Computational Thinking for All Educators

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Computational Thinking for All Educators.  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.

Recently there has been a lot of talk about "coding", and about the difference between "coding" and "programming".  In several of the articles I read discussing these issues, a free Google online course was mentioned:  Computational Thinking for Educators.  So I went to investigate.  The "real time" experience of this corse is over, but all the materials are online, and you are welcome to explore it at your leisure as a self-study program.  The course was designed to help Humanities, Math, Science, and Computing educators integrate computational thinking into their curriculum.

The course is divided into these segments:
  • Introducing Computational Thinking: What is CT? - What is computational thinking, where does it occur, why should you care, and how is it being applied?
  • Exploring Algorithms - Walk through examples of algorithms used in your subject. Recognize why algorithms are powerful tools to increase what you can do and that technology can be useful for implementing and automating them.
  • Finding Patterns - Explore examples of patterns in various subjects and develop your own processes for approaching a problem through pattern recognition.
  • Developing Algorithms - Increase your confidence in applying the computational process to a given problem and recognize how algorithms can articulate a process or rule.
  • Final Project: Applying CT - Create a statement of how CT applies to your subject area and design a plan to integrate it into your work and classroom.
It guides you from the beginning to see the material you are already teaching through the conceptual lens of computational thinking. As I worked through the course, I thought that probably most of the ideas/activities presented would not be new to IB teachers.  What would be new is the paradigm shift in naming what you've been doing in your classes as "computational thinking" - perhaps a new conceptual understanding for you!
This is a chart from the first segment of the course, which illustrates this shift:

screen shot from Computational Thinking for Educators

Let me expand on that idea by enlarging on a fragment of IB text: "Conceptual understanding is a significant and enduring goal for teaching and learning in IB programmes.

photo in the public domain from pixlbay.com
"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 (Wiggins and McTighe 1998). Concepts represent the vehicle for teachers' and students’ inquiry into the issues and ideas of personal, local and global significance, providing the means by which they can explore the essence of a subject.
"Concepts have an essential place in the structure of knowledge. They require teachers and students to demonstrate levels of thinking that reach beyond facts or topics. Concepts are used to formulate the understandings that teachers and students should retain in the future; they become principles and generalizations that  can use to understand the world and to succeed in further study and in life beyond and outside of school."

There is a "companion" website at Exploring Computational Thinking (ECT)  which hosts "is a curated collection of lesson plans, videos, and other resources on computational thinking (CT). This site was created to provide a better understanding of CT for educators and administrators, and to support those who want to integrate CT into their own classroom content, teaching practice, and learning."  It includes more than 130 lesson plans and  demonstrations aligned to international education standards, and videos showing how Google uses CT and the 7 Big Ideas from the CS Principles.

Two other fine free, self-paced online courses created by Google are Power Searching and Advanced Power Searching.

Not so secret ingredients in learning with technology

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs siteNot so secret ingredients in learning with technology  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.

Part of my morning routine, after looking through email, is checking through new Scoop.it and Flipboard postings.  I often have to check the date a story was posted originally, because even though it is "new" on the sharing sites this morning, it may be "old" news, and has been shared and re-shared again and again, only now turning up in the thread of a subject or person I follow.  That's what happened this morning: an interesting title caught my attention scooped by Nik Peachey onto Learning Technology NewsResearchers Hunt for ‘Secret Sauce’ of Digital Learning Success - an EdTech Magazine story from March, 2015.  But never mind, it's still relevant, and interesting.

Subtitled "A new report studies what worked and didn't for five districts' digital learning strategies" Frank D. Smith wrote about a 2014 report by the America’s Promise Alliance’s Center for Promise. The study is titled "Wired to Learn: K-12 Students in the Digital Classroom," examining how five school districts implemented digital learning strategies to help students succeed in the classroom and how those initiatives performed. Hence the use of "secret sauce" in Smith's blog post title!  (If you're unfamiliar with the term, read this post at AllBusiness.com).

