Thursday, October 8, 2009

Week 2 Comment: Amy White's Blog

Amy White's Blog Address:

Amy's original posting: 
I'm just in a blogging state of mind. Also, Monday Night Football is on and I'm being ignored--which isn't necessarily a bad thing! So, I wanted to share one of the best resources, no, communities I've found online. It is a Ning site for English teachers created by Jim Burke, author of books about reading and literacy, called English Companion Ning. Burke has created a community of teachers who share and comment, have virtual book clubs, commiserate, blog, and talk to each other. It is an awesome resource for both new and experienced teachers. This is such a progressive concept for high school teachers. I am old enough to remember when nobody shared ideas--or anything! We all went to our individual rooms and kept all our materials to ourselves. This Ning is invaluable in sharing media, tools and information for teachers of all experience levels. What Burke has created is a huge faculty lounge without all the whining and complaining. His Ning is beginning to get noticed by the rest of the educational community as articles point to it as an example of what great things can be found on the internet. It's a pretty cool site. If you are an English teacher I would definitely recommend checking it out. I've included a photo of the many groups teachers have formed within the English Companion community.

Mike's response to Amy's Blog:
The idea of teachers from different parts of the globe collaborating on their profession is pretty amazing, considering that it is a brand new practice. I can only imagine how much more enhanced my education would have been growing up if my teachers had access to information as today's teachers do. There are several websites on the Internet that are dedicated to just that:

Last month, England's Department for Schools, Children and Families announced that they are going to invest $9 million in Web 2.0 technologies for teachers (Alderson, 2009). A recent study shows that children are now more technologically literate than they were several years ago. It is the government's hope that teachers will incorporate teaching Web 2.0 technology platforms such as Ning, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube into their curriculum.

Alderson, D. (2009, September 7). Education 2.0 - the benefits technology brings to teaching. Retrieved from

Week 2 Comment: Seann Goodman's Blog

Website to Seann Goodman's Blog:

Seann's original post:

Was it only four short years ago that the world was introduced to what is now the most popular media viewing platform, YouTube? Indeed, it is hard to imagine what life was like before all the emails being sent from friend to friend with the latest laugh reel on YouTube. With an endless number af channels to choose from and a production staff from all corners of the world, YouTube is reshaping the media’s world in unimaginable ways. MTV’s early days could easily be compared to YouTube’s own introduction to the media world. Both have reshaped the media industry. However, only YouTube is giving teachers a resource worth using in the classroom.
Teachers are now finding just the exact teachable short clip to full documentary to use with students. In the past month I have shown numerous clips from YouTube channels. My students are seeing short five minute clips to help effect the lesson or they are watching hour long pieces that would normally cost me countless dollars to purchase the films. In the past I might have to search out for licensing rights and public relations folks to access major corporate films. Now, I can access many Discovery Channel, National Geographic, or PBS series’ to bring in to the classroom. Every subject across every lesson plan can be enhanced through a simple YouTube search. Students are even finding ways to spread their message through YouTube.
As students learn to develope and play with new media they are excited to publish their own work. YouTube is giving students public access channels which in the past might mean huge corporate funding or extensive grant writing. Today, we can implement student news media networks for free and from any computer. For my students, this means active engagement in their own learning. Alternative media is allowing students to network within the school and even throughout the community. With a small cheap video camera and simple editing tools, students are engaged in the uploading process of YouTube in addition to the countless pieces they watch.  Leadership students in my class are utilizing both YouTube and Facebook to spread the word about homecoming this year. Here is the first YouTube my students deigned, constructed, and shared with the school and the community. My role was simply a consultant and advisor. The rest of the work is their own creation.

My response to Seann's post:

It is amazing how much YouTube has infiltrated today’s culture and media landscape. Not only is YouTube a source of entertainment for Internet denizens, but it can also be used as a tool in the classroom and in the workplace. Educators and students can create their own channels and content, literally letting the world hear their voice and see their work. I use YouTube at my place of business (television station) as a means of letting clients proof their work. The YouTube channel that I created is . It’s hard to believe that it has only been four years. A neat side-note and nice little piece of Web 2.0 trivial pursuit: What was the first video ever uploaded to YouTube? The first video on YouTube was uploaded at 8:27PM on Saturday April 23rd, 2005. The video was shot by Yakov Lapitsky at the San Diego Zoo.

