2012 Training Team — Oregon Virtual School District

I have been part of the Oregon Virtual School District Training Team since 2009. The Oregon Virtual School District is a program of the Oregon Department of Education that provides online curriculum tools, hosting, and resources for the state's public K-12 districts. Steve Nelson, the project director, has been smart about funding support and training for the districts, as well as the large technology stack itself.

Our training group includes teachers, tech directors, and administrators from Oregon schools. During the school year, we meet virtually via Google Hangouts and WebEx. In August, though, we meet face-to-face to plan our schedule and activities for the coming year. We spend some of the time getting to know our new teammates and getting to know the products and platforms we support.

Group juggling with the ORVSD Training Team

Group juggling with the ORVSD Training Team

This year's retreat included refresher sessions on WordPress and Google Apps. We filled in our workshop grid for October's Oregon Google Summit and mapped out the webinars, workshops, and training events we'll host across the state this fall. We'll also be presenting at state and regional conferences; creating tutorials and how-tos; and traveling to school districts and ESDs for ORVSD training days. It's been a pleasure to help for the past three years.

The 2012 ORVSD Training Team

The 2012 ORVSD Training Team

Flickr, Creative Commons, and Chick-fil-A (Paging Dr. Lessig)

Last month, Ken Cook tweeted me that one of my Flickr photos was being used. I took a quick look at the article in question, saw that the photo was correctly attributed and put it aside. I thought, "well, maybe he's letting me know someone is using my image in an article I might not agree with...." I was traveling and finishing a database project simultaneously that week and had only one undernourished brain cell left for Twitter and the web, so I added the tweet to my to-do-later list.

Once I was back at home and settled, Cook's meaning settled in.... My Flickr photos are licensed with an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license. I had focused on the attribution part in my first glance and had completely ignored the non-commercial part: "You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation."

The site using my image was Business Insider, a site that looks like it's certainly commercial.

My Chick-fil-A photo on Business Insider

My Chick-fil-A photo on Business Insider

Not only is the site commercial, but it was also posting this article just as the current Chick-fil-A controversy was heating up. So, am I okay with my photo being used? Is it a violation of my non-commercial license? I went to my Creative Commons and copyright bookmarks to see if I could find an answer. This issue is not new; I have a Creative Commons bookmark from Fall 2009: Defining Noncommercial: A Study of How the Online Population Understands “Noncommercial Use.” The study is good reading, but it did not provide a clear answer to my questions.

Ars Technica's Creative Commons images and you covered the issue with a little more depth from the users' perspective. On the issue of non-commercial images, the author advised editors, "check with your publisher's legal department on this question, because putting noncommercial Creative Commons images in your articles is a real gray area."

In contrast, the Ars Technica article linked to a 2008 post on non-commercial use by librarian Molly Kleinman. Molly stated the opposite in her examples: "Using a photo on an ad-supported website = Commercial."

So, I'm indecisive for now. When I first decided to publish my photos, blogs, slide decks, and videos with Creative Commons licenses, my intended users were educators and non-profits. I believe in sharing, but I didn't set out to make a for-profit website editor's job easier/cheaper because he can embed one of my images instead of sending a photographer/writer out to Chick-fil-A for a photo. Again though, I believe in sharing and I believe in the sharing culture that has allowed creativity to flourish on the web.

Business Insider is clearly making money (that commercial advantage or private monetary compensation phrase from the Creative Commons license excerpt above). There's a vodka ad next to my photo, for Pete's sake. But, are they making money because of my photo? Most likely not. They're most likely making money from the headline. (Remember the opening of that clause says in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.)

Is there a difference between the use of my photo and the overall for-profit status of the organization?

After three weeks of reading and reaching out to experts, I'm still uncertain.

I'm indecisive for now because I want to be consistent. If I ask Business Insider to remove my image, I should also do the same of many of the smaller blogs that have used my images. They may not all have a pricey Ketel Vodka block ad in the sidebar, but they often have Google AdWords or Amazon affiliate blocks.

I tend to lean to the left on this. My thoughts are more in line with Lawrence Lessig than Sonny Bono on copyright issues, so I would rather share than restrict. However, I want to be faithful to the spirit and law of Creative Commons.

I'll take any words of wisdom, either in agreement or dissent.

(Thanks, Ken Cook for making me think this through.)

Chromebooks in Our Schools — One Year Later — The Coda

This is the final part of a series. Part one is here. Part two is there. Part three is here.

1) I've been taking a lot of photos and talking to a lot of our students, teachers, and interested parties this year. I want to make sure it's on the record that I get no benefit from Google or any other company for doing this. I love my job. I love the schools and people where I live. I'm excited about the technology we bring into our classrooms in the right ways and get frustrated when we do it wrong, usually because of short staff, short money, or short time. I prefer to learn from the wrong and highlight the right. That is all.

Mr. Cochran, Mr. Fleming, Mr. Felton, and Mr. Hisaw.

Mr. Cochran, Mr. Fleming, Mr. Felton, and Mr. Hisaw.