The report's publishers write that it "explores digital learning as a strategy to improve student classroom experiences, and highlights the efforts of five school districts across the United States as they use technology to reshape the traditional K-12 learning environment.  Our research findings illustrate how carefully planned and implemented digital learning initiatives can powerfully impact how students learn,” said Jonathan Zaff, Executive Director of the Center for Promise.  'Identifying innovative, yet practical ways to involve students in meaningful teaching plans that meet their individual needs and strengths is critical for creating positive pathways toward graduation.' "

The study's five important points for tech integration in schools are:
  • planning and investing in bandwidth and wireless connectivity to power educational technology
  • providing ongoing professional development opportunities that equip educators to effectively integrate digital learning and employ new instructional approaches
  • restructuring the traditional classroom to personalize learning
  • developing creative strategies by connecting with stakeholders outside of the district, and
  • using data systematically to improve learning and instruction.
As is so often the case, serendipity was at work in my mail box: two unrelated sources expanding on the same idea at about the same time.  A few days earlier,  my email alerts for the IB OCC Web 2.0 in the IB classroom forum postings had brought these lines from Barbara Stefanics, reminding me of the IB Teaching and Learning with Technology documents: online at Teaching and learning with technology and a summary pdf at Teaching and learning with technology: An executive summary (PDF). (Visit my own OSC post about this document.)

Interestingly, the IB also lists five points illustrating that "IB schools benefit from sharing common understandings, policies and frameworks to develop their own concepts and choose the things that will work best with the IB curriculum. These things and concepts are presented here in this series as “IB technologies” to model the idea that the distinction between things and concepts aid in thinking about technology and how it functions in our communities":

  • evident but seamless in the curriculum
  • accessible to all learners, used to facilitate classroom environments that are inclusive and diverse by design, and useful in enhancing curriculum design and lesson planning
  • adaptive to many contexts: cultural, physical and educational
  • supportive of intercultural understanding, global engagement and multilingualism—specific hallmarks of an IB education
  • helpful in fostering the collection, creation, design and analysis of significant content.
As you would expect, the points come from different perspectives, but work well together, and indeed, are often the same concept expressed differently. "Evident but seamless" means "planning and investing" accompanied by "ongoing professional development".  "Using data systematically" is "fostering the collection, creation, design and analysis of significant content".  "Accessible to all learners" is "restructuring the traditional classroom to personalize learning".

Is there a "secret sauce" for the approaches to learning with technology in an IB classroom? Well, I think there is a "sauce", but it's not very secret. There are reports, documents, blog posts, videos, conference presentations, ad infinitum, in addition to schools full of undocumented experience. Like many good facets in good cooking, a "successful" "digital" implementation in  learning  takes research, communication, collaboration, organization, reflection, creative and critical thinking, and time.

Further reading on this topic:

Wired to Learn: K12 Students in the Digital Classroom. A white paper from the Center for Promise at America’s Promise Alliance. 2014.

The integration of technology in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Summary developed by the IB Research Department based on a report prepared by Lucy Cooker, Charles Crook and Shaaron Ainsworth The University of Nottingham April 2015.

The Integration of Technology in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, Final Report. Dr Lucy Cooker Assistant Professor, School of Education, University of Nottingham Charles Crook Professor of Education, School of Education, University of Nottingham Shaaron Ainsworth Professor of Learning Sciences, School of Education, University of Nottingham. Also Pedagogical practice and technology integration in the Diploma Programme in IB World Schools, Paper presentation by Lucy Cooker (presenting), Charles Crook (presenting), Shaaron Ainsworth, at the European Educational Research Association Conference, 2015.

4 Reasons Technology Based Learning is Integrated Into the IB Curriculum. H International School, July 2016.

Promoting inquiry through technology. IB Community Blog, December 2015.

The role of technology in IB programmes, Sharing the PYP Blog, December 2014.

The Global Search For Education: Got Tech? IB Schools in a Virtual World. Huffington Post, October 2014.

Use of Technology in Secondary Mathematics, Final Report for the International Baccalaureate.  Paul Drijvers, John Monaghan, Mike Thomas, Luc Trouche, 2013.

The IB Learner Profile, ATL and Anti-Plagiarism Software

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs siteThe IB Learner Profile, ATL and Anti-Plagiarism Software.  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.

