Wheat from the Chaff

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Separate the wheat from the chaff in the Teacher blog section. I've re-posted it below.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.


In June I wrote a post for this blog titled Can this be real? about altered images, or misrepresenting images. [Update 11/2015: see Fake or real?  How can you know?]

Today in my ECIS Library Forum discussion thread, a colleague in Switzerland posted about the explosion of fake academic journals. In the IB world, we are all involved in promoting digital citizenship, responsibility, honesty and integrity: We often use unusual but authentic, hoax, or "joke" websites like the following to teach or learn about "reliability" on the internet: 

Reading about the fake academic journals make me think that perhaps my scope of samples has been too narrow. This is the article from the Ottawa Citizen posted by my colleague: "The editor is deceased: Fake science journals hit new low Academic fraud has reached a new level of deceit as a “predatory” journal that prints low-quality research for cash has stolen the identities of a dead doctor and the head of a Canadian science funding agency." 

My colleague investigated further, and found a web site monitoring this problem, http://scholarlyoa.com/ It includes a blog, a long list of questionable, scholarly open-access publishers, and a list of questionable standalone journals. The site author, Jeffery Beall, is the Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of Colorado Denver. You can subscribe to his blog, and follow him on Twitter

Image Credit:flickr photo by hans s http://flickr.com/photos/archeon/3898745155 shared under a
Creative Commons (BY-ND) license
If you google [monitor fake academic journals] you will find many interesting posts about fake peer review, fake journals, retractions, etc. NPR (National Public Radio) posted Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For A Fee. Referring to fake journals, the author, Richard Knox, writes "...These sleazy journals often look legitimate. They bear titles like the American Journal of Polymer Science that closely resemble titles of respected journals. Their mastheads often contain the names of respectable-looking experts. But often it's all but impossible to tell who's really behind them or even where in the world they're located..." 

So how are we to sort the wheat from the chaff when "researching" on the web? When you (be you teacher or student) find an interesting, perhaps useful article on the internet, consult this list of questionable publishers and of questionable journals and see if it's included in the lists. You might also google the name of of a few of the peer reviewers, to see if they are alive, and work in that field. You might investigate the editor of the journal, with the same questions. Check with your school librarian about a "White List" of dependable sources (remembering that a pay wall does not guarantee anything!) 

None of these steps are guaranteed to save you from using questionable resources, but they will always lead you back to consideration of how we acquire knowledge about the world around us, and figure out our relationship with it. 

Technology Rich and Innovative Poor

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Technology Rich and Innovative Poor in the Teacher blog section. I've re-posted it below.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.
flickr photo by Marco Bellucci http://flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) licenseCleaning off my desktop this morning, I found this pdf from Alan November, that I've been meaning to write about on this blog. The original post from November Learning is at this link.   Written in January 2015, "Clearing the Confusion between Technology Rich and Innovative Poor: Six Questions" is an important, on-going discussion for every teacher and school leader, well worth looking at each school year. It begins
"In a recent webinar, more than 90% of school leaders responded that they were leading an innovative school as a result of the implementation of technology. At the end of the webinar, when polled again, only one leader claimed to be leading an innovative school. The complete reversal was due to a presentation of the Six Questions that you will read about in this article. This list of questions was developed to help educators be clear about the unique added value of a digital learning environment."
Readers are urged to consider our use of technology in our teaching in general, and in each assignment in particular, and to  test our own level of innovation with these six transformational questions, each of which are followed by discussion and examples.
  1. Did the assignment build capacity for critical thinking on the web?
  2. Did the assignment develop new lines of inquiry?
  3. Are there opportunities for students to make their thinking visible?
  4. Are there opportunities to broaden the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world?
  5. Is there an opportunity for students to create a contribution (purposeful work)?
  6. Does the assignment demo “best in the world” examples of content and skill?
I urge you to read the article, and the comments that follow it. Add the six questions to your unit of inquiry planning process, so that with each planning cycle you can easily consider how your lessons "stand up to the test",  and think about how you can improve them.

