Monday, April 11, 2016

LOA Diaries: CUE Rock Star

I have been a member of CUE  since I started teaching. I found the conferences I've attended to be engaging and inspirational. I also attend EdCamp un-conferences and local events sponsored by my school district as well as several workshops at SCCOE, our county office of education. Considering the salary structure of most educators, I appreciate that many of these events are local (meaning no travel expenses) and free or very reasonably priced. In addition to the annual SVCUE event, I've also attended some amazing CUESF events just up the road.

After a two-year CUE Conference hiatus, I attended the annual conference in Palm Springs last month. This is kind of the big daddy of #edtech conferences in California, and I am willing to take the hit for the conference and travel, usually working out to about $1000. The conference fee itself is $250-ish for members of CUE. I have never questioned the cost of this 3+ day event. The keynote speakers are high profile folks, from Vinton Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet to The Brad Montague, the creator of Kid President.

I had heard about CUE Rock Star Camps and honestly didn't even look twice. I resented the implication that if those attending were Rock Stars, then the rest of us were not. CUE has at times felt very cliquish to me and I just did not want to be part of that. Three things changed my mind, sort of. Our school district is opening a new STEAM school this coming fall and I have been privileged to be part of the planning and implementation from very early on. While at the conference in Palm Springs, I learned about an upcoming Rock Star Camp which was a STEAM edition. I was intrigued. When I saw it was in Orcutt, CA, a week before I needed to be there for an iPad Academy workshop I was facilitating, and the home of a dear friend, I was almost sold. Finally, on the flight heading home from PS, I sat next to +Jason Borgen, currently on the CUE Board of Directors. Jason and I used to teach at the same district (at different times) and we met at the first CUE I attended in 2008! We have stayed in touch, connecting at various ed tech events over the years. As we sat on the plane, and I explained my reservations about Rock Star events, and even just the name, he encouraged me to give it a try. I have a great respect for Jason, and I have heard such great things about the camps, it all seemed to point to yes, so I bit the bullet and paid the $249 registration fee.

And so, I packed up my car and my dog and headed south for a week in Orcutt. I was impressed with the sessions I attended. I left feeling inspired to try new things such as YouTube (creating, not consuming), some really exciting resources for integrating Science and Engineering activities and maybe even Minecraft. That said, I do think the $250 price tag is a little high for this format. I asked CUE Rock Star's 'baby daddy', Jon Corippo (actual title, CUE Dir. of Academic Innovation) about the price and he explained the costs involved and how they calculated their price from that. I get it, but think there is room for corporate sponsorships to help reduce the hit to already cash-strapped educators. There were no "big name" speakers, of course, it was more structured than the free EdCamps but I feel the price simply adds to the "us vs them" impression I first had about Rock Star camps. But the cliquishness I had experienced at my local affiliate was not apparent here and even though I was not local, I felt welcomed and appreciated. That was a nice surprise. There were inside jokes about ice cream and pickles and such that made no sense to me, but in general, it was a very inclusive experience. The faculty was incredibly generous with their time and resources, sharing lesson plans, links and even physical items such as books and maker supplies. Ed Campos, Jr. was a perfect Master of Ceremonies and the Orcutt team was flawless. Their superintendent, Dr. Deborah Blow, attended sessions right alongside us each day!

Cambrian Represents!

So here are some of my key takeaways from the weekend:

What is a Maker Space? The maker session was facilitated by Henry Danielson, director of Technology, Coast Unified School District in Cambria, and his middle schooler son, Max. While Henry was great, Max stole the show. I love hearing from kids how they work, think and learn. Max was articulate, thoughtful and enthusiastic. The two of them plus the rocket guy were definitely guides on the side, letting us explore and fail forward. Henry provided a google doc with so many resources that my head spins just looking at the doc, but I am thrilled to have it!

Minecraft. Get Crafting: Led by Chris Scott,who runs Minecraft camps and presents at conferences, this session really forced me out of my comfort zone. While I appreciate the value of games in learning, and I totally get how much kids embrace Minecraft, I've felt it has been a little overhyped and overdone. Plus I have never enjoyed playing video games myself. I was happy to finally get into a Minecraft world and see what it was all about. However, I was totally frustrated. Chris kept telling us to find a turtle and nothing at all looked like a turtle to me! Chris reminded us "the moment we forget the struggles of a learner, we stop being an effective educator."

