The Lifelong Demerit

nike-2011-usa-demerit-15-third-soccer-jerseySome of my most vivid memories are of elementary school.  Although I consider my early years as a student pretty ordinary, after some reflection I am sure that many would agree that my experiences are beyond unique.  My first reaction to this assignment was “I have no story to tell”, but after some reflection I managed to muster up a little something.  Looking back, I would say that I enjoyed elementary school as hard as it may be for some to believe.  I was an obedient, hard working student who completed homework assignments on time, had great study habits (parents did not have to remind me to do homework or study for tests). I was never reprimanded (at school) and never received the big “D”-DEMERITS! That’s right…public enemy number #1.  Demerits were like the scarlet letter at school.  Everyone knew that you got one because the teachers would either call you out in front of the entire class, hand you a slip of paper at the end of the day or just put your name on the blackboard for the entire class to gape at.  At my school demerits were given out for pretty much any and everything.  They were even awarded if you were caught by a staff member engaging in inappropriate activities outside of school…like attending a movie.  Movies were considered to be “worldly.”  I managed to get a few in from time to time because I figured the only way I would get caught is if the other person was checking out a movie as well.

I loved school, despite the many rules and consequences in place.  This was all that I knew. Follow the rules, do well, and honor thy father and mother.  It was a great foundation, but when that’s all that you’ve known for the last 5 years you have no concept of the “real” world. Not once do I remember asking myself the question “what do I want …what do I like?” I never really had to think for myself.  It never mattered because my choices were limited. I wanted to do well in school because I did not want to disappoint teachers, parents, God or myself.   I was good at everything, but most importantly I was good at following the rules. Good ole intrinsic motivation- that’s one thing Bible Baptist Academy got right or did they? Maybe it was just fear?

All of this coupled with the fact that I was the only African American female in my class from kindergarten to fifth grade along with being a “Yankee”.  You heard right- the Civil War was still being fought in some places in the South in the 1980s. This goes without saying that this profoundly shaped my development. My awakening did not happen until many years later when I enrolled in my first Women’s Studies course in college. What I learned in that course has shaped who I am today- someone who believes in equal rights for all. In my case, special education is my passion and being an educator of and advocate for students with significant intellectual disabilities has become one of my charges. All students deserve a fair shake at an education that provides them with meaningful access to the general education curriculum.  It is true that the future determines the past and the past determines the future.  I am a witness.


State of the Union

Before I started this week’s task, I couldn’t begin to explain the steps one would take to create a meme.   My husband creates them all the time, prints them off and sticks them in the most obscure places (e.g., my purse, in between the pages of a notepad, lunch box-you name it) waiting for me to discover them.  What a thoughtful gesture, but not once did it occur to me to ask him how he created them (I figured it was more time than I had to spare).  I was content reaping the benefits of finding them… they always seem to bring on a good laugh or head shake at a much needed time.

To my surprise…creating a meme was a quick and easy process when using a meme generator such as quick meme.  The first thing I did was find and save an image that I wanted to use.  I simply uploaded the image into quick meme and a box appeared that prompted me to begin typing the caption that I wanted to use.  I was then given the option to save/share the creation and when selected it generated a link.  The only problem was that I wanted to embed the actual image into my post for this week.  I then attempted to save the image, but it saved as a bitmap. I then decided to use jing to take a screenshot of the image and VOILA!

I decided to use this image of Obama and Biden because it reiterates the fact that we are living in the age of social media and that it’s here to stay! Heck…if Crazy Joe is able to “get with the program” than anyone can!  I also wanted to pay homage to my EDUC 639 peeps…It’s been a great journey and I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about web 2.0 tools this semester (Thanks Matt…harrumph).  So Twitter away folks…I mean tweet away!


Share and Dipity

Dipity is a tool that allows users to build interactive timelines.  It can also be used as a social media management platform that organizes/integrates information chronologically. This is a great tool for educators to use in the classroom because you and your students can build timelines within minutes on practically any subject.  Oh and did I mention…that it’s a collaborative tool!  You can have an entire class working on building a timeline together.  Students have to decide where to add/delete events, starting and endpoints, text to be displayed, and the images they want to embed-you can also upload videos that correspond to events. Dipity also has a social media component, where new events created on your timeline can be set to automatically post to your Twitter or Facebook account.  You can also share your timelines and embed them into blogs, social networks and websites.

Here’s a great example of how Dipity can be used with Diigo to create an interactive timeline on the Holocaust:


Let’s take a closer look at Dipity.  Check out my video.

So Sue Me!

I really didn’t know what to expect going into this week’s segment on Copyright Law. My initial thought before watching the Renee Hobbs footage from the Winter Faculty Institute was that I should take a wild stab in the dark at the number of times I’ve probably violated copyright law in the last five years. I figured that her lecture was going to reveal more stringent user limitations than I could ever imagine. I was pleasantly suprised to hear about the “Fair Use Doctrine” which provides a level of protection to those that use copyrighted materials for educational purposes that meet established criteria. What a relief…all of those videos, images, and PowerPoints that I used in my classroom and in numerous presentations will no longer haunt me in my dreams! I know…I know… the Fair Use Doctrine isn’t saying that I have the right to use whatever copyrighted materials I want AND in any amount  just because it’s in the NAME of EDUCATION.  I definitely need to work on being more cognizant about giving credit where credit is due and sharing copyright information with others.