To improve your own skills in this area, you might be interested in exploring this page of teacher resources from the November Learning website, and the Power Searching with Google site, with links to two excellent free courses in search techniques.

Watch this 16 minute  2011 TEDxNYED video from Dr. November. The talk is about how the current culture of school typically underestimates the contribution that many students would make to solve real problems and to make a contribution to help classmates learn. It includes examples of  using technology and learning. Towards the end, he says "A lot of technology is about improving teaching, which is why so many teachers show up in staff development without kids.  That has to change.  We have to get a lot more kids into staff development, and teach them how to build that same capacity with whatever tools we're giving teachers - kids to kids." (min 12.31)

Photo: flickr photo "Question Mark"  by Marco Bellucci http://flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

New Blog Post on OSC-IB Blogs: What will they know 20 years from now?

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: What will they know 20 years from now? in the Teacher blog section. I've re-posted it here.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.


What will they know 20 years from now?

This morning my Flipboard reading brought me this news commentary: Do You Really Understand Why Water Boils? New Survey Says, Probably Not. by Nadia Drake. Ms. Drake writes about the newest Pew Research Center Science Knowledge Survey, asking some very pertinent questions that anyone teaching in an IB school should recognise.

She writes:
"The key with such surveys, says the University of Michigan’s Jon Miller, who’s been studying science literacy for nearly four decades, is to ask questions about core concepts. Things like what molecules are, what DNA is, and how the universe is organized. Show people an image of a spiral galaxy, like the Milky Way, and ask if they know what it is and why it’s important.
"Conversely, asking about names, dates, or places can tap into someone’s biographical rather than foundational knowledge. “It’s not really getting at whether they have a skill level,” Miller says.
"In other words, surveys should not be testing whether people understand the headlines in today’s science stories, but whether they have enough basic knowledge to understand the headlines 20 years from now."
If you read some of the IBO's resources about teaching and learning through inquiry you'll find paragraphs like these:

Conceptual understanding
"A concept is a “big idea”—a principle or notion that is enduring, the significance of which goes beyond particular origins, subject matter or a place in time. Concepts represent the vehicle for students’ inquiry into the issues and ideas of personal, local and global significance, providing the means by which they can explore the essence of language and literature.
"Concepts have an important place in the structure of knowledge that requires students and teachers to think with increasing complexity as they organize and relate facts and topics.
"Concepts express understanding that students take with them into lifelong adventures of learning. They help students to develop principles, generalizations and theories. Students use conceptual understanding as they solve problems, analyse issues and evaluate decisions that can have an impact on themselves, their communities and the wider world."
The structure of conceptual understanding in the Diploma Programme
"DP courses have always had a focus on developing conceptual understanding, but within DP subject guides and teacher support materials the focus on teaching through concepts is becoming increasingly explicit.
"Some DP subjects explicitly construct their subject guides around concepts. This can be an effective way of framing course content, as well as inspiring more explicitly conceptual assessment tasks. Other DP guides over time will be arranged and framed around concepts. However, in all subjects teaching through concepts can be a very powerful teaching strategy."
The Pew Research results reminded me of this video of Harvard Graduates explaining why Earth has seasons:

Read more about this video at the Harvard University Gazette:
"...You hear a lot of rhetoric about how to reform education, and how to compete with nations whose students outscore children in the United States on science and math tests," Schneps [Matthew Schneps, director of the SED's Science Media Group] says. 'Instead of opinions, we have evidence of what goes on. It's not just gaps in teacher training and lack of money. It's more fundamental. Students leave classrooms with concepts that are totally different from what teachers believe they have taught. What is being taught is not what is being learned...' "

If you'd like a quick mental review of the value of facts vs. concepts, watch this video. Think about your units of inquiry.