I am still not sure the hype is worth it, but I am less daunted and willing to learn more. In a later session, Scott Spector shared several resources for using Minecraft across the curriculum so I have a lot of learning yet to do!

NGSS, STEAM, STEM What's it all about? Scott Spector, Coordinator of Innovation and Academic Events at the Santa Barbara County Ed Office, blew my mind with the plethora of resources he shared. He talked about the difference between the importance of performance expectations over rote learning as well as the integration of content across all subjects, something we elementary educators have been doing forever, but now have so many more resources and tools at our disposal.

YouTube on Your Side: Another session with Chris, we started out by watching 10 minutes of a daily vlogger's video. Ty next to me asked, 'why?' I think you either enjoy watching the mundane daily lives of others or you live your own. We moved on from that to talk about the power of such a potentially large audience to give ourselves and our students a voice with an authentic audience. I don't want to be a daily blogger or a daily vlogger, but I do know I have a unique voice and if I don't tell my story, someone else will. I have made many movies with my students and as a teacher, but this was my first foray into becoming a youtuber. It's not pretty, but here it is. I appreciate the push!

And finally, a few tidbits overheard at Cue Rock Star: STEAM

From Ed. Campos, Jr.'s 360 Math session - "Why buy an interactive whiteboard when you can get all this for less?"

In the youtube session, we watched a short video of building a pyramid of pennies. A math teacher in the room recognized it as part of the Dan Meyer Three Acts of a Mathematical story. I'd never heard of his work so I will do some research. It is an interesting approach.

"Are you going to learn more looking at a piece of paper or making it yourself & explaining it?'~ S. Spector

Granted there were about 5500 fewer people at this event than the Big CUE but there were zero tech issues, the wifi worked great, the site custodian was cheery and helpful and the IT group, Kirby and Janet, were available and on their feet the whole two days. So, I guess I am on the bus, and I need to start saving up for my next CUE Rock Star Camp!

For more, see my storify summary.

Friday, March 25, 2016

LOA Diaries: #CUE16

It has been a long, strange road to get me back to CUE. I really appreciate +Edmodo making good on the contest prize I won (but was unable to use) two years ago. I find the CUE conference to be inspiring and invigorating and this year was no different.  The opening keynote was none other than THE Brad Montague, the co-creator of +Kid President. Not a dry eye was in the house after his motivational pep talk.

Making Sense of Creative Commons Licenses

Interview with Jane Park

Last week I was fascinated to interview Jane Park, director of Platforms and Partnerships at Creative Commons. I always have to look up what the various licenses mean, so I was happy to have the opportunity to listed to Jane make sense of it for me! Following is a transcript of your interview. 

Tell us about you and your role.
I've been at Creative Commons (CC) for a number of years and currently I lead our platform initiatives. Which means working with OER platforms like Edmodo, Amazon, and Microsoft, as part of the U.S. Department of Education GoOpen initiative.

What is Creative Commons?
We're a nonprofit organization and we offer a suite of legal tools that make it easy for creators to share their creative work online. Prior to us, there were only two options if you wanted to share your work- all rights reserved copyright, where you had to ask for permission every time you used any part of someone's work, or in the public domain (you had no rights to that whatsoever). CC licenses are a set of copyright licenses that allow the creator to flexibly say, 'you can use my work and you have to give me credit,' and they allow the creator to manage those different permissions.

What does "open" mean in the context of OER?
The "Open" requires the 5 Rs. Retain (you can retain a copy- download/duplicate/store on your own computer), Reuse (use it in a class, in a study group, re-share it in a website or in a video), Revise (modify it, adapt it to your classroom, translate, and alter the content in other ways),Remix (combine the work with other works to create a collection or mashup), and Redistribute (share it on a website or video publicly).

On Edmodo Spotlight we have 3 choices: Attribution, Attribution Sharealike, and Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives. Can you tell us about what those three mean and why I would choose one over the other?

Attribution is the most liberal and accommodating of the licenses we offer. It essentially says hey, you have to give me credit for my work, but you can do whatever you want to do with it- you can remix it, adapt it, even use it for commercial purposes. We recommend this license as a default for OER.

