Podcasting for Educators- we CAN do it!

“It’s not about the technology, it’s about the experience of working with information, and then sharing that information with others” As a person slightly intimidated by the content of this class and the technology, I love this quote as a way of thinking of podcasting. Podcasting was nearly the only term on the signup sheet … Continue reading

how would I teach Photoshop??

In class, we have been introduced to Photoshop by way of demo and then practice on our own. Being a person brand new to Photoshop, I am trying to soak in as much as possible. I am finding that by being a newbie to the program, I am able to learn as my students may learn. This way I can have a very personal experience from a student perspective in order to help shape my future teaching habits and lesson plans for programs such as Photoshop. And it is my goal of this school year to learn Photoshop.

*I would also like to note, that at this same time, I am taking a Digital Screenprinting class where we utilize Photoshop to make slides for printing. This class teaches us Photoshop for very specific purposes for the specific art we are making and is not meant to be a general introduction to the program of Photoshop. HOWEVER, my teacher is wonderful and understands my intimidation with the program and is therefore very patient with me and has vowed to help me learn in and outs of Photoshop above and beyond what we are using it for in the classroom.

I am personally a BIG notetaker. I find that runs a bit counter-intuitive to working with a computer. But for me, I find it helpful to write down notes and step-by-step directions and hints to have alongside my computer keyboard for referral. Last week’s class gave us the opportunity to play around with some of the basics of Photoshop- using the brushes to create images. Below are my first two creations.

1st Photoshop image

I feel fairly happy with what I created, although I feel there is a sense of hesitation in the work, most likely due to my own fear of the program itself. I found my biggest challenge was actually not utilizing the HISTORY screen to go backwards and instead kept pressing COMMAND + Z to “undo”. I found that this only worked for one action, and then remembered that Photoshop runs by that HISTORY screen. I found the brushes fairly easy to use, but I cannot believe how many specifications you can mess with to get an exact mark or stroke.

I think that when I do go to teach Photoshop, I won’t need to be a complete expert and know every nook and cranny of the program. Because it is so extensive and because there are a million possibilities I think part of the purpose of students learning about the program is to feel free with it to explore the extent of its capabilities and how they can best utilize all of its properties for their own purposes. I think teaching basics and then allowing students to make their own discoveries is best. Teaching too much might make them feel like they can only stick to what they’ve learned and they won’t feel led to explore outside of what is taught. But teach too little and they will feel overwhelmed by the program and that it can’t help them.

But…how do you know when you’re teaching too much and too little? I think so much of it has to do with your audience. For example, in our Digital Media class, there are a couple others like me with no experience, there are others with some experience, and there are others who are pros at the program and were completely bored and almost insulted with the instruction to “play with the brushes in the program”.

As a teacher, you will rarely have classes where skill and competence levels are all equal. Part of the challenge of teaching is working to accommodate diverse learners. Knowing your classroom has got to be your first task. Surveying your learners to find what they do and don’t know and to get an idea of what they’d like to know at the end of the lesson.

My strategy for teaching a diverse audience is similar to a workout class where the instructor may give you the basic step and then also a more advanced version for those who are ready for that information. In this way I could not only reach both the beginners and more advanced on their own levels, but this might both inspire the beginners with the possibilities in the future and act as a reminder to the more advanced students of the “back-to-the-basics” approach that may clear up bad habits they may have formed.

After I would get to know my audience I want to make sure that I am teaching the technology in a way that is dynamic and interactive in order to keep attention of all learners and to work for auditory, visual and tactile learners. I would make sure that I am clearly narrating my steps, careful to leave out any jargon. And giving clear visuals on a screen that is accessible to the learners and being careful to not move my mouse to quickly over the screen. In class, our teacher has noted that it is a good idea to teach everything via longhand as opposed to teaching with Shortcuts. I agree. I think this helps most students to learn where, how and why something happens on their screen. Also, I do think having lots of hands-on time is important because lots of learning with technology is the process of trial and error and discovery of manipulation.
For me personally, when trying to soak up something new, I do turn to instructions via YouTube videos often. Here I have learned how to fold a fitted sheet, french braid my hair, and most recently, how to create a podcast. Below are some resources I have found to help out with learning Photoshop.

