I recently checked this site in response to someone who was trying to start a discussion here by insulting teachers.

Supposedly, teachers are not being quick enough to embrace something called a "open content curriculum" which appears to be the buzz words for something so new, no one can define it as yet. The discussion referred me to the website http://creativecommons.org/ which I have visited several times. Seems the site is a so-called "non-profit" that solicits donations without having any project of goal that the donations contribute to. They profide a "Free" license to do what you can do with your work with or without the license. It just tells people how they can use your resources. Since you don't register for the license, you would have no more or less legal standing than if you merely stated on the site how you are willing to share your work. Under the heading of "opportunities", they are offering no jobs, bur seeking volunteers. The staff appears to be made up mostly of young people, some not out of college yet, who are volunteering. The annual audit shows contributions received in the millions with nothing going out but small amounts in expenses, which obviously are not spent on a payroll. The annual statement indicates that the company owns millions in "assets". The link to show examples of their "users" leads to a choice of search engines which produce the usual output for what you put in. There is a disclaimer saying that you can't know if anyone has their license, unless you communicate with the owner of the site.

In short, unless someone else knows anything positive about this site, I would suggest that those who are making web content steer clear of it. Certainly, don't "donate" any money to them.

And, please, teachers, don't be offput from questioning possible scams and unsupported "facts" by being told you are "unprofessional".

Being a professional does not mean being a patsy for those with ulterior motives.

Tags: Commons, Creatuve, content, copyright, issues, licensing, of, web

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Mike and Steve,

I never thought I would appear to be among the luddites who weren't innovating technology in education, but I know far too many really good teachers who were waiting to see how it would work out for us first pioneers. I remember a time when all the working teachers in our building knew how to use a computer and the new hires fresh from college were the ones who not only didn't know but didn't want the burden of learning "something else" after they had just graduated.

As I presented at conferences, I tended to address audiences of teachers who were ready and willing to adopt the new technology if only someone would tell how to fit it into the state curriculum. Since I retired, I have been creating a website that does exactly that - taking a cue from the objectives, I provide free resources for teachers or homeschoolers to use in educating children. Sometimes I use the flashier multi-media, and sometimes they are just printable "hand-outs" tried and true ways of teaching kids specific aspects of a subject.

I suggest that before people blame those who have dedicated their lives for the fact that technology is still an emerging resource in education, they stop and consider those who were the pioneers who developed the first applications from which those being advocated were begun. It was TEACHERS who developed the early applications of technology. The early instructional software from the software was really bad! At one point, I had to write programs in basic for my kids to have true instructional software to use. The first time I had a student try to use the Internet for research, she used gopher with the term "Columbus" and got the catalogs for all the department of Columbus University, and nary a word about Christopher Columbus. It was still too early to use the Internet for research for K-12.

About ten years ago I took a series of online courses from Cal Tech on "Online Teaching and Learning". We were learning how to constuct classes that would be delivered in part or in whole online. At that time, I was the only one who even believed it possible to create such classes for K-12. No one at the college level believed that K-12ers could use the Internet, especially for a whole course.

As one of those pioneers, I have great respect for the teachers who held the ship steady so that those of us who chose to could innovate. The impetus to innovate was not coming from companies with astronomical budgets, but from teachers working together to try this and that to see what worked and with whom. Those who make disparaging remarks about older educators should learn more of the history of technology in education.

Those who wast time complaining about those who held and still hold the ship steady while innovation is tried, and the bad rejected, would spend their time better testing their new ideas and making them worthy of the steady folks waiting for them.

I suspect I know what controversial issue on Thomas Jefferson got Wikipedia close down at a school. That would be the Sally Hemings and Thomas controversy over the father of her children. The opinion of historians here in Virginia, is that high schoolers can be made aware of the issue as a controversy and to help establish that all to be learned in history is not "written already". The value in learning the controversy is to realize that history is still an active discipline, not a dusty old tome on the back shelf of the library. Had you contacted the Virginia Historians, they would have provided help in saving Wikipedia even tho all are aware of the pitfalls of using Wikipedia in research. A good controversy is the stuff that keeps history from becoming boring!
The problem was, the student who found the Sally Hemings material was in the 4th grade. The teacher wanted the students to get information on Thomas Jefferson that was more objective. i think most of us can agree that issues of presidents fathering children with slaves is not material for 4th graders. High schoolers sure. 4th graders no.

