Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plagiarism and the Cyber Citizen

Bland, J. (2010) "Ethics"
Many moons ago, I decided to do a report in my high school government class on the ethics of photo journalism. This was when I still had romantic aspirations of roaming the globe with thousands of dollars of Nikon around my neck and in my rucksack, chasing the most exciting stories that came out of the four corners of the earth - so let's say I had a vested interest. The written part of the report was solid, with a good deal of research, but it was missing something. Of course - examples of photo journalism.

I spent hours sifting through books containing Pulitzer Prize winning photos, and then taking them to the AV room where I spent more hours using the photo copier - which in this case was not a Xerox machine but a stand that held a SLR camera and two lights for shadow-free imagery. I placed the photo on the stand, checked the camera frame, adjusted, checked again, adjusted again ... I was thoroughly into the activity. I snapped about fifteen pictures, then spent more hours in the dark room developing the film and printing the pictures. When the photos were dry, I took them home where I spent even more hours mounting them carefully with those little photo corner holders (aptly named) and re-typing the paper so that the text wrapped around the photos.

(Note that I never mention the terms "computer," "word processor," or "scanning" because this was 1982, which is damn near the dark ages if you ask a sixteen year old today. At least we didn't have to make our own paper.)

Trask, H. (1957) "The Sinking of the Andrea Doria"
I proudly handed it in, a few classmates casting an envious look at my handiwork. If ever there was a slam-dunk A+ paper, this was it. And when you're a sophomore in high school, when you think you're hot, the fall is just that much harder. When we received the papers back, I didn't get an A+. I got a B+, and I was stunned. The research was all in line, the writing was strong, but there was one peculiar note on the paper from my instructor: "These images are copyrighted, aren't they?" Now there were many times in high school where irony was lost on me - as it was and still is for most high school males - but this one didn't miss:

I had committed a breach of ethics on a paper about the ethics of photo journalism.

I felt like a complete dolt. Nowhere in my paper did the word "copyright" exist. It should have, and not just because I boosted about fifty years of award winning photography. Many photojournalists have come under scrutiny for the way they have manipulated photos, and it happens today with more frequency. The age of digital media makes this issue easier to abuse.

How do we teach students the ethics of using other's creative works? Thankfully, we have entities such as Common Sense Media, Power to Learn, and The Copyright Alliance to provide thoughtful tools and instruction to help teachers, students and parents. Creating learning opportunities for the school community is an important way to head off problems that are more plentiful with the advent of sharing digital media.

Go here to view the professional development plan. This is designed for early school year pre-service or half-day inservice
Go here to view the classroom unit designed for 11th and 12th grade Language Arts Students. This is designed to be part of the unit over citing sources and plagiarism.
Go here to view the parent/guardian presentation. This is designed to be presented as part of all of a regularly scheduled PTA meeting

Go here to see a brief presentation that introduces the concepts of copyright and fair use.

Including teachers, students and parents in the discussion regarding ethical use of intellectual property reduces the chances of issues becoming problems, and it significantly broadens the learning base.

There are other issues regarding cyber life, such as Cyber Bullying, Online Integrity, Security, and Privacy. None of these issues are more or less important than the other. If a student is online, then they all are at work at some level.

What do you think are important cyber citizen issues? How do you address them as a teacher? A parent? A student? Leave a comment and let's start a discussion!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

They Call it "Stage Technology," But ...

Henderson, Wells. "Wrench." 10/10/2008
But ... how is technology infused into the course?

Let's start by discussing our situation. We teach Stage Craft and Stage Design courses as Language Arts electives at our school. In the past, this has largely meant that these classes have a sizable effort toward putting together the technical requirements for one (or two) of our four annual productions. Basics of scenery building are the bulk of instruction, which includes a healthy dose of theater scene shop safety and instruction. Lighting and sound consoles have become more sophisticated in recent years, so a bit of instruction regarding programming cues is included.

"Tech" in this case means "hands on," which is a given when we consider everything we learn and teach given what our goal is: completed scenery, lighting and sound for a specific production.

"Tech" in the case of the 21st century classroom has a bit more of a role than just "the stuff that kids can put their hands on. Consider the framework for a 21st century classroom provided below, courtesy of the Partnership For 21st Century Skills:

Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes
• Global Awareness
• Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy
• Civic Literacy
• Health Literacy
• Environmental Literacy

Learning and Innovation Skills
• Creativity and Innovation
• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
• Communication and Collaboration

Information, Media and Technology Skills
• Information Literacy
• Media Literacy
• ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) Literacy

Life and Career Skills
• Flexibility and Adaptability
• Initiative and Self-Direction
• Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
• Productivity and Accountability
• Leadership and Responsibility

How do you incorporate this material into a class that up untill recently was largely a class designed for kids to get an elective credit for doing something theatrically creative?

Fortunately, we have some tools out there that will help people like me who teach specialized classes. One that I recently used comes from Shaun Holloway, a principal from the Manson Northwest Webster School district in Iowa. Here is my self-evaluation regarding technology integration in my Stage Technology courses using his walk-through evaluation tool. You will notice that I have some work to do.

It's likely that there are many more teachers like me out there who need to evaluate and amend their teaching to take their classrooms - no matter what subject - into the 21st century. What changes do you need to make? What changes would you like to see in your student's classroom? Does this framework for a 21st century classroom provide everything the 21st century learner needs? Share your thoughts.