Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Copyright Caution

The holiday season is about to kick into high gear, and so is the energy level of students. Many schools, particularly at the elementary level, choose to schedule movie screenings as a fun group activity.

Unfortunately, this practice is illegal, in most instances.

Copyright and fair use regulations can be difficult to decipher. Tools like the Fair Use Evaluator recommend that users "collect, organize & archive the information you might need to support a fair use evaluation" while cautioning that "Only a court of law can definitively rule on whether a use is fair or unfair. This tool does not assume or predict a court outcome."

When it comes to movies, however, the rules are quite specific:
"the showing of copyrighted motion pictures (videos and DVD's) outside of a classroom educational setting (including such uses as after school programs, student rewards, rainy days, lunch hour movies, summer camps, clubs, assemblies, staffing emergencies and idle periods between state testing) constitutes copyright infringement." -Showing Movies at School

There are some exceptions:
Under the "Educational Exemption" copyrighted entertainment movies may be shown in a school without copyright permission only if all criteria are met:
  • A teacher or instructor is present
  • The showing takes place in a classroom setting with only the enrolled students attending
  • The movie is used as an essential part of the core, current curriculum being taught. (The instructor should be able to show how the use of the motion picture contributes to the overall required course study and syllabus.)
  • The movie being used is a legitimate copy, not taped from a legitimate copy or taped from TV
-Movie Licensing USA

Schools districts could, of course, obtain a Public Performance Site License or a
One-Time License (as do public libraries) and eliminate any question of illegality.

I was recently contacted by a fellow teacher/librarian who was frustrated by administrators' response to the sharing of this information. They blatantly ignored it. My professional experience has been similar.

Teacher/librarians don't want to be perceived as "copyright cops." But we do feel that teaching and modeling good digital citizenship is part of our role as educators.

How can we preach responsible use to students when adults in authority fail to exhibit ethical behavior?

Now you know the law. Follow it.

"At The Movies" by Clover_1

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Of Innovation and Roadblocks

I've been planning to blog about my friend, Buffy Hamilton, and her new Creekville High School Library Kindle lab.

Buffy has been modeling best practices and transparency, taking us through every stage of the Kindle project, from preparing the devices for circulation to compiling a resource guide; recording a student Kindle promo to documenting the first Kindle checkout.

Wishing to build on this early, success, Buffy attempted to place an order for additional Kindles...and was blindsided by a new Amazon policy:

Due to strong customer demand, the current quantity limit is 3 Kindle devices per customer. We will forward your inquiry to the Kindle team and someone will contact you if we can meet your requirements and schedule.

A long phone conversation with customer service reps resulted in the same response. No exceptions for classrooms or libraries. Three per customer, period.

What has this policy accomplished for Amazon? In the short term, the loss of an order for 20-25 Kindles might seem an insignificant drop in the bucket. But there may be long term repercussions:
  • educators who have been debating the relative merits of Kindles, Nooks, and other eBook readers might decide to choose the more school-friendly alternatives
  • students will purchase (or request as gifts) the device with which they are familiar
  • as the reader goes, so go the book purchases
This could well be a temporary, pre-Christmas, quota system, but if so, it would have been politic for Amazon to indicate this in response to Buffy's queries.

I have to wonder if Amazon is subtly (perhaps not so subtly) trying to discourage Kindle use by libraries in general, rather than make concessions regarding the lending of eBooks.

Visit The Unquiet Librarian blog and follow the progression for yourself: from enthusiasm to frustration; adoption to...alternatives?

What are you thinking, Amazon? Really.

"CVHS Student Caitlyn Checks Out the First Unquiet Library Kindle" by theunquietlibrary

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Edublog Awards

I've always had a difficult time choosing the "best" of anything - books, movies, even desserts. Absolutes make me feel hemmed in, and I can usually imagine alternative scenarios that would justify a different response.

That said, I feel a responsibility to participate in the annual Edublog Awards. I read, enjoy, and learn from a variety of feeds in my Google Reader. It's time to recognize some of the bloggers who contribute to my personal and professional growth.