The second option is Attribution Sharealike, which is basically the Attribution license with one extra condition attached. If you alter or modify the work in any way, you have to Sharealike your derivative work under the same license. You're still allowed to use it commercially. For example, if you take a song and sync it with a video, that video with the song you would have to Sharealike under the same Attribution Sharealike license.

The third license- Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives - is actually our most restrictive license. It signals to the user that you can redistribute my work verbatim, but if you make any modifications or changes, you cannot share it out. So it's saying "don't change my work but you can share it widely." 

What about paid resources?
If you're the owner, you can always sell it and/or add a Creative Commons license. If you're not the owner, you can use works under the first two licenses for commercial purposes, but not the third one, since it has a non commercial condition.

Do I need to worry about using someone else's work in my classroom? We teach our kids about fair use. How does that apply to this?

When you're using work in the classroom, it's more lenient than re-publishing in the open web, since the classroom is a closed setting. If the work is under a CC license, you're free to use it as long as you abide by the terms of the CC license. It applies in and out of the classroom. When it comes to using all rights reserved copyright works, you're free to use them both in and out of the classroom, the difference is the rules might be more liberal in the classroom, under fair use.

I'm not a fair use expert but there are 4 fair use factors that any court of law will judge fair use by. That is: the purpose and character of your use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion you use, and the effect of that use upon the potential market. But I would definitely read the wikipedia article on it, it will explain much better than I do.

What's the most common mistake teachers or students make when labeling using CC licenses?
If you are not the owner of the content, you should not be adding a CC license to that work. That's a common mistake, people put a CC license on works they don't own. A second one is adding a Noncommercial No Derivatives license, and say it's OER. As we discovered with the 5 Rs, if you can't remix it, then it's not OER. So if you want it to be OER, choose one of the licenses that allow derivative works or allows Remix.

What's the most important thing you want teachers to know?
There is a large world of OER out there. If you take 10 minutes to familiarize yourself with the CC licenses and how they work, you can tap that world of OER and clearly figure out what you can and cannot use and under what conditions. CC licenses really provide clarity, where there is often ambiguity, especially when it comes to fair use. That being said, we do encourage teachers to rely on fair use, exceptions and limitations to copyright, when using any educational resource.

Thank you Jane, for helping to make sense of this for us!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Quality Content on Edmodo Spotlight


Edmodo Spotlight is a repository for Open Educational Resources, (ROER) as well as a source of content which is not considered "open" but is being made available, either for free or a nominal cost, from educators for educators. Edmodo Spotlight hosts and facilitates access to these resources.  

To be truly open, content must satisfy the 5 Rs: the consumers ability to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute the resource. In an article published in the online Research in Leaning Technology journal, titled: Questions of quality in repositories of open educational resources: a literature review,  J.Atenas and L.Havemann discuss certain indicators of quality in the design and implementation of ROERs, and some of these include user evaluation tools, peer review and use of keywords (emphasis mine).

Call to Action

To ensure high quality content is available for Edmodo users, users such as the Luminary community can provide the most meaningful, authentic reviews. To help with the review process, I've come up with some suggestions.

When I introduce  Edmodo and blogging with my students, I use an acronym, R.A.M.E to remind them than any comment should be relevant, appropriate, meaningful and edited. The same is a good start for reviewing teacher created content. 

RELEVANT: When providing feedback, be sure that you have actually looked at the contributor's resource and that your comment reflects that - what is something you liked? what didn't you understand? what connections can you make to your own possible implementation? in short, is your comment relevant to the resource you are reviewing?

APPROPRIATE: Consider your audience. Is the public comment section the right place for your feedback? As fellow teachers, we may be reluctant to give negative feedback publicly - I know I am. When I see an issue that I feel needs to be addressed by the resource owner, I direct message them.The good news is, Edmodo understands this reluctance to 'call someone out' and they are building in a messaging option on the product (Spotlight Resource) page.