Adobe’s website: http://tv.adobe.com/

Adobe’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Photoshop?blend=8&ob=5

My Favorite, “You’re Adobe, Not a Dummy!”:  http://youtu.be/uxIEbAJIXn8

Challenging Copyright


Napster is now a Best Buy company offering music downloads for paid subscribers. You can listen to full songs without having to download them. You can access your music on your devices, and you can have access to the largest music streaming catalog available. Starting at only $4.17/month, the music you crave is at your fingertips.


Napster, started by a college drop-out, is a peer-to-peer file sharing network filled with rare, live, album, and unreleased music that is free to users willing to wait out the downloads on their dial-up networks. You can burn the mp3 files to blank compact discs that you can carry around in your DiscMan.

The Napster Story

As Shawn Fanning was bored with college, he began programming for Napster, a service he wanted to create to make it easier to find music mp3’s online rather than using the search engines of those times. When Shawn unleashed the service in June 1999 to a couple of chatroom friends who couldn’t keep a secret, 3-4 thousand users downloaded the program and it was clear that this could have big business potential. Funded and encouraged by his uncle John Fanning, they pressed forward with Napster and it quickly became a profitable success. John does claim to have investigated possible future legal issues with copyright laws and intended the company to follow all laws. Those involved felt that Napster was protected under fair use laws, the same that allow a person to tape record a song for another person. Napster didn’t host the files, it merely offered the network where peers could trade with each other. They did not monitor or have control to the content that was traded and they had hopes that the service would bring attention to many unsigned bands and even warned users not to infringe on copyrighted works.

The record industry felt differently. And although executives at Napster felt sure they would be able to strike a deal with the record industry, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued Napster in December 1999. The RIAA feared that Napster was creating a black market for illegal copies of digital music. They argued that this could, and already had affected hardcopy album sales in stores. Meanwhile, Napster moved their headquarters to Silicon Valley and searched for months for a venture capitalist to back the company.  They were having a hard time finding anyone willing to back the company since it was hard for anyone to see how they could face and win their impending legal battles. To make it even worse, the band Metallica sued Napster for copyright infringement in April 2000 after tracks from their unreleased album leaked out onto Napster months before the album was to be released. But they still pushed on, hiring new executives who were capable of bringing the startup into a real money-making business model and of negotiating with the record companies. The creators, the technology and the audience was there, ready to make Napster a success. But the licensing issues were holding the entire force back. They needed to find a way that the artists and the labels received royalties for the downloaded music.The court date came in July, nearly a year after the service took off, and the judge took only 2 hours to decide that the RIAA was in the right and that Napster had to shut off all access to its music service by midnight that Friday. Devastated, the Napster team felt they had to regroup and find a new way to legally bring music to people.

My Opinion

And now here in 2011, you have Napster, owned by Best Buy still offering convenient music for consumers, but this time, for a small price. I think part of the problem of Napster was the freedom users had mixed with the users’ ignorance of copyright laws. At the time I personally was using Napster, I did not know about or understand those laws. Since the service was available, I used it and figured it must be O.K. to do. And it has never seemed to me that Napster set out to kick the music business in the crotch with it’s free service. I believe that Shawn’s intention was to create a community of music and he never intended to hurt artists, but rather help them and their listeners. I think Napster brought to the forefront, in a clumsy way, the obvious need for the music industry to stay ahead of technology and to protect itself. Music naturally lends itself to grassroots movements, and Napster was perfect in that respect. Compact Discs weren’t cutting it for consumers who had access to the internet and were becoming accustomed to having access to what they wanted at the very moment they wanted it, and so Napster came in and filled that void. I know I still have CD’s lying around filled with tracks that I had downloaded through Napster’s original service. The experience with Napster sure primed me for iTunes music downloading service, as I now have spent hundreds on the pay-per-song service. I love being able to have access to music instantly, even on my smartphone, and I thank Napster for blazing the rocky trail.





who owns what?

When I think of copyright laws, I first think of my early experiences with Napster. The program became available and I thought it was the best thing in the world- spending long long hours downloading songs. I never even had a thought that it would be considered “stealing” from the artists. I downloaded singles, albums, but mostly a lot of unreleased, live and demo songs from my favorite artists. And now, looking back, I guess my “payment” for this music was the countless hours I spent in front of my computer working my download “queue” and networking with other sharers.