50 Science Misconceptions https://youtu.be/LqaDf2fuUH8

Further reading about Concepts, you might start with these web resources:

Concept Based Teaching and Learning by H. Lynn Erickson, IB Position Paper http://www.ibmidatlantic.org/Concept_Based_Teaching_Learning.pdf

Using Concept Tests (from Carnegie Mellon) "...Concept tests (or ConcepTests) are short, informal, targeted tests that are administered during class to help instructors gauge whether students understand key concepts. They can be used both to assess students’ prior knowledge (coming into a course or unit) or their understanding of content in the current course..." https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/assesslearning/concepTests.html

From The Journal of Chemical Education "The use of conceptual questions is one tool that can assist students in obtaining a deeper learning experience, improve their understanding and ability to apply learning to new situations, enhance their critical thinking, and increase their enthusiasm for science and learning. In addition, conceptual questions extend assessment beyond "What does a student remember?" and "What can a student do?" to "What does a student understand?" Conceptual questions also provide one route for diagnosing student misconceptions...http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/jcedlib/QBank/collection/CQandChP/CQs/CQIntro.html

"Today we sumed up our understandings, distilling the essence via a Frayer’s model, which has us creating a definition of a concept, describing the characteristics, listing out examples and non-examples.
Image CC https://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/learning-by-doing-an-inquiry-into-inquiry/

Find blank Frayer's Model at this Google Search page.

New Blog Post on OSC-IB Blogs: How should I cite this photo?

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: How should I cite this photo? in the Teacher and in the Student blog sections. I've re-posted it here.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.


I recently read a blog post that featured this cute picture of 2 meerkats.  I couldn't see an image credit under the photo, so I looked at the bottom of the page, and found "Image source: Pixabay "

This did not tell me enough about the image.  Clicking on the link, I learned that Pixabay is an online source of Creative Commons and stock images.  By doing a Google search for that image, I could find the precise URL of the meerkat image, https://pixabay.com/en/meerkat-animal-wild-wildlife-255564/ (as well as 402 other pages using the image!). I read that this is a Creative Commons licensed photo (CC Public Domain), but also that the image is "Free for commercial use / No attribution required". The person who uploaded the image to Pixabay is peterstuartmill - is he the author of the image?

So now I have a problem! The Pixabay page may say "No attribution required" but in my academic world, I need to be able to give more details about the image.  If I use an image in my work which I did not create, I must provide a citation, even if the image is in the public domain. The meerkat image source page doesn't give me enough information to create  an appropriate Creative Commons citation for the picture: I need to know the title, author, source and license.  For an MLA citation, I also need the date of electronic publication. There is no legal requirement to attribute works in the Public Domain to their creators, but doing so is an important part of maintaining academic integrity.

Depending on which citation style I plan to follow, I have several options. Following Creative Commons best practices for attribution guide, I could use

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/meerkat-fur-small-face-mouth-316736/  License: CC Public Domain.

Using the MLA guide for electronic images, I could post

Peterstuartmill. Meerkat. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., July 2014. Web. 31 July 2015. <https://pixabay.com/en/meerkat-animal-wild-wildlife-255564/>.

In  Effective Citing and Referencing  the IBO encourages "giving full details (references) to enable another reader to locate the sources."  It is very important that students give correct attribution in their work, and it is equally important that teachers know how to do it, and teach it in all classes.

And how will I cite the image on this blog post? More informally -
Image: Pixabay

New Blog Post on OSC-IB Blogs

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Can That Be Real? in the Teacher and in the Student blog sections. I've re-posted it here.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.


When reading a news post on the web, I often have occasion to ask myself “Can that be real?” or “Is this true?” and I’m often thinking about the image accompanying the post (as well as the post itself).

“Can that be real?” can have two meanings – does this image come from the context the text describes, and/or has it been “photoshopped” – altered in some way.

Luke Winkie has written a very informative post about 3 easy ways to tell if a photo is fake: use Google’s “Search by image” function, Topsy, and Snopes.

He uses the image above of a young boy comforting his little sister, represented as having been taken just after the recent earthquakes in Nepal, as his first example. “…the picture itself isn’t fake, but it most certainly wasn’t taken anytime this year, and there’s a good chance it wasn’t taken in Nepal. It’s just another artifact in a world whole world of sentimental and reappropriated pap presented as authentic….”

Do you ever wonder if an image has been “photoshopped” – altered in some way to fake the point? Andy Bloxham writes about several recent “news photos that are not quite what they seem in this post at the Telegraph.co.uk. Justin McCurry writes about this image of North Korean hovercraft in the Guardian.com.