Week 2: News from the Copyright Front: Judge Sets New Deadline For Google Books

The above image copied from the following URL:

Here's another news story that is relevant to this week's reading.  A Federal judge has set a new deadline of November 9 for Google to submit a new agreement to obtain the rights to million of out-of-print books.  Read about the entire story here.  The government had to step in and intervene after legal opponents of the $125 million deal said that it violated anti-trust laws.  The problem started back in 2003 when Google wanted to scan, index and sell millions of copyrighted books on its website.  Shortly thereafter, several lawyers and publishers stepped up wanting their share of the profits.  To learn more about how the deal started, click here

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week 2 Reading: Convergence Culture, Chapter 6: Photoshop for Democracy

(1) How has the Internet and new media changed culture and institutions in general?

There were several examples that Jenkins mentioned, saying “entrenched institutions are taking their models from grassroots fan communities, reinventing themselves for an era of media convergence and collective intelligence” (Jenkins, 2006).  He cited multiple examples of this, including the “U.S. Military developing a massive multiplayer game to facilitate better communications between service people and civilians, Coca Cola entering the entertainment industry to create a stronger emotional engagement with their brands and educators embracing informal pedagogy within fan communities as a model for developing literacy skills” (Jenkins, 2006).  I think that the early years of the 21st Century showed the true power of the Internet during the 2004 election.  Between the 60’s and the 90’s, image was everything in politics.  Politicians were able to harness the power of television as a way of conveying a controlled image of themselves to the voting public.  As technology increased and rapidly changed, you could see a shift in what the audience thought was important and relevant.  No longer was it about image, but about the immediacy of something and being able to evoke action in real time.  Jenkins used a quote from Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s campaign manager, that sums up this broad generalization perfectly: “While TV was a medium that rendered us dumb, disengaged and disconnected, the Internet makes us smarter, more involved and better informed” (Jenkins, 2006).   Now, I don’t completely agree with either statement fully.  There are certain elements in television that hold solid, relevant and educational grounds, including: Sesame Street, the Discovery Channel and TLC.  You could also list any one of a thousand shows that are on the opposite end of that spectrum, including about every piece of reality garbage that floods today’s airwaves.  The same could be said for the Internet.  For every positive contribution to society that the Internet makes, there is a negative aspect that counters it.  The Internet, just as much as television, is a double edged sword.  Both have changed cultures and institutions, but the intent and focus of each action in these mediums decides how the actions are relevant in today’s society and if they hold any positive merit.

(2) How has the Internet and new media changed education?

Never before has so much information been available to both students and educators.  The Internet has changed the way in which students can learn and research topics almost overnight.  A perfect example of this is how students look up information for a report.  Think back to when you were a child (this might date some of us).  I remember going to a physical library, paging through old index cards (that smelled of old books and desperation) and trying to find different books for my report.  After locating said books, I would then lug them home to my house where I would sit in front of my Commodore 64 and print out my 5-page report on a dot matrix printer.  This whole process would take sometimes days, depending on my amount of attention at any given moment.  Now, if you contrast this same task to today’s student, the same result can be achieved in about a quarter of the time thanks to the Internet.  Students can access any tome of information from around the world and incorporate it into their summation of any subject.  No longer are students limited by physical location of libraries and institutions of learning.  A child in the remotest area of South America now has the same access to the same information that a student in New York City has.  The same can also be said of instructors.  Thanks to the ideas of collaboration and convergence, teachers can share ideas, lesson plans and experiences virtually throughout the world, helping hone their skills and helping them become more relevant to today’s student.  Below are some videos that I think best sum up my answers (all are pulled from YouTube):

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York, NY: New York University Publishing.

Week 2: Viacom might have upper hand in $1 billion copyright lawsuit

The above image was copied from the following URL:

I thought that this was interesting concerning our current discussions on copyright and fair use.  Click here to view a PDF of Viacom's lawsuit.   Social media and technology professionals have been closely monitoring this situation, as it will determine the convergent media landscape in years to come.  To learn how all of this started, click here.  One of the companies that are aiding Viacom in pursuing Youtube's unauthorized content is BayTSP.  BayTSP goes through the process of locating Viacom copyrighted materiel and automatically notifying YouTube that they need to pull it down.