I recently found myself involved in the review of a school's Academic Honesty Policy, which led me to some background reading, which (as often happens) caused me to fall down an internet rabbit hole: First stop: NPR ED "Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software" (August 25, 2014, Heard on All Things Considered) Coming as I do from the IB world, this phrase in the post caught my eye:
"The fact that anti-plagiarism software can't tell the difference between accidental and intentional plagiarism is just one reason that Rebecca Moore Howard, a professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University, is not a fan. Here's another reason: "The use of a plagiarism-detecting service implicitly positions teachers and students in an adversarial position," Howard says.  Howard argues it's policing without probable cause. "The students have to prove themselves innocent before their work can be read and graded," she says."
My next stop, a search for "academic honesty" on John Royce's excellent blog Honestly, honesly... and his 30 July 2016 post, Smoke and mirrors. Royce begins,
"Technological solutionism” – a term coined by Evgeny Morozov – offers us solutions to problems we often do not know we have. Some might feel that it sometimes creates new problems, too often without solving the problems it is designed to solve. So often and too often, it fails to do what it says on the tin..."
He is writing about the new Researcher and Editor in Microsoft's Word 2016, but his thoughts provide light for my thoughts on technological solutions to plagiarism... Trying to stick with plagiarism and academic honesty, my next stop is the always useful intro to the plagiarism page on Wikipedia:
"Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation of them as one's own original work. The idea remains problematic with unclear definitions and unclear rules.[ The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality as an ideal emerged in Europe only in the 18th century, particularly with the Romantic movement. Plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics. It is subject to sanctions like penalties, suspension, and even expulsion. Recently, cases of 'extreme plagiarism' have been identified in academia. Plagiarism is not in itself a crime, but can constitute copyright infringement. In academia and industry, it is a serious ethical offense. Plagiarism and copyright infringement overlap to a considerable extent, but they are not equivalent concepts, and many types of plagiarism do not constitute copyright infringement, which is defined by copyright law and may be adjudicated by courts. Plagiarism is not defined or punished by law, but rather by institutions (including professional associations, educational institutions, and commercial entities, such as publishing companies). "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism
Time for a more in-depth look at the IB publications.

 The "Principled" section of the IB Learner Profile is often quoted when exploring the concept of academic honesty: "Academic honesty is part of being “principled”, a learner profile attribute where learners strive to “act with integrity and honesty” as we question, inquire and act. "  (available on the OCC at IB learner profile in review: Report and recommendation (April 2013), page 21). But in reality, if you read the Learner Profile  and the Approaches to Teaching and Learning materials with "academic honesty" in the back of your mind, you may find that it all applies. An IB school's mission is to mould its lifelong learners in to responsible thinkers.

One hopes that all IB teachers, and gradually all IB students, understand that the IB upholds principles of academic honesty, which are seen as a set of values and skills that promote personal integrity and good practice in teaching, learning and assessment.  There is an Academic Honesty Manager at the IB, Dr. Celina Garza, who writes in the March 2016 issue of IB World (p. 6) that "academic honesty is fundamental to the education of every IB student...It's not enough to just advise our students to reference and cite work, we need teachers to be examples and role models in how to do this."

The Conclusion of  Academic honesty in the IB educational context (August 2014, p. 24)  reads: "Students may sometimes be tempted to plagiarize work because they are unable to cope with the task that has been set for them. They may recognize content that is relevant but may not be able to paraphrase or summarize, for example. To promote the development of conceptual understanding in students, teachers must take responsibility to set meaningful tasks that can be completed either independently or with the appropriate amount of scaffolding. Making the process of inquiry visible should be integral to all teaching and learning in IB programmes."

So how does this all come together?  What are my questions as I hit the bottom of my Internet rabbit hole?

Why is the use of software like Turitin not un-common in IB schools? Is it to help students hone their academic honesty skills?  (Look again at the NPR post.) Is it to catch those who haven't quite mastered the Learner Profile and Approaches to Learning?  Is it to spot holes in the curriculum where honesty and citation, etc., were not emphasized strongly enough? Have students and teachers been supported enough in their use of anti-plagiarism and citation software and web sites? (Look again at John Royce's blog.) Are students able to complete the tasks set in meaningful and honest ways? (Look at Dr. Garza's work again) Has the murky area of copyright and intellectual property been elucidated for teachers and students? (Look again at the Wikipedia page.) Do teachers have an understanding of how the copyright laws of the country in which their school is located, and how they may or may not support the principles of the IB? (Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright) and does that matter, anyway - is the IB's concept of academic honesty a legal issue, or a moral one? How do we compare the two in our teaching? Does your school's Academic Honesty Policy reflect IB Policies, and the school's Mission Statement? What is the Best Fit for your school?

created at http://www.addletters.com/                        

Academic honesty in the IB educational context (August 2014) can be found at http://www.ibo.org/globalassets/digital-tookit/brochures/academic-honesty-ib-en.pdf

Differentiation with Social Media Tools

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs siteDifferentiation with Social Media Tools;  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.

