Digital Citizenship and Creative Content


 

I think that many people would like to address the topics of Digital Citizenship and Creative Content and they absolutely should.  I know that we had worked on the concept at my old board and I would provide a link to the resource but it has been taken down.  Working with colleagues, we worked towards what we thought would be the attitudes, skills, knowledge, and understandings that we felt were important.

By its nature, I think that a document of this type would be a never-ending product.  Just when you think that you have it nailed, something new comes along.  But, if you believe this is important (and I personally do), it’s an exercise worth pursuing.  Every spring, the document would be revised.  It was a task but certainly an important one.

Now, we started working our document from scratch but if you’re just starting out, Microsoft has you covered at their digitalcitizenship website.

Here you’ll find four curriculum units:

  • Creative What?
  • By Rule of Law
  • Calling All Digital Citizens
  • Protect Your Work; Respect Your Work

The units are incredibly complete.  Written with an American perspective, you’ll want to work your way through it before going live with your class.  For example, there is a part to a unit that talks about “fair use”, a very important concept in the US.  You’d want to do some research about “fair dealing” because there are significant differences between the two.  Microsoft recognizes that there will be differences from country to country and give a feedback mechanism for that purpose.

However, for the most part, the lessons, assessments, and activities would serve very nicely in anyone’s classroom.  Designed for Grades 8-10 but it’s indicated that, with modification, they could be used 6-12.  You wouldn’t use all the resources in any one grade but spread it out through the years so that students get the whole effect.

I know that many teachers already address these issues.  For them, these would be wonderful resources to confirm you’re on the right track and perhaps inspire some new activities or discussions.  If you have students from a Faculty of Education, make them aware of what’s available.  They’ll definitely thank you.

Registration is required but what you get is totally worth the exercise.   Do it, get access to the four PDF files and start addressing these important concepts with you students.

 

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Not Feeling Like a Crook Anymore


There was great news for the Windows using community this week.  Microsoft has discontinued its Office Genuine Advantage program.

It was a program with good Microsoft intent.  It was a way to ensure that you were using legitimate software.  In an effort to stem software piracy, you had to prove that the software that you’re running was legitimate.  If not, you might see a message like this.

I suppose it is great in theory but it always bothered me.  I legitimately purchase a copy of the software and carefully type in the serial number after I installed it and then shortly thereafter, I’d have to authenticate that the software was actually legitimate.  It was too bad that I couldn’t just hold my receipt up to the web cam.

It was only an annoyance to those who actually purchased the product.  For those who pirate it, they’d just have to do a search and find what they wanted.

The worst thing is that the validation didn’t always work.  Messages would pop up at the most inopportune times informing me that there were problems and I would have to re-validate.  Hey, I’m in education – I can’t afford to do anything like software piracy.  We are supposed to lead by example.  I do remember an instance with Microsoft Powerpoint all of a sudden deciding that I needed to re-validate.  I can’t recall the specifics but I wasn’t alone and it was an embarrassing moment – haha, you have a pirated copy.  It made an OpenOffice user of me on the spot.

The whole premise really bothered me.  A copy of Microsoft Office isn’t cheap but then you have to go through this additional step?  I don’t blame Microsoft for protecting their product but it never seemed right to force legitimate owners to have to prove again and again that they were legitimate.

I’m all for keeping things on the up and up.  The net result should be lower prices for all of us.  But, let’s go after the pirates, not the legitimate users.  I won’t miss this program a bit.

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Mac versus PC Explained


The Consumer Electronics Show is on in Las Vegas this week. This is an event that I’ve alway wanted to attend just to see all of the innovation in the technology field. I’m sure that a lot of technology dies on the floor but it’s the show that’s the thing. Plus, we get a glimpse of where technology is headed. It might not be available for purchase right now but some incarnation of it just might be there in the future.

Gismodo features an interview with Bill Gates where he tries to explain the difference between Apple and Microsoft in their approaches to marketing.

http://gizmodo.com/341802/bill-gates-explains-the-difference-between-microsoft-and-apple

It’s a very good interview to hear his perspective about what Microsoft brings to the market and what he perceives the Apple brings to the market. It’s his opinion and so you need to watch and listen from that perspective.

What’s even more interesting is reading the responses from the internet visitors. Mac lovers; Windows lovers; you’ve got to love them all and their devotion to their part of the computer world!

Silverlight


You know, I’ve got to stop reading PC World. Every article I read reminds me of how much I don’t know about computers. It’s gone past humbling to embarrassing. Today’s issue was entitled: “Microsoft to Heat Up Battle vs. Flash in ’08” and is at: http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,140683/article.html?tk=nl_dnxnws.

Now, I had heard of Silverlight but to think that it would become a major competitor to Adobe Flash?

The web is certainly changing. Everywhere you go, you’ll run into streaming video instead of the text and picture presentation from the past. Typically, developers of this content have been converting their documents into Flash Video (.flv) files. The reason is obvious when you take a Quicktime or AVI file and look at the size of it. It would have to be a pretty compelling documentary to expert that visitors to your website or blog will take the time to allow the movie to download and then play. However, when you convert the file to Flash video, you end up with a movie that is greatly reduced in size. There is a price; the quality is greatly reduced through various compression features. However, the bottom line is to get the video to play in a variety of browsers and get it to do so quickly. There have been all kinds of recent enhancements as you’ll note with the frequency of updates and the number of developers that are producing for the Version 9 Player, forcing us to upgrade.

Then comes a competing standard. You’ll need to download a new player to play Silverlight videos and the Microsoft website talks about the “small size” of its player 2MB in size. The trick will be to convince the drive by surfer that it’s in her or his best interest to take the time to install the player to view the content. How do you make it appealing?

It appears as though Microsoft’s plan will be to get popular sites to switch. In the article, they make reference to NBA.com as an example. So, if we have all of these basketball fans with the plug-in installed, who’s next? A quick visit to NBA.com indicates that it hasn’t happened yet that I can see.

It will be an interesting trend to follow. If the net result is that you’ll have a better streaming multimedia experience on the web, it will be worth the 2MB download. Hopefully, the lessons learned about software vulnerabilities will be learned and incorporated into the product.