ground their discussion of how to use technology in principles that guide good response to literature:

  • Entering the story world
  • Close reading
  • Understanding social, cultural, and historical contexts
  • Responding to the text

Throughout the text, they return to these main principles and discuss how teachers can use newer technologies to support these types of reading responses. This approach encourages me to continue thinking about how to ground discussions of technology and newer literacies in larger discussions of pedagogy, and not vice versa. As teachers design units of study and connect them to state standards, the text boxes in each chapter will help them connect back to these principles of reading response. The projects that they describe in the text all seem very doable, although I do wonder if some readers of the text will want more step-by-step instructions.

One technology that I wonder more about — as a response to literature — is digital storytelling. While I don’t fault them for not covering that topic in the text, as Rozema does a great job of discussing how he invites his students to create podcasts in response to literature as one form of multimedia, it is a question that I have more and more. What is digital storytelling? Is it a personal narrative, or can we call other forms of digital video production “digital storytelling? That is, if it is non-fiction, or a response to literature, does it count as a digital story? Or, does it matter so long as kids are engaged? Could his podcasting project be adapted (relatively) easily to digital storytelling? Also, what are the copyright implications when remixing chunks of literature already present on the web, such as in Project Gutenberg?

That side note notwithstanding, the text is sharp and full of examples. My favorite chapter comes in the conclusion, where Webb and Rozema discuss how to become a “web advocate.” “[B]eing a web advocate,” they argue, “means mentoring those around you.” I couldn’t agree more, and I look forward to learning more from the two of them, as they have been mentoring me for years. It is great to see their thinking captured in this text, so they can mentor others as well.

Reflections on Project WRITE’s Summer Institute

Today marked the end of our Project WRITE summer institute, and there were both smiles and tears to be found amongst the many of us who shared our writing this morning and our professional learning this afternoon. My partner, project leader Liz Webb, structured an amazing week, given all that we had to do from evaluating student work to preparing a lesson or series of lessons for the school year and sharing a piece of personal writing. Each morning began with one of her writing starts, and the teachers are working together to produce a book through lulu.com. Then, we would spend some time evaluating student work with the NWP’s analytic writing continuum, and have time for professional reading groups. Finally, I would introduce a short tech topic each afternoon (digital storytelling, Zotero, and SlideShare, respectively) and teachers had the option to continue working on the new technology, or work on their own curriculum plan.

Needless to say, this semi-structured playtime offered a number of teachers who have felt hesitant, if not a bit resistant, to technology all year the opportunity to create some amazing products. I am impressed with the scope of the lessons as well as the ways in which teachers integrated technology, in small and large ways. A few of the key lessons that came out this week:

  • Continuing to differentiate between a blog and a wiki, as well as the purposes for them. Some teachers were finally able to really absorb Edublogs, digging into the overall design of their site, working with widgets, and figuring out categories for organization. Others wanted to stick with wikis, which worked out well, too, to talk about the overall design and organization of a site. In each case, we talked about purpose and audience, considering who would be doing the most posting, commenting, and reading, and making decisions from there.
  • Digital storytelling catches like wildfire. Always. I introduced it on Monday, beleiving that it might be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Instead, a number of teachers took to it. This raised (and continues to raise) a series of questions for us about fair use, copyright law, Creative Commons, and how to invite students to build on, cite, and ethically use the work of others. We discussed how some uses may be fair within your classroom walls, but how posting to YouTube made it a whole different game. Suddenly, many teachers this week became hyper aware of this, and I think that it will be an interesting thread that continues into our fall PD.
  • Finally, having time, time, time. We were supposed to have this week of intro last summer. For a variety of reasons, we didn’t. And, while I don’t regret the work that we have done or the many successes that we have had, I do wonder what we might have been able to accomplish over the school year if we had been able to kick off last summer with an entire week of work like this. Ah… a lesson for a future PD experience.

All in all, we enjoyed our time together, minus the extreme heat in Brody Hall. I think that a number of the teacher grew in leaps and bounds, and we all grew in some way or another. I was very impressed with the transparency of technology today in our final read around, where a digital recorder was passed from person to person, pages were brought up on the wiki, and images were shown to complement the work being read. And, we hardly had a hiccup.

