Schools that Practice Learning-Literacy

Many months ago I spoke at a leadership conference in Vancouver. When the event was over, officials with the British Columbia Principals and Vice Principals Association, held an invitational gathering of school leaders from throughout the province to create a new document establishing leadership standards for principals and vice principals.

To help them prepare for the upcoming conversations, seven relevantly accomplished professionals were invited to spend eight minutes each sharing their insights about school leadership and culture.  They included a former superintendent, international educator, a director of education for a large Canadian school district, a developmental psychologist, executive director of the (Canadian) National Staff Development Council, president of a large chain of grocery stores, a professor of sociology ––– and me.

As I explained here (Warlick, 2012), I was fortunate to have been the last to speak – addressing literacy and learning-literacy.  It was one of those singular learning experiences for me, sitting on the stage, listening to these really smart people, and changing the outline of my short talk with just about every idea set forth.  I watched as my own presentation morphed into something different, articulate, and –– awesome.

So, with the 2013-2014 school year gearing up, and my own education career spinning down*, I thought I would spend some bits here expanding on each of the items that seemed to spontaneously appear on my iPad that afternoon. 

A school that practices learning-literacy is a school where:

  • The distinctions between teacher and student begin to blur.

    In a time of rapid change, when new jobs emerge and fade faster than any education institution can respond and lifestyles change with a globally connected cross-cultural conversation, literacy becomes something bigger.  It no longer seeks to make readers.  It makes master learners, people who can successfully learn, unlearn, and relearn. **

    In this environment innovation becomes a commodity, the ability to resourcefully learn becomes the defining foundation of literacy, and the principal goal of formal education is to produce learners.  In this environment pedagogies shift from best teaching practices to best learning practices.

    Of course teaching does not go away and neither does a good lecture. but no teacher will deny that we all learned what we teach better, after we started teaching it, than we did as students in the classroom.  Teaching is a potent learning skill.  Therefore, perhaps one of the best ways that we can help our children to become skilled learners is to practice learning in front of them, and one of the best ways for children to learn, is to teach.

    This means, for instance, becoming comfortable using technologies in your classroom, with which you are not comfortable.  Demonstrating and talking about your process for figuring it out, or even asking for help from students becomes a life-size illustration of adapting to change – being a master learner.

  • There is less reliance on textbooks and authority, and more reliance on the work of learning.

    Our information landscape has changed: in what it looks like, what we look at to view it, how we find it, where we go to find it, what we can do with it, and how we communicate it. We all engage in content generating conversations through blogs, twitter, YouTube, and what ever is to come. We can no longer believe it, simply because it was written down.  We are more than information consumers today.  We are participants.

    I learned to assume the authority of the information that I encountered. I was taught with approved textbook, in academically managed libraries and by teachers whose position was based on their learnedness.  Questioning the information that I encountered was not encouraged. It was unnecessary.

    Today, habitually questioning content is required. It is a foundation of being literate.  To become literate, students should learn within an information environment that exemplifies today’s information landscape, where discussions of an idea’s validity become part of learning the idea.  We must learn to be responsible participants.

  • There is a natural convergence between the rich information skills of literacy and numeracy, and the information and data that define the content areas.

    Information is increasingly networked, digital and abundant (overwhelming). Each of the qualities are new and they expand what it means to be literate. If you agree that learning is at least a major part of why we become literate today, then knowing how to employ these new qualities, in order to learn, are basic literacy skills.

    At this writing, I am creating an infographic that tells a story about how today’s North Carolina General Assembly came to be and what it cost.  Because information is networked, I am able to find, evaluate and select information about campaign spending and its sources that would not have been practically available to me in the past.  

    Because that information was digital, I can capture that information, translate, organize, manipulate and interpret it using tools that didn’t exist when I graduated from high school.  

    Because information is abundant (we are all overwhelmed by it), I am using graphic design and publishing tools that didn’t exist when I left classroom teaching, trying the practically convey my findings in a visually clear and compelling message.

    There is a physics to today’s information landscape and accomplishing goals relies, in no small way, to the ability to harness these laws of digital behavior to invent solutions to brand new problems. 

  • Teachers teach from new learning, as master learners.