                                             Image courtesy of:  

On the flipside, the Remix videos by Kirby Ferguson put a different spin on the whole copyright hoopla.  After watching this series, I decided to do a brief google search on “most famous copyright infringement cases.”  Some of these cases are pretty crazy.  Check out Ten Famous Intellectual Property Disputes.  One of the most notorious suits is the Mattel vs. MGA Entertainment.  Although Mattel was awarded $310M for the Barbie brand image copyright violation, MGA Entertainment (Bratz) made $1B at the time of the award and would go on to make over $1B of revenue each year after that.  So what’s a $310M violation when your raking in over a $1B in annual revenue?  It’s all about  the money!

Have We Jumped the Gun? Inclusion of Students with Severe Disabilities in the General Education Classroom

With an increasing push for the inclusion of students with severe disabilities in general education classrooms suprisingly, a number of educators (both general and special ed.) feel underprepared to educate students with disabilities in  inclusive environments.

                       How Can This Be?

For starters, many university teacher education programs do not require or offer coursework related to inclusive practices. Specific training is needed if teachers are expected to reach the wide range of  learners in their classrooms. Certification requirements are different for special educators than general educators which is understandable, but with the line between general and special education becoming increasingly blurred, some of the coursework needs to overlap. Special educators could benefit from coursework related  to content and curriculum development, where general educators could be benefit from courses related to  adapting content and assistive technology. If educators are expected to provide inclusive programming for students with disabilities, this shift should be evidenced in University  Teacher Education Programs.  There also needs to be effective, accessible, ongoing professional development implemented that is related to inclusive strategies that fosters collaboration among educators.  How can educators be expected to meet this challenge when resources and training are not in place?  Implementing effective inclusionary practices requires a shift in thinking and the collaboration of all parties involved.  It’s not something that can happen overnight.  There a few states that have successfully implemented inclusive programs.  Check out the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability: National Center on Inclusive Education.

Punks Jump Up…

Do you feel comfortable stepping out of the institutionally supported technologies (like the LMS) and why?

This is a tough question to answer because LMS can be an effective tool when implemented using best practices.  However there seems to be more pitfalls than positives when it comes to these tools. One major pitfall of LMS is that they are often exclusive in the sense that they are walled gardens (only those that have access to the LMS system are able to collaborate with one another).  LMS tend to be teacher-directed where students are accessing information from a centralized location.  Another drawback to LMS is that the data created by students in the course doesn’t follow them.  Despite these drawbacks in terms of collaboration and the level of involvement students have over their learning, I wonder…Is there a place for LMS in PLEs?   Check out this Youtube video on LMS vs PLEs.

What are the implications of “going Edupunk” with learners?          


I love the Edupunk approach to learning!  When the individual is at the center of the learning environment they take learning into their own hands.  It’s great when content can be accessed directly from all resources.  The Instructables is an excellent resource for DIY learners- which in my opinion is Edupunk at its finest.  Individuals have access to learn new skills from professionals on a wide range of topics and they have the opportunity to share what they’ve developed.

Edupunk Implications:

  • Collaboration with individuals from all over the world
  • Open access
  • No one is locked out of the network; everyone can join
  • Access content from places all over the web –flexible
  • Student centered learning
  • Thinking for yourself
  • Information presented in multiple learning formats
  • Knowledge at your fingertips
  • More cost-effective than traditional learning formats
  • Freely sharing information

Additional Resource to check out:

Edupunk and Learning Management Systems:  Conflict or Chance?

Education For All!

I loved this week’s segment on “self-education.”  What an empowering and liberating feeling to know that I do not have to rely on university course offerings and workplace training to increase my skills/knowledge- base. I’ve heard of MOOCs, but I never took a look to see what this phenomenon was all about.  After watching the presentation on MOOCs from UD’s Summer Faculty Institute and a brief internet search, I found MOOCs offered from top universities on topics from Japanese to Molecular and Cell Biology.  I was in a crazed state when I discovered this…I felt like I won a free shopping spree at Nordies (just turn me loose)! There is much debate as to how much learning is actually occurring in MOOCs and about their future and impact on higher ed. institutions.  I don’t know if MOOCs are the lightning rod that will revolutionize higher education.  One thing that I do know is that it is a step in the right direction in terms of making education accessible for all.

So with all of this information at my fingertips I decided that I want to learn more about digital filmmaking.  In my search I found several great sources.  The first being the hurlblog (hurlbut visuals) which has a wide range of resources for those interested in cinematography. Here are a few print resources that I thought would be great starting points: 

The Filmmakers Handbook:  A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age- Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus

The DSLR Filmmakers’ Handbook:  Real-World Production Techniques- Barry Andersson, Janie L. Geyen

In my quest, I also found an open course that MIT offers (MIT Open Courseware) in their Media Arts and Science Program:MAS.531-Computational Camera and Photography. This course is perfect for me because I can go through the couresework at my own pace and I can start the course whenenver I’m ready- no need to register.

You Tube is another great resource that has great videos for the person that wants a quick overview in a nutshell. I found a 30 minute webinar: HDSLR Filmmaking for Beginners.