bob sprankle

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Your Own Museum

(cross-posted at TechLearning)

If you haven’t already done so, go spend a few minutes playing with Intel’s “The Museum of Me.” It’s a slightly amusing meme that people have been enjoying for a few weeks. You simply put in your Facebook credentials, and Intel creates a “movie” of a museum, showing you, your Facebook friends, videos and pictures you’ve uploaded to Facebook, etc. It’s a bit creepy seeing how easy it is to draw up a “digital footprint” of one’s self, but it also is an impressive idea, leaving me wanting more: we really should have “Museums of Me.”

In a sense, we do— we have a digital footprint that can be called up with all kinds of tools on the Internet (Google being the easiest). But what if we really were able to have a digital museum, where we could pull together everything that we wanted people to see and know about us, in one place, rather than scattered Across the Universe Internet?

Of course, what I’m really thinking about is a living museum for students to keep their work viewable and preserved— from Kindergarten (or before) onward. Intel’s fun little tool is a tiny vision of what could be, but is limited more than by its brevity or Facebook-centric focus. One really has no control as to what gets added to the museum, or what the museum looks like, or even how long it will survive.

A smart company (like Intel) could easily create real “Museums of Me” for people at little or no cost, but I would especially like to see one created for students to capture their work in a reliable and stable environment that will still exist when they graduate college (Google: “Will you still be here in 20 or so years?”)

All across the nation, unfortunately, trash bins are being filled to overflowing with student work as schools close up and begin the summer cleanse. It happens every year: out with the old, to make ready for next year, because all the paper work takes up space.

Digital work (or digital captures of work) takes up very little space. There’s really no reason to ever throw it out.

If our work that we do with students is important, then it should be preserved and revered. Every student deserves his/her own personal museum.

June 23, 2011   1 Comment

Seedlings @ Bit By Bit Podcast: Show 117

Seedlings @ Bit by Bit Podcast: Show 117
June 16, 2011

It’s our “Wrap-Up” Show for the Season 3!

Links from the show:

“Geek of the Week” Links for 2011-06-16

Chat Transcript from EdTech Talk


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June 17, 2011   2 Comments

Who has the Right?

(cross-posted at TechLearning)

I’ve been using a new LiveScribe pen for several weeks, and I must say, I love it. It’s an amazing tool, and what I would have given to have such a device when I was back in college, taking notes. I’ll let you explore the pen on your own over at LiveScribe (and hopefully I’ll be able to give a more thorough review of it in a later post), but I’m going to focus this blog entry on an issue that, while hypothetical here, has probably already arisen or will arise at some point… possibly at a school near you.

Before I paint the scenario, let me just give you the bare-bones basics of the LiveScribe pen:

  • it’s a pen (you can write with it)
  • it can record audio (which can be played back later)
  • you can click on any part of the note you’ve taken (on special LiveScribe paper) and it will play the audio that was recorded when those notes were taken (in other words, if you were listening to an hour long lecture, you could review the important parts of the audio quickly by just “tapping” on sections that you’ve, say, put a star next to… therefore, rather than listening to the entire hour, you could review just the most important parts in minutes
  • there is a plethora of other scenarios for its use beyond what I just described above.

Ok: now for a fictional (?) scenario:

“Student A” has access to a LiveScribe pen. He/she has difficulty capturing notes during lectures (this could be at a high school, college, etc) and the LiveScribe pen is a lifesaver for Student A. He/she writes down as much as she/he is able to during the lecture, but is able to quickly review the most important parts (in preparation for an exam, paper, etc) by clicking on the different parts of the “capture.”

Student A is a responsible student. He/she lets the teacher/professor know about the tool before recording in order to get consent from the teacher for use of the tool.

The teacher flatly refuses. Reasons given could be any or all of the following:

  • “I’m uncomfortable having my lecture recorded.”
  • “You have permission to record me, but you don’t have the permission to record the rest of the class, and I don’t have the right/power to grant the permission to record the other students.”
  • “Knowledge of being recorded could have a stifling effect on class discussions.”
  • “Your recording could be shared with other students, and thus have an increase on absenteeism.”
  • “You could use the audio to create an edited ‘mashup’ of my words in some audio editing program, and make me ‘say‘ something I never said.”
  • “We don’t have a policy allowing recordings in our school.”
  • “We have a policy banning audio recordings in our school (possibly our state).”
  • “This tool would give you an unfair advantage over other students in the class who don’t have access to the recording.”
  • “The pen will be a distraction in my classroom.”
  • “The answer is ‘no’ and I don’t need to give you a reason; it’s my classroom.”