    When my grandfather was in college, molecules were defined as, “The smallest part of any substance which possesses the characteristic properties and qualities of that substance, and which can exist alone in a free state.” (Webster’s revised unabridged, 1913)  By the time my father was in school, atoms were defined as “A particle of matter so minute as to admit of no division. Atoms are conceived to be the first principles or component parts of all bodies.” (Webster’s revised unabridged, 1928) I learned about electrons, protons and neutrons while my children learned about quarks and other strange particles. Today, we’re reading about future computers that will operate on the behaviors of quanta.

    The answers to the test questions are changing.

    According to a 2010 Bowker report, 2009 saw 1,829 new books published in the U.S. about agriculture.  5,131 new books were published about computers, approximately 9,000 each about business and education. 14,281 brand new books were published about history – new knowledge about history.  As we gain more access to information and to each other, the new knowledge that we generate as a society not only astounds us, but it is forcing us to redefine what it means to be educated.  We have rapidly moved from a world of information scarcity to information abundance, and an education is no longer measured by what you can remember, but what you can learn and what you can do with what you’ve learned.

    Teachers, who teach solely from their university experience do a disservice to their learners.  Teachers should model themselves as habitual and resourceful learners, and skilled artisans of what they’ve learned.  We must walk into our classrooms out of today, not from the day that they graduated.

  • Digital Footprints become a central part of the school’s culture, building evolving personal and school identities based on learning and “doing” with the learning.

    When I built the nation’s first state department of education website, there were probably less than 100 parents in the entire state who could access it.  But today, institutions are identified by their web sites.  Some sites have become institutions unto themselves – Wikipedia, Amazon.com and Google.

    When most of our children’s parents think about the institutions that support them in their daily endeavors, they recall URLs instead of building facades.  They expect to interact with their world through the World Wide Web.  They expect to have the same digital access to the schools their children attend and the teachers who manage their classrooms.  It has evolved from the exception to an expectation.

    This is an enormous opportunity for education, to be able to communicate with and even educate the communities that they serve.  We can distinguish ourselves, present ourselves for judgement and tell new stories about education, teaching and learning not through bureaucratic methods of measurement, but by enthusiastically sharing what and how our children are learning, and what they can do with what they are learning. 

  • The library magnifies the world outside, but also reflects the culture inside, curating collections of learner-produced media products.

    As already mentioned, a school that practices learning-literacy cultivates a digital footprint, along with its learners.  One outcome of preparing children for an unpredictable future is that they are learning things that their parents didn’t know.  When those parents visit their schools’  web sites, it should not be merely to learn about their children, but also to learn things that they didn’t know, to be astounded, to spark new conversations for their families and to redefine teachers as master learners, not simply learned.

    Since children are not merely learning, but also doing with what they learn, then they are in constant production, working knowledge, like raw material, into refined and valuable information products.  The school’s library becomes the repository for these products and the librarian, its archivalist.

    Learners will visit the library not merely to find what’s available from outside, but also from inside, to find work that previous students have done, and perhaps even improve on that work.  After thousands of years of civilization, almost nothing starts from scratch. 

  • Where learners learn, teachers model learning, and the school teaches the community.

    I later rephrased this one to “In a school that practices learning-literacy, teachers model learning, students learn to teach themselves, and schools educate the community.” This sentence, with its three principles, says it all for me.

Teachers Model Learning
Students Learn to Teach Themselves
Schools Educate the Community

 

 

 

* I’ll be preaching for years to come – just not quite so frequently.

** A quote often attributed to Alvin Tofler, but actually his paraphrasing of Herbert Gerjuoy’s “Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn.

(1913). Webster’s revised unabridged diction. Merriam-Webster.

(1928). Webster’s revised unabridged diction. Merriam-Webster.

Bowker LLC, (2010). Bowker reports traditional u.s. book production flat in 2009. Retrieved from website: http://www.bowker.com/en-US/aboutus/press_room/2010/pr_04142010.shtml

Warlick, D. (2012, October 22). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/?p=3733 

Will Public Education in North Carolina Rest In Peace?

You may see more politically-focused writing from me in the near future.  Though I’ll continue to write about education, certain developments here in North Carolina and in the United States have me concerned about the future of public schools and the future of democracy.

Communication:

Suffered from the decline of tobacco and cotton, and local manufacturing, the town of Wilson (pop 50,000) decided to reposition itself for the emerging digital economy. With a long history of investment in local infrastructure and utilities, the town built Greenlight, a municipally owned and operated fiber-to-the-home optic communication network. The decision and its subsequent implementation earned the town recognition and praise and, according to a recent ILSR paper, “

People and businesses have moved to Wilson to take advantage of the new network and even some who initially opposed it are now strongly supportive. 

