As a matter of disclosure, Ethan Warlick, whose comment I am responding to here, is my nephew. He will be graduating from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington next month and moving on to the real world of work and learning by joining a social media startup. I’m not sure if this is why I’ve elevated my response to full blog-status, or because of the story he tells, that..
..one of my roommates recently received a failing grade on a paper for “plagiarism.” Whether it was or wasn’t, he says he “missed a quotation mark,” I think that it will be interesting to learn new ways to deal with plagiarism from the summit! Especially from a collegiate perspective, as I hear about issues on campus constantly.
I scanned through a number of definitions of plagiarism from a number of sources and the most inclusive one came from Wiktionary, “The act of plagiarizing: the copying of another person’s ideas, text or other creative work, and presenting it as one’s own, especially without permission.”(Plagiarism, 2013)
There seem to be three parts here, or three questions. Did he copy the work of another person? Did he present the work as his own? ..and Did he get permission to use the work? Considering these three questions, I would have to read the offending paper to determine if he committed plagiarism. But in my own work, attributing the expressed ideas of another person is more than just punctuation.
When I write (or draw, paint, compose, etc.) something, I am presenting it as my work — a representation of my ideas. When the expressed ideas of another adds value to my work, and I include the expression of those ideas, then it is my responsibility to credit the creator of that expression; and that is not simply a matter of punctuation.
Quotation marks simply, “..set off and represent exact language (either spoken or written) that has come from somebody else.” (“Purdue online writing“) They indicate ownership, but they do not attribute the owner. To avoid plagiarism, I must identify the creator and do so in a way that the reader will not fail to recognize the information’s source and the roll that it plays within my work. That credit best falls within the text along with some form of assistance to the reader who wants to validate its accuracy, reliability and validity. If Ethan’s roommate credited the work with a phrase such as, “John Battelle recently said in a lecture..” or “Berkman Center fellow, David Weinberger wrote in …” Well, the writer isn’t presenting the work as his own, and is not plagiarizing.
So, if the roommate was simply careless in his punctuation, then was the failing grade fair? From a student’s point of view — that is to say, academically — then perhaps it was not fair. However, from a learner’s point of view, especially if the learner is preparing himself for endeavors that will rely on written communication, then I might consider it a fair, if not authentic, response.
When we finish school and begin to work (and continue to learn), we can still fail by leaving out a quotation mark. A potential client, customer, or employer can, and often does decide to choose another provider because it appears that I have used the words of another as my own. In my opinion, the concept of intellectual property should be an integral part of our basic notions of literacy — receiving, perhaps, even more attention than it already does.
But that said, I’ll let you in on a little secret; something that my teachers never shared. In the world, after formal schooling, we almost never do anything, that’s important, alone. It was one of my surprises when I left the solitude of classroom teaching to work more directly with other educators (district office). Those other professional educators were constantly asking me and each other to read their writing before they sent it; and I adopted the habit myself, when what I needed to say was important. Almost every day Brenda and I ask each other to read our emails before we hit the send button, and we usually catch each other’s careless mistakes. When the conveyance of an idea is important, then it takes more than one head to effectively construct its expression.
This leads me to wonder, are your school writings important enough that instructors encourage you to read each other’s work? ..or are they just grammar?
Purdue online writing lab: How to use quotation marks. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/577/01/
Clipart, curtesy of http://internet.phillipmartin.info
Contemporary literacy is a subject I’ve not written about in a while. In fact, I’ve not been asked to talk about it at a conference in a number of months. Is it a message that’s been received? I don’t think so. I continue to read comments on my blog promoting the integration of technology, like tech is the goal, rather than an essential tool for accomplishing the goal of contemporary learning-literacy.
One element of this literacy is, in nature, ethical. In a 2007 2¢ Worth blog post, I wrote
..it is now our ethical responsibility, as information consumers, to assure that the information you are using is accurate, reliable, valid, and appropriate to what we are trying the achieve.