I don't think I was insinuating that, "we should try the next gleaming thing to come down the pike." And if it seemed like I was, allow me to clear the air.

There is much virtue in pragmatism. However being too pragmatic gets one into trouble these days.

Technology is changing rapidly, exponentially faster than 10 years ago. While your steadfast colleagues were certainly valuable in keeping the course, those same people don't have the same luxury of time that they once did. Ten years ago, the majority of people didn't have cell phones and email was still a novelty. 5 years ago, most people couldn't tell you what a text message is and hand held computers were a fantasy. Now people are texting tweets from their blackberry or iPhone while checking their email.

And technology doesn't ever slow down. It only gets faster.

So to use the ship metaphor, we still need those people in education to keep the ship in the right direction. However, they need to realize that the sail isn't cutting it any more and they need to upgrade to an engine.

Most schools don't have those types of people that know what's out there and can harness technology for schools properly. They rely on the old methods of legacy software, firewalls, intranets and buying more servers (not because their stubborn, but they don't know their options). But it would probably be more constructive for someone to sit down and show teachers how to use a blog or a wiki or Google Apps. Or, if a school was really good, they could find someone who knows how to use AJAX (computer code, not cleaning detergent) to custom build Google Apps for their school.

Schools don't know what's available to them.....and that is an ongoing complicated issue that needs more attention.

Anne, I'm sure you've been an advocate for technology your entire career. We appreciate that. But you should realize that you are no longer on the "technology progressives team" but rather the "keep the ship straight" team. And that's a good thing not a bad thing. We need people out there that knows technological development is a good thing, but weary of what's out there.

But you do have to realize that your initial post is not constructive. Be a devil's advocate. Use the Socratic Method, but don't burn it down.

I find it hard to believe that my colleagues who remain in the schools do not "know" what email, texting, twitter and other technology are. I suspect they are knowledgable, but have not been given a green light to use these resources in their classroom. Along with the green light, they also need to know how to use them FOR INSTRUCTIONAL PURPOSES. If those who are today's pioneers would sit down with those teachers and show them how to replace activities and projects the teachers are already using with a technology version of same, and then show a justification for the change, such as the fact that all students in that teacher's classroom have access to the technology.

Mike, my initial question had two purposes, one was to explore what is known about a site that was new to me, and seemed to be less than honest. The other was to bring up the need to treat all teachers with respect whether they are moving as fast on technology as you want, or not. I seriously doubt that there is any greater need for speed today than there was when I was at the top of the heap. Back then, if you kept a computer more than two years, it was so outdated it was declared a "boat anchor". Nevertheless, many, many teachers who had no technology at all, found that the "boat anchors" were better than nothing and made use of the older technologies until admins could be shown the value.

BTW, I see little value in blogs (they seem more like someone standing on a soapbox with or without something worthwhile to say). If you are saying that students should be writing blogs, my first question would be "how often are you going to clean off the server?". Wikis hold promise as a tool of collaboration, but as a resource for research, they are as problematic as the story of Sally and Tom to a 4th grader. As to google apps, I admit I know little about what they are, what they can do or how to use them. Several years ago, I used what was I think a "google app" to track a friend as he crossed the Pacific on a cruise. It was a crude tool, and tracking my friend required entering the lat and long coordinate every day. These had to be secured from the captain's area, and became a chore about half-way through the cruise.

What we need to do is not go out and adopt technology for its own sake, but be sure that all or most applications of technology provide an improvement in some way over older, tried and true methods. If you are going to replace a teacher's lecture with a presentation, be sure that it includes all the details the teacher would include in the lecture. What is the advantage of the presentation over the lecture? Well, first is the inclusion of illustrations (time consuming to find enough to well illustrate a presentation - I know I do it every day). Second is the fact that it can be used over and over by classes in many places. Disadvantage is that a student cannot raise their hand during the presentation/lecture and ask a question for clarification of a point. All such clarifying point need to be incorporated into the presentation or its follow-ups. Now, another significant advantage of the presentation over the lecture is that one extremely knowledgeable person can spread their expertise to many corners of the globe. The downside is that the extremely knowledgeable person wants to be paid big bucks to share that widely.