Who has the right here? Does the teacher have the right to deny the student from using a tool that will benefit his/her learning? Or… does the student have the right to use any tool that will ensure success and overcome a learning difficulty or help strengthen his/her acquisition of knowledge in a modality that he/she is not adept in (i.e., not being an “auditory learner” would make lecture-style delivery of content a struggle)?

Before you answer (and I hope you do in the comments section below), you may want to visit the following links to review the issue of recording in a classroom from various “lenses.” I’ve included stories related to video as well as audio recording in order to illustrate that this is an issue that is certainly in flux and, at times, volatile:

  1. First, and foremost, check your state’s laws regarding recording (with or without consent) at the Citizen Media Law Project. Were you aware of your state’s law? Does your state have a law regarding recording without consent? Does it cover the scenario above? For example, would Massachusetts’ “Public Meetings” Recording Law cover classrooms? Are classrooms considered “Public places?” (see the next link)
  2. Warning: this next link is a pretty sad story and has no connection to the LiveScribe scenario above. However, it is relevant to the discussion as it illustrates the battle to define classrooms as “Public” or “Private” settings: “Is it Legal to Secretly Record a Teacher in Class?”
  3. This link takes us back to Massachusetts, highlighting a conversation about the ambiguity of the law.
  4. I have to also include this great article from Andy Carvin —reaching all the way back to 2006!— that echoes concerns in the last link (yes, this is an issue that has a history). Again, while not directly related to using the LiveScribe pen (more broadly covering the “emergence of citizen’s media,” I can’t help but wonder that when Carvin asks, “Are there cases where any form of secret recording would be deemed acceptable?” that this would include a student secretly recording with a LiveScribe pen (where permission has been denied) in order to ensure success with learning.
  5. Here’s a post that addresses both the “woes” of recording with the LiveScribe Pen on the sly and recording with consent.
  6. Here is LiveScribe’s advice about legality:
    “What are the legal issues surrounding recording conversations and lectures with a Livescribe Smartpen?
    Similar to using cameras, cell phones, digital voice recorders and other consumer electronic devices, the owners have a responsibility to behave ethically and demonstrate common courtesy when it comes to personal privacy.”
  7. Also, check out this David Pogue article where he has a high school student review the pen. I especially like this quote when examining the pen’s distraction potential: “Look, I’m a teenager. A laptop makes it incredibly easy to mask that you’re playing a game during a lecture or perusing Facebook… [w]ith the Echo smartpen, it is a lot more difficult to fool around.”
  8. And, finally, my favorite post in my recent searching from “The Wrightslaw Way
    to Special Education Law and Advocacy”
    that addresses the rights of students who are fortunate to have an IEP and therefore “eligible for special education services under IDEA.” Note: read the comments as well to see the struggles that still exist (i.e., the comments from “Wanda”).

But… what about the student who doesn’t have an IEP? Who gets to decide the final answer of whether the tool is allowed into the classroom? Surely, we can’t simply discount a teacher’s trepidation of being recorded (especially when the final destination of the file is out of the teacher’s hands… can you say, “YouTube?”). I don’t think many would argue that alerting teachers to the fact that they’re being recorded is proper and should be standard practice, but, should CONSENT actually be required? Clearly, many state laws have already answered this, but were they thinking about the LiveScribe pen when they wrote these laws?

Are we lumping tools like the LiveScribe pen in a “Wiretapping Law” legal category, when they should be seen instead as Assistive Technology tools protected by laws such as IDEA, or even seen just a necessary tool “to get the job done?”

I wonder if regular pens were ever banned from classrooms. They can “record” words too. Is a LiveScribe pen just a “Pen 2.0?”

In thinking and searching about this issue, it seems like there are a lot of unknowns, questions about legality, and strong opinions on both sides of the argument. One thing is clear to me, however: this is a complicated discussion that needs to be happening in preparation for the ever increasing evolution of assistive technology tools. Who gets to decide the allowance of such tools in the classroom? Is this a teacher decision? Is it a School Policy issue? Is it a State or National law that will ultimately decide? Are you comfortable having a student use a LiveScribe pen in your classroom? Are there rules/guidelines/expectations that need to be established? Has your school already created these?