One of its most avid and vocal supports has been Branch Bank & Trust (BB&T), a major employer in the town.

Wilson had long been frustrated by the poor service provided by CenturyLink and Time Warner and tried for years to work with the incumbent providers to improve the town’s and county’s broadband service. CenturyLink (then EMBARQ) worked with the city for a time, but then backed out. Time Warner had literally laughed at the idea. (O’Boyle, 2001)

By 2011, customers of Greenlight were the first in the state to enjoy 100 Mbps home service. Businesses could purchase up to 1 Gbps with existing equipment and even higher speeds could be accommodated. The price for home service was less than what families in neighboring communities were paying for a tenth of the speed. (O’Boyle & Mitchell 2012)

That same year, North Carolina’s legislature, which had just won Republican control for the first time since reconstruction, passed House Bill 129, called “Level Playing Field/Local Gov’t Competition.” The law effectively stops local governments from competing with telcos by preventing them from establishing their own common-good broadband services. Backed by Time Warner, AT&T, CenturyLink and the North Carolina Cable Television Association (NCCTA), and more than a million dollars ($1,159,930) that they donated to state legislative campaigns – and supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (O’Boyle & Mitchell 2013), the law follows a disturbing trend in this state – the legislative takeover of local governments’ authorities to implement taxes, enact environmental regulation and manage their own landfills, water infrastructures and airports, to mention only a few.

Education:

On another front, our General Assembly, further empowered by the obscenely funded 2012 elections (infographic to come) that resulted in a Republican Governor and more conservative ALEC influenced legislators, has set about what I can best describe as the systematic discrediting and disassembly of public education in North Carolina.

Ironically, the Fayetteville newspaper web page cited here also displayed this Google ad urging readers to consider becoming school teachers.

They have dramatically cut funding and vital programs, eliminated class-size caps, phased out teacher tenure, eliminated higher pay for teachers who earn graduate degrees and eliminated more than 5,000 teaching positions and nearly 4,000 teacher assistants. (Hasty, 2013)

During the same legislative session, state law makers, seeking to save deserving children from our “failing public schools,” appropriated $10,000,000 of taxpayer money to award $4,200 vouchers to families so that their children can attend private schools. The program grows to $40,000,000 the second year. Portrayed as a “way out” for low performing public school children, a fiscal note that accompanied the original bill (House Bill 944) showed that 30% of the children receiving the vouchers were going to be attending private schools, even without the vouchers.

Conclusion?

If we might follow the purpose and practice of this regressive regime down a few more legislative sessions, it may not be too extreme to envision a law that prohibits local towns and counties from providing public schooling for their children.

The tax which will be paid for [the] purpose [of education] is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.
–Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe, 1786. (Coates)

Coates, E. R. (n.d.). Favorite jefferson quotes: From the writings of thomas jefferson. Retrieved from http://www.famguardian.org/Subjects/Politics/ThomasJefferson/jeff5.htm 

Hasty, K. (2013, July 26). Partnership for children luncheon: Governor’s education advisor says there’s hope for n.c. schools. The Fayetteville Observer. Retrieved from http://fayobserver.com/articles/2013/07/26/1272034

O’Boyle, T., & Mitchell, C. (2013). How national cable and dsl companies banned the competition in north carolina. Retrieved from Institute for Local Self-Reliance website: http://www.ilsr.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/nc-killing-competition.pdf

O’Boyle, T. (2001, April 19). Interview by Grant Goings

O’Boyle, T., & Mitchell, C. (2012). Wilson gives greenlight to fast internet. Retrieved from Institute for Local Self-Reliance website: http://www.ilsr.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/wilson-greenlight.pdf

 

 

Trying to Explain HDR

This HDR-rendered photo was made by Trey Radcliff, one of the preeminent HDR photo artists. His blog is Stuck in Customs.

Several of my friends on Facebook have asked me to explain HDR. Since any attempt would exceed 140 characters and the typical Facebook status post, I thought I would post it here.

I should insert that the author is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or medical advice.  If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. 😉

I am also not a professional photographer. The following description reflects my knowledge of HDR, as I understand it right now. As an amateur photographer, I am learning, as much and as quickly as I can. I only have so many years left to make the best picture that I can.