So, thanks to everyone in Project WRITE for a great week. We are looking forward to getting the data from your students plugged into our spreadsheet so we can see, statistically, if there was growth in your writers above and beyond what we would have normally expected. The professional learning was a critical part of this project, and now we need to see if we are “taking it to the kids.”

Next week, RCWP’s version of “Tech Matters.”


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Naming and Knowledge-Making

This recent article from eSchool News caught my attention and gave me pause to think about the course I am designing for the fall, ENG 460.

Top News – Google unveils online reference tool

For better or worse, Wikipedia–the online reference site that lets anyone add to its ever-growing body of knowledge–has changed the nature of internet research. Now Google is taking the wraps off a free internet encyclopedia of its own, designed to give people a chance to show off–and profit from–their expertise on any topic.

The service, dubbed “knol” in reference to a unit of knowledge, had been limited to an invitation-only audience of contributors and readers for the past seven months.

Now anyone with a Google login will be able to submit an article and, if they choose, have ads displayed through the internet search leader’s marketing system. The contributing author and Google will share any revenue generated from the ads, which are supposed to be related to the topic covered in the knol.

My interest here is in trying to figure out what value “naming” the author of a “knol” has in comparison to the “anonymous collaborators” that compose Wikipedia entries. I am not so much interested in talking about the authority question, as the one knol that I read on toilet training (a topic of conversation in my house right now!) seemed to be authoritative — and it cited sources — but I couldn’t figure out anything about the author. Also, the main author can open up a knol to collaborators, but not just anyone can chime in. It seems like you retain copyright, too. Finally, one of the stated purposes of the project is to get different people posting knols on the same topic, so having the one, authoritative knol is not necessarily going to happen.

Oh, and it looks like you will eventually be able to serve Google ads on your knol to, I assume, make money.

So, I wonder what this new form of knowledge production will do to the idea of open content. People are free to spend their time and energy wherever they want, be it Wikipedia, Knol, or some other online community. But, I wonder what this idea of sharing one’s knowledge by authoring a knol will do for authors, readers, scholars, and others. By “naming” the author, and being able to verify their credentials, will we feel better about the information presented? Or, does the process that a Wikipedia article goes through still provide more of a peer review process that checks facts and clarifies ideas?

It will be interesting to see how Knol unfolds in the next few months. I may make it part of my students’ final project — post a knol on your topic of independent study. We’ll see how they react to that idea…

Press Release: Open Yale Courses

Like MIT’s Open Course Ware, Yale is moving some of its content online and making it publicly available with a Creative Commons license. As a professor and digital writer, I applaud this move and hope that I can encourage my university, CMU, to move into that direction, too.

Below is a copy of the press release that Tom Conroy, Deputy Director of Public Affairs at Yale, sent to me and asked me to share. I appreciate him inviting me to a bloggers-only press-conference about this event, although I couldn’t make it due to family obligations. So, please contact him directly with questions.

CONTACT: Tom Conroy  203-432-1345

For Immediate Release: December 11, 2007

Free Yale College Courses Debut Online

      New Haven, Conn.—Today, Yale University is making some of its most popular undergraduate courses freely available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet. 

The project, called “Open Yale Courses,” presents unique access to the full content of a selection of college-level courses and makes them available in various formats, including downloadable and streaming video, audio only and searchable transcripts of each lecture. Syllabi, reading assignments, problem sets and other materials accompany the courses.

The production of the courses for the Internet was made possible by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The seven courses in the sciences, arts and humanities—which were recorded live as they were presented in the classroom to Yale students—will be augmented with approximately 30 additional Yale courses over the next several years.

“Information technology allows the knowledge and passion of leading Yale faculty to reach everyone who wishes to explore these subjects,” said Yale President Richard C. Levin. “We hope students, teachers and anyone with an interest in these topics, no matter where they live or what they do, will take full advantage of these free and easily accessed courses.”

Diana E. E. Kleiner, Dunham Professor of the History of Art and Classics and the director of the project, noted that the full content of all the courses is now readily available online and may be accessed at the users’ convenience.
“We wanted everyone to be able to see and hear each lecture as if they were sitting in the classroom,” Kleiner said. “It’s exciting to make these thought-provoking courses available so broadly for free. While education is best built upon direct interactions between teachers and students, Yale believes that leading universities have much to contribute to making educational resources accessible to a wider audience. We hope this ongoing project will benefit countless people around the world.”
Kleiner said the courses reflect the broad liberal arts education provided by Yale College, which encourages critical thinking, intellectual exploration and creativity. She said Yale plans for future Open Yale Courses to include music and the arts.

Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest said that the availability of the Yale courses has significance far beyond the university.
“Making the talents of Yale’s faculty available for free on the Internet is an important step toward the Hewlett Foundation’s goal of providing access to knowledge and educational opportunities throughout the world,” Brest said. “Truly, all the world is becoming a classroom.” 

       The URL for Open Yale Courses is:

http://open.yale.edu/courses/
The first courses available through Open Yale Courses are:

  • Astronomy 160: Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics, with Professor Charles Bailyn
  • English 310: Modern Poetry, with Professor Langdon Hammer
  • Philosophy 176: Death, with Professor Shelly Kagan
  • Physics 200: Fundamentals of Physics, with Professor Ramamurti Shankar
  • Political Science 114: Introduction to Political Philosophy, with Professor Steven Smith
  • Psychology 110: Introduction to Psychology, with Professor Paul Bloom
  • Religious Studies 145: Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), with Professor Christine Hayes

To encourage the widest possible use of the courses, the license that covers most of the lectures and other course material on Open Yale Courses is Creative Commons’ Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license. This license permits the free use or repurposing of the Open Yale Courses material by others. Under this license, users may download and redistribute the Open Yale Courses material, as well as remix and build upon the content to produce new lectures or other educational tools. Commercial use of the Open Yale Courses material is prohibited.
The Open Yale Courses project is produced and supported by the Yale Center for Media and Instructional Innovation (CMI2), which promotes the innovative use of technology to enhance learning at Yale and beyond.

Open Yale Courses allows the public, in effect, to audit the Yale College courses for free online. There is no “enrollment” in the courses and Yale does not offer credit for those who use the course materials.
Yale also has developed partnerships to enable these resources to be widely utilized in academic settings around the world.

In India, Yale is working with the Indo-U.S. Inter-University Collaborative Initiative in Higher Education and Research’s Amrita satellite network to broadcast courses to universities throughout India.
In China, China Education Television (CETV) has agreed to broadcast individual lectures on CETV.  CETV broadcasts are viewed by millions of Chinese. 
Individual faculty members at universities around the world will use Open Yale Courses in their classrooms.  Faculty at the following universities are participating:  University of Bahrain, Instituto de Tecnologia de Buenos Aires — ITBA (Argentina), Fudan University (China), University of Ghana, Jimma University (Ethiopia), Tec de Monterrey (Mexico), University of Mumbai (India), Peking University (China), University of Tokyo (Japan) and Waseda University (Japan).

“We applaud Yale for making available their most valuable resource, the knowledge of their faculty, to contribute to improve the quality of the teaching in the world. We look forward to benefiting from and contributing to this effort,” said Patricio Lopez, president of the Virtual University, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico.

Yale Vice President Linda K. Lorimer, who is responsible for the University’s Office of Digital Content, commented, “Open Yale Courses gives us a new opportunity to share our intellectual treasury with everyone and for free.  We welcome other universities, high schools and non-governmental organizations to use these and future courses we will post on the Internet.”
Open Yale Courses will be featured in the more than three hundred American Corners located in libraries and universities abroad. American Corners is a public diplomacy project of the U.S. Department of State, and each day thousands of young people come to American Corners to pick up a book about life in the United States, learn about U.S. colleges and universities, or watch a video about the United States.  American Corners partnerships are often located outside of the capital city or in remote areas of the country.  With Open Yale Courses available at American Corners, students and lifelong learners will be able virtually to audit a class taught by one of the top professors in the world.
Open Yale Courses also will offer secondary school students who are considering applying to study in the United States the opportunity to see how subjects are taught in an American university.  Toward this end, educational advisers throughout the Middle East will be trained in their advising workshop next spring on how to use open educational resources, including Open Yale Courses, to prepare students for academia in the United States.
In addition to Open Yale Courses, Yale provides a growing library of free video and audio offerings on the Internet featuring Yale faculty and distinguished visitors to campus. This free resource includes a large variety of public talks, interviews and musical performances.

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