It is equally our responsibility to assure and document that the information we are producing is accurate, reliable, valid, and appropriate. 1
In another time, we were mere consumers of content. Today we are full participants in the information economy and this compels us to accept new responsibilities that have, in my opinion, become a part of what it is to be literate today – contemporary literacy. We are no long held only to the value of the information we consume, but also to the information that we pass on or produce.
This is what came to mind when I was browsing through my copy of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers: Seventh Edition.
Hey, you’ve got to find excitement where you can.
I found a section with descriptions for formatting parenthetical notes (endnotes or footnotes) about cited sources. It describes two kinds of notes for documenting sources.
- Content notes offering the reader comment, explanation, or information that the text cannot accommodate
- Bibliographic notes containing either several sources or evaluative comments on sources2
It seems that when we are all overwhelmed by information, much of it from other people like us, it is note merely a courtesy to cite our sources, but it is a practical measure to justify and invite readers to judge our sources’ accuracy, reliability and validity. We should make it easy for our readers to check its appropriateness to the message of our writing.
With these MLA documentation notes (footnotes or endnotes), we can provide that justification where the comment does not really fit into the prose of the document.
All of this leads up to a new feature on Citation Machine. My plan is to add a textbox to all of the forms, where you have the option of typing in some “comment, explanation or information.” Citation will formate the comment, along with proper reference to the source, into a footnote/endnote.
Thus far, I have only added the feature to MLA Government Publications. It seems that when ever I make any type of change to CM, a few people get disoriented, not to mention madder than a mule chewing on bumble bees. ;-) I understand this. What sets Citation Machine apart from most of the other citation generating sites is its simplicity and speed. Change does not simplify.
So I thought I’d take this slow. Look at the Government Publication form and try it out. The note text shows up in a box just like the bibliographic and in-text citations. Feel free to comment on this blog post and concerns or recommendations.
My friend, Darren Kuropatwa, mentioned me in one of his “WhileWalking” video reflections, referring to one of the conversations we had at Educon last week. I love his new reflections series for many reasons, not the least of which is the delightful sound of Canadian snow crunching as he walks.
In that conversation, on the last day of Educon, he told me about how students were using Google docs in preparing their presentations and how convenient it was that Google built in an image search tool that returns only Creative Commons licensed media and even includes citations for the images that can be pasted into the document.
I was less than thrilled about this and Darren, in his reflection, wonders why. He’s asking if there is a relationship between my reluctance about Google’s bundled services and why many educators resisted their student use of calculators decades ago. It’s an excellent question, which I guess is why it occurred to Kuropatwa, while tundra-walking.
There is a very real relationship between the emergence of calculators in the early 1970s and the rise of the World Wide Web, dynamic search engines, and smaller useful information tools like Creative Commons licensers and citation generators. But to understand why I feel Darren’s described scenario is, in ways, counter to the mission of education, I need to briefly define that mission, as I see it.
A continuing factor in my own reflections is the fact that from my time as a high school student to the waning years of my career as an educator, the tools for working with information have advanced from sliderules to tablet apps – an astounding revolution in information and communication technologies, from sticks to chips. Our mission is to prepare our children for jobs, lifestyles, tools, processes, problems and goals that we can hardly imagine. We’re preparing them for the unimaginable.
I am certain that their lifestyles will be (is) fueled by the daily practice of learning and that the mechanisms of that learning will be constantly and sometimes rapidly evolving.
Many of us were fairly certain that calculators would be a prevailing information processing tool in our students’ future, as we know that our children’s future will continue to afford them a vast and dynamic aggregation of information – that also obliges them to new and interesting ethical responsibilities.
Each of these advances in information and communication technology warranted a role in our children’s formal (and informal) education.
Now, my objection to Darren’s scenario has little to do with Google’s purported desires to dominate the world of information, or even the fact that Google has made research, production, and attribution easier – as was implied in several tweeted responses to Darren’s post. We should probably be concerned about the dominance of one company in any realm of interest, but there’s nothing wrong with “easier.”
What concerns me is how these tools might be packaged to help children do school work, at the expense of helping them learn to use information to do real work.