MEANINGFUL: The Huffington post had a nice article written by Kim Pisolkar about Why Good Job Isn't Good Enough where she provide the analogy of a gift:

Feedback is like a gift... and as with any gift, the initial impression is in the wrapping. Think about how you’d feel receiving a gift not wrapped nicely, just sort of thrown your way with little thought or sincerity. Now think of how differently you might feel receiving a gift that is lovingly wrapped, given with pride and thoughtful consideration. That analogy represents the difference between giving ordinary, bland feedback like “Nice job” and delivering effective, sincere feedback that actually tells a person what was good.
The article goes onto cite the SBI model developed by the Center for Creative Leadership. SBI is an acronym for situation, behavior, and impact:
1. Describe the situation where the behavior was observed.
2. Describe the behavior- the specific and factual actions or interactions that were observed by you or others.
3. Describe the impact - the effect the behavior had on others such as clients or team members, and/or the results.
So please include meaningful, perhaps even actionable feedback. Contributors are able to update their resources in Spotlight and often will based on community feedback.Your words do have an impact. 

EDITED: In general, please try to make sure your review comments are edited.

After studying Socrates, my students also added the final two letters of the acronym: N and N to make RAMENN - is your input nice and necessary? Are your comments, even criticism delivered with kindness? 

When you look at at resource in Edmodo, you have the option to rate it 1-5 stars. You can also post a comment, preferably using guidelines similar to what I have outlined above.

A final note about keywords. Users, content consumers, look for and find content using keywords. When you are reviewing a resource, if you notice they are missing some valuable keywords, please let the owner know. If they add them, your suggestion might make the difference for someone looking for just the right amazing resource.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

LOA Diaries: Earning NerdCred at Skywalker Ranch

I was extremely honored to be invited by +Edmodo to the US Department of Education's #GoOpen Exchange. +Office of Ed Tech's  #GoOpen campaign encourages states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. From the day I started teaching, I've advocated for a more open sharing of content, why, after all, should we re-create the wheel in thousands of classrooms across the globe? So this event was an exchange of ideas on a subject I am passionate about. The fact that it was being held at Skywalker Ranch in beautiful Marin County, just two hours north of my home, was icing on the cake.

I met like-minded educators from across the country and was truly energized and invigorated by the exchange of ideas. We even got to watch the original Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, in George Lucas' theater. I couldn't help myself, the sound of the THX 'Deep Note' caused me to break out in cheer!

I tend to use Twitter as a note taking device and below is a compilation of my tweets about the event.

Thank you to +Kevyn Klein,and  +Julia Gitis from Edmodo for making my attendance possible, and to Andrew Marcinek and Katrina Stevens from the US Dept. of Ed, Office of Educational Technology for making me feel so welcome and putting together such a fun and inspirational day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Open and Free

One of my soapbox issues since I started in Education was the need for sharing and collaboration. Teaching is hard enough without cooperation. New teachers, including those I now find myself coaching, need all the help they can get. Providing them with free resources that they can adapt and edit to fit their student populations is so important, especially in those first few years when new teachers haven’t yet built their own personal arsenal of “go to” lessons and activities.

Decades ago in my first career, I first learned about Open Source software. Wikipedia defines Open source as computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.[1] Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner.

Working in high tech, the idea of collaborative development seemed a little like the wild, wild west. I didn’t really care much about Open Source until I started working in Education and funds were limited. Suddenly the idea of free and accessible seemed like a godsend to cash strapped schools.  

Fast forward a few years and I have now figured out a platform for sharing lesson plans in Edmodo’s Spotlight. It is a place to share, collect, review, and discover helpful resources for your students and teaching. It acts as a marketplace where both publishers and teachers can create and share resources. Teachers from the Edmodo network can download, peruse or access these mostly free resources. Some teachers do choose to sell their lessons but that is not in my ethos.

As I am approaching the final years of my time in the classroom, I love having an outlet to share some of my favorite resources. I have shared original, editable content as well as recommended some of my favorite online resources.  I've been sharing my favorite resources. I was thrilled to see the First Lady announce #OpenEBks on @Twitter and shared the resource with my PLN. I tagged my tweet with #OER and #freeandopen.

Through the magic of Twitter, I was re-schooled by Douglas Levin. Doug is the founder and president of EdTech Strategies, LLC. He is an adviser to federal and state policymakers and education leaders, Mr. Levin has conducted research that has informed and shaped the field, and written and spoken widely about the trends shaping the future of education. Doug pointed out my misuse of the term “open”

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.32.30 PM.png
He then sent me a link to an article explaining (reminding me of) the definition of open in this context.  We had a bit of a back and forth and I sent him a quote from the Princess Bride:

Which then inspired him to write a blog post which included this FAQ for educators about what OER really means.  

