Tech Tip: Not what I expected

I was eating my lunch at my desk today and thumbing through a new issue of a publication (yes, paper) that I subscribe to. One of the pages had a ‘tech tip’ listed, and predictably, this caught my attention. What I read in the ‘tech tip’ was not at all what I expected to read. The actual tip described in detail the steps to download, save, convert video formats and repost/upload the video content hosted on YouTube to additional websites. Yikes! My internal ‘alarm bells’ to follow the rules (terms of use etc.) and support copyright were going off, especially since the publication is education oriented.

The YouTube terms of use policy specifically states that “Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, modified, produced, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, translated, published, performed or otherwise exploited for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent of the respective owners.

In my mind, this is a great example of:  just because you can, and technology makes it easy, does not mean the activity is permitted and/or legal. I see this as a missed opportunity to enlighten the readership, promote ethical use of content and demonstrate digital citizenship. After work, I was sharing my ‘find’ with @hniezen and @rebrouse. We were debating whether or not I would point this out to the editor of the publication. I think we landed on yes, so I will craft an email to explore the situation further.

Related Reading

UK Guardian: digital economy bill
Digital Rights Management in Canada
Internet abuse and ISP liability
Internet Piracy Copyright Law in Canada
Canadian Journal of Communication: Bill C-60 and Copyright in Canada commentary

Enjoy the reading and learning.
~ Mark

Links for 2009-11-28

Links: 2009 11 28 — Interesting finds of the week

1. Questia Library for iPhone, iPod Touch

2. Ideas for text organizers to support student writing

3. District Administration: mobile devices in the classroom

4. Route 21: 21st century skills

5. Metiri Group: What’s so different about the 21st century?

6. Presenter’s perspective: Spectacle at Web 2.0 Expo

7. PBS Video: How Google Saved a School

8. Educators’ Guide for integrating social media

Enjoy the reading and learning.

~ Mark

Elluminate with the Ontario PLP group

Monday afternoon, we held an online Elluminate session with our Ontario PLP group with Will Richardson. For many of the participants, this was their first experience in this type of environment, so the session began with a tour of the features and controls which included screen layout options, audio (mic) testing, communication indicators (thumbs up/down, applause, I have a question, stepping away/I am back etc.) and  chat window functions.

I was really impressed with the level of participation and the comfort level displayed by the meeting attendees throughout this first session. I wanted to share some further thoughts about a discussion point we have had within our Ning group and during this online session.

The discussion topic centred around the use of the term ‘lurker’. In the online community this term is generally accepted as way to refer to people who ‘look around’ and seemingly watch the activity. The points in question are, independent of the common use of the expression:

a) Is the use of this term appropriate?  and

b) how does its use make you feel?

From my own point of view, I feel the use of this term has a negative connotation to it. While I am absolutely clear about the use of the term in this context, I would rather see a term used that presents a positive image. I see online participation occurring in three different categories:

  • Role 1: People who participate by reading and observing, more of a quiet studier.
  • Role 2: People that fall into this role are the connectors. They share information by forwarding emails, reposting blog articles, retweeting Twitter posts etc.
  • Role 3: People in this 3rd role are the initiators or contributors. They author their own blog posts, share social bookmark lists, respond to other people’s blog posts and suggest resources for others to be aware of or review.

Depending on the learning experience, a person move progress through all of these roles with a particular tool as well as having an ‘overall role’ with their online experience.

I was particularly interested in the small group discussion that occurred within the structure of our session. Will gave us a list of 7 big shifts, divided us into groups of 6 and asked each to have a discussion based on which of the big shifts resonated with them. The discussion in my group revolved around 2 shifts –

a) synchronous to asynchronous (and back again) and

b) place/time dependent to  anytime/anywhere/anyone learning

From my point of view, these are the two elements that are shaping our current learning opportunities and community development within the Ontario PLP group. Everyone is actively involved in reading and responding to posts in the discussion forums, blogging, connecting on Twitter etc. Each day provides an opportunity to embrace a steady trickle of learning and collaboration through the use of web 2.0 tools. In depth discussions are occurring, questions and new ideas are being posted, and new points of view are being explored. Factoring in our face to face kickoff, and the elluminate session, all of this activity falls into the 2 shifts or categories I identified. This opportunity is truly a synchronous/asynchronous anytime, anywhere, anyone learning journey.

This is certainly a fantastic opportunity and I am delighted to be part of the Ontario PLP leaders and learners team.

~ Mark

Reading: F vs Z patterns

At the recent ECOO conference, I was really fascinated by Ian Jukes’ presentation that highlighted the differences in reading patterns of many children today, especially if they are web users. Ian explained that the brains of this generation of students are actually wired differently than brains of previous generations of students. Of course, there are many implications for student learning if we take these findings to heart. Key findings include:

  • the brain is constantly learning
  • eye movements occur in different patterns, typically more F shaped than the Z shape we (adults) use
  • as a result, students of ignore areas of a page or screen that we might assume contains important content
  • students learn better when multimedia content is included
  • students view graphics before text
  • students read colour before black on white
  • pace of lesson delivery plays a factor in student engagement (Note: varies from student to student, but in general is faster than adults process information
  • tests show that people visualize content at a 90% rate

Now, think about the ramifications of not learning more about the student ‘digitally wired’ brain. What are the implications of:

  • anchor chart design
  • poster design
  • print and textbook layout
  • software screen layout design
  • web page design

I had a chance to share some of this information at our table discussion regarding effective use of anchor charts. This lead into a really engaging discussion about how to increase awareness and change our behaviours in the area of text design.

