Tag Archives: education

Copyright and Education

Photo of a copyrighted rock

James Glover, "Copyrighted rock," available under a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 license at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesg/853688999/

In a recent meeting for our First-Year Composition program, I volunteered to find 4 recent readings on the topic of copyright and education. Easy, right? I’ve got tons of pages on copyright, IP, and fair use bookmarked on Diigo, and I try to keep up with scholarly conversations in the field on the stuff.

Of course, it took longer than I expected. But I’m not complaining–I was reminded of awesome stuff I had saved and promptly forgotten. So after wandering through a few options, I landed on the following four readings.

(Note: these lists of resources are shared with students in a printed textbook, with the idea that students who choose to begin researching this topic will look up the articles themselves, so at least one had to be un-Google-able, available only through our library databases. Thus the MLA citations.)

McDonald, R. Robin. “Copyright Suit Over University’s Online Reading Room Could Set Academic Use Standards.” Law.com. ALM, 9 June 2011. Web. 21 June 2011.

A well-done news story of a yet-to-be-decided case that could seriously affect the way educators can distribute digital copies of readings.

McGrail, Ewa, and J. Patrick McGrail. “Copying Right and Copying Wrong with Web 2.0 Tools in the Teacher Education and Communications Classrooms.” Contemporary Issues in Technology and English Language Arts Teacher Education 10.3 (2010): n.pag. Web.12 July 2011.

A free, online, long, and Google-able scholarly journal article that walks through a number of complex issues that come up when teachers give assignments that ask students to do multimedia projects from found materials. Long, but good stuff.

Gardner, Traci. “Mixing or Plagiarizing?NCTE Inbox. National Council of Teachers of English, 17 Feb. 2010. Web. 12 July 2011.

A short piece describing a young novelist’s defense of her plagiarism as simply what this generation does. A great discussion-starter, especially when students can apply the ideas from the previous resource to this one.

Dubisar, Abby M., and Jason Palmeri. “Palin/Pathos/Peter Griffin: Political Video Remix and Composition Pedagogy.” Computers and Composition 27.2 (2010): 77-93. ScienceDirect. Web. 12 July 2011.

A scholarly piece that needs to be accessed through the databases. Full of interview data and excerpts from the work of students doing politically active remixing–so it seemed more applicable to a list of sources on copyright and education than some of the other (and super-awesome) work on IP in recent-er issues of Computers and Composition.

Remaining, wriggling thoughts:

  • I continually wondered how one-sided to be when selecting resources. I mean, I’d love to convince these students to use their fair use rights all over the place,  but this didn’t seem like the place for too much propaganda. A perfect balance would have been to include 2 really conservative and 2 really liberal views on copyright in the classroom, but the sources I had bookmarked didn’t really lend themselves to that kind of thing. But I’m not sure I made the right choice.
  • It seems obvious now, but I should have included some video demonstrating some of these principles. (Everything is a Remix, anybody?) I didn’t because I wanted to focus on education (and I only had 4 slots!), but I’m increasingly unhappy with the choice. Oh well!
  • Um, why didn’t I crowdsource this? I sent nary a tweet asking for advice. Sorry, friends; I know it would be a richer 4-item list with your help!

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More on Rhetoric in Fiction

I wrote a few days ago about the rhetoric of fiction, musing about what kinds of expectations fiction authors create in readers, and the weird reactions that result when readers’ expectations aren’t met.

I’m thinking these days less about the rhetoric of fiction as a whole and more about examples of rhetorical appeals in fiction, as made by the characters. I think it would be fun to teach a course to English majors by using fiction (and TV shows and movies) to give examples of people persuading each other in all kinds of complex ways.

I’m writing this post because I’ve never really approved of using literature to teach rhetorical writing skills. That’s because it’s fairly common for graduate students in literature at my university to teach first-year composition for their first few years, and it seems to me that they often try to turn it into a literature class, not an introduction to rhetoric class. Like, I would rather spend my precious little class time with students’ writing as the focus of the class, not in an open-ended, interpretive, lit-class-style conversation about whatever novel or short story we were assigned to read. I’m partly passionate about this because I’ve been convinced by rhet/comp scholars who feel similarly, and partly because I see this as the biggest failure of my two years teaching high school English: I thought chatting about books would make students better writers, but it usually didn’t.