My efforts at being the devil's advocate may be less than perfect, but I would like to see more discussion in the areas I'm raising as I reply. Maybe some of you young pioneers can pick our the juicy and flavorful points here and put them into new discussions. Maybe now that my thinking is less emotional, I can do it myself.
Just to pull out one idea here, you said:

"Now, another significant advantage of the presentation over the lecture is that one extremely knowledgeable person can spread their expertise to many corners of the globe. The downside is that the extremely knowledgeable person wants to be paid big bucks to share that widely."

What about MIT Open CourseWare? You don't pay a cent to access lectures and materials from these great experts in the field. And this content is licensed under Creative Commons as a way to make it accessible without people having to pay for it.

The model of paying big bucks isn't the only option; Creative Commons and open curriculum/open content are another.

Where are the lectures. I looked a one of the courses in depth and saw no indication of any lectures in text format or presentation. The course consisted of the usual course documents, the list of readings, a calendar, description of the two papers and two in-class activities. The most useful part of that course on American History was the list of links to related resources. Perhaps I made a poor choice of course to look at, but I didn't see evidence of experts sharing their expertise to the K-12 crowd.

Perhaps I failed to make in clear that I want the expertise of experts to extend down to the high school and elementary crowd.
Yes, you did not make clear that you were only looking at experts going down to the K-12 level. I am a woman of many talents, but I'm afraid that telepathy isn't one of them. ;-)

MIT Open CourseWare is primarily for college age and adult students; these are MIT courses, made available online. If you're interested in the most relevant content for K-12 students, check out the Highlights for High School. That highlights the resources most relevant to high school students (mostly for AP science and math--it is MIT after all).

To find courses with audio or video lectures, the easiest way is to go to the "Audio/Video Lectures" in the left navigation. I see one history course with video: Seminar in Historical Methods. Other courses, like How to Stage a Revolution, provide lecture notes and slides.
Sorry, Christy, I was under the impression that this Ning is primarily about K-12 and didn't realize I had to specify that in a discussion. College age students have access to experts in their field, depending on the school they choose to attend. It is the K-12 crowd who is making do with those who are considered less than expert in their field, and this is even more true at the elementary level and in discussing the sciences and social studies.

At present I am working on several courses as I have time and interest in one or another. One is on the basic geographic features, and I'd like to include mention of the techtonic plates of the earth so that fifth graders who are learning about planets, oceans, and data, can understand it enough to understand why Europe and Asia are separate continents (or not).

Another course I'm working on is an introduction to civilization and after completing the introduction which compares the concepts we look at in civilizations with the modern examples of same, I plan to construct courses on the various civilizations showing how they exhibit those concepts. I want to include Norte Chico as the earliest American Civilization, but have run into numerable barriers. I wrote to the "expert in the field" in May and still have not received an answer. I've exhausted all that is posted on the web on the subject and still have concepts which I cannot fully address.

BTW, in response to the way the discussion has gone on this thread, I've started another that takes one of the points, whether technology is the better solution to a specific classroom situation. I am taking the devil's advocate position, and would welcome your input into why the technological solution would be an improvement over having students write a paper or report.
"Sorry, Christy, I was under the impression that this Ning is primarily about K-12 and didn't realize I had to specify that in a discussion."

From the home page "Welcome to Classroom20.com, the social network for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education." Education is more than just K-12, although much of the discussion here is focused on K-12.

"BTW, in response to the way the discussion has gone on this thread,..."

Out of curiosity, how did you expect the discussion to go with the way you set the tone at the beginning? What was your goal with framing the discussion that way?
I know this discussion has wound down, but you asked about experts sharing information with K-12 students. Here's a specific example from this week: SpaceFish and the Primary Crowdsource.
Anne, I am not sure what any of the above has to do with your original question. Here, and in other threads, you are argumentative seemingly for the sake of it. You have been given several rational and straightforward explanations, but still you assume the worst. You berate the young for chastising the old with one hand, but do just the same and swipe the young with your other hand. A 'pioneer' like yourself should be able to rise above it, and not continue these pointless ramblings. Read the explanations of Creative Commons as they were supplied and move on. Else, I recommend Steve closes this thread and any others you are intent on hijacking for your own agenda.


I think those two sites give the best explanation and justification for CC - in plain English. Of course it's "legit", and it's been around for several years.
Thanks for the Nicole.



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