This picture released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on March 26, 2013 and taken on March 25, 2013 shows the landing and anti-landing drills of KPA Large Combined Units 324 and 287 and KPA Navy Combined Unit 597 at an undisclosed location on North Korea’s east coast. (AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS)

“It seems that folks get caught because they do such a bad job of using Photoshop, which makes you wonder how many “good” edits never get caught.”

I often learn of a photoshopped image by the aftermath, not because I spotted the poor photo workmanship. Here are two examples: “The AP has pulled a freelance photographer’s imagesfrom its wires because he copied one part of the photo to another in order to cover up his shadow.” (Read thefull post at Poynter.org), and “Bloomberg Politics acknowledged that it made a “bad call” with a photoshopped image of Hillary Clinton that was shared on the outlet’s Twitter account.” (read the full post at CNN Money.com)

Photoshopped or Not? Three Ways To Tell If An Image Is Real Or Fake by Fatima Wahab offers several sophisticated guides to help you look closely at an image in order to judge its authenticity. Click on the title to read her informative post.
This image is a composite image featuring the Statue of Liberty and the stormy sky of a 2004 supercell thunderstorm in Nebraska. (Photo : Facebook)
Often the faked photo has been created, or used, because of its emotional component. The picture on the left, supposedly an image of a storm over New York, serves as a good example of this. (Use the Google “search for this image” function to see how many times this appeared on the web!) “Snopes.com commented on the fake image saying”[…] it’s a digital manipulation created by merging a picture of the Statue of Liberty with a separate photograph of a supercell thunderstorm snapped in Nebraska by photographer Mike Hollingshead on May 28, 2004.” (link to Enstars post) (link to original storm photos http://stormandsky.com/04-5-28.html)
The fake selfie of a man being run after by the IDF Photo: DAM
Another recent viral photo of “a Palestinian man being chased by Israeli soldiers” which carries an emotional message is also a “fake”: “Photograph apparently taken by man pursued by IDF is revealed to be stunt by Palestinian hip hop band DAM – but that does not prevent it sweeping the internet” Read thestory at the Telegraph.co.uk

Being cautious about accepting the “truth” represented in an image certainly helps one to become an inquiring, knowledgeable, thinking and reflective viewer. And perhaps a “digitally literate”one, too.

New Blog Post on OSC-IB Blogs

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Three-and-a-half Tips Using Google Docs in the Teacher Blog section. I've re-posted it here.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.

I want to pass on a few "tips and tricks" I've read recently for using Google docs.

The first comes from Jarod Bormann: How to force "make a copy" when sharing a Google doc.  Jarod wrote "Sharing a doc link and asking a group to Make a Copy inevitably would lead to mass confusion. Most would be able to follow File > Make a Copy without any problems. But there are the handful that begin making changes on my original and therefore making changes for everyone else. In a group of 25 or larger, this can be a time killer."  He describes how to force the share-ees to make a copy of the doc:
  1. Locate the URL of your Google Doc.
  2. Change the last word in the URL from EDIT to COPY.
  3. Hit enter, and…voila!
Now you can take that URL and share it with whomever, and they will have no choice but to Make a Copy.

My second tip comes from Paula DuPont, who wrote about how to tag individuals in comments. "If you want to make sure you get someone's attention, tag them in your comment. It's simple: type an @ or + sign, then start typing the name of one of your co-workers. Google Docs will show you options based on your Gmail contacts, and notify the person you mentioned via email. If the person you mentioned doesn't have access to the doc, you'll be asked to choose permission levels for the user."

Click on the image to see it full size

Speaking of comments, would you like to literally speak your comments in a doc?  Cloud Fender recommend using the add-on Kaizena. "Highlight and speak instead of typing. Kaizena Mini brings the full power of Kaizena feedback right into the Google Docs Editor and is 100% compatible with Google Classroom."  (Mixed comments have been left about this add-on.  Be sure to read them, and then test it before investing hours of time and energy.)