BUT. I’m increasingly interested in the idea of an advanced comp class, for folks who have already taken the required two comp courses, where we read examples of characters using persuasive appeals. Here’s where I would start:

  1. G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday (full text and excellent free audiobook): I would have students read the first three chapters, which are full of arguments between individuals, arguments given in speeches to a group, and identity-switches (which are necessarily ethos-switches). I don’t want to be too spoiler-y, but this stuff is begging to be analyzed rhetorically–and if students read the whole book, it could even be read from a big-picture angle too, as we question the big-picture argument that Chesterton makes in the novel about the nature of God.
  2. Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game: I want students to read the chapter where Ender’s story is put aside as we learn about the online rhetorical genius of Peter and Valentine as they literally change politics through disguised pseudonyms in a chat room. (I’ve written about this before.)
  3. The Constant,” a season-4 episode of Lost (and probably my favorite episode of the series): Desmond’s consciousness is traveling between his 1996 self and 2004 self, and he has to convince people that he’s telling the truth or he’s going to die. He relies on all sorts of persuasive appeals with increasing desperation–and (SPOILER ALERT) he’s saved when he finally finds his constant in both time frames–or perhaps it’s not a stretch to say he focuses on his thesis throughout his essay. Just sayin’. (I was honored to give a presentation on my efforts to teach this episode from this angle at the 2009 International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.)
  4. Hippocratic Oath,” a season-4 episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, for very similar reasons: characters disagree with each other on really sticky ethical grounds, and they argue about it in all kinds of fascinating ways. And to DS9’s great credit, they refuse to cleanly resolve the issue. Love it.

What else?

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CCCC 2010 Thoughts

I figure it’s time that I post a few basic thoughts on some of my experiences at the 2010 Conference on College Composition and Communication in Louisville. But like everyone else, I’m wide-eyed at the amount of things waiting for me back home, so I’ll try to be brief.

Best Panels

  • In A19, Bump Halbritter and Jenn Fishman stepped back and let two students (J.R. Hammond and Casey Miles) share their multimedia work with us. It was a perfect example of how we might continue to remix the traditional academic paper format–lots of A/V goodness. Also interesting was their insistence that filming, editing, mixing, is all “writing.” But why not follow John Logie (K24) and call it all “composing,” including the alphabetic-based stuff we do on paper?
  • In C1, Bronwyn Williams became my new hero. He interviewed lots of students about their online activities, expressions of self, expressions of pop culture love, and shared some intriguing results, especially on students’ attitudes toward pop culture artifacts as authorless, and how appropriation blurs the boundaries between reading and writing. And shoot, his book is called Shimmering Literacies, and that’s just as cool as it gets.
  • D18 was my most pleasant surprise: I went to hear my buddy Dan Richards collaborate with Josh Mehler on “the active potential of metaphor” in the classroom, expecting to be a good supporter of a friend but not overwhelmingly interested in the material, but I left with a rich contemplation of the complex metaphors we use to help us make sense of things like writing and argument. And even better, they came across like two TV hosts, passing the proverbial mic back and forth with humor and just the right touch of silliness.
  • It was refreshing to end the first day hearing Rebecca Lucy Busker talk casually and persuasively in E08 about her experiences as a fan fiction composer, and how all the things we teach in comp are enacted in fic circles. Sweet.
  • My favorite overall panel was F12. Randall McClure, summarized: “There are tons of studies about the overwhelming amounts of information our students process every day, so let’s see what it can teach us.” Rebecca Moore Howard: “I used to say that patchwriting happened because readers didn’t understand the source material. But now I’ve got data that says it’s more complicated, and probably related to students’ lack of time.” Jim Purdy (who wins my Best Slideshow Award): “Let’s actually talk to student researchers about how they research. Here’s the beginning of my results.” Janice Walker: “Look at this video of what a student actually does when faced with a research task! Telling, huh?”
  • In the generally awesome I7 panel, I was most intrigued by Tim Laquintano’s points about the pressures felt by composers of online poker-playing manuals–this complex rhetorical situation of wanting to help other players (and thus make money when they buy your book), but not wanting to help them so much that they stomp your elite status as a player, and not wanting to alienate your buddies who also want to keep their reigns secure. Tricky!
  • I already mentioned K24 above, with John Logie and Martine Courant Rife. This was where I saw the Best Multimedia Presentation (Logie clearly breathes music through his pores and eyes, and it shows in his exuberance) and where I had the Best Discussion. Shall we replace the word author with composer? How about as long as there isn’t a reason not to?
  • Finally, I was glad I stuck around for P14 to hear some awesome applications of the inspiring work of The Citation Project. I was especially pleased to meet Crystal Benedicks, who spoke partly on her university’s attempt to complexify a “draconian” intellectual honest policy, and who told me about the book-length poem The Beauty of the Husband, which I will try my best not to read when I ought to be reading other things, but which I will certainly read in all the in-between times.