This week I was notified of a change on a shared Google Spreadsheet I "follow" which is collecting "Differentiation with Social Media Tools". As I write, there are  109 online social media tools listed, with the type, URL, a short assessment or review, and suggestions for content, process and product differentiation. The page was built and is maintained by John McCarthy, an Education Blogger  at Edutopia - George Lucas Educational Foundation. You can learn more about him on his web page. Linked to the sheet, there is (of course!) a hash-tag discussion on Twitter (#DI4all) if you'd like some immediate feedback about an idea or a problem on this subject.

Looking at the variety of tools listed on  the spread sheet, you might want to use the text search tool in your web browser to zoom in on a particular need or modality.  For example, thinking of a student for whom writing by hand is almost impossible, a search for "audio"  helped me find 3 tools:   Vocaroo


 and Google+ Communities
   (click on the image to view it full size)

Although there are hundreds of such lists on the web, this one is particularly well organized, the links are current, and the tools might be used by learners of any age. McCarthy has updated his blog post about this spread sheet at Edutopia .

He writes,
 "...Differentiating with social media is most effective when we plan learning experiences based on content, process, and product (our lesson structure) and incorporate readiness, interests, and learning profiles (student voice). The following guidelines can help any classroom teacher ensure that the tool used will address students' needs:
  1. Be clear about the academic learning outcomes.
  2. Assess what students know and don't know.
  3. Identify related student background connections.
  4. Utilize social networks that can:
    • Address needs for struggling learners
    • Ensure that advanced learners are growing.
    • Connect content to authentic purposes in the world beyond school.
  5. Use fog-free assessments that track learner progress..."
I urge you to "join" the spread sheet list, and create a notification for new listings.  These occasional emails will help you keep differentiation possibilities in mind.

Universal Design for Learning in the DP

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs siteUniversal Design for Learning in the DP;  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.


This morning I read a brief blog post by  titled More Universal Design for Learning (UDL) needed in the IB, which I quote here in it's entirety, as the author has asked that readers share the link :
"I just finished reading a summary on the need to employ more UDL in IB schools. One of the main challenges for the DP is the very nature of the limited assessment format... which is under pressure from higher education's limited assessment format. Here is a great list of digital tools to help bring more UDL into your classrooms."
The link is https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ihsTwYr1kFx9Jb08Z2w5i1MWoxYkRXZbTP4Gcbodp6I/edit?pref=2&pli=1#gid=0  (You might want to add this spreadsheet to your Google Drive, and subscribe to changes on it.)
flickr photo by JakubSolovsky 
shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The IB's Programme Standards and Practices which relate directly to Universal Design for Learning are
  • A:9 the school supports access for students to the IB programme(s) and the philosophy.
  • B2:8 the school provides support for its students with learning and/or special educational needs and supports their teachers.
  • C1:6 Collaborative planning and reflection incorporates differentiation for students’ learning needs and styles.
  • C3:10 Teaching and learning differentiates instruction to meet students’ learning needs and styles.
If you would like to read further about this area of teaching and learning, I recommend 

Research summary Universal design for learning (UDL) and inclusive practices in IB World Schools, Summary developed by the IB Research department based on a report prepared by: Kavita Rao, Rachel Currie-Rubin and Chiara Logli CAST Professional Learning,  July 2016 

Learning diversity in the International Baccalaureate programmes: Special educational needs within the International Baccalaureate. IBO, August 2010. 

The IB guide to inclusive education: a resource for whole school development, IB Publishing, IBO. 

"Why every school should care about inclusive education", Jayne Pletser, and Kala Parasuram. The IB Community Blog. IBO, 27 Feb. 2015. 

 If you are inspired to expand your own experience in this field, I recommend the page of free learning tools at this link created by  CAST :
"As part of its barrier-busting mission, CAST offers a number of robust (and free) learning tools.These tools, designed and tested as part of CAST’s research projects, help educators, parents, and students experience the power of flexible learning environments."