First off, there is a concept about photography today that has been repeated to me several times recently. Taking a picture is different from making a picture. Taking a picture is simply capturing an image as accurately as the camera is capable. Making a picture involves a whole lot more. It uses the camera and other devices, both hardware and software, to capture not only the image, but also what inspired the taking of the image — and sometimes adding to the image in order to inspire further reactions.

First, HDR solves a problem. The human eye can register a limited range of light frequency — color. Cameras can register even less. It can not match what the eye sees.  This is one reason why so many pictures end out being less dramatic than the subject being photographed.

Enter HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range. It works like this. Many cameras have a feature called bracketing. When switched on, the camera takes three (usually) photographs of the subject, at three different exposures. One photo will be dark, one light and the third pretty close to the exposure your camera would take normally. Many cameras will allow the photographer to set the degree of separation between exposures. I usually divided mine by 2.0 fStops. Don’t worry about knowing what an fStop is.

 -2.0 fStops  0 fStops  +2.0 fStops

To process the HDR requires special software. I’ve started using Photomatix, which is fairly high end – but not really all than much better than HDRtist Pro, which is much less expensive. The software looks at each of the exposures and brings out the best that that exposure offers, combines them into a single photograph.  The result is a picture that more closely matches what the eye of the photographer saw.

HDR rendered photo. Click the photo to see an enlarged version on Flickr.

I heard someone recently say that HDR enables the photographer to capture more closely, what it was that inspired him to take the picture. Better contrast. Colors that pop.

Since the software can identify and exaggerate different elements of three different photos, the photographer can alter how the elements are presented and blended, resulting in photos that are more surreal. There is a good deal of artistry possible, though many push this too far, for the sake of a cool picture — myself included. These are frowned upon by accomplished photo artists, as artists are prone to do.

This photo was taken outside my hotel window in San Antonio last week. I pushed the software to produce an image that exaggerated what the eye was seeing.

About half of my HDR photos were made with a Nikon D5100 (bought it used). I usually have it on a tripod when taking an HDR, because it is crucial that each of the three photos be as close to the same framing as the others. I have had success at making HDRs without a tripod, but just as often not.

on my iPhone, I use an app called Pro HDR.  It allows me to select the lightest part of the subject and the darkest, and then it takes two photos at two exposures  Pro HDR does a pretty darn good job of blending the two into a satisfying photograph.  But for the best and highest resolution photos, I use the Nikon.  Again, it’s good to have your iPhone on a tripod, but I also get satisfactory results without it.

Many cameras come with HDR switches. Both my Nikon and my iPhone have them. But the cameras take care of everything for you, leaving the photographer with no control — no artistry. There are also apps out there take a standard photo and exaggerate elements to simulate the HDR effect. This is cheating, in my opinion.

But what ever gives you satisfaction.  

It’s why we make pictures.

Top Ten Tips for Attending ISTE 13

This article was first posted on June 17, 2012 for ISTE 12

How to dress at ISTE13
Everyone is posting their dress and packing tips for the coming International Society for Technology Education conference – ISTE13. So I, as a professional conference go’er, thought I would contribute ten more tips for ISTE in Texas.

  1. San Antonio is cold this time of year, so wear heavy clothing. Dress in layers, because conference centers are notoriously hot. You’ll be doing lots of walking so wear boots, big ones, with lots of laces – Unless you’ve brought heals.
  2. You’ll want to take lots of notes, so carry several spiral-bound note books. Also carry pencils — #2s. If you can find them, use white or aluminum grey pencils. They’ll impress the people sitting near you.
  3. In the presentation rooms, be careful not to sit near anyone with a computer or tablet computer. They have almost certainly left their email notification alarm on, and when it goes off, everyone will turn around and look — at you! If someone with a computer sits near you, get up and find a more secluded spot.
  4. If possible, sit on the front row and straighten your legs out as far as possible. This is where the boots come in, because presenters love to navigate obstacle courses while presenting.
  5. The exhibit hall is the reason you came. There’s treasure here. It’s also a great place for play. Pretend you’re invisible. Wearing a dark cap will help. If you can achieve invisibility, then you’ll have the run of the hall. Simply walk into any booth and pick-up all the pens, pencils, letter openers, and soft fuzzy balls you can find, and slip them quietly into your bag–preferably a large brown paper bag. Chocolate is an especially treasured item and worth a return for more. If someone in a booth confronts you, then carefully put the pencil back on the table, look down at the floor and slowly back away.
  6. You’ll see areas in the conference center with comfortable chairs, where people will be milling, talking, and showing each other their computers. Shun these places. The people will try to brainwash you.
  7. If someone approaches you, wanting to talk, then turn invisible. If this doesn’t work, then look very stupid. You’ll need to practice this in front of a mirror. If they persist, then speak gibberish and walk away.
  8. If you hear anyone speak with an English accent, don’t believe anything they say – no matter how intelligent they sound or cute their accent. This goes double for Australians and New Zealanders.
  9. When the day is over, or by 4:00 PM, which ever comes first, flee back to your hotel room. This is the real challenge of conference-going, finding things to do in your hotel room. I like to remove the lids of shampoo bottles and guess their scent. Also, the extra blankets in the closet are expressly provided for the construction of elaborate blanket forts. ..and I hope that you are a fan of “Law and Order.” It will be playing during your entire visit – on at least three channels.
  10. What David really wants you to do is be comfortable, hungry to learn, ready to laugh and willing to cry, tweet your heart out and hashtag with #iste13, take every opportunity to meet someone new, and wear something strange. I like those satin slippers with toes that curl up and a tiny bell on the end.