Best Experiences

  • Finding out that the roommate I randomly found on the WPA list was awesome, nice, and cool. Good Saved by the Bell conversations.
  • Wandering all around downtown Louisville on my own on Tuesday, and successfully navigating a few different bus routes.
  • Having Cindy Selfe sit down with my group at O’Shea’s pub.
  • Randomly chatting at the airport with Kathleen Yancey and Geoffrey Sirc about all kinds of stuff, for like half an hour. I love meeting nice people who know what the heck they’re talking about.
  • Feeling part of a Twitter conversation. Even though some lamented that the #cccc10 hashtag wasn’t very active, it was the most real-timey I’ve ever been on Twitter, and that was exciting.
  • Getting the idea for a Fandom SIG. Excited to see if that will play out for next year!

Best Food

  • The Mayan Cafe
  • Kashmir (Indian food)
  • Za’s (pizza)

Other Blog Posts on CCCC 10

I’m glad to post more, of course, but this is all that have naturally flowed my way so far.

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Fourth Day of Sharing: MLA Update Video

As I continue sharing every day, I’m increasingly trying to think of how this different and similar to other forms of sharing I regularly do through Facebook (primarily photos and comments on friends’ things) and Delicious (usually links to awesome things others have shared with me) and Twitter (often brief comments on those links).

Surely the idea of sharing something every day–and purposefully using the word sharing–implies something beyond those tasks that I already do. I’m trying to go out of my way to share a part of me that might not show up in any of those other arenas.

I don’t have the answer to this yet, but one answer is for me to share something that I’ve had a creative hand in. Since it’s the first thing that comes to mind, I’ll share a video I made for students at my university about the changes in the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook–silly stuff, I know, but quite interesting to me, when I consider how changing practices affect standards in all areas of life. Enjoy! (Maybe?)

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Delpit’s Question

In Fall 2006, I took a course that was co-listed with Georgetown’s English department and the Georgetown Law School. I admit I can’t remember what the course was called, but it had to do with understanding the legal angles of the failure of U.S. primary and secondary schools. As part of the course, we volunteered with reading and homework help at a nearby community center, and as prep for considering the politics of reading, we read a lot of children’s books and wrote one ourselves.

Mine was a sci-fi story about a boy raised on the moon going to Hogwarts school on an elite space station. The story is called Delpit’s Question, and I figure this blog is as good a place as any to post it–partly because I’m excited to see the kinds of things Scribd can do in a blog setting. We also wrote an explanatory essay about what we were trying to do in the story; here’s a blurb:

The central question of the book, however, revolves around Delpit’s interactions with his teachers.  This conflict of understanding is designed specifically to demonstrate the structural, legal barriers to students trying to learn the curriculum and social codes of power in an unfamiliar setting.  Delpit’s question (“What do I know?”) is a tool for me to bring these underlying legal issues to the surface in his first two days at School in the Stars (SIS).  After all, I don’t want readers to walk away from this story only annoyed at the teachers’ close-minded attitudes; the corporate and government sponsors of SIS structured the school as elite setting designed to train elite children, and such goals (though unspoken) result in teachers being hired with certain blinders.  For a teacher to survive at SIS, he or she needs to be either White (American or European) or non-White but steeped so thoroughly in academic discourse that he retains no sense of identification with the discourse of his home culture (as with Mr. Amalendu).  It’s only natural that the things Delpit knows (the science of colors, music, predictive logic, ways of interacting) aren’t in line with the knowledge his teachers expect him to have.  In her article (pdf), Lisa Delpit quotes a Black principal taking doctoral classes who expresses her frustration with teachers who, when hearing her descriptions of racial and cultural bias, will only “look and nod.  The more I try to explain, they just look and nod, just keep looking and nodding.  They don’t really hear me” (124).  Ms. Merino is the prime example of this “silenced dialogue” in Delpit’s Question: when Delpit first approaches her she answers glibly and “smile[s] as if she had solved all of his problems” (26).  After Delpit goes beyond his comfort zone to push for a better answer, she still does nothing but dismiss his problems.  “That just can’t be helped,” she says towards the end of their exchange, exclaiming, “They all started talking just like the rest of us in no time!  I’m sure you’ll be no different!” (28)  Not only is Delpit’s knowledge not accepted as worthwhile at SIS, his ability to question that fact is squelched by a discourse that doesn’t allow room for his participation.

