March 22nd 2009

Academic Earth

Academic Earth

Academic Earth is an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world class education.

Interesting site with a lot of lectures/information on many topics.  Needs more English topics!

As more and more high quality educational content becomes available online for free, we ask ourselves, what are the real barriers to achieving a world class education?  At Academic Earth, we are working to identify these barriers and find innovative ways to use technology to increase the ease of learning.

We are building a user-friendly educational ecosystem that will give internet users around the world the ability to easily find, interact with, and learn from full video courses and lectures from the world’s leading scholars.  Our goal is to bring the best content together in one place and create an environment that in which that content is remarkably easy to use and in which user contributions make existing content increasingly valuable.

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March 10th 2009

4Cs-SF, PreWorkshop Wiki

4Cs-SF, PreWorkshop Wiki

4Cs begins, for me, tomorrow afternoon at what seems to me to be an exciting workshop on Cross-Cultural Connections.  And it starts with a wiki, a tool I’m learning to use in my online classrooms to get students to interact and create meaning.  The workshop promises to be overfilled with information, judging from the wiki contents, but I’m just so impressed at the possibilities for collaboration the internet allows.  Amazing.  I’ll report tomorrow.

One of the newest waves in composition and rhetoric studies is the interdisciplinary area of Cross-Cultural Rhetoric.  At the intersection of digital writing pedagogy, intercultural communication, and contemporary rhetoric, the aim of cross-cultural rhetoric might best be described as helping to transform students into global citizens, equipped with the communication and collaboration strategies they will need for active, ethical participation in a world community.  Yet how can we prepare our students, classrooms, colleagues, and governing institutions to meet the necessary challenge of global learning as the next wave in higher education?

New pedagogical approaches, curricular materials, technology tools, and WPA initiatives are needed to adequately address the current rhetorical situation that faces first-year composition and writing centers.

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November 11th 2008

Fair Use

Fair Use

Because I often teach online; and because I often use movies and other visual content in my face-to-face classrooms, the subject of fair use is important to me.  There’s a lot of sturm und drang about it, but I pretty much do as see fit for my learners–everything I do in the classroom is for the classroom, so I figure I’m covered… at least I hope so.

Anyway, this month, The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education was released by a group of media literacy educators (more than 150 members of leading educational associations)–and it’s both comprehensive and activist.  It addresses “the transformative uses of copyright materials in media literacy education that can flourish only with a robust understanding of fair use.”

This document is a code of best practices that helps educators using media literacy concepts and techniques to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances—especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant. It is a general right that applies even in situations where the law provides no specific authorization for the use in question—as it does for certain narrowly defined classroom activities.

This guide identifies five principles that represent the media literacy education community’s current consensus about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials, wherever and however it occurs: in K–12 education, in higher education, in nonprofit organizations that offer programs for children and youth, and in adult education.

The Guide does not explore the limits of Fair Use, but it does exhort educators to be leaders and to challenge “misguided institutional policies” that may restrict Fair Use.  The Guide was created to deal with the recurring activities teachers must use in media literacy education and to outline principles that apply to such teaching.  There’s a short video (below) and you can download the full report.

More information on Fair Use can be found on the NCTE blog.

[img source]

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April 7th 2008

4Cs NOLA Friday — F Session

Somehow, I started fresh Friday morning after blogging late and trying to adjust to New Orleans time. A session on Fully On-Line Instruction began at 8:00, which is 6am CA time, and I was starting to feel it.

This particular session focused on a pilot project from UCSB comparing a series of face-to-face FYC courses with totally on-line instruction. The courses were taught by three different teachers, each taking one of the on-line and one of the face-to-face courses so that assessment of pros and cons could be relatively evaluated across pedagogies. One speaker identified herself as a “not-so-tech-savvy” person who engaged the project with more skepticism than her colleagues. The others were rather more knowledgeable, but in the end, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know.

The problem is that, if an instructor has read the latest research or spoken in depth with anyone working on-line, the problems and benefits are consistently in the same areas:

The positives are that

  • The responsibility for collaboration and group work is on the students
  • The technology allows more useful (timely?) feedback and more efficient distribution of course materials
  • The quantity and quality of communication increases
  • Asynchronous activities allow students to proceed with work on their own schedules
  • There are opportunities for multi-modal presentations that a classroom setting does not facilitate

The negatives include

  • Limited immediate follow-up and spontaneity in conversation and it can be difficult to provide individualized instruction
  • If you use portfolios, collecting and assessing such is difficult
  • There are inevitable technology glitches and access considerations (dial-up, etc.) that complicate things
  • Prep time is dramatically increased
  • Because the primary medium of communication is written text (rather than spoken words as in a classroom), students who read slowly and/or write slowly (or poorly) fair less well than in a regular classroom environment

So, the consensus was that on-line instruction was a mixed bag–a different mode with different advantages and weaknesses that we just need to be aware of. The panel had some recommendations on creating better on-line learning courses based on their experiences as well as their assessments of student learning outcomes.

  1. Maintain clarity of purpose in the course–be slow to introduce “new” features and instead try to maintain a stable environment around an “institutional” context, rather than a “technology” context
  2. Keep the basics of good practice in mind–peer review, drafts, etc.
  3. Be prepared to do more prep work (nearly 3 times as much at first) than in a conventional classroom

It was, in the end, an interesting enough presentation–they’d brought slides of the research and bibliographical information that situated them in the field, but I had been hoping for more practical tips for esubmissions, responding to students, maintaining real-time discussions and the like.

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