Science Conferences

I mostly covered the prompts for this post in my last one. I decided I wanted to present at the NSTA area conference in Portland in October 2013. But ever since I visited their site, I have been getting email alerts and am feeling as though I would like to try and attend their western area conference this year in Seattle, with the theme: For All For Now Forever, which I really resonate with.

Unfortunately, my school has no interest in science eduction, and so would not support my attendance, although I think it would be useful to me for planning my presentation for the following year. There is a Serious Play conference in Redmond Washington this fall which I am trying to get my school to support, as I am actively working on the gamification of my current film production course. However, two conferences a couple months apart, and both in Seattle just seems weird.

Reading about the scientific education community as part of this leadership project,  especially with its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fixation, has been highlighting for me the contrast between what I want to do (and what I think is more vitally important) and what the science literacy movement in general is aiming at. From a patriotic, business and economic perspective, we have a significant problem with there being too little interest among American students in working in the STEM fields. This is and will continue to cause us to fall behind in global technology development, which is the center of the emerging modern economy. Granted a big problem worth addressing.

But we have another problem, and that is that people who have no interest in anything STEM, and who moan “b-o-r-i-n-g” whenever anyone like myself talks about science, think of it as this esoteric geekdom, and write it off. In fact, among even among a whole wave of humanities scholars, there has been a movement of scientific criticism that, while sometimes valid, has also fostered an attitude that science is just one of many equally valid world views which has been falsely enshrined by an intellectual oligarchy.

Natalie Campbell

So, I am not so interested in fostering an enthusiasm for STEM careers among gifted students, but in correcting the common misconception among lay folk that science is first, a body of anointed knowledge, and second, a belief system. I believe that it is this general and widespread conventional wisdom that discredits rigorous problem solving, which actually underlays not only our deficit of STEM professionals, but also other more common spiritual deficits in our culture.


Literature: Even More Art of Possibility

Amanda’s post:

WK 2 Reading – The Art of Possibility

Before reading the first four chapters of our book The Art of Possibility By Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, I decided to review Benjamin Zander’s TED performance. One of statements he made that really stood out to me was “One of the characteristics of a leader is to not doubt for a moment, the capacity of the people he’s leading to realize what ever he is dreaming” I was really moved by this statement and the passion he displayed, making this presentation so inspiring to watch.
I think Zander’s enthusiasm really showed through when he connected with the audience by not containing his presentation to just the stage but by getting up close to audience really bringing them into his speech. His ability to play the piano was absolutely beautiful and the way he shared his passion for classical music, not only with the audience but also like myself watching the video, was absolutely amazing. Zander closes the presentation with a simple yet powerful statement from a Holocaust Survivor as a way to bear in mind that it really does matter what we say “I will never say anything that couldn’t stand as the last thing I ever say.”
 The Art of possibility is really a great book, because almost anyone could relate to what this book is speaking to. Its about being able to realize what could be and making things a possibility to live into.
The book gives us an example of the famous nine-dot puzzle, as a way to show the readers how when first seeing this puzzle you are confined to perceive these dots as a square and when first trying to solve the puzzle many people find themselves struggling. When you actually look at the nine-dot solution you view the nine dots in a completely different way compared to the first set of dots presented. Initially when trying to solve this puzzle you become fixed only on the area that contained the dots.
The author’s states that our mind creates these fames that confine what we may see as being plausible. The example of the nine-dot puzzle all ties to the underlying point that when you can take those frames created and invent new frames and spaces then you are able to see solutions or opportunities that you may had never noticed.
Each chapter  provides its readers with wonderful examples of how we can shed a new light on making things possible and that every mistake is a learning opportunity and way we can improve. Each chapter provides a section where we can take these ideas and practice them in our everyday lives.
“ Throw yourself into life as someone who makes a difference, accepting that you may not understand how or why.”
Zander, R. Zander, B. (2002) The Art of Possibility. Transforming professional and personal life 1-65


I’m glad you guys mentioned his TED talk, I’ll have to check it out, thanks. This got me thinking about what makes one person an exciting and engaging speaker, and another dull. I have tended to think that this was the result of inherent personality traits like charisma and vitality. But the Zanders have me rethinking this.

I have a friend at my school, an excellent designer and a great mentor, but the students tell me they think she must be trying to put them to sleep in her lectures. I’ve always thought her shy, quiet, monotone delivery was just who she was. I wonder if she could take up the contribute game, and play for them from the second chair, rather than playing the professor, if then she could enjoin them with the excitement I know she has for the art.