The last tip for this post is from The Gooru on "How to Create the Perfect Syllabus in Google Docs".  "By adding a table of contents, page numbers and headers to your online syllabi, you can create a dynamic and easy to use standard for both teachers and students. Since it is hosted on Drive, rather than printed on paper, a syllabus can be changed or updated at any time to keep up with a constantly evolving schedule." Watch the video below to learn how to add the table of contents, page numbers and use formatting styles.


New Blog Post on OSC-IB Blogs

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Referencing Posters and a Google+ Profile in the Teacher Blog section. I've re-posted it here.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.

On a recent ECIS Moodle Librarians forum (Resources -> Referencing and researching tools) uber- Librarian -- Katie Day (at UWCSEA East, Singapore) wrote:

"Nadine Bailey and I have been creating three sets (MLA, APA, Chicago) of 6 referencing posters (Book, Website, Video, Journal Article, Newspaper, Image) to display in the library and in classrooms. ..Here are the MLA ones:

Screen Shot
Here are the APA ones:


(Update: Chicago posters are here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/117025025134791483932/albums/6124093680931163329)

There is a Creative Commons label on them, so feel free to use and modify...

It is important to note these are meant for IB students -- acknowledging the IBO requires URLs for all web resources, wants the date accessed if an online resource, and wants all resources listed in the bibliography. So it's modified MLA.... and we try to make this clear on the posters...

These posters are meant to supplement our referencing sessions with students, not replace them..."

Katie notes that at UWCSEA East, "MLA is the school standard up through Grade 10. At the IB level, each department chooses a standard, e.g., APA for Psychology and Science, Chicago for History."

I'm sharing this information here because these are very useful resources for any IB student or teacher. Because of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license the posters carry, you are free to download them, embed them, print them, and generally share them, as long as you give credit to UWCSEA East (Attribution), and license them the same way (ShareAlike).

"This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects."

I also want to highlight the agile way this work has been shared. UWCSEA is a Google Apps for Ed school; Library East has a Google+ profile. Click through to admire how the Library maintains its web presence with this tool. The school community can "follow" the library, and the Library can add community members to its circles, and share new posts with them.
Screen Shot
You might be interested in exploring the possibilities of using Goolge+ for your school, library, classroom. This post, 12 Google+ Best Practices for Nonprofits offers advice, too.

New Blog Posts on OSC

creative commons licensed
( BY-NC-SA )
flickr photo
 shared by jen_kels

I've posted two new articles over on the OSC IB Blogs site: EasyBib in Google Docs in the Student Blog section, and Technology as a Concept in the Teacher Blog section.

Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.

A photo a day for a year

A Year of Light by Katharine Epps | Make Your Own Book

Here's the 2014 Book of my photo a day posts in the 2015/365 Group on Flickr  I joined the group in January 2009, and have created a book each year with (most of ) the "photos a day".

If you enjoy taking pictures, I encourage you to consider joining the group.  It keeps your eyes sharp, your imagination in the corner of your mind, and some days, gives you a reason to go out doors!

The official description reads:
"This group was started for in 2008 and will likely be running for years to come. A photo per day project for each year - 365 by the end of the year (one more for leap years). No rules, no requirements, no apologizing, just shoot a lot and share ONE photo per day. Doesn't matter of what, or with what device.
Upload photos to your own flickr site and add your daily photo to this group *after* you join. Be sure to spread some comment love and join the discussions.

The group started when a bunch of folks, mostly edubloggers, on Twitter decided to to the project in 2008. We had maybe 50 people. It grew like crazy since then and topped 1100 members last year-- many have been here for the whole run who have shared over 150,000 photos. Onward to 2015."

The Right to be Forgotten/Deleted

Hot topic!  Watch this video from PBS Idea Channel. There are links on its YouTube page if you want to discuss it.

Published on Feb 4, 2015
Diamonds are forever, and so is posting to the internet. But sometimes this permanent archive of our lives can come back to haunt us. Some argue that individuals should have the right to delete their pasts, in line with the concept of 'right to oblivion'. Others claim this removal is a form of censorship. So do we have a right to be forgotten? Watch and find out!