2) I do a lot of talking (quiet, Ryan) and writing about all of this. There are hundreds of people around me who do the real work. Here's a partial list of thanks:

  • The Original Eight (CCMS sixth-grade teachers in 2006 plus Jim Crouch, student teacher) — Heidi Lea, Zach Fleming, Lori Meadows, Les Parker, Ryan Cochran, Vicki Bobbit, Casey Callan, and Sue Simmons — you're the best ever!
  • D.C. Lundy — Principal at Powell Butte School during the initial Intel 1:1 pilot and chief instigator for technology in education, Crook County style
  • Kurt Sloper — Sixth-grade teacher at Powell Butte that first year and my professional development guinea pig (he's now Assistant Principal at CCMS and has continued to be a great guinea pig)
  • Steve Swisher and Dennis Dempsey — CCSD (circa 2006) and HDESD Superintendents, respectively; ones who pushed us to push the envelope
  • Bruce Hahn — The CCSD Director of Technology who makes all our crazy ideas happen
  • Rocky Miner — Principal of CCMS (circa 2006, currently CCHS Principal) and team time champion
  • Stacy Smith — Current Principal of CCMS (Assistant Principal in 2006) who walks the walk each day
  • Andie Sangston — Queen (see part three)
  • Mike Witnauer — 1:1 Program Manager (after I was pulled away for another project) and smart guy
  • Steve Welden, Lance Queen, and Yancey Fall — CCSD Tech and savers-of-the-day for many years now
  • Rachael Huish — CCMS Math Teacher (circa 2011; Rachael is now a school administrator in Southern Oregon) and the original Chromebook cheerleader and just...leader
  • Charlene Walker — CCMS Science Teacher and current, tireless Chromebook team leader
  • CCSD Teachers — wish I could list them all....
  • CCSD Students and Parents — funny, smart, wily, exasperating, and supportive

CCMS Students with Cr-48s (Chromebooks).

Chromebooks in Our Schools — One Year Later — Part Three

This is part three of a series. Part one is here. Part two is there. The coda is here.

(I'm a big fan of unboxing posts and videos, especially this one. But, I always want to know how things are a year or two later.... Did the device hold up? Is it still in use after the shininess and newness faded? Still meaningful? What were the people and machine surprises? This three part series is my effort to answer my own questions.)

Part Three - The Classrooms

One student. One laptop. In Crook County, we have been on the road toward this vision of learning for over five years now. In part one of this series, I wrote about the investment in the people. It's first for a reason. We want to make sure the 1:1 program is a learning program, not a tech program. (Over the years, I have gotten a little more upset each time I've read this New York Times article about 1:1 programs. It's a primer on what not to do.)

In part two, I wrote about prior-year issues that were answered by the Google Chromebooks at Crook County Middle School. The Chromebooks are a great size. They're fast. They require very little up-front attention from our tech staff. They have been a good addition to our classrooms. We take care of and try to protect them (Mr. Fleming's football strategy).

CCMS students using Chromebooks shortly after unboxing

CCMS students using Chromebooks shortly after unboxing

The Chromebooks have been fairly low maintenance. We weren't sure this would be the case; we have the original Cr-48 test units, not the Samsung or Acer production models.

The biggest issue we struggle with is the wireless connection dropping at random times. We're not sure yet if this is our wireless infrastructure or the laptops. (Andie read this and called to let me know that the wireless issues seem to be resolved. Wahoo!) 

This summer, we also had a large number of machines throw what we affectionately call the frowny face error. Andie Sangston, our technology support person at CCMS, solved this problem with her super genius skills (and some help from the Chromebook gurus at Google).

The students would tell you the trackpads were really flaky at first. Ben Fohner and Andy Warr, Google Chromebook team members, got an earful of that exact complaint when they came to observe last March. Andy's name is still mentioned with reverence in the hallways because of just this issue. When talking with some of the students and listening to their gripes, he ran the latest update on their machines. The trackpad issues disappeared. Most CCMS students still believe he was magic. (Some students and teachers still don't like the trackpad, but we have students every year who prefer a USB mouse over a trackpad.)

Each time we have encountered something like this, Google has responded quickly. We appreciate that. Andie does, especially. She keeps the whole program afloat. Teachers and students turn to her with questions and requests for help.

Andie Sangston, CCMS tech support, on rollout day

Andie Sangston, CCMS tech support, on rollout day

We have been checking in with those teachers and students regularly. The Chromebooks are used often each day. They are used for traditional tasks like writing and researching, but also for unexpected projects like fitness tracking and stats analysis in PE class. The start-up speed continues to impress everyone. The Chromebooks are ready when the students are. (This is much different than our first years.)

The worries about the laptops being cloud machines, web only, or offline bricks didn't amount to much. I think of them as adult problems (similar to first-world problems). The students live comfortably on the web and in the cloud.

I could write more, but these are already long posts. Perhaps the best way to summarize our experience is that we are buying more Chromebooks. We've bought hundreds more for classrooms across our region. If we could afford to purchase more, we would.

We would buy more not because they're bright, new shiny tools. We would buy more not because we think they will solve all our education woes. We would buy more because of where this all started.... We try to improve our device selection each time we purchase a batch of laptops for students. We want the best match for the classroom and our students. The Chromebooks are it.

Our most recent rollout day; fourth-grade students in Redmond School District

Our most recent rollout day; fourth-grade students in Redmond School District

Next: the coda. It's here.

Delightful Design and the New, New Delicious - #edcampPDX

Edcamps are pretty cool. They're a low-stress, high-energy day of sharing. My session this month was on design. I'm not a designer, but I know good design when I see it (or something like that). I like things to be pretty and usable. Robin Williams (not that Robin Williams) wrote The Non-Designer’s Design Book. It's like my Elements of Style for flyer creation. I cribbed her big ideas for my slides.

After I did my ten-minute intro, we crowdsourced our favorite design resources. We did it via a Delicious stack. It was totally cool! It was the first time I used the new stacks in a live group. It will not be the last. To quote a friend, "awesome sauce." Nice work, new new Delicious.

Our delicious design stack

P.S. As a long time Delicious user, I was a little concerned with the shaky redesign a few months ago. I'm not any more. The AVOS team has been beyond responsive. And I'm loving the new features.