I got a zero once

True story.

If memory serves me correctly, it was when I was in Grade 5 or 6.  We had to write a short story and so I wrote one about vampires.  I doubt that it was a topic in class so I can only guess that I was influenced by other media like the local library or television – Edgar Allen Poe, the Hilarious House of Frightenstein, or anything with Bela Legosi in it.

The story had something to do with a grave yard, mushrooms, vampires, and who knows what else.  I’ll swear on this cup of coffee that is was original work.  But, somehow my teacher didn’t think so and claimed that I had copied it from somewhere.  (probably because it was so good?)  Anyway, this was back in the days when you didn’t hire a lawyer and demand proof.  It went straight to my parents and I was guilty.

It was my first blush seriously with copyright and I remember it well.  All this walk along memory lane comes from thinking about Helen DeWaard’s post about copyright.  It’s worth reading and considering.  The big message for me from that post was her advice to copyright everything.  Maybe I should have copyrighted that assignment I handed in!

Yesterday, I mused about some of the reasons why you and students should put a form of copyright on everything that you do.  I supposed that it could apply to any work but I think that the obvious place would be to put it on anything that you do on the web.  If nothing else, and it’s done seriously, it’s a badge to the world that your words are indeed original.

It brought to mind a few topics around this.

First, if you follow Alec Couros, you know that he has a huge concern about people using his image for other reasons than to point back to him.  His stories about finding it in various places is downright scary.  It led me to an interview on this blog with a friend of his.  An Interview with Zuck Markyburg.

Those of you who attended the Bring IT, Together Conference a few years ago will undoubtedly remember keynote speaker Richard Byrne.  Richard and I had found ourselves in strange places together and my conversations with him convinced me that he would be a good keynote speaker.  He was and you should follow his blog Free Technology for Teachers.  But, “free” doesn’t mean take it and abuse it.  Richard actively goes after people that reuse his works.  He’s written many times about copyright.

If you think purple and Google at the same time, chances are, you think Alice Keeler.  Her site is all about Google and she shares all that she knows on posts there.  With all of the work (and screen captures) that goes into her efforts, she wants to protect her intellectual property as well.  She uses a service Digiprove to guard things.

I could continue but I think you get the point.  It’s not just a silly academic thing.  It’s serious stuff and these leaders are serious about protecting their works.

Shouldn’t you?

Shouldn’t your students?


Copyright thinking

Helen DeWaard was good enough to drop by the blog on Friday and toss in a comment about my thoughts on her blog post.

Thanks for answering the questions, Doug. It’s something I think we (educators) should consider as we share our skills, talents, ideas and meandering professional practices in blogs, tweets, snapchats or instagrams! Put a CC license on creative works as a default setting, even if it’s just that one more bit of work before you publish or post. Teaching our students as we lead by example will help them also consider copyright and sharing in digital spaces. It’s part of moving students from citizenship to leadership that Jennifer Casa-Todd writes about.
I’m sure there will be a future blog post that dips further into the fair dealing conversation you’re looking for – it’s a common thread in Creative Commons conversations as well.

There was sentence in all that that had me thinking over the weekend.

Put a CC license on creative works as a default setting, even if it’s just that one more bit of work before you publish or post.

I don’t do that.  Instead, I’ve opted for the easy (coward’s?) way out.

You actually have to navigate to the “About” page on this blog to see how I have applied copyright to my creations.


I remember creating this very vividly.  It had five important points for me:

  1. it allows me to write about whatever I want, whenever I want, and the license to be inconsistent and “off the record”.  In other words, don’t fact check me because I may change my perspective over time;
  2. it gives an indication to people about how I would expect that people would treat my efforts.  I spend a great deal of time reading the Creative Commons options at the time and chose this one;
  3. it allows me to demonstrate how Creative Commons could be used to place a licensing on work;
  4. it gives me the chance to show others that I value what I do enough to put a license on it.  I think everyone, including students who create content should do so’
  5. it’s applied once on the blog and covers all the content.  I deliberately did it that way to avoid having the statement “in your face” at every turn.

But her statement got me thinking.  Does the fact that I lazily put a blanket statement on just the one page actually make the effort useless?

Answer this question – have you ever checked out my about page?  I would suspect most people, except for the morbidly curious, haven’t.

And, if you haven’t, you won’t have read the license part unless you had stumbled on it with one of my posts talking about licensing.

What makes this even more worth pondering was the inclusion of Deborah McCallum’s post about the MathPod in the same post of mine.  Deborah takes a different approach.  If you read to the bottom of her posts, you’ll see that she applies a full copyright to every post.  To this observer, she obviously takes great pride and places value on her work.  By not doing so, do I value my work less?