Open educational resources are and always will be free, but not all free resources are OER. Free resources may be temporarily free or may be restricted from use at some time in the future (including by the addition of fees to access those resources). Moreover, free resources may not be modified, adapted or redistributed without express permissions from the copyright holder.

How do I know if an educational resource is an OER?
The key distinguishing characteristic of OER is its intellectual property license and the freedoms the license grants to others to share and adapt it. If a lesson plan or activity is not clearly tagged or marked as being in the public domain or having an open license, it is not OER. It’s that simple (emphasis mine). Creative Commons copyright licenses are standardized, free-to-use open licenses that facilitate the development and use of OER and are recommended for use by all K-12 educators.

Hopefully this will help clarify but mostly inspire you to openly share what you have created! 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Six Steps to Submit Stellar Spotlights - plus a few other suggestions

Edmodo Spotlight helps you boost your lesson planning and find resources to spark your students’ curiosity and improve their overall learning experience. It is a place to share, collect, review, and discover helpful resources for your students and teaching. It is a marketplace where both publishers and teachers can create and share resources. Teachers from the Edmodo network can download, peruse or purchase these resources.

I was reluctant to use Spotlight, until I really stopped and looked at it. It was super easy, but it helps to be prepared. So this blog post is to help you plan ahead. When you upload, you’ll be asked for some information. If you have it ahead of time, it will make the upload flow much smoother. Also please know your resource is most likely to be approved if you include a title, at least 1 (but 4 is better) thumbnail images and both parts of the description.

1. If you are “recommending” a resource, first, please, search spotlight to be sure no one else has already shared it. If they have, simply add a comment using the [review] button, seconding the recommendation.

2. Title: be sure your title gives a clear picture of your product. For example, Sandy’s Shoes tells you nothing, but Measuring Distance with Sally’s Shoes gives you a better idea. A good title helps teachers decide whether to look at a product!

3. Up to 4 thumbnails: you will need to have 1-4 meaningful thumbnails representing your product. If you do not include your own, there are defaults, but these are not going to attract users to your product. (see images below)

Great thumbnails will help draw in teachers. For example, the images for the products here...

tell you more than these ...

4. Description: The Description Field provides an overview of your content. This is what teachers will read when clicking on your resource, before deciding whether or not to download it.
  • Question 1: Describe your content, including how it addresses a specific subject and standards. Tell us what academic objectives it achieves. Hint: Try to anticipate questions that teachers may have. We recommend 50-100 words.This is the overview teachers see when they are deciding whether or not to download your product. It should provide a detailed overview of the content and related standards. It may include links to related resources or products. You could also provide data or social proof, “this project is a favorite with my 5th graders every year”. If you have this written up ahead of time, you can just paste it into the box when uploading
  • Question 2: How can teachers use this in the classroom? Hint: Provide an idea for how the teacher can integrate this resource into their lesson. You can mention discussion, collaboration, assessment, etc.

5. Resource type: if your product doesn’t neatly fit into one of these categories, just give it the closest choice.
6. Grade levels (up to 4) and subjects addressed. You should also know the CCSS numbers, if applicable.

There is sometimes confusion about the licensing. There are six licence options but only two are available through Spotlight. Non-commercial, no derivatives means no one can sell OR modify your work for their purpose, to fit the needs of their students. If you are okay with others using and modifying your work to fit their needs, then use share alike. This allows others to build upon your work as long as they give you credit, even for commercial purposes. I am a big fan of open educational resources (OER) so I tend to use the most accommodating license.

You will also need to select a few other things but these are pretty straightforward.
A few other suggestions:

  • Create a profile! I know I like to see that someone has put the effort into letting me know something about them. As we say in twitter-land, don’t be an egg! Upload an avatar or picture representing you. And come up with a motto. It can be a mantra, guiding principle or even a nickname.. just put something!
  • Share your work! You are your own best salesperson. Tweet out links to your products. Share them in content specific groups in Edmodo, let your spotlight shine!
  • Share the spotlight love… review and rate other teachers’ products. Not only will it help give you great ideas, a review helps that teacher by motivating, encouraging and giving them ways to improve their own offerings. After all, it is all about collaboration!

Coming up next, 

How to Search for Stellar Spotlights