Digital Intelligence

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Digital Intelligence;  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.


The other day on the World Economic Forum website, this post in the Human implications of digital media department caught my eye: 8 digital skills we must teach our children.  The title would be of interest to anyone involved in the use ICT in education, but it was the image I especially appreciated.  It beautifully represents as a collection (and it is huge!) the technology-related ideals and skills that educators have been naming and discussing for decades. Author Yuhyun Park describes "Digital Intelligence" as "the set of social, emotional and cognitive abilities that enable individuals to face the challenges and adapt to the demands of digital life. These abilities can broadly be broken down into eight interconnected areas:
Digital Intelligence © infollutionZERO Foundation
Digital identity: The ability to create and manage one’s online identity and reputation. This includes an awareness of one's online persona and management of the short-term and long-term impact of one's online presence.

Digital use: The ability to use digital devices and media, including the mastery of control in order to achieve a healthy balance between life online and offline.

Digital safety: The ability to manage risks online (e.g. cyberbullying, grooming, radicalization) as well as problematic content (e.g. violence and obscenity), and to avoid and limit these risks.

Digital security: The ability to detect cyber threats (e.g. hacking, scams, malware), to understand best practices and to use suitable security tools for data protection.

Digital emotional intelligence: The ability to be empathetic and build good relationships with others online.

Digital communication: The ability to communicate and collaborate with others using digital technologies and media.

Digital literacy: The ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share and create content as well as competency in computational thinking.

Digital rights: The ability to understand and uphold personal and legal rights, including the rights to privacy, intellectual property, freedom of speech and protection from hate speech."

However, I feel that the author does us a great disservice by talking only about children in this context, "Experts are predicting that 90% of the entire population will be connected to the internet within 10 years. With the internet of things, the digital and physical worlds will soon be merged. These changes herald exciting possibilities. But they also create uncertainty. And our kids are at the centre of this dynamic change." I think that we are all at the centre of change - all of us Internet users.  The parallel in schools is teaching students "responsible Internet use" and leaving the teachers to their own devices.

It is not just children who need to learn how to deal with the digital world - every day the news media relays stories of people (and increasingly, their institutions) of all ages who have chosen less than clever passwords, been hacked, bullied, trolled, who have shown dubious judgement, etc., on one digital platform or another.  The central character in this video should be an "any age" being:

I clicked through to the DQProject website to find out more, which I will leave you to do for yourself, and make your own evaluation of what you find there.

A Framework for Literacy

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs siteA Framework for Information Literacy;  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.

Presentation slide. 
Photo in the public domain from 

I follow the Librarians forum on the ECIS moodle, where I read with great interest a recent post by Teacher - Librarian Pia Alliende, in which she shares the recently published (January 2016)  Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education published by the US Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. She writes about the document that "...it revises the more traditional definition of information literacy and I see on it all of the MYP ATL skills, and not just one of the 5 approaches to learning (Research). The framework is based on essential concepts and questions drawn by the work of Wiggins and McTighe (Understanding by Design, 2004)".
I have just been thinking about the  Middle Years Program  Approaches to Learning skill clusters with a colleague, and I have been researching how the Approaches to Learning  are developing in the other IB programs.  This ACRL document will be a great help in discussions, and curriculum development.
"The Framework is organized into six frames, each consisting of a concept central to information literacy, a set of knowledge practices, and a set of dispositions. The six concepts that anchor the frames are presented alphabetically:
  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as a Process
  • Information Has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship as Conversation
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration
Neither the knowledge practices nor the dispositions that support each concept are intended to prescribe what local institutions should do in using the Framework; each library and its partners on campus will need to deploy these frames to best fit their own situation, including designing learning outcomes. For the same reason, these lists should not be considered exhaustive." (ACRL, Introduction, parr. 2)
I will reproduce here one of the concepts, and it's knowledge practices and dispositions, with the hope that they will so enthuse you that you will click on the link, read the whole document, download it, and refer to it often.

Research as Inquiry

Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.
Experts see inquiry as a process that focuses on problems or questions in a discipline or between disciplines that are open or unresolved. Experts recognize the collaborative effort within a discipline to extend the knowledge in that field. Many times, this process includes points of disagreement where debate and dialogue work to deepen the conversations around knowledge. This process of inquiry extends beyond the academic world to the community at large, and the process of inquiry may focus upon personal, professional, or societal needs. The spectrum of inquiry ranges from asking simple questions that depend upon basic recapitulation of knowledge to increasingly sophisticated abilities to refine research questions, use more advanced research methods, and explore more diverse disciplinary perspectives. Novice learners acquire strategic perspectives on inquiry and a greater repertoire of investigative methods.