Literature: Still More Art of Possibility

The Art of Possibility

Out of the Box

This is a wonderful book, granted it is in the mold of so many tiresome leadership tomes, but its structure, especially of a husband and wife tag team, is very refreshing. I have to admit that I was very skeptical at the outset. I find ideas such as those found in The Secret and from all the tedious Norman Vincent Peale clones such as Werner Erhard  and Tony Robbins to be self-evident self-aggrandizing.

Sure a positive outlook is empowering, but denial is even more crippling. I see so often that the follow-your-heart, believe-what-you-want, the-universe-will-provide ideologies lead to head-in-the-sand organization where systems flounder and collapse because everyone fears expressing any negativity, and problems that are not acknowledged can’t be solved.

Head in the Sand

I too often hear the important idea that “everything is invented” to mean that everything is an illusion and can be whatever you want it to be if you only want it enough. But this is not that same sort of pie in the sky BS. Ben Zander explicitly rejects “putting a ‘positive spin’ on a negative opinion, or ‘thinking the best of someone,’ and letting ‘bygones be bygones.’” He says “that is not it at all.” What they are talking about is not seeing less, but seeing more, about not limiting things to preconceived notions that trap us in scripts of our own making.

I really like their personal openness, and open analysis and appreciation of the seminal human experience of epiphany. Like so many things, we need to balance somewhat opposing forces, to be cautious and constrained on one hand, and to be spontaneous and exuberant on the other. The formulation of a series of catchphrases, all couched in compelling and personal stories is a powerful technique.

Publish or Present


I think you are right about the permanence of publishing. Academic publishing in periodicals is actually the most important repository of human knowledge. Most lay people do not understand that in the basements and attics of most major libraries are a thousand of times more volumes of periodicals than there are books in the libraries, and that for professional and academic research, it is the periodicals and not the books that are the most important and current sources.

Your project is well done and you are a clear and insightful writer, so I think your paper would make an excellent addition to this important edifice of knowledge. Note too that publishing and presenting go hand in hand in the academic community, and that most presentations at academic conferences are to present papers intended for publishing. So you should do both!


Despite my attraction to creating a dynamic TED style presentation I have decided that I want to publish an article for my Leadership Project. I decided to go this route for a number of reasons. Primarily, being “published” has a greater appeal to me. Other than the TED talks and a few other similar forums, presentations do not have the same permanence in their contribution to our collective human discourse. For the most part institutions or organizations just do not have the resources to sustain a database of presentations that have been recorded on video for perpetuity. On the other hand, because of their small data footprint, published articles will forever be in the public record and can be drawn upon or utilized by others at any time in the future through tools like EBSCOhost. In an effort to maximize the contribution my work might have on others I want it to have exposure beyond a room full people that happen to be present on a given day at a conference.

The second reason that I have chosen an article is that my school’s principal has expressed a desire for more of our staff to get published. Having been totally unaware of this leadership project until a few weeks ago this seems like a serendipitous way to kill two birds with one stone.

I am currently considering the following journals and publications:

International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning

The Journal of Applied Instructional Design

Journal for Computing Teachers

Educational Technology Research and Development

Career and Technical Education Research

Journal of Career and Technical Education

Present or Publish

My choice would be to present at a conference. First because, I love scientific conferences, where I always get completely inspired and edified, and presenting, something I have never done, seems like a great way to be even more involved.

My first choice would be the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Boston next February. I have never attended an AAAS conference but have always wanted to. Their two magazines, Science and Science News have been my close intellectual companions for many decades, and as nerdy as this may be, one of my most extravagant indulgences is to lay in the bathtub for hours and dig through a whole issue of Science. If I only had a couple of things to read it would be Science and the New Yorker. I feel like, between them, one can access 90% of the wisdom of America.

chambered nautilus

But AAAS is likely out of my league, so I think the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) western area conference would be a more likely bet. Their next one for which submissions are open is in Portland in October 2013, but little information is available about it yet. I may try to attend the one in December as they have a Strand titled: Literacy: Communicating and Understanding Science.

I read the recap of their 2011 conference in Seattle, and there were a number of presentations from folks at my level. Plus, when I was attending the University of Washington, I was so bored by the lecture hall courses that I used to skip my classes at the UW and take the bus down to Portland, sleep in the student union and crash the classes at Reed. It was amazing that since I was always engaged and articulate, not one of the professors ever objected to my sitting in on their courses, which were mostly run as small Socratic seminars of a dozen or so students. For someone like me, sitting around a table with a bunch of really smart folks to discuss Kierkegaard and the problem of evil was kind of like spring break in Cancun. Anyway, I really resonate with the thought of making a pilgrimage to Portland to geek out in the grey and wet Northwest



One statement made during this session regarding copyright was false. It is in fact permissible under educational fair use to screen full versions of films for the purpose of film studies courses (although possibly only in non profit schools). The distinction of the quantity in general fair use  is separate from the specific educational use exemption, meaning that while CNN can only to use small parts of Up in a news story or documentary on Pixar, it could be screened in toto as part of a lesson on storytelling techniques in a film course.