Enjoy! (Maybe. I wrote this a while ago, so I’m not completely positive of its quality. But it’s worth sharing.)

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Must-Read Article: Doctorow on Corporate Bullying

I feel like I write about Cory Doctorow a lot on here. Maybe that’s because I’m secretly dreaming of writing a book-length study of how writing is portrayed in science fiction, and I know his work would be a stellar candidate for rhetorical analysis. But probably it’s mostly because his ideas make whole lot of stinking sense.

In an important wake-up call to Internet users, Doctorow recently published a piece in the UK’s Guardian, “Corporate Bullying on the Net Must Be Resisted.” He tells the story of a cease-and-desist letter his ISP received from Ralph Lauren after one of his colleagues at BoingBoing posted one of Lauren’s photos for the purpose of commenting on it–which, he points out, means that their use of the photo falls firmly in the area of fair use. (For good advice about Fair Use see this awesome video and report from American University’s Center for Social Media.)

His ISP declined Lauren’s stupid pushiness, and Doctorow and pals posted Lauren’s mean letter for public mockery online. But he adds an important warning:

It is the norm for ISPs to remove anything and everything on receipt of a legal notice. A group of Oxford internet researchers tried an experiment with this a few years ago, posting copies of John Stuart Mill’s 1869 On Liberty on a variety of European ISPs’ servers, and then sending notices to the ISPs purporting to come from Mill’s copyright holders (Mill’s copyrights are nonexistent, having returned to the public domain more than a century ago) and demanding that On Liberty be taken down. All but one of the ISPs in the study complied.

And why not? For a free hosting service such as Blogspot or YouTube or Flickr or Scribd, the lifetime profit from a given customer is likely exceeded by the cost of one call to a solicitor asking for advice on a takedown notice. Even paid services operate on such razor-thin margins that they’re unlikely to seek legal advice in the face of most threats.

In other words, if a copyright holder sends a cease-and-desist letter, users aren’t necessarily in violation. It’s like when the middle school bully gets up in your face and tells you that you stole his lunch, even though you didn’t.

This has wide-ranging implications for education, and especially for writing teachers, of course. When our students create multimodal compositions from found material online, it’s part of the academic system for those students to cite their sources–but in most cases, if they’re only using parts of the copyrighted work and if their purpose is to critique, they aren’t legally required to get the copyright owners’ permissions. And that’s even if they get a nasty letter.

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Yancey on Information Literacy

I just got back from the 6th Annual Georgia Conference on Information Literacy in tree-lined, square-happy Savannah. Proof that this is a lovely place for a conference: a brief Tweet that I was there (which updates my Facebook status as well) received 7 dreamy-eyed, jealous comments on Facebook in 4 hours, which for me is pretty high traffic. (My favorite: “I love Savannah! My stepfather’s twin brother is a Benedictine monk, and there’s a military school there where all the monks taught.”)

(If you’re saying “Your conference was on what kind of literacy?” you could check out this handy page from the Association of College and Research Libraries. Their short definition: “Information Literacy is the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information.”)

I’ll write later about my presentation on remix literacies; here, I’d like to respond briefly to Kathleen Blake Yancey‘s boundary-pushing keynote address (handout). (By the way, I wish I had Yancey’s delivery: a clear, crisp voice, with punchy sentences and never any hesitation. Maybe she’ll give me delivery pointers when she visits USF this spring. Probably fewer parentheses would help.)

Much of her talk contrasted two models of access to information:

  1. The Victoria and Albert Museum model, which, though awesome in its own way for its own time, is inherently restrictive: readers take the time to go to its “cathedral of knowledge” on its terms.
  2. Our entirely new world of information online, which requires new maps and new education and new searching strategies, and which is inherently open, unstructured by time, and accessible.

To this conference crowd of mostly library faculty (with plenty of rhet/comp folks sprinkled in for good luck), perhaps Yancey’s most provocative point was her insistence on teaching content along with information literacy skills. It doesn’t make sense to teach someone how to search a database as though the topic of the search were meaningless, much as it doesn’t make sense to teach someone how to organize a paragraph as though the purpose, audience, and context of the paragraph were meaningless. She pointed out that without content, students don’t see the whole “map” of the information they seek, and therefore don’t learn the big picture–they only learn how to get from point A to point B.