Week 2 Reading: Convergence Culture, Chapter 5: Why Heather Can Write

Have there been any books or movies that have inspired you to the point of action, either to be like people/characters in the book/movie, or to do something creative? What books/movies and what did you do? 
     I can pinpoint the exact moment that my interest for moviemaking and television production was sparked: October 31, 1986.  After running wild among the streets of my neighborhood, fueled by a collective (and concerning) amount of sugar induced adrenaline, I returned to my Nana’s house to watch the “Double Creature Feature” on television.  The first movie that they showed has forever been etched in my psyche and has fueled every endeavor that I have taken on in the realm of film and television: Night of the Living Dead.  The black and white tale of survivors battling an unstoppable army of the undead is the stuff that fuels the imaginations of little boys everywhere.  From there, I would write stories that “continued” the Dead mythology.  I would borrow my Nana’s camera and enlist my little brother and sister to star in my epic features (most of which didn’t last over two minutes in length).  The idea that a single idea or story can generate so much response to an entire audience or fan base is easily understandable.
     Flash forward to today, as hundreds of wide eyed “wizards” cram the local Borders at midnight to catch the latest Harry Potter adventure.  The internet opens up endless creative opportunities as every imaginable interplay takes place – everything from fan fiction to cosplay (costumed play for those unfamiliar with the term).  Jenkins describes how technology and availability have changed the media landscape of today:  “…consumers are using new media technologies to engage with old media content, seeing the Internet as a vehicle for collective problems solving, public deliberation, and grassroots creativity” (Jenkins, 2006).
     But just as the media powerhouse of Warner Brothers and J.K. Rowling fought for control of their bespectacled, George Romero had less power over control of his film.  This all stems from the issue of copyright.  The original title for Night of the Living Dead was Night of the Flesh Eaters.  Romero had placed the copyright on the original title, but when the Walter Reade Organization retitled the film, they forgot to place the copyright on it.  A 1968 copyright law required works to show a proper notice or they would lose their copyright.  This allowed everyone to rip off Romero's movie and it fell into Public Domain.  The movie was made for a little over $100,000 but has grossed over $40,000,000 around the world.  Romero has gone on to produce several other movies, but he has barely recovered any of the money made off of Night of the Living Dead.  Several people have paid homage to his Dead Universe, as you will see in the YouTube links below:

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York, NY: New York University Publishing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week 2 Reading: Convergence Culture, Chapter 4: Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars?

Chapter 4: Quentin Tarantino's Star Wars?

1.  How has technology changed the division between folk culture and commercial or mass culture?

Technology, particularly the Internet, has blurred the lines between folk culture and mass culture by bringing the ability to let everyone become a creator of content.  With a couple clicks of your mouse, you have access to almost every part of the world.  Never before has an individual had so much “power” at their fingertips.  We have the ability to broadcast our thoughts through word, audio and even video now.  Jenkins compares fan digital film to the punk DIY culture: “grassroots experimentation generated new sounds, new artists, new techniques, and new relations to consumers which have been pulled more and more into mainstream practice” (Jenkins, 2006).  Here are a couple of examples of what Jenkins is talking about:

Jenkins further goes on to say that technology blurs the line between creator and consumer: “within convergence culture, everyone’s a participant – although participants may have different degrees of status and influence” (Jenkins, 2006).

2.  How did Japanese media companies work with anime fans?

Compared to American and European media companies, Japanese media companies took a completely different approach to their fan base.  They actually encouraged the interactivity and devotion of their fans, as it increased their popularity and brand loyalty.  According to Jenkins, “the global sales of Japanese animation and character goods is an astonishing eighty billion dollar a year industry, ten times of what it was a decade ago” (Jenkins, 2006).  Japan and the U.S. used the same format for videos (NTSC), which increased the availability of the products to American audiences.  The 90’s showed the first huge “boom” of the anime industry.  While “many U.S. companies might have regarded all of this underground circulation as piracy and shut it down” (Jenkins, 2006), Japanese companies welcomed it.  The companies “used the fan base to monitor shifts in audience tastes…fearing the wrath of such a well entrenched fan base if they were to act otherwise” (Jenkins, 2006).  The following examples are some of the more popular anime titles of the past two decades (all taken from YouTube):

3.  Jenkins goes on quite a bit about how Lucas and Lucas Arts have tried to deal with fan fiction. What have been the various ways they've tried to promote their Star Wars franchises without losing control of the IP?

