Friday, January 31, 2014

Revisitng the Blog

After reviewing the chapter on actually using blogs (CH 3 of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson) I realized that I am not modeling good behavior! I used to be pretty good a keeping a reflective blog. I used it to reflect on different ideas I was learning about in school or at work. I really enjoyed keeping a blog, but I let myself get lazy. I justified not blogging by telling myself I was too busy with work and my own schooling to spend the time writing on my blog. I need to start again. My goal is to write at least one blog post per week. I will be writing on anything I want but I will focus on my experiences in leading this class, my experiences learning, and my experiences at work. 

To my COMP1010 students, feel free to take a look at this blog and comment anytime. You are not required to keep a blog for this class but I do encourage you to try, at least once J. It can be weird to just sit down and write, but after a while it becomes more fun and even a little freeing. A blog is your space, you can write about whatever you want and the best part is that you aren’t marked on it so it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you decide to keep a blog please share the URL with me so I can follow along!

Have fun :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Teaching Perspective - Does this mean I am well balanced?

In my most recent master's class on Systems Analysis and Learning Theory, I was assigned an inventory on teaching perspectives. The Teaching Perspectives Inventory is designed to help you discover how you perceive teaching and learning. There are five perspectives, Transmission, Apprenticeship, Developmental, Nurturing, and Social Reform. They are very clear that everyone uses all five at some point, it is just that we prefer some perspectives more than others.
This was an interesting assignment. I made sure I didn't read the breakdown or articles about the perspectives before I started the inventory. I found it difficult to answer the questions because I often found myself agreeing with statements. This was reflected in my results. I was fairly small in the spread of my scores. My highest score was a 34 for Apprenticeship which makes sense since rather than being a teacher I am an Ed Tech so I am mostly working one on one or in small groups with instructors helping them use different types of technology or helping them integrate technology into their classes. My lowest score was a 30 in Transmission which is only 4 points different. So my spread was only 4 points. I ended up with two dominant perspectives Apprenticeship (34) and Nurturing (33), one back-up perspective Social Reform (32), and two recessive perspectives Developmental (31) and Transmission (30).
Does the spread of my scores mean tat I am well balanced and see that all of these perspectives have a place or does this say that I have not formed my teaching style yet?

I'm Back!

I used to blog here fairly frequently. I'll be honest, it was mostly because I had to for school. I found that I liked it though. I like the idea of writing my thoughts down. It helps me to solidify them and explore them in a different way. Once I have them in concrete form it is easier to reflect on them. I can't lie to myself and tell myself that I always thought a particular way.

Let's be honest. Our thoughts and opinions change on a regular basis. This change comes from perspective and reflection as well as input from new sources. That is why I like blogging. Even if no one else ever reads what I wrote I can and from that I can take a look at my thought process.

So, here's the plan. I aim to write here once a week. The topics will either be taken from my work life or most likely my school life. If you read feel free to comment. Even if you don't I will enjoy the process and really that is all that matters in blogging.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Finally Applying for the Masters Degree

I have finally buckled down to apply for my Masters Degree in Distance Education. As usual, I have left everything to the last minute and I can't figure out what to say in my questionnaire. I am guessing that when they ask what my primary reasons for applying are that they are not looking for "to get a Masters Degree". Ack! Hopefully I can pull it together by tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

OER Final Project - Aggregation

Taking some direction from concepts I learned in this class, I have decided to slightly remix this assignment. Finding OERs for my topic was not always easy and there were some fantastic resources which I could not use due to the fact that they were not open. In some cases (one in particular) I choose to fudge this a bit to demonstrate how difficult it is to know what you can use and what you cannot.

The topic I choose to build my aggregation around was the Bechamel Sauce. Based on the resources I found and the direction my search took me in, I built the aggregation around the concept map below:

Cooking is an interesting topic when searching for OERs. It is strange that there are not more available since cooking is all about sharing, remixing, and mashups. In cooking we are often encouraged to take a basic recipe and make it our own which sounds just like the concept of remixing. We are also often shown that a great test for a chef is a black box challenge similar to what we see on the popular TV show Iron Chef. These challenges often display how using the same ingredients can result in very different products, similar to a mashup.

