Recently in Copyright & Fair Use Category

"Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users, television took 13 years, the internet just 4 years, the iPod only 3-and what about Facebook? The current king of social media added 100 million users in less than 9 months."  What's next?  And how long will it take?

Throughout history, humans have (re)used local resources to create not only buildings and fortifications, but monuments, roads, and a wide variety of other structures. For countless generations, artists, composers, and writers have freely incorporated elements from local and distant cultures to create new visual, musical, and textual forms.  What effect has this had on issues like copyright?

In the Web 2.0 World, the open (re)combination of multiple media has become commonplace in many venues, practices that Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons and others, would characterize as emblematic of a 'Remix ' or 'Read/Write' culture. Indeed, from his point of view, “the health, progress, and wealth creation of a culture is fundamentally tied to this participatory remix process."

In the recently-released Horizon Report 2008 - a joint publication of the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), six emerging information technologies and practices that are expected to significantly impact educational organizations are profiled: Grassroots Video, Collaborative Webs, Mobile Broadband, Data Mashups, Collaborative Intelligence, and Social Operating Systems.
"Digital natives" is not a new buzz-word.  It has been around for at least 10 years...yikes, has it been that long??  Anyway, there are some new ideas that are worth exploring.  For example, what implications are there for encouraging students to work together on a finished product?  Isn't that Wikipedia's basic premise....creating a body of knowledge from collaboration?  Or how about cultural knowledge...what do students know about, exactly?  Consider Helene Heggemann....

From an article in the February 10, 2010 New York Times..."It usually takes an author decades to win fawning reviews, march up the best-seller list and become a finalist for a major book prize. Helene Hegemann, just 17, did it with her first book, all in the space of a few weeks, and despite a savaging from critics over plagiarism."  Ms. Heggemann states that, “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity,” For more read on....

This phenomenon has been explored by University of Notre Dame anthropology professor Susan D. Blum in her book, My Word!  In her book, Prof. Blum attributes this more to a culture in which students are increasingly asked to collaborate socially as well as academically than to a desire to overtly plagiarize.  A review of her book explains it as "Those who want to understand the ideas in the book may want to note the title; it's no coincidence that Blum wrote about college "culture," and not "ethics" or "morality." And while she did use "plagiarism" in the title, she faults colleges and professors for failing to distinguish between buying a paper to submit as your own, submitting a paper containing passages from many authors without appropriate credit, and simply failing to learn how to cite materials. Treating these violations of academic norms the same way is part of the problem, she writes."

A recent NY Times article on digital natives also suggests that the problem is cultural.  "But these cases — typical ones, according to writing tutors and officials responsible for discipline at the three schools who described the plagiarism — suggest that many students simply do not grasp that using words they did not write is a serious misdeed.  It is a disconnect that is growing in the Internet age as concepts of intellectual property, copyright and originality are under assault in the unbridled exchange of online information, say educators who study plagiarism."

Each year since 1998 Beloit College has released the mindset list to help their professors understand why some students do not relate to their stories or examples.  This year's mind set reminds us that most students starting college were born in 1992....too young to know about Dirty Harry, Czechoslovakia or J.R. Ewing.  For the complete here.

In a recent NY Times there is a piece about listening vs. reading aloud.  It made me wonder what else we do in this age of technology that confuses the action with the passive activity?  In part, the article says,

"It's part of a pattern. Instead of making music at home, we listen to recordings of professional musicians. When people talk about the books they've heard, they're often talking about the quality of the readers, who are usually professional. The way we listen to books has been de-socialized, stripped of context, which has the solitary virtue of being extremely convenient.

But listening aloud, valuable as it is, isn't the same as reading aloud. Both require a great deal of attention. Both are good ways to learn something important about the rhythms of language. But one of the most basic tests of comprehension is to ask someone to read aloud from a book. It reveals far more than whether the reader understands the words. It reveals how far into the words -- and the pattern of the words -- the reader really sees."  For the rest read on...