If Texas Instruments had created a curriculum-friendly calculator, one designed to help children learn math, as apposed to using math to work numbers, then I might have had the same objections – though I can’t confidently speak for the 22-year-old me.
What I believe today is that our children need to be developing a learning lifestyle, with the skills and habits of utilizing a tumultuously shifting and advancing information environment and the unimagined opportunities that an unwritten future provides. This is the mission of education.
Darren has invoked the best word for my thinking, that learning should be be “deliberate,” as deliberately authentic as possible.
My niece posted an Instagram photo last night of a stack of textbooks. In her description she wrote, “I never thought I would be so happy to receive textbooks.”
I commented, “But isn't it all on the Internet?” — mostly in jest. She knows me.
The information is out there on the network, of course. But her need for those textbooks is absolutely critical, regardless of what she can Google and in spite of how she will continue her essential professional learning after her textbooks are digested. You see, my niece is preparing for her CPA — and the right answers for that exam are not on the Internet. You can count on that.
A textbook, as a product of packaged content, is essential when we are tasked to learn the right answers — when we are being certified in some way as having x knowledge or y skills. But in my opinion, based on my own rather peculiar career, this is not education. It's training.
Training is not bad. There are certainly elements of formal education that require training — to learn facts and skills that are both useful and stable. 2 x 2 will always be 4 and 9 x 9 will always be 81. Yet, what it means to be educated changes, when answers shift with a rapidly changing world and when a dynamic global library is accessible to us from our own pockets.
Both of my grandparents had college degrees. But after their degrees were conferred, they prospered in a relatively stable world of information scarcity. Being educated was based on remembered knowledge.
Today, we function within a networked, digital and info-abundant environment, whose conditions are constantly changing. Being educated today is being able to skillfully, resourcefully and responsibly mine and utilize this infoscape within meaningful and reliable contexts to accomplish goals — which often involves learning something new. Using a traditional textbook does little to help students become skillfully, resourceful and responsible learners.
If preparing our children for their future means certifying them based on a measure of their remembered knowledge or certifying schools/teachers based on the measured knowledge of their students, then bring on the books, the bigger the better.
But if it is not a trainable/teachable worker who brings prosperity today, but the imaginative information artisan with a lifestyle of learning, unlearning and relearning, then we need to completely rethink the tools of education.
I will confess here that this is not exactly the article that I sat down to write. But it may lead into a next, and slightly more specific (if not more practical) article about these learning tools.
So check back by!
It is with great pleasure and no small amount of relief, that I announce the second edition of Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network: A Gardener’s Approach to Learning – formerly known as A Gardener’s approach to Learning: Cultivating at our Personal Learning Network. Switching the title and subtitle was the idea of my wife and business manager, Brenda. She’d long felt that ”A Gardener’s Approach..” did not clearly describe the content and function of the book.
This second edition started innocently enough when, with an afternoon to kill, I downloaded Apples iBooks Author (iBA) software, a free download that helps us create interactive iBooks for publishing through the iBooks book store and iTunes. Since it was my latest book, I dumped the text of Gardener’s Approach.. into iBA and started playing. My initial reaction was not that different from what I initially though if iBooks. They glow and flow, but provide little opportunity for the reader to talk back, which I believe should be a core goal for the next generation of learning content. The iBooks I’d seen were still primarily intended for top-down reader-passive content consumption.
However, when I started factoring in the great fun I’ve had with Apple Keynote’s dazzling animation capabilities and the ability to insert keynotes into the iBook, I continued to play, adding animated tutorials for some parts of the book.
I initially struggled with the HTML feature of iBooks, which I couldn’t figure out for the life of me. I’ve been coding in HTML for nearly 20 years. They I learned…
It seems that what iBook Author means by HTML is actually Dashboard Widgets, which are small programs that can be downloaded and installed on your Macintosh computer and run in the background – and now in the widgets space on later versions of Mac’s OS. They have come in nearly every category of software, but are usually utilities such as calculators, calendars and clocks. I saw no use for any of these utilities in my book, so I set out researching and teaching myself how to write my own dashboard widgets.