If I see you at ISTE13, please forgive me if I’ve forgotten your name. I’m way past the need for excuses.

 

The Bookbag: 2018

TRS-80 Model III
(cc) photo by Hugo Schotman
Apple IIe
(cc) photo by Mark Mathosian

I’m doing something right now that I have only gotten to do a good handful of times during my career as an educator. I am starting a brand new presentation slide deck.  What fun! Understand that when I left the classroom as a teacher, the standard for technology in the classroom was the TRS-80, and the venerable Apple IIe had only just launched. Persuasion, PowerPoint and Keynote were hardly in our imaginations.

Since I started delivering keynote addresses at conferences, I’ve had about five standard talks. They have afforded me basic structures, reasonable frameworks, about which I could tell stories that provoked new ideas about teaching and learning. Today I am starting a new one – and probably my last one.

103/366
(cc) photo by Phoenix

A compelling speaker needs a gimmick, an idea or object that is familiar, but can be turned inside out in such a way as to provoke a shakabuku, “..a swift, spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever,” if I might be so bold. 1

For this presentation, I’ve decided to use the school bookbag. One of the stabling blocks of promoting new ways to think about education is vocabulary. The biggie? “What do you call a textbook that’s not a book?

If it’s not a book, then what do you put in your school bookbag? I have some ideas…

But what do you think?

If students continue to bring bookbags to school in 2018, then what will be in them?

Please comment or Tweet (#bookbag2018).

Thanks!

Added Later

One thing that I do know is that a Bookbag, filled with 20 pounds of books, indicates a school based on standards — and such a school does not teach literacy nearly so much as it teaches compliance.

 

1Driver, M. (Performer) (1997). Grosse pointe blank [DVD]. Available from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119229/?ref_=sr_1

 

One More Thing about Bobby

I found my lab coat! SCIENCE!!!
(CC) Photo by Jake Fudge
Some of the comments that my last two blog posts have incited lead me to write one more thing about Bobby. I have no issue with anything that has been said in those comments. I feel, though, that a big part of the point of my story has been overlooked.

I will say here that I became a teacher because I wanted to help children and watch them grow and become more capable, compassionate and respectful of the culture and society of their community and their world. That said, I believe that teaching has become way to clinical. In our misguided efforts to establish success by being able to measure learning, we have fabricated a system of complex and rigid classifications with symptoms, diagnoses and prescribed treatments.  We have tried to make teaching a science, and it is not.  Teaching is an art.

In the early days of NCLB, being an educator was compared to being a pharmacist, where less than successful learners could be treated with scientifically proven best practices and the application of big data.  

Of course this clinical approach does describe part of what it is to teach.  I call this the teacher-technician.  However, what Bobby’d learned, that enabled him to diagnose my car’s problem from the telling of my entertaining story, did not result from an elaborate construct of scientifically proven best practices.  It happened because of a family or close-knit community that talked about cars; what made them work and what made them work better.  They valued good cars that could be made faster than they were off the showroom floor, and they valued the folks who could accomplish it.  They worked on cars.  They fixed them. ..and sometimes it didn’t work, and they talked about it – and they learned from what went wrong.