In face to face teaching it is defensible to screen full works.
This from Frankiln and Marshall College:

“Screening Movies on Campus

Classroom situations may fall under the Face-To-Face Teaching Exception under Fair Use Guidelines if certain principles are met:

A face-to-face teaching exception is met through the following:

•          The instructor/TA should be present for the screening.

•          The film is only shown to those students enrolled in the class.

•          The relationship between the film or video and the course is explicit.

•          The film is not being shown for recreational or entertainment.

The screening must have a lawfully made (not pirated or illegally copied) copy of the video.  The screening should not be publicized or announced for an audience outside the students in the class.”

And this from Critical Commons regrading the  Society for Cinema and Media Studies best practices statement:

Society for Cinema and Media Studies logo

“PRINCIPLE I: CLASSROOM SCREENINGS The practice of screening excerpts or entire works within the face-to-face teaching context is well established, requiring no permission or payment.  A face-to-face teaching context involves educators being in the same general place as their students during the display and performance of copyrighted works.  The space itself does not have to be an actual classroom and may include other places used for instruction, such as a gymnasium, auditorium, or library.  Educators using film and media for instructional purposes within the face-to-face teaching context require great latitude to display, perform, and reproduce copyrighted works.  They routinely utilize still images, film and video clips, video games, audio segments, and other media for the purposes of analyzing and illustrating historical, theoretical, and critical ideas.  In many cases, educators need to use complete works, either in class or during separate screening times.  Educators have been doing this at U.S. universities for many decades. This understanding of the fair use doctrine seems to be supported by current practices, as at least 70% of SCMS survey respondents reported that they screen materials for courses without formally securing permissions from rights holders.”

Despite the fact that fair-use statues specifically call out media studies as a permitted use, my reading of the above suggests that Dwayne’s issue about the use of historic fiction films to study history would also be covered under the educational use exemption.

Once again, I think the biggest problem is not copyright infringement in schools, but the overly conservative interpretation of the rules. If we felt that too many teachers and schools were being sued and that the value of creators works were being damaged by educational uses, then maybe we should talk about tighter restrictions, but I have never heard of anyone being sued (although I’m sure it happens) but have heard dozens of folks opt not to use valuable educational material out of the fear of infringement.

More so than any other class of use, education is very specifically called out as being exempt. I pointed out in another blog how the DMCA was specifically amended to allow film studies instructors to crack the copy protection on DVDs for the purpose of instruction. I think we all need to feel much less worried about these issues as they relate to our classrooms.

It looks like the Society for Cinema and Media Studies agrees, as mentioned in this introduction to their Statement of Best Practices for Fair Use in Teaching for Film and Media Educators in which they write:

“it is unsurprising that academic gatekeepers (libraries, university general counsels, IT staffs, etc.) frequently choose to adopt overly cautious and conservative copyright policies that sometimes result in a diminished educational experience for film and media students.”

Of course, this is not to say that we don’t need to worry about copyright infringement. As content creators and teacher of content creators, we should make a point of being very knowledgeable about copyright issues, which we should share with our students.


Apple’s Challenge Based Learning initiative

There was also a discussion of the leadership project, which I too feel a little miffed about. Prof Bustillos has answered twice that we may have been asked to simplify our project if the EMDT faculty judged a project to be beyond the scope of a CBR. But I was not required to limit my project until the 9th month when the path of it was mostly set. What I was doing was completely possible and circumscribed, would have been successful and would have been something I would have been proud to present at a conference.

The problem was that it only made sense to understand the CBR project in the context of myself as the student accepting a challenge to design curriculum. Because with the timing of monthly starts, the challenge had to be defined before the target audience was selected or in most cases even existed, as most teachers get a new crop of students every semester.

John Dewey

I was told in the 9th month by Dr. Bedard that I was mistaken and was supposed to have issued a challenge to a target audience for them to solve, despite the fact that this completely violates the principals of CBL, where the students need to be the ones devising and accepting a challenge, not having it dictated to them. But I was very specifically instructed to make changes to what I was doing to make it fit an exact template in a very proscribed way. I have done this, as I was told that if I did not I would not to graduate, but it makes my project seem trivial to me, so much so that I would never want to present it.

Jean Piaget

Maybe once I am freed from the silly, pedantic and instructivist structure of this process, I can reconstruct my original idea and present that, but for this project, I will produce whatever I am required, but will not be forced to make a public presentation of work which has been gutted by faculty who did not seem to be able to understand it.