As I played (which is what learning often feels like to me), ideas started forming for interfacing my iBook with the web and specifically with web pages that would give readers the ability to add and comment on their own stories of networked learning. It was at that point that I was hooked.
Of course, reading through the book, I learned how dreadfully out-of-date it was, so I started editing and rewriting major portions of CYPLN and adding at least one chapter. After all, the first edition was written before the Apple iPad launched. So, after many edits and re-edits, with the tireless assistance of Brenda, and the launch of Bookry, which provides a tool for creating much slicker widgets than I was writing, I’ve published Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network 2nd Ed, in print, ebook (for Kindle), and iBook (with color, motion, and conversation).
The most interesting part of this endeavor was the act of using many of the skills and techniques described in the book in order to learn how to publish it in these new formats and with these new features. My own PLN grew.
I hurriedly produced the video below as an introduction to some of the features of the iBooks version.
The print and ebook versions, like the first edition of CYPLN, feature QR-Codes, which give the reader access to many of the features of the iBook – without the flair.
One concept that jelled for me during the proces was that of scale. Because the ebook and iBook versions of CYPLN was digital, weightless and so easily distributed, I’ve decided to price for scale. So the iBook and ebook (Kindle) versions are only $2.99 (USD). Since the print version (259 pages) must be produced and shipped, I have to charge a little more, $8.99, which gives me a profit similar to that of the digital books.
This will take you to a page with links to the various purchasing venues: http://goo.gl/EUu7B
I had the pleasure and good fortune of speaking at the Connecting Leaders conference this weekend in Vancouver. Organized by the British Columbia Principals and Vice Principals Association, the conference consisted of two days of keynotes, breakouts and meetings. I keynoted the second morning (Saturday), delivered a breakout and the closing remarks around 11:30. Pretty standard fair.
After the conference adjourned, the association held an Educational Leadership Forum to assist in revising their Leadership Standards for Principals and Vice-Principals in British Columbia. Eight panelist were invited to deliver 7 to 8 minute talks, exploring specified topics that are relevant to school leadership. I was panelist number seven and was asked to talk about literacy.
The panelists were:
- Taken before the event
- Dr. Avis Glaze — International educator, speaker and former administrator with the Ontario Ministry of Education
- Julie MacRae — Director of Education/CEO of Regina Public Schools, Saskatchewan
- Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl — an Applied Developmental Psychologist and Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia
- Dennis Sparks — Emeritus Executive Director of the National Staff Development Council
- Robert C. Kidd – President of Overwaitea Foods
- Dr. Charles Underleider — Professor of the Sociology of Education at The University of British Columbia
- David Warlick – In high cotton ;-)
The event was brilliantly organized with eight round tables in the room, each devoted to two of the addressed topics. Around each table were invited and distinguished principals, vice-principals, district administrators, university folks, and representatives from the BC Ministry of Education. Four of the panelists spoke on their topics and then the eight of us dispersed to our assigned tables where we discussed our first assigned topic. Then the remaining four returned to the stage to address our topics.
What really helped was being able to listen to six of my stagemates share their perspectives before I had to speak, each of them provoking a new twist on one or more of the qualities I had listed. I certainly hope that the frequent tweaking of my notes (see above & right), on my iPad, at my end of the stage, didn’t distract anyone.
So, a school that practices learning-literacy will be a school where
- The distinctions between teacher and student begin to blur.
- There is less reliance on textbooks and authority, and more reliance on the work of learning.
- There is a natural convergence between the rich information skills of literacy and numeracy and the information and data that define the content areas.
- Teachers teach from new learning, as master learners.
- Digital Footprints become a central part of the school’s culture, building evolving personal and school identities based on learning and “doing” with the learning.
- The library magnifies the world outside, but also reflects the culture inside, curating collections of learner produced media products.
- Where learners learn, teachers model learning, and the school teaches the community.
How does this ring for you?