Since the conference, I have located a number of internet based resources on this topic which I have shared below.

Related Reading

F shaped reading patterns
Eye tracking patterns
Graphic Design layout patterns related to scanning patterns
F shaped reading patterns for web content
The Black Art of web publishing
The Luon blog post
Reading patterns

Enjoy the learning and thinking.

~ Mark

Moving the K12 privacy agenda forward

Today I attended a Privacy & Information Management session in London which was a good learning experience.

The session began with an opportunity to to view some of the 8 training videos that have been prepared for use in Ontario school Boards. The video series was designed for 3 target audiences: teachers, administrators and IT staff. Key areas of best practice addressed in the videos included:

  • physical documents
    • security
    • office practices
    • classroom practices
    • destruction
  • digital data
    • server locations
    • implications of outsourcing storage
    • laptop and USB key use
    • destruction of digital data (hardware recycling)
  • visual privacy
    • use of cell phones, smart phones, digital cameras and video recorders
    • guidelines for posting content on Board sites as well as uploading to public internet sites

Following the preview of the videos, the balance of the day provided opportunities to review strategies for implementation of Privacy and Information Management strategies and further discussion of the 3 areas identified above.  I found the discussion rich and in depth. My note taking included the following points:

  • laptop setup should include a BIOS level password, OS password and an encrypted area to store confidential data
  • recycling of hardware must include data destruction on the hard drives
  • prevent the use of peer to peer sharing tools such as Kaza and Limewire
  • enforce password format and change policies
  • key corporate level data stored locally where you can control access (information knows no boundaries)
  • store email in a centrally hosted system

Key implementation strategies should:

  • create a culture of awareness
  • update and/or write policies to reflect needs and goals
  • sustain energy and interest in this area (it is not a one time item)
  • make best practice strategies relevant to key user groups (teachers, admin, support staff etc.)
  • be shared as a team, this is not just one person’s torch to carry.

Drifting off a little as I was sitting in the sessions, my mind was flitting to other connections. After all, creating a culture of P & I Management awareness is connected to Digital Citizenship.  In some ways, there are interconnected tensions between privacy culture, digital citizenship, suitable access to K12 content for curriculum delivery (content filtering/open internet) and copyright. Somewhere in the middle of all of this is a sweet spot – establishing the required culture is the challenge. I am looking forward to my involvement on our team.

Related Reading

PIM Taskforce
Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario

~ Mark

Facebook screen effect

Very curious!

Step 1: Log into Facebook

Step 2: press the following key sequence (one at a time):

up arrow, up arrow, down arrow down arrow, left arrow, right arrow, left arrow, right arrow, b, a, <Enter>

Step 3:

In Windows, right click on the screen to open the options window, then click away from the options window to close it

In OSX, control click on the screen to open the options window, then click away from the options window to close it

Step 4: Now when you press up or down arrow, or click the pointer a set of coloured circles will appear on the screen – weird.

Step 5: Simply log out of Facebook to cancel this effect.

Thanks to my daughter for sharing this strange find with me. You never know what you will learn.

~ Mark


IT Strategy Day

I recently had the opportunity to attend the semi-annual IT Strategy day hosted by ECNO, the Educational Computing Network of Ontario. The structure of the day provides an opportunity to tackle key questions in a group work setting with chance to report and comment on each groups report. It is very valuable to work in this multi-board format as there is a lot of ‘knowledge and thinking power’ around the table. The topic for this session was right on the money – Sustainability and Renewal.

What does sustainability mean from an IT perspective?

  • sufficient fiscal and human resources
  • multi year approach
  • development of staff skill sets
  • knowledge transfer among staff
  • succession planning
  • alignment with learning and student success
  • analysis and prioritization

Key Question: Given current budget constraints, and a potential for budget reductions:

  • what are the true priorities that must be addressed?
  • what is important over the next two year window?
  • what strategies are useful in engaging with senior officials for informed decision making?

The discussion identified the following actions, frameworks, comments and questions:

  • determine what  the direct impact on IT be in a budget reduction situation
  • determine the impact of resourcing (staff)
  • alignment of staff and skill sets to the needed roles and skill sets is a major challenge given the complex staffing and contractual arrangements that are in place
  • reduction of overtime budgets creates a major challenge
  • lieu time is more of a rob Peter to pay Paul game and not really an asset
  • impact of lease vs buy
  • long term negative impact of ‘money bombs’ from one time grants

As you can see from the list, the decisions would definitely complicated in the event of a major budget reduction, not easy to make, and potentially different strategies would be used Board to Board.

What key elements and factors would be part of a critical services matrix? My discussion summary notes included the following points:

  • restructuring is critical to meet needs, alignment of tasks and priorities
  • prepare for the future (wireless, NAC, mobile/guest devices)
  • put the right tool set in place
  • what are you not going to do? (you can’t sustain everything)

The final exercise of the day required each group to identify the top 5 barriers and identify a strategy or two to deal with the barrier. Rather than report on the specific discussion we had, I will leave this as a reflective question for you to ponder as it relates to your own situation. It is a worthwhile exercise. Feel free to leave a comment/suggestion.

Thanks to the ECNO organization for arranging a quality day for some heads up strategic thinking. Thank you to the participants for sharing their knowledge, expertise and insights.

~ Mark