This was in high school, around 2000-1, and then more attention was paid to Napster, by Metallica and other artists who were upset that their songs leaked onto Napster before they were actually released. And then we started hearing all about copyright infringement and I learned it was no longer safe to use Napster. As I entered college, I became more fascinated with the laws and sided with the music artists and took a stand against illegal downloading of music. I even gave a persuasive speech in speech class about it. Since then, I do believe that I’ve file-shared a bit between family and friends, but I’ve also spent HUNDREDS to have my music legally available through iTunes.

But what does this mean for me in the classroom? And, since my experience was with music- how do I apply it to images? Have I ever considered image use in classes I’ve been in?

So of course, I wanted to start my thoughts on digital copyright laws with a clear definition:

Definition of Copyright:
“The legal right granted to an author, a composer, a playwright, a publisher, or a distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.” 

But I love this layman’s definition even better:

“This means that you can get in just as much trouble for stealing someone’s song as you can for stealing her purse.”

Now as a teacher-artist, I immediately think of Google Images and how often I run to that to pull images from. Do I have the right to even do that? Most of the time I’m not paying attention to WHERE the image is coming from or WHO, but I just need that image right then and there. I know that when I worked in newspaper advertising, we used a paid stock image service with thousands of photos and images that we could use in our ads or in illustrating stories. But outside of that, I pull images for art projects, presentations, even posters. And I might have used some of these pulled images in the classroom….uh oh.

Ok, so I found a great website that seems to put this all into plain english, PLUS it is geared towards educators! (yay!)

http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/6623.aspx  (haha, i figured out how to make sure that opens for you in a new window!)

Reading up, I had no idea that ideas and creations were “automatically” copyrighted! Under our Constitution, any original, creative work is copyrighted. This site even says that since 1989, the copyright symbol and the phrase “all rights reserved” aren’t even necessary anymore! But, as teachers, we are mostly protected in presenting images/music/movies to our classrooms under the Fair Use rule.

After learning that most young people today are using YouTube over Google for basic search, I sought info on Fair Use/Copyright on YouTube. Most helpful, I found this vide0: http://youtu.be/Uiq42O6rhW4 The description of Fair Use is helpful, and the quick and dirty, helped to clarify the issue overall for me.

But more specifically, this video is a guy who is actually in a technology for education class (like us!) and is using some “high-tech” gimmicks in his presentation here. He recommends this website that even has an easy-to-use handout that teachers can print! http://www.techlearning.com/index. And then as I’m digging, I realize that this guy has his own blog! and BINGO! I’ve found some super relevant info on copyright and education!

But overall I have learned that as educators, we have some freedoms under the Fair Use rule. And here are the rules:

Fair Use and Teachers

Fair use explicitly allows use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Rather than listing exact limits of fair use, copyright law provides four standards for determination of the fair use exemption:

  1. Purpose of use: Copying and using selected parts of copyrighted works for specific educational purposes qualifies as fair use, especially if the copies are made spontaneously, are used temporarily, and are not part of an anthology.
  2. Nature of the work: For copying paragraphs from a copyrighted source, fair use easily applies. For copying a chapter, fair use may be questionable.
  3. Proportion/extent of the material used: Duplicating excerpts that are short in relation to the entire copyrighted work or segments that do not reflect the “essence” of the work is usually considered fair use.
  4. The effect on marketability: If there will be no reduction in sales because of copying or distribution, the fair use exemption is likely to apply. This is the most important of the four tests for fair use.
I think teachers mostly need to be careful about the worksheets they use. It’s got to be so easy to just make copies, pass them along and before you know it, you passing out most of the book for 6 years. In the past, when I have taught (guitar, piano) lessons, I have built my own worksheets. I usually do this so that they can be exactly what I need at the time. If I can keep this up, it will be an easy way to avoid the copyright problems with published workbooks. And I think that showing film might also be easily problematic for a teacher. Even though you may not be showing the movie to the entire school at one time, you may be showing class by class to the entire school, and that may be problematic with the law.
In the end, as teachers, we should be very aware of the materials they use in the classroom. And I think it is important to relate that to the students as well so that they can learn the copyright laws. So, maybe when you are passing out copied materials, remind the students of why you made this copy and how it is OK that you do so in this case. This will also help to keep you accountable as a teacher.