There’s also the digital thing.  Many people think of digital has having less copyrightable value than traditional media i.e. books, just because it’s more easily exploited and anyone can create it.

Getting back to Helen’s point – should a blogger or other digital creating type of person take that extra moment to apply their copyright statement to each and every piece of media they create?  Does that carry more importance than one blanket statement on the blog, wiki, website, etc. where it’s hosted?

I’d be interested in your thoughts.  I see myself coming down solidly on both sides of the fence on this one.

Whatever happened to …

… bruises and skinned knees?

It’s a topic near and dear to my wife’s heart.  We visit a lot of public places walking the dog.  (We enjoy the variety, I don’t know if he appreciates it or not)

Typically, on one of these outings, the conversation will turn to the playground equipment that is available for kids to play with.  Or, more vehemently, the equipment that isn’t there.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to the good old days when we were in elementary school.  We had it all.  Swings, baseball diamonds where you ran from school at recess to be the first to tag up to hit, teeter-totters, slides, and so much more.

Swings were fun because you’d get them going as high as you could and then jump off onto the dirt to see how far you could roll.  Or teeter-totters were you would do the “bumps” to see if you could knock the other person off.

Photo Credit: PINOY PHOTOGRAPHER Flickr via Compfight cc

Our principal form of transportation were our bikes.  When we rode to school, we would hook the handlebars over the long metal rack.  You know the ones that you licked in the winter to see if teachers were right about your tongue sticking to it?  Nobody had a lock and chain; in fact the first one that I ever remembered owning was when I went to university.  You just trusted everyone and I don’t ever recall anyone “stealing” my bike.

Many of these activities included the opportunity to fall and hurt ourselves.  It happened all the time but you just got up and dusted yourself off.  You didn’t want anyone seeing you crying and it took an arm or a leg that pointed in funny directions to get you to go to the nurse’s office.

So much of this is now gone.  The only teeter-totter that we can remember is one that sits in the school yard of a long-since closed school.  The metal swings and slides that we remember are now composed of bright colours, made from plastic, and they’re very small, obviously geared to the younger kids.

How about you?  What are your thoughts for this Sunday?

  • Do you recall the old “playgrounds of death” that are now just a memory?
  • Do you remember where your mother kept the mercurochrome?  Can you even buy it these days?
  • Did you bike to school?  Did you have a need to chain your bike?
  • Have we put today’s youth in a bubble to protect themselves from damage during recess and weekends or have we come to the realization that the good ol’ days were just outright dangerous?

We’d enjoy reading your thoughts via comment below?

The complete collection of posts in this series is available here.

Got an idea for a future post?  Add it to this padlet.

Whatever happened to …

… Mosaic?

The browser, not the football field in Regina.

If you’re on this one with me, you go way back.


Photo Credit: Kevin Baird Flickr via Compfight cc

Even I, the hoarder of everything digital didn’t have a copy of this anywhere and had to go and look for an image.

I can’t recall if this was my first graphic browser or not. But it absolutely was at least one of the first.

I was a convert from the Lynx web browser which was all text based.  That was back in the mid-90s where speed wasn’t exactly an option.  We had dialup internet access at the time and it was slow, pathetic even, by today’s standards.  When there was an image that you wanted, typically, there was a “Click here” link and you would download it and then open it in another application.

But Mosaic took you away from that drudgery.  Everything just appeared inline in the browser.  It was revolutionary!  There were “buttons” to let you perform actions online.  No longer did you have to learn and remember commands.  The most important button, I recall, was the stop button.  While having graphics inline was a sweet deal, waiting for them to appear often was like sipping the proverbial peanut butter through a straw.

At the time, Mosaic was the browser for me.  There was no question.  But things soon changed with the advent of Netscape Communicator.  I just found it so much more intuitive plus Composer let you create web pages.  As we know, things have exploded since then.  We’d never think of limiting ourselves to the set of features that Mosaic had.  Now we have so many choices – Opera, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Vivaldi, Dolphin, Safari, …

You can read the history here – reportedly over 100 companies licensed the technology, including Microsoft.  If nothing else, you have to be impressed that this browser has a historical plaque.

While we’d never use the software by today’s standards, it absolutely started things rolling.  Would we be where we are today without this piece of innovation?  Who knows?

What brought this back?  Edscoop has a 2017 Time Capsule which lets you vote on influencing people, products, and developments.  I voted for Mosaic in the Development section.

How about your thoughts for a Sunday?