Lucasfilm established a non-fee licensing bureau in 1977 that “would review material and offer advice about potential copyright infringement” (Jenkins, 2006).  The bureau dissolved after Lucas had “stumbled upon some examples of fan erotica that shocked his sensibilities” (Jenkins, 2006).  In 1981, Lucasfilm “issued warnings to fans who published zines containing sexually explicit stories, while implicitly giving permission to publish nonerotic stories as they were not sold for profit” (Jenkins, 2006).  As the Internet expanded in the late 80’s and 90’s, corporations tried to play sheriff in lands that were unfamiliar and not governed yet.  In 2000, Lucasfilm offered fans free Web Space via the Star Wars domain name, even “offering free content for their sites, but only under the condition that whatever they created would become the studio’s intellectual property” (Jenkins, 2006).  Lucasfilms also “designated as the official host for the Star Wars fan films” (Jenkins, 2006).  Atomfilms proved to be a double edged sword though.  Fans could submit their films to the website as long as they were considered parodies of the Star Wars Universe.  Any deviation from this constituted the creation of fan fiction, and could possibly open up Lucasfilms for litigation.  The following videos are from Z-Team Productions.  I actually worked with the producer of these films (but never realized how popular they were in Star Wars circles):

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week 1: Focus on Collaborative Education: Eastern Sierra Institute of Collaborative Education

I am going to try and find a different website or organization every week that focuses on Community Intelligence or Collaborative Education.  This week, we'll take a look at the Eastern Sierra Institute of Collaborative Education.  According to the website, they "are a nonprofit organization supporting innovative educational partnerships which enrich the understanding of the environment, science and culture.  Since 1997, they have worked together with organizations that share their passion for the Eastern Sierra to create a new appreciation for this exceptional place and the people that call it home." (2001).

The organization concentrates on collaborative education, research, workshops and two educational programs, the Eastern Sierra Watershed Program and the Roadside Heritage program.  Both programs rely on the collaboration of professionals and members of the Eastern Sierra community to improve science education and conservation of the area.  The program's approaches to science education and service-learning based on research that suggests students who apply classroom knowledge to real world projects acquire an enriched learning experience (2009).

Roadside Heritage Project

Eastern Sierra Watershed Project
(2001). Eastern Sierra Institute of Collaborative Education. Retrieved from

Image of Eastern Sierra copied from URL:

Week 1: Convergence Culture Chapters 1-3

The world of entertainment has changed drastically.  Henry Jenkins book, "Convergence Culture", looks at the different attitudes that companies, educators and consumers take toward an ever-evolving technology.  One of the main ideas that Jenkins keeps touching on is the idea of collective intelligence communities.  Collective intelligence communities are defined as communities that have "the capacity of to evolve towards higher order complexity and harmony, through such innovation mechanisms as differentiation and integration, competition and collaboration" (Por, 2007).  There are several websites out there that try to strive toward this goal:

The Blog of Collective Intelligence

Community Intelligence

Resiliance Science

The Dumbness of Crowds

Forecast 2020: Foretelling the Future of Education

The book ties back to everything that we have been learning for the past nine months and looks at the different interactions across multiple media platforms and how the consumer moves through these different platforms.  If you take this same idea and transfer it to teaching students, you will be very successful in understanding how to reach students on their level.  Media platforms have become a very important part of today's culture.  Futures are banked on these platforms sometimes.  Viral marketing is a very good example of this.  Think back to the late 90's when the Blair Witch Project came out.  Clips from the "documentary" were leaked out on the internet.  Word started spreading like wildfire about the "real occurrence" of three filmmakers that disappeared in the wilderness of Burkittesville, never to be heard from again.  The PR on the film began to grow exponentially and led to the movie becoming one of the most successful grossing independent films of all time.   More recent examples include the President's use of the internet in his winning campaign in 2008.  Collaborative technology has become a mainstay in culture today.  As teachers, we need to learn how to harness this technology in order to effectively communicate with our students and prepare them for tomorrow.

The above image was copied from the following URL:

Por, G. (2007, December 26). Blog of Collective Intelligence. Retrieved from