Knowledge Practices

Learners who are developing their information literate abilities
  • formulate questions for research based on information gaps or on reexamination of existing, possibly conflicting, information;
  • determine an appropriate scope of investigation;
  • deal with complex research by breaking complex questions into simple ones, limiting the scope of investigations;
  • use various research methods, based on need, circumstance, and type of inquiry;
  • monitor gathered information and assess for gaps or weaknesses;
  • organize information in meaningful ways;
  • synthesize ideas gathered from multiple sources;
  • draw reasonable conclusions based on the analysis and interpretation of information.


Learners who are developing their information literate abilities
  • consider research as open-ended exploration and engagement with information;
  • appreciate that a question may appear to be simple but still disruptive and important to research;
  • value intellectual curiosity in developing questions and learning new investigative methods;
  • maintain an open mind and a critical stance;
  • value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility and recognize that ambiguity can benefit the research process;
  • seek multiple perspectives during information gathering and assessment;
  • seek appropriate help when needed;
  • follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information;
  • demonstrate intellectual humility (i.e., recognize their own intellectual or experiential limitations).

Taking it with you

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs siteTaking it with you;  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.


Two blog posts I read this morning reminded me again how important it is to think about the  longevity and permanence of our web work.

Class Blogmeister Retires After a 12-Year Run from David Warlick was a real blast from the past.  I started blogging, and helping teachers think about using a blog as a tool in their classroom, in 2006-2007. Then, as now, privacy and supervision were major considerations, and David's Class Blogmeister has been a great service to classroom bloggers. 1,428,522 articles have been posted on the site!  Students who blogged in Year 6 when Class Blogmeister began are now out of university, and perhaps graduate school.  I wonder if they were encouraged to export or download their work, and take it with them in their "life's scrapbook" or portfolio.

Alan Levine writes about Digital Durability? My Money is on the Individual.  The post  begins:
"That project you are posting online, or maybe it’s a paper, maybe its a conference presentation, maybe it’s an OER– does it matter if it will be accessible in 5, 10, 20 years? How durable is your digital content? Is it hosted on someone else’s server? Is it constructed in a technology that will not be usable in the future?At the time of putting something online, it seems rather durable. You can see it, others can. Do you think it will end up in that special room on the 4th floor of the internet?..."
luggageDo you have your first digital photos safely stored on floppy discs?  Still have a floppy disk reader?

Is that digital portfolio you've spent years refining backed up?  Can it be exported in a readable format?

If you're working or studying in a school that asks you to store your work on its own server, or in the cloud of a particular company, will you be able to export it and take it with you in a readable format when you move on/retire/graduate? Do you regularly save your work to a private backup - an external drive, hard or cloud? Do you take screen shots of your work on line, to create a visual history of your web work? (If it happens to be Google Apps for Education, consider backing up/exporting from all the tools you've  used - Contacts, Gmail, Picasa web, Blogger, Maps, Bookmarks from Chrome, Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. Remember that all the data connected to your school email account will disappear when the school terminates your email.  Read this blog post at Tech Savvy Educator for help.

If you've used your school email to create accounts on other web services, be sure to log in to those services and change your email settings, using a non-school email address, before your school email is terminated.

Don't be so caught up in the present that you discount the use and value of your "old work" in the future.

Photo credit: CC0 Public Domain

Are these in your Google Docs universe?

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Are these in your Google Docs universe?  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 a clever post from the Google for Work Official Blog, Looking back at Marie Curie’s radical discovery: How the Mother of Modern Physics might have used Google Apps, "we imagine how Marie Curie’s discovery of radioactivity, which won a Nobel Prize and revolutionized modern cancer treatment, might have played out in a Google Apps universe." I encourage you to follow the link, and read the post.

Most of us are aware of the Google Chrome extensions and add-ons, but did you know that there are also add-ons specific to Docs, Sheets and Forms, too? (Use this Support page for basic add-ons help, and this page for basic Google Docs help). 