When I asked one of my 3rd grade students (whom I’ve been using the LiveScribe pen with) about who ultimately has the right to decide whether the tool can or can’t be used, she said:

“I’d go with the student. If it’s going to help you with learning… and the kid really wants to do all this —they don’t want to get this bad grade, they want to do this— then why can’t they have this tool? It would help them, so I’d go with the student. I really would.”

What are your thoughts?

(By the way, I have that quote verbatim because she allowed me to use my LiveScribe pen so I made sure I had it right.)


May 26, 2011   No Comments

Seedlings @ Bit By Bit Podcast: Show 116

Seedlings @ Bit by Bit Podcast: Show 116
May 19, 2011

We’re joined by Dr. Carina Self!

Links from the show:

“Geek of the Week” Links for 2011-05-19

Chat Transcript from EdTech Talk

Congratulations to Julie Ann Spang for winning the BOOK DRAWING!


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May 20, 2011   No Comments

Seedlings @ Bit By Bit Podcast: Show 115

Seedlings @ Bit by Bit Podcast: Show 15
May 12, 2011

We’re joined by Christopher Bugaj!

Links from the show:

“Geek of the Week” Links for 2011-05-12

Chat Transcript from EdTech Talk


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May 13, 2011   2 Comments

Let’s Have Lunch!

(cross-posted at TechLearning)

It started small, but now I have company during most of my free lunch times at school. Word got out about a couple of student gatherings, and now there are regularly scheduled “groups” having lunch with me weekly.

What can one do? The students want to keep learning.

That’s right. I have students coming to me to set up groups that will keep them learning during their lunch time.

The largest group is my “TED Academy” group. This group started when one student asked me if I knew about “Kahn Academy.” I told her I did, but was more interested in how she knew about it. Kahn Academy is an amazing—HUGE—repository of instructional video, but definitely geared towards higher grades. This was a 3rd Grader asking me this question.

After a brief discussion, she asked me if she could come show me some of the videos she had watched. I happily agreed and told her to bring several friends. The next thing I knew, most of her class was at my door the next day.

We watched a video from Kahn, followed by an amazing conversation. I asked if they’d be interested in checking out some of the videos over at TED as a possible alternative to Kahn for future lunches (due to their grade level), and they were eager to check it out.

So now, every Friday, I enjoy lunch with a group of 3rd graders while watching an amazing TED video and listen to their incredible discussions that follow.

Their discussions are:

  • focused
  • exciting
  • filled with personal connections
  • engaging
  • relevant
  • show deep understanding of what they just watched
  • connected to global issues
  • focused on how they can make the world a better place, based on what they just learned
  • completely independent of me

Usually, I work right through lunch (updating the school’s website, finding parent links, planning for lessons, etc.). This is so much better.

I definitely feel like I’m getting a break in my day (TED’s done all the work). I just eat my lunch, watch the students digest and then dissect the videos, and enjoy their discussions more than they will probably ever know.

Learning doesn’t have to stop because of assigned time slots, and in fact, we know it doesn’t stop (we’re learning all the time). It is a world of hope and celebration when students approach a teacher and ask for additional learning resources. What more could a teacher ask for?

At this point, the students are going home, previewing the TED videos, and bringing in recommendations for the group. They are entirely in charge of these learning lunches. I just provide the computer and the projector. And the cafeteria provides the food.

There are so many opportunities for continued learning on the web for students asking for more. There’s TED, there’s Kahn… and here’s a link to a great article called, “10 Open Education Resources You May Not Know About (But Should)” that I just came across giving you even more resources for continued, open learning.

Bon Appetit!

May 12, 2011   8 Comments

Seedlings @ Bit By Bit Podcast: Show 114

Seedlings @ Bit by Bit Podcast: Show 114
May 5, 2011

We’re joined by Miranda Adams!

Links from the show:

“Geek of the Week” Links for 2011-05-05

Chat Transcript from EdTech Talk


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May 6, 2011   No Comments

Honored to be in

Thanks to Stephanie Roberts’ book, The Art of iPhoneography, my photo is in Life Magazine:

Main Page:

My Photo:

Deeply honored.

April 25, 2011   6 Comments