On Twitter, there was a rumor that Al Green died in a car accident and another that he died from kidney failure.  On May 15, 2009 Al Green took the stage amidst the mud and rain in a outdoor music festival in Memphis.  In the age where people waited for news, these kinds of things were vetted for accuracy before publishing them as fact.  Ashton Kutcher tweeted about the rumor to reassure his 1 million followers that it is just that...a rumor.  It is amazing that we now get the news from the kid who taught the world how to get "punk'd."

There seems to be a pattern here and in the rush to stay ahead of the game we are losing a bit of reflection in the process.  Brain research from New Horizons for Learning includes these guiding principles:

1. All learning is physiological.
2. The Brain-Mind is social.
3. The search for meaning is innate.
4. The search for meaning occurs through patterning.
5. Emotions are critical to patterning.
6. The Brain-Mind processes parts and wholes simultaneously.
7. Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception.
8. Learning always involves conscious and unconscious processes.
9. There are at least two approaches to memory: archiving individual facts or skills or making sense of experience.
10. Learning is developmental.
11. Complex learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat associated with helplessness.
12. Each brain is uniquely organized.

The sheer amount of information that flows through any number of digital sources affects how much a person may absorb and ultimately learn since the brain uses focused attention and peripheral perception to acquire understanding.  Without a lapse of time, the ability to measure the quality of the information against previous knowledge is diminished and a rumor might be taken as fact. 

This problem is also muddied by the seeming lack of concern about truth such as the experience of publishing  A Million LIttle Pieces or in the many US journalistic scandals like the one involving Dan Rather and CBS. An interesting take on this is from the 2006 book On Memoir, Truth and Writing Well by William Zinsser.

Interestingly enough, Laurence J. Peter said,  "Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it."

and in the slightly altered words of Same Cooke...
Don't know much about history
Don't know much trigonometry
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took....

Preventing plagiarism is becoming increasingly difficult in the age of look it up, cut and paste. We tell students what it is, but how can you prevent what you don't know?  While we probably already incorporate these things, it might help to include additional practice in recognizing plagiarism when it occurs.  Here are some ideas culled from several websites:

Technology & Learning April 2002: Preventing Digital Plagiarsim

  • Practice paraphrasing by asking students to read a paragraph/website (or several) and then close the book/site and summarize it.
  • Practice note-taking by assigning a reading and asking students to take notes on the reading. Have them critique another student's notes.
  • Design activities that help students gather information and form opinions about it, writing out their thoughts.
  • Make it easy for students to give credit and reinforce that giving credit is an important part of the assignment.
  • Surround students with examples of correct citation methods.  Make the MLA available to them.
  • Schedule several points at which students turn in drafts of their work.
  • Tell students that MPA faculty have used sites like and Google searches to detect cases of plagiarism.
Millikin Univeristy
  • Have students compile and turn in working bibliographies well in advance of term paper dates. This will require students to begin research at an early date, avoiding the temptation for last minute information downloads.
  • Have students maintain a research log. This will note the databases and indexes searched, search dates, keywords and subjects used, and a summary of search results.
Jamie MacKenzie: The New Plagiarism
  • Discourage simple fact finding and encourage questioning and original thought so that students become producers of insight and ideas rather than mere consumers.
  • Use essential questions and ask students to create their own answers.
  • Focus on systematic storage and expect them to be able to retrieve notes at a later date.
Purdue University: O(nline) W(riting) L(ab)

UC Davis: Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism Theme Page

Hamilton College: Nesbitt-Johnson Writing Center

University of Kentucky Department of Chemistry: Plagiarism

or SPAM! Think you get SPAM? Imagine being Bill Gates....hey they could make a movie..."Being Bill Gates"......but I digress. According to his aide Steve Ballmer, Gates gets millions of e-mails every day. The Associated Press quoted him as saying that Gates "literally receives 4 million pieces of e-mail per day, most of it SPAM." But unlike the average person, Gates enjoys special technology developed by his software colossus geared to catch spam aimed at him. What a deal...he gets his SPAM cooked ahead of time. What I want to know is WHY ???? If the answer is "because I can", then the SPAMMERS should take a lesson from Dr. Malcolm. "just because you can, doesn't mean you should." This is from a person who has received just one too many announcements about my need for ViAgRa.

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This site is maintained by Upper School Technology Coordinator Theresa Reardon Offerman.


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