Here are 9 Google Docs tools and add-ons that I have found very useful in my own teaching and learning. As always with anything from the Internet, proof-reading, judgement, and good sense are required in their use. 

"Generates a word cloud, has loads of new features including control over number of words, dropping words auto pretty & word tables. Use this add-on to quickly assess what your emerging theme is, how to best categorize your document, or if it is someone's else's document - find out the theme of the document without reading it." (link

2. The Research Tool 
The native Research Tool in Google Docs can be found in the Google Docs Menus bar, under Tools. "In a document or presentation, you can research and refer to information and images on the web without leaving the file. This feature is available on computers, Android phones, and Android tablets." (link

screen shot

Basic instructions are on this Google Support Page

3. Change Case
In Microsoft Word I often used the "change case" tool. This is not yet a built in tool in Google Docs, but there is an add-on. Change Case will give you a new menu option to shift any text into whatever styling you might need. A how-to page is at this link

4. Envelopes
If you need to print properly formatted envelopes, you will find an add-on called Envelopes useful. "Envelopes helps you work from the cloud by adding the ability to print envelopes from a Google Document. This handy add-on sizes your document to the dimensions of popular envelopes and formats the tabs so you can quickly fill in Addresses. " The official support page is at this link.

5. Table of Contents
There is a native Table of Contents tool in Google Docs (found last in the list under "Insert" in the Tool Bar), which places the table at the head of your document. It is useful, but for a long document, the resulting table of contents can often extend to several pages.

The add-on Table of Contents places the table in a side bar, which might be more useful to you. "Clicking on a table of contents heading in the sidebar will move your cursor to that section of the document. After selecting a format in the list, clicking on the refresh button will number automatically your document's headings." The support page is at this link.

6. & 7 Translation Tools
There is a native Translation tool in Google Docs, found in the list under the "Tools" tab in the tool bar.
screen shot

There is also a translation tool add-on: Translate Add-On for Google Docs. This add-on will open a side bar to your document, and display the translated text for you to copy and paste.

As noted in the video, there is no guarantee as to the quality of the translations, but in many cases this "something" is better than "nothing", and can be a huge help.

8. EasyBib Add-On in Google Docs 
"The Bibliography Creator by EasyBib allows you to easily create a bibliography for your research paper. Automatically cite books, journal articles, and websites just by entering in the titles or URLs. Format citations in MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, and over 7K other styles. When you're finished creating your bibliography, click Generate Bibliography and we'll alphabetize your citations and add them to the end of your paper." (link)

The official web page is at this link.

As is the case with other tools and add-ons, this one might not produce perfect results for you. Read the comments on the Google store page; and consider what Richard Byrnes has written on Free Technology for Teachers: "Granted those tools aren't always perfect in their formatting of citations ... but I think they are still valuable because they help get students into the habit of citing their sources of information and keeping a record of the sources they use. Furthermore, if EasyBib, RefME, or one of the other bibliography generators does make a mistake you can turn that into a teaching opportunity with your students" using online tools such as Citation Machine, Cite this for me, or the NSCU Libraries Citation Builder

9. MindMeister 
This add-on changes a bullet list you have created in a google doc into a mind map. (These images can be copied, and pasted into other Google Drive products, such as Presentations.) "Select an item list in your document and choose 'Insert as Mind Map' from the Add-on menu. The list will be converted into a mind map and embedded as an image in the document." (link) The official web page is here, and the support page is at this link.

If you're inspired by these tools, you might want to join 1000 or so other people discovering more by following the Flipboard Magazine Google Apps on Flipboard.

Using Public Domain Images

I've posted a new article over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Using Public Domain Images. 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 August I wrote about how to cite  Creative Commons photos.  Today I'd like to investigate how or why to cite Public Domain photos.  The following is not to be taken as legal advice, but as general guidelines for academic work, in a school setting.