Bobby’s story is not  meant to promote classrooms that are shaped by established and described differentiations and toolboxes of prescribed remedies.  What I would rather see are teacher-philosophers who are skilled, knowledgeable and can facilitate a learning community that:

  • Values what is being learned
  • Respects the learning that comes from success
  • Respects the learning that comes from failure and
  • Celebrates what learners can do with what they have learned.

It is a classroom where students can turn around and look back at the concrete and public results of their learning.

 

What Trumps Lazy?

Earlier this month I spoke at Wyoming’s WyTECC conference in Rock Springs. Even though I was only able to spend one day at the conference, the hospitality of the event’s organizers and intimacy of the venue made it feel like a longer stay and I left behind some new good friends. Lately I’ve had the honor of speaking at a number of 20th and 25th annual state ed tech conferences. Wyoming was holding their second and there was an enormous amount of energy in that, not to mention excitement and pride. I was proud to be helping them celebrate their 2nd annual conference.

Evolution of a Blog Post

  1. Yesterday I spoke at…
  2. A few days ago, I spoke at…
  3. Last week ago I spoke at…
  4. Earlier this month I spoke at…

Have I become a lazy blogger?

Unlike most first, second and third state edtech gatherings, there was a good deal of tweeting going on in Rock Springs, and I ran my Knitter Chat tool during my two pre conference sessions and the evening keynote. The backchannel was active and rich and Knitter captured both knits and tweets.

One phrase caught my attention as I was reviewing and inserting comments into the backchannel transcript – during my three legs back to Raleigh. Someone mentioned how so many of his students were lazy. It’s a term, lazy, that works quite well in conversations about classrooms, and a term I would have readily used as a teacher almost 30 years ago, “Lazy learners.”

Lazy learners were part of the landscape of the classroom back then and that was OK. Where I taught, lazy learners would become active workers packing peaches and harvesting pulp wood. Where I grew up they would have become lint heads in the textile mills, and not apologized for it.

Today, however, there are not quite so many places for lazy learners to go when they graduate or don’t. ..and fortunately, we no longer excuse laziness. But how do we fuel energetic learning?

I inserted into the wiki page that hosted WyTECC’s backchannel,

What trumps lazy?

Success trumps lazy!

I want to explore two words that have been on my mind for a long time. I want to make a distinction between these two words, though it is one that is not made in the dictionary.  Some may say that I’m making up a distinction. But let’s plow ahead.  It’s my blog after all.

The words are achievement and accomplishment. They are so close that each is often used in the other’s definition and even in descriptions of their etymologies. Yet I would not necessarily use them interchangeably. The contexts determine the word I would us — and in the education context, I most often see, read or hear achieve.

“This student has achieved proficiency.”

“We are narrowing the achievement gap.”

To achieve something is to accomplish attain some predefined goal.

As difficult as it was to avoid using accomplish in that last sentence, accomplishment is, in my way of thinking, a little different. When I accomplish a thing, I can turn around and see something that is the result of my efforts — and it is real. It is not symbolic. And it is not easy to measure. It is, more times than not, of my own design and purpose.  I did it, at least in part, for my own reasons.

The more I think about it, the less certain I am of differences between achieve and accomplish.  Yet the distinction is real.  When our children complete a school task, have they merely learned something new, or have they become more capable.  Can they, the next day,

  • Do something that they couldn’t do before
  • Build something they were unable to before
  • Participate in a conversation that was foreign to them before
  • Sway someone’s opinion or earn a collaborator

Do they, in anyway, feel larger than the day before or noticeably further done their road.

I would suggest that many lazy learners are just tired of standing still.

 

So What is Plagiarism?

It’s a great question, that, like so many things, deserves a good answer and acknowledgement that the answer will be complicated. We too often treat plagiarism like many labels, red neck, communist, democrat, republican – black or white, right or wrong.  Gray areas complicate teaching, doesn’t it. But life happens in gray areas as do the ways that we use information.

  • American Copy Editors Society
  • Associated Press Media Editors
  • Society of Professional Journalists
  • Online News Association
  • American Society of News Editors
  • Canadian Association of Journalists
  • Radio-Television Digital News Association
  • Local Independent Online News Publishers

A cluster of media organizations (see right) are organizing the National Summit on Plagiarism and Fabrication, which will begin April 5.  The participants, invited by the American Copy Editors Society, will be conducting research aimed at producing a practical set of recommendations for combating and dealing with plagiarism and fabrication.  Their conclusions will be presented at the ACES conference in St. Louis that begins on April 4.