Although recipes themselves can be copyrighted it is difficult to enforce this. Lists can not be copyrighted so lists of ingredients are up for grabs. What can be copyrighted is how you describe the process. While you cannot copy a recipe word for word from a cookbook it is common for food bloggers to take a dish they ate at a restaurant and attempt to recreate it. Credit for inspiration is usually given to the restaurant or chef who created the original dish as in this example from the food blog The Amateur Gourmet.

Here is the link to my aggregation. I used the site for the first time and I really liked it for the most part. I found it easy to use and easy to organize. What I didn't like was that I could not figure out if I could put more than one resource on one page and it is not great for displaying some websites like Flickr or Twitter Search. The Twitter Search site is understandable as it is a real-time list and you would want to go to the site each time to renew the search. It would have been nice if the Flickr page had loaded so the viewer could see the picture in the binder.

Site Terms of Use

  1. Free Culinary School - This site did not have a specific copyright or a terms of use policy listed. Based on the About page I believe that if it was licensed it would be under something like the Creative Commons (CC) Attribution-Noncommercial license. I linked to this podcast but I would not attempt to use it for a class or reuse any of the materials without first consulting with the owner of the site.
  2. Wikipedia - All Wikipedia resources used are licensed under the CC Attribution - Share Alike 3.0 license.
  3. Food Lorist - The Food Lorist blog is licensed under the CC Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs 3.0 license. I am allowed to share this work, but I must attribute it to the author and I must not use it for commercial purposes. I would not be able to use this resource in a class for which I, or any institution, was charging money without first obtaining permission from the author.
  4. Flickr photo Bechamel (1) - CC Attribution 2.0 Generic. I can share and remix this photo, but I must provide attribution.
  5. Flickr photo Bechamel (2) - CC Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
  6. Flickr photo Chicken Crepes - CC Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
  7. Flickr photo Hot Brown - CC Attribution - NonCommercial 2.0 Generic, so I can share and remix this photo but with attributing the photographer and not for commercial purposes.
  8. Furey and the Feast - Cynathia Furey's blog is licensed with a CC Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs 3.0 United States license. As far as I can tell from the CC website the US license just means that the CC License also works within US copyright laws.
  9. Flickr photo Croque Madame - CC Attribution - NonCommercial NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
  10. Ms Glaze's Pomme d' Amour - CC Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike 3.0 Updated. I am free to share and remix if I attribute to MsGlaze and do not use the work for commercial purposes.
  11. Our Life in the Kitchen - CC Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs 3.0 US
  12. What the Fruitcake?! - CC Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
  13. Flickr photo Croquetas - All photos in this series are CC Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
  14. Hill's Kitchen - CC Attribution 3.0 Unported
  15. PBS - This web resource is NOT an OER but I included it because it was my original inspiration for this topic and because it gives the appearance of being open. The video has buttons allowing the user to embed the video on a website and to share the resource through social media or email. This always bugs me because the tools provided indicate the video is free to use which it is not. As well the Terms of Use page is confusing. PBS has clear instructions on what you can do with a podcast, but not with a video.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Learning Objects on Shmoop

For my Learning Object report I choose the website Shmoop. My reasons for doing so are purely selfish. I have been meaning to take a closer look at the website for a while and have not had time to do so. I was primarily interested in the Literature resources they offered. I don't work with any programs which offer a lit course but I do enjoy poetry and prose. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a closer look.

What is Shmoop?

Shmoop is a website which promises to make you a "better lover of literature, history, life..." (Shmoop homepage). The student resources are broken down into 9 categories: literature, poetry, Shakespeare, bestsellers, US history, civics, biographies, and AP exams. With the exception of AP exams, each of these categories offer free study resources for students at the high school and undergraduate level. All study guides are written by people hired by Shmoop University Inc. and most of the writers are teachers and graduate students.

The idea behind Shmoop is to make topics in subjects like literature, civics and history palatable to the 21st century learner. The study guide I viewed on The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock breaks the poem down stanza by stanza and explains it in a breezy, easy to understand style. This study guide includes web resources and study questions. Each study guide also includes a section called Why Should I Care which points out the cultural relevance of each work studied.