Here are my nominations for the 2010 Edublog Awards:

Best individual blog - David Lankes/Virtual Dave...Real Blog
Best individual tweeter - Beth Still/@bethstill
Best resource sharing blog - Wesley Fryer/Moving at the Speed of Creativity
Most influential blog post - Carolyn Foote/Listening to teacher voices part 2
Best teacher blog - Sylvia Tolisano/Langwitches
Best librarian / library blog - Buffy Hamilton/The Unquiet Librarian
Best educational tech support blog - Cathy Nelson/Techno Tuesday
Best educational use of video / visual - Gwyneth Jones/The Daring Librarian
Best educational wiki - Joyce Valenza/New Tools Workshop
Best educational webinar series -The TL Virtual Cafe
Best use of a PLN - Alec Couros/@courosa
Lifetime achievement - Doug Johnson/The Blue Skunk Blog

You can nominate your own favorites. Simply follow these directions:

Step 1: Write a post on your blog linking to:

You can nominate:

  1. For as many categories as you like,
  2. But only one nomination per category,
  3. A blog (or site) for more than one category
  4. Any blog or site you like but not your own blogs (sites)

Step 2: Email us the link to your nomination post

Use the form (on the Edublogs Awards home page) to contact us, please include a genuine email address (spam free, just in case we need to confirm identity) and the link to your nominations post.

You can’t submit your nominations without writing a blog post

Please note: You will receive an automated email reply when you successfully complete the contact form.

An important part of being an educator is self-reflection. Please take this opportunity to review your RSS feeds and social networking sites, determine what content has proven valuable to your life as a learner, and acknowledge those who have influenced your thinking in a positive way.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Edmund Burke said that "Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting." I believe that the same is true of presenting.

As a teacher, I asked that my students practice self-reflection as an integral part of their learning. I wanted them to critically examine their work, to decide what was successful, what didn't quite make the grade, and how they might use their experience in constructing new knowledge.

On Monday, November 1, I presented my first webinar, Eyes to See, for the TL Virtual Cafe. One of the great benefits of using Elluminate as our venue is that the entire session is archived: slides, audio, chat, etc., so I was able to revisit the experience and "see" it from a number of perspectives.

After the initial shock of hearing my own voice, I started to notice speaking strengths and quirks. Pacing wasn't bad, not too many "uhs" but a previously undetected predilection for the word "now" as in "Now sometimes...Now this project..." which immediately brought to mind a sweet family memory. When my daughter was small, she would gather her toy ponies, unicorns, mermaids, and fairies, and begin weaving tales. Frequently the first word of these sagas was "Now..." Did she pick up on that from me, or did I unconsciously echo this totemic word when I began sharing stories with others? At any rate, it was a connection that made me smile.

The content of my slidedeck was appropriate, I felt, if limited by time constraints. In order to supplement and expand the resources shared in the webinar, I've started to build a wiki, Using Digital Images, which I hope will become a useful resource for myself and others.

I had wondered about the dynamics of a webinar. Practice runs left me worried that I would sound stilted, sitting alone and talking into a microphone. I found, however, that even though I couldn't see the faces of my audience, their presence was very real. The online interaction was lively, and it was nice to see familiar names popping up.

Most valuable to me, as both presenter and co-learner, were the comments in the chat section, which I had been unable to follow while speaking. Participants shared projects and links that deepened the conversation; they will provide a rich source of additional material for the wiki.

There were a few technical glitches, mainly due to a prior Elluminate session that hadn't properly exited the room, but the always incredible Gwyneth Jones, handled the situation with great aplomb and even created a special handout explaining how to access the archive.

What I Knew: I was familiar with the content of my slides and comfortable with the topic in general

What I Wanted to Know: How to effectively communicate in a new (to me) format

What I Learned: Practice sessions are important (thank goodness Gwyneth pointed out that an exterior microphone was vital!); an experienced hostess makes everything flow smoothly; webinars are fun!

Would I do it again? Absolutely!

Related Resources:
Archived session, Eyes to See
SlideShare, Eyes to See
Using Digital Images wiki
Resources and Links blog

See a listing of upcoming webinars on the TL Virtual Cafe here

Monday, November 1, 2010

Eyes to See

This is the slidedeck from tonight's webinar at the TL Virtual Cafe.

Thanks to all who attended!