It is hard to predict what will come out of the summit, but the conversations have already begun, much of it aimed at bringing some sanity to how we treat the practice. Roy Peter Clark tried to describe the difference between plagiarism and carelessness in a Poynter blog post,

A classic case of overcharging occurred in 2007 when journalism teachers at the University of Missouri condemned a colleague of plagiarism after he used quotes from a student newspaper in an opinion piece without attribution. I argued then that while the practice may have been sloppy, to call it plagiarism was like “shooting a fly with a bazooka.”

Clark goes on to suggest four books on the subject:

The Game of School

I appreciate all of the valuable feedback so many people gave me regarding the initial posting of “The Game of School,” my first animation with a message.  I’ve decided to post it on the original blog article and re-date it to the present.  The original blog text follows.

As I ease into retirement (over the next five to ten years), I’m giving myself permission to learn some new skills that I always wanted to try my hand at, but never made the time.  One is learning to create animations.

Here is my first attempt at an animation with a message.  Its message is based on a blog post I wrote for Smart Blogs a few months ago but never got around to reposting here.  This is version 4.1 5.0 of the video, which has been edited and re-rendered MANY times and will likely be rendered many more times.  

I’m learning!

To create this video, I used Apple Keynote for the text flow, Poser Debut for the character animation, iMovie 11 for the video editing and iSequence on the iPad to produce the music.

Enjoy! ..and let me know what you think…

Should “Education” be so Packaged?

Darren Kurpatwa delivering his WhileWalking episode 73

My friend, Darren Kuropatwa, mentioned me in one of his “WhileWalking” video reflections, referring to one of the conversations we had at Educon last week. I love his new reflections series for many reasons, not the least of which is the delightful sound of Canadian snow crunching as he walks.

In that conversation, on the last day of Educon, he told me about how students were using Google docs in preparing their presentations and how convenient it was that Google built in an image search tool that returns only Creative Commons licensed media and even includes citations for the images that can be pasted into the document.

I was less than thrilled about this and Darren, in his reflection, wonders why.  He’s asking if there is a relationship between my reluctance about Google’s bundled services and why many educators resisted their student use of calculators decades ago. It’s an excellent question, which I guess is why it occurred to Kuropatwa, while tundra-walking.

There is a very real relationship between the emergence of calculators in the early 1970s and the rise of the World Wide Web, dynamic search engines, and smaller useful information tools like Creative Commons licensers and citation generators.  But to understand why I feel Darren’s described scenario is, in ways, counter to the mission of education, I need to briefly define that mission, as I see it.  

A sliderule like the one I used as a high school student

A continuing factor in my own reflections is the fact that from my time as a high school student to the waning years of my career as an educator, the tools for working with information have advanced from sliderules to tablet apps – an astounding revolution in information and communication technologies, from sticks to chips.  Our mission is to prepare our children for jobs, lifestyles, tools, processes, problems and goals that we can hardly imagine.  We’re preparing them for the unimaginable.

I am certain that their lifestyles will be (is) fueled by the daily practice of learning and that the mechanisms of that learning will be constantly and sometimes rapidly evolving.

Many of us were fairly certain that calculators would be a prevailing information processing tool in our students’ future, as we know that our children’s future will continue to afford them a vast and dynamic aggregation of information – that also obliges them to new and interesting ethical responsibilities.

Each of these advances in information and communication technology warranted a role in our children’s formal (and informal) education.

Now, my objection to Darren’s scenario has little to do with Google’s purported desires to dominate the world of information, or even the fact that Google has made research, production, and attribution easier – as was implied in several tweeted responses to Darren’s post.  We should probably be concerned about the dominance of one company in any realm of interest, but there’s nothing wrong with “easier.”

What concerns me is how these tools might be packaged to help children do school work, at the expense of helping them learn to use information to do real work.

If Texas Instruments had created a curriculum-friendly calculator, one designed to help children learn math, as apposed to using math to work numbers, then I might have had the same objections – though I can’t confidently speak for the 22-year-old me.

What I believe today is that our children need to be developing a learning lifestyle, with the skills and habits of utilizing a tumultuously shifting and advancing information environment and the unimagined opportunities that an unwritten future provides.  This is the mission of education.

Darren has invoked the best word for my thinking, that learning should be be “deliberate,” as deliberately authentic as possible. 

Kurpatwa, D. (Performer) (2013, February 7). Whilewalking 73: Should we be deliberate?.WhileWalking. [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?