Open or not?

Our project parameters did not stipulate whether the Learning Object project had to be open or not. In an earlier post I defined open as an object which is easily available, freely usable, and customizable.

Shmoop is easily available. Most resources can be viewed without an account on their website. They also have study guides available through iPhone, Kindle, B&N Nook, and the Sony Reader. These mobile resources are not free however. At the time of writing, units from Shmoop cost $1.99 each on iTunes.

Resources from Shmoop are not freely usable both in terms of cost and copyright. Although the Shmoop Teacher Resource How to Use Shmoop page suggests teachers can freely copy assignments and activities into their own webpages (using copy and paste or HTML code provided by Shmoop) the Terms of Use page paints a different story. Under section VI User Conduct and Licenses to Use Shmoop Services it states:

"User may download copyrighted material for personal use only, unless User obtains express permission in writing from an authorized Shmoop University, Inc. representative, and the copyright owner, to download copyrighted material for other uses. Thus, except as otherwise expressly permitted under copyright law, User may not copy, redistribute, retransmit, publish or commercially exploit downloaded material without express permission in writing of Shmoop and the copyright owner." (Section VI of Terms of Use Shmoop)

In the US teachers would be allowed to copy and paste information from the website under Fair Use. In Canada and other countries this is not the case. I expect that it would be easy to obtain permission from Shmoop to use content in this manner since they seem to encourage it.

Shmoop also does not allow alteration of their content. It is use-as-is content. This means that they do not meet my criteria of open in terms of customization.

Shmoop maybe easy and cheap to use but it is not open.

Where is Shmoop now?

Shmoop is still in Beta mode so it is still being tested. To gain user feedback Shmoop offers a suggestions link which takes the user to a page where they can rant, rave and request. Users can also vote on ideas they like. The page categorizes ideas based on popularity, and allows users to see which ideas Shmoop is working on and which ones are completed.

An interview with the President and CEO of Shmoop, Ellen Siminoff, explains that the site makes money through advertising and sales of exams, teacher resources, ebooks and apps (transcribed interview). Because Shmoop charges for their apps as long as people are using the apps they should keep making money.

Prognosis for Future

I see no reason why Shmoop might fail in the near future. They collaborate with their Beta users through an interactive suggestions page, Facebook, Twitter and a blog. They have a system to make money for the company. Siminoff has stated that Shmoop is close to actually making money and she doesn't see an immediate need to spend in the near future (transcribed interview).

I am not sure how useful this site is outside of the US though. Many of the video clips I tried to view are not available outside of the US which is a problem for international users. The language and cultural references used are also specific to a western audience. I expect there could also be arguments made which narrow this audience even further demographically. There is also the fact that their entire history and civics sections are about the US alone. I expect their target market is the US student though.

Although they are not an open initiative Shmoop seems to share some of the same ideals. They are passionate about their subject matter and attempt to make it accessible (at least intellectually) to many in the US and Canada. If they focus on the subjects they already cover and continue to develop and offer mobile services I see no reason for them to fail.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Library Critique

This week we were asked to look at a library website and determine whether the library under review is a repository or a referactory. If we define repository and referactory in the same way as in in the Educause report we read then my institution's library is a repository.

The Northern Lakes College Library offers a traditional library search engine, learning guides / tutorials for students, a database of electronic resource, and a collection of web resources organized by topics. Although the site does not have any terms of service laid out like we saw in Schalk's example, I believe these issues are meant to be understood. The college has a standard plagiarism policy and copyright in Canada is covered widely on the library's Moodle site accessible to college staff and students.

I think you could have a library that was both a repository and referactory. I am sure I have seen examples of this as well although they escape me at the moment. I wonder if a library as referactory is taking away from the classes offered at an institution. From the articles we read I understood what differentiates a referactory from repository is that the former offers guidelines on how to use a resource. If this is true then doesn't that restrict how it is used within the context of a course? Are we back to the reusibility paradox or am I missing something?