Rights are country-specific, so there is no "one size fits all" discussion of this topic.  Wikipedia begins the page on Public Domain with this paragraph:
Public Domain Symbol
]Public Domain Mark 1.0
"Works in the public domain are those whose exclusive intellectual property rights have expired,[1] have been forfeited,[2] or are inapplicable.[3][4] For example, the works of Shakespeareand Beethoven, and most of the early silent films, are all now in the public domain by leaving the copyright term.[1] Examples for works not covered by copyright which are therefore in the public domain, are the formulae of Newtonian physics, cooking recipes[3] and all software before 1974.[5] Examples for works actively dedicated into public domain by their authors are the Serpent encryption reference implementation,[6] NIH's ImageJ,[7] and the CIA's The World Factbook.[8] The term is not normally applied to situations where the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as "under license" or "with permission".
"As rights are country-based and vary, a work may be subject to rights in one country and be in the public domain in another. Some rights depend on registrations on a country-by-country basis, and the absence of registration in a particular country, if required, creates public domain status for a work in that country."(Read more about the public domain on this page at Wikipedia.)

The Media Project Policy Blog of the London School of Economics posted a two part article  by Melanie Dulong de Rosnay comparing default entitlements to information in the areas of copyright and data protection law., explaining the implications of the report and the relevant background:
"In theory, the concept of the public domain envisions information as belonging by default to society at large, providing an alternative to the usual entitlement to private persons. In copyright law, the notion of the Public Domain allows for the cancellation or limitation of default private entitlements, enabling the distribution and re-use of information without restrictions under certain circumstances." I urge you to read the entire article at this link.  This is a complicated topic!  What is in the public domain in the United States may or may not be so in the European Union. To learn about more specific differences between/among countries, read the Commons: Copyright rules by territory page on Wikipedia.
Screen Shot
(Screen Shot)

I will jump ahead (skipping for the moment the topic of how to find public domain images) for the purposes of this post:  I have searched for and found this image for my article, which carries this tag: "This image identified by the The British Library, is free of known copyright restrictions"  I read on this page that "The Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts content is now available for download and reuse. Although still technically in copyright in the UK (and a number of other common law territories) the images are being made available under a Public Domain Mark* which indicates that there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, adaptation, republication or sharing of the content available from the site. The catalogue information is made available under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication."

How shall I cite this image, which, being in the public domain, does not require citation?
I look for models on the web: On the Future Learn site, it carries this description: "Edward III © British Library Board. From Nova Statuta c. 1451. Made available under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication".The image's  Wikimedia page suggests using "By Anonymous [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons" (with a  link back to its page). Medievalists.net uses the image without citation or description, and  eRoyalty.com uses it with this description: "Edward III Courtesy of British Library Illuminated Manuscript Collection" but no link back to the source.

Do I cite this public domain image in my work?  Absolutely!

In the IB's publication "Effective citing and referencing" (August 2014) we read that "...when creating an authentic piece of work, we are expected to...acknowledge all contributing sources appropriately." Legally, one is  not compelled to provide attribution when using an item from the public domain. It is common practice in academia, however, to show respect for others by providing attribution, even when using public domain material.

Many college and university library web pages offer help on finding and citing images: UCLA Library, Yale University Library, Sonoma University Library

Otis College of Art and Design Library offers an excellent guide on how to proceed:
  • Determine the title of the work - You may have to create your own caption or description.
  • Determine who created the work - artist, design, photographer, illustrator, etc. This can be difficult to find. If you are stuck, try looking at any embedded metadata in the image or try a reverse image search like TinEye or Google Search by Image.
  • Determine who provided the image - Flickr, someone's blog or website, company's official website, stock photo, online photo collection, research database, museum website, etc. When possible, link to the original or definitive source, not the Pinterest board.
  • Evaluate the image -  Like other sources, images should be evaluated for quality. A photo of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre website will be more credible than one found on AllPosters.com or one of the first search results.
  • Document where you found the image online - When possible, link to the page with the information about the image. Otherwise, link directly to the image. Also, write down the date you last accessed it successfully.
  • Look for rights statements and crediting preferences - Is there a Creative Commons license? a link to their terms of use? Some sites will provide links, citations, or guidelines on how to credit their images and content."
In my proposed work, I will take my lead from Future Learn, with the addition of a link, and use these lines under my image: "Edward III © The British Library Illuminated Manuscripts Collection. From Nova Statuta c. 1451. Made available under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication" and in the reference list I will write:

Detail of an Historiated Initial 'C'(ome) of Edward III, at the Beginning of His Statutes. From Nova Statuta , from Edward III to Henry VI, Ending in the Year 1451. between 1451 and c. 1480, bequeathed to the British Museum in 1941 by Mrs. Henry Yates Thompson. The British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, London. The British Library. Web. 14 Feb. 2016.