  • Did you ever use the Mosaic browser?
  • What browser do you use today?
  • If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably know me pretty well – at least technologically.  Who do you think I voted for in the People category?  the product category?
  • You can take Mosaic, Netscape, and Lynx for a spin here.  In 2017, could you live with a browser like that?

I hope that this takes you back like it did with me.

Please take a moment and share your thoughts by sending a reply below this post.

The complete collection of posts in this series is available here.

Got an idea for a future post?  Add it to this padlet.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) invites you to submit a proposal to present at the 2018 CSTA Annual Conference. This event will be held July 7-10, 2018 in Omaha, Nebraska.

The CSTA 2018 Program Committee seeks proposal submissions related to the practice of teaching and learning computer science and information technology in K-12. This year the conference is seeking 3 hour workshops; 1 hour sessions; 20 minute mini-sessions; and 1 hour Birds of a Feather sessions.

Proposal submission requires presenter and presentation information including a brief overview/abstract used to inform attendees about the session; as well as a PDF providing more detailed information about the session.

All proposals will be submitted through our online system; however,

 you may preview the application before starting your submission here.

Proposals may be started and updated between the opening and closing of the system. The deadline for proposals is midnight (Hawaiian time) on November 26, 2017. Review of proposals will occur shortly thereafter and notification of the program committee’s decisions will be made in December/January 2017.

All submissions will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • appropriateness and relevancy for professional development for K-12 computing;

  • feasibility of the proposal;

  • timeliness of the topic;

  • writing and presentation;

  • completeness of the submitted information; and

  • consideration for the breadth and balance of topics at the conference.

Successful proposers should expect to submit a draft copy of their presentation by June 1, 2018. Draft presentations will be posted on the website for attendee reference and note-taking. Some sessions may be selected for videotaping, which will be shared online post-conference. All workshops and sessions will be photographed. Workshop presenters will be given a list of registered attendees prior to the conference so that they may email them with any pre-workshop materials or downloads. All presenters are expected to register for the conference.

 I learned so much and am more motivated than ever to bring essential CS skills
to my students and to my colleagues.
Amazing conference with so many takeaways and ponderings.
I am leaving with specific strategies for our district,
and numerous contacts for help, as we move forward.
 It is a real live computer science conference. Loved it!
The resources…  Best Exhibit hall, great sessions…. it was just… timely

Additional conference details can be found here.

The deadline for proposals is midnight (Hawaiian time) on November 26, 2017.

Submit your proposal here.

We look forward to receiving your proposals and to your attendance at the conference.

The 2018 Annual Conference Planning Committee

The kids are alright

I think this probably happens to everyone who ever was a teacher.  You’re in a public place and this person comes up to you like a long lost friend and you start to talk and get caught up.  It’s neat when it happens; in the context of this post, that person was a student I had years ago.

When I started teaching, I was only a few years older than the Grade 12 students in my class so it’s interesting to make reconnections years later.  They have grown up and matured.  I am positive that I haven’t.

So, the conversation went something like this…

Mr. Peterson – do you remember me?  (like we all remember every student we ever had!)

I stared a minute and it finally clicked in.  Yes, you’re xxxxxxxx!  How are you?

If this ever happens to you, you get bonus points for remembering the name.  In this case, I was at least a +10 because I recalled a few personal interactions that we had had as well.  Ironically, not in class but on the football field.

We chatted a few minutes about the good old days, talked about his family a bit, and then the question …

So, are you still into computers?

Yes, I poke around a bit.

We chatted a bit about how technology has changed over the years from little ol’ B41 and then it was time to move on.

Quite honestly, I was on a bit of a high for a moment feeling pretty good that I had remembered his name.  Like most things, the high kind of faded on the drive home and then was gone completely.

Until I logged into Facebook.

I had this friend request from the former student.  Where are all the advisories about friending students?  Probably the statute of limitations has expired.  After all, this person was a married working individual with children.

And a lot of Facebook friends!  In fact, we had three friends in common.

That was enough curiosity to have me click to find out who we knew in common.  What happened next was totally unexpected.

Beneath the friends that we had in common, I recognized another student name.  And another one.  I scrolled a bit more and saw a lot of names from the past.  This was actually kind of neat.  It was like the graduate reunion that has never happened.

But what was even neater was that many of them had complete profiles and Facebook provides a two line summary of them  As I looked, I got a glimpse of where they lived (some locally, some had moved away) and sometimes an idea of where they worked.

This struck me as pretty interesting.  So often, graduation night is the last time you typically see most of your students.  Sure, you run into a few here and there but this was intriguing.

It put real meaning into this quote.

Thanks, Brainy Quote