But for me, of all the things I could go into here, I’m especially interested in her 3 categories of sources that might make up an information ecology: there are academic sources (from journals, scholarly books, etc.), mainstream sources (from Time, Malcolm Gladwell, USA Today, etc.), but also alternative sources–anything from The National Enquirer to a blog about science–i.e., anything that doesn’t fit comfortably in the first two categories.

Research these days is necessarily going to encounter all of these types of sources; we can’t simply say to students, “You can only use sources that are academic, from .edu websites, with no advertisements, with reputable authors.” Sometimes the info on mainstream and alternative sources is provocative, worthwhile, and (gasp!) even correct, reputable, important, etc. The trick is that–get this–the reader actually has to read the sources s/he finds and make judgments about them–it’s not a simple one-size-fits-all process!  And that is where students often miss the boat.

I think I’ve been waiting for someone (reputable…*grin*) to say this for a while. After all, when I research online, I blend these kinds of sources all the time; like Chris Anderson, I go to Wikipedia a lot, and don’t feel bad about doing so. I’ve struggled to teach students ways of research that more closely mirror the “real-world” stuff I do all the time, but it’s been hard. Yancey’s paradigm will help, methinks.

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May I Teach Ender Books, Please?

So until this year, I had never read the scifi wonder-hit Ender’s Game.  (All people can be neatly classified based on if and how much they are horrified by that statement. To some, it’s like saying I’ve never seen Top Gun [I haven’t] or that I don’t like chocolate [I do].) Actually, I’ve still never read it–a buddy listened to the audio book and insisted I listen too, so I did. (This was the buddy who wisely suggested we read The Brothers Karamazov together as well, so he’s earned a few points in the book-suggestion area.)

Of all the wowzer-ish things I could say about Ender, I’m most haunted by the book’s incredible applicability in a course on digital, public rhetoric. There’s that stellar mid-book chapter where Ender’s story is suddenly, surprisingly set aside for a conversation between his two siblings, Valentine and Peter, who discuss things as varied as deliberately hiding one’s identity online, how public blogging can affect public policy, and the role of honesty and dishonesty when persuading someone to do something you want–both on a worldwide and one-to-one scale.

I was particularly intrigued for 2 reasons:

  1. I sometimes (not always) find myself frustrated with literature-lovers who want to inundate composition courses with fiction and poetry. Though I love teaching literature, and I (increasingly) see tons of important conjunctions between poetics and rhetoric, I often suspect that these teachers are going to take important focus away from the crucial task of teaching writing by spending days and days in class talking about the literary techniques used in novels. But this passage from Ender makes me seriously reconsider this stance; in moderation, in fact, and with the right focuses, it makes me want to argue that we start breaking down boundaries between poetics and rhetoric in composition classes, using stories like these to spark deep-level understandings of the complex uses of rhetoric. And indeed, this might be practically a required position for me to adopt if I want to continue argue that we study the rhetorical messages that live in the “art” created by remixed material. . . . But that’s a discussion for another day.
  2. I talk a lot about trying to find intriguing ways to gel my disciplinary focus in rhetoric with my love for scifi and fantasy studies. So far, the most exciting crossroads between the two has been studying fan fiction, but this passage opens new doors. What would it look like to catalog/study representations of digital selves (and even better, digital writing selves) in scifi lit? Yowza!

And even more intriguing, as I’ve moved onto the first sequel to Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, I’m increasingly dying to teach the very different concepts it raises, about ethnography and research and culture–again, topics that are appropriate questions in a course in rhetoric (especially a research methods course). My wheels are turning. . . .

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Richard Baraniuk on New Models of Learning

In lieu of actually typing much, I’ll just post a link to a long-ish TED video on how the concept of the textbook could be rethought (remixed?) in the future–or actually, dismissed in favor of new digital modes of content delivery. (Thanks, Q, for the link!)

My biggest problem: when I hear stuff like this, I have this sad problem of not being very critical. I.e., I tend to get very cheerleadery and I don’t very well thinking of practical problems. But my experience in a writing program seems to indicate that writing teachers would indeed have lots and lots of serious issues if we actually suggested this kind of open education model at a major university.

Really, I’m just a sucker for digital music parallels. The second he starts talking about “ripping” and “mixing” education, my beard gets a tidge moistened with drool. (That’s gross, right? That’s probably gross. Sorry.)

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