Lev Vygotsky

Copyright in the Digital Age

Defining “Transformative” in the Digital Age

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I have long debated and struggled with the boundaries established by the word Copyright. It is an issue that I deal with on a weekly basis in my own classroom and school with students and adults alike. Some days I choose to obey or enforce the law, and I admit that some days I turn a blind eye, or make justifications for breaking this particular law. For this reason I can firmly state that I wholeheartedly agree with Larry Lessig’s affirmation that copyright law was created for, and had its place in a different era but is now completely outdated. In its current form, copyright law is entirely incapable of keeping up with and adjusting to a digital landscape that is evolving at exponential rates.

“Good artists copy.

Great artists steal.”

-Pablo Picasso

The meaning of this quote by Pablo Picasso has long been debated, but it speaks directly to the topic at hand. All creative endeavors are influenced by what has come before them as well as the culture in which they are created. Contrary to the literal meaning of the quote I think that Picasso would have considered the artists that copied to be the copyright infringers as opposed to the artists that steal. To ‘copy’ is to simply take someone else’s work, and having made no changes, claim it as your own. To ‘steal’ is to take someone else’s work and make it your own by applying your own personal flair.

In the past this idea of borrowing from others or drawing influence from your world was much slower process and usually resulted in more extreme departures from the original idea. In todays world, digital technology has enabled this process to happen in a matter of minutes or hours with results that tend to be more subtle variations of the original. If you look at the one subtle variation to the next you might be inclined to call foul. However, if you were to look at the most current variation and compare it to the original it is likely that you would consider a transformative process had occurred. It is almost as if the creative process that Picasso was describing, that traditionally progressed within the secret confines of an individual’s mind, has simply been brought out into the open for all to see and for all to participate.

So in my opinion it all comes down to what one considers “transformative”. Let’s examine Shepard Fairey as an example. Fairey’s arguably most popular and possibly most controversial work is the Obama Hope poster created during the 2008 presidential election. However this is not the only image that Fairey has appropriated into his repertoire. Here are many other examples compiled by Mark Vallen on his website, Art For Change.

On a first pass the plagiarism appears blatant and extreme. However, it would be hard to argue that all of Fairey’s works aren’t part of a cohesive and highly unique body of work. Many argue that Fairey does to little if nothing to transform his appropriations.  This was the primary argument against him in the Obama Hope poster lawsuit. Examining the original photo and the resulting poster anyone can see that they are almost identical.

However, I will leave you with this. The photo got no more attention than accompanying an article where as the poster unified millions of people behind a man that was then elected President of the most powerful nation on the planet. If that is not transforming a piece of art I don’t know what is.

Unfortunately the Fairey controversy is the result of an old system and protections based on outdated laws. Great strides have been made in just the last 5 years in the realm of Creative Commons. CC offerings used to be sparse and of poor quality, now they are plentiful and quite comparable to pay-for-use options. Had Fairey utilized a photo with Creative Commons licensing he could have probably avoided a serious headache.

Really there is no such thing as originality. Nothing can ever be understood outside of the context that precedes it. Every letter of every word and those words themselves have all been used billions of times. It is precisely because we pass them among us, that we share them, that they have any meaning at all.

I am distressed by this spirit of mine mine mine that seems to be growing out of the paranoia about the openness of our modern networks. For decades we have been able to go into a library and take down a book and photocopy it right there in the library, and yet publishing survived. We have long been able to record songs, movies and TV shows off the air, and in fact the record companies have paid radio stations to make sure it was their songs that were being broadcast freely into the air. Each of these technologies like xerography or video tape recorders were met with the same chicken-little forecasts of the death of creative effort, and yet we continue to create.

Artists will not stop making art, it is just, thankfully, getting harder and harder for the oligarchs to maintain their control over the commerce of art. Artists can now form authentic communities with their audiences and we no longer need a Top Forty, anointed by the powers that be, with the bottom 40 million left utterly out in the cold. Now we can each make our own top forty, included in which will be millions of much more diverse artists who will have the opportunity to make their livings as artists, albeit more modest no doubt than those of the mega celebrities churned out by the “star-maker machinery behind the popular song”, as Joni Mitchell so lucidly described them.

I’m not so sure what this model of an authentic community between artist and audience, freed from the exploitation of middle men is going to finally look like. We already see filmmakers making their livings off ad revenue from you tube, and small creators using membership models. I suspect that the ISP fee sharing model with robot-tracked click-to-pay systems will solve it all, and lead to just the sort of boon and boom I am envisioning