Author Archives: Christina Hendricks

Lisa Jackson: Savage (IndieEdu200x)

I am taking a MOOC from UBC called Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education, and during week 2 one of the resources for the course was a short film by Anishinaabe filmmaker Lisa Jackson, called Savage (2009).

SAVAGE from Lisa Jackson on Vimeo.

This is such a powerful and thought-provoking film packed into only six minutes, I wanted to do some reflection on it as part of my belated responses to the 9x9x25 blogging challenge. Given that my last post was quite long, I’m counting it as two (numbers 4 and 5), so this is number 6 out of 9!

Description

The film begins with gorgeous shots of a young girl riding in a car watching the scenery go by. It seems a peaceful and beautiful atmosphere. It looks like early morning when the video starts, and the girl is being driven as the sun is coming up. A man is driving the car but we don’t see his face and it’s not clear who he is or where they’re going. The car is an old one, looking like it’s from the 1950s or 60s.

Soon we see a woman in a kitchen singing a lullaby (the description of the video on Vimeo says it’s in Cree). One gets the sense that this woman is the young girl’s mother. Her dress and the kitchen décor also suggest an era around perhaps the 1950s.

The scene, to me, feels very lonely and sad, even though the song is beautiful. The woman is sitting by herself at a table drinking tea, or sweeping the floor, or washing up…always by herself, looking off into the distance. She is looking off to her right as the young girl looks off to her right out the window of the car (these scenes are interspersed together). The lullaby is about a baby’s canoe being the moon flying among the clouds… “fly, baby, fly … but you must come back to me.” This ties into the profound loneliness of the scene.

The mother’s song ends as the car comes to a stop and the girl is led by the hand into a building where her hair is washed and cut, and she is helped into new clothes to emerge standing in a school. The music changes from peaceful to stressful as the woman cries, over and over, “you must come back to me!” Suddenly the scene changes to one of horror and anguish: the girl standing in a school in a new uniform and haircut seems like a sinister and horrifying scene. What have they done to her? We are about to find out.

This is where things get very interesting and surprising, at least to me. We see a classroom of students all with heads down, writing in notebooks. When the teacher leaves the class one looks up and it’s clear: they have become zombies. They all begin a synchronized dance that, in one respect, emphasizes their uniformity and how they all follow the same tune, blindly, dead-like. And yet, later on, two boys in turn take solos and do quite impressive moves on their own.

Finally, the teacher returns and the children scramble to their desks to work quietly on their schoolwork once more.

Reflection

This film expresses the Indian Residential School experience from the parent and child’s perspectives, including the sadness, anger, anguish and horror. But towards the end I think it also expresses resistance and resilience. At least, that’s how I read it.

As I went back and watched it again after seeing in the first time and knowing what will happen, the first part became imbued with even more of a sense of poignant beauty and loss. The girl looking out of an open window going past the land she will not see again for a long time, feeling the wind on her face with a sense of open air freedom that will also be lost as she becomes shut into the school (the last shot of the front of the school with doors closed is a nice juxtaposition).

Who is driving the car? One possibility is that it’s her father or grandfather. Indigenous children in  Canada were required to go to residential schools as of 1920, so it’s possible a family member even drove them to the schools, though I think in some cases they were more forcibly taken away from their families.

When the film turns to show the children as zombies, on the one hand this is very fitting–the point of the residential schools was to take them away from their families so they will lose connections to their languages and cultures and take on the settler ones. In a sense, then, who the children were before is dead, and they become uniform like their uniforms, thoughtless and moving the same as the group, in the way they were taught.

And yet, I see possible hints of resistance as well…they take the opportunity when the teacher leaves the room to get out of their desks and move, get away from their school work. She sees only obedient, docile, and disciplined children; she doesn’t see that there is much more going on that they do with each other. They look up, they wake up, they dance. They hide all this again when she walks in the room, but there are things you have to hide to survive, things that you share in a community; the dance is not for her.

The turn to modern music and moves is important: while the beginning of the film takes place in the 1950s, with a song that could be much older than that, the second portion with the kids in the classroom could be happening at any time. And this combined with the modern music suggests to me a reminder that the effects of the residential school experience continue to resonate, not just through the children themselves but intergenerationally.

Regarding the solo moves by the two boys towards the end: while they are somewhat robotic, they also feel improvised and creative. The kids are standing out from the crowd, doing their own thing, expressing themselves while the others continue synchronous moves. We only see two doing this, but I get the sense that any of them could do so in turn, if there had been time before the teacher came back in.

It’s not a great sense of resistance or a great hope, and the lingering shot is of them quiet in a classroom in an imposing building that is shut up, but it’s something. I am left with a strong sense that these kids are going to make it despite the horrendous things that have happened to them.

Of course, this is just my reading, and it’s quite possible I’m missing a lot. The film doesn’t delve deeply into the horrors and abuses that happened in the system, and maybe I’m putting too positive a spin on the ending by feeling like the film expresses a sense of resistance and power in those who were subject to those abuses. I’m curious what others think.

Not perfect strangers (IndEdu200x)

a large group of people pulling on ropes to life an Indigenous pole

Raising the Reconciliation Pole at UBC Vancouver photo by Colin and Sarah Northway on Flickr, licensed CC BY 2.0

This is number four in the series of 9 posts in 9 weeks: the 9x9x25 challenge.

I am working on a UBC MOOC on Edx called Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education. We are still on week 1 and I am making my way through multiple videos and other resources.

I want to use this post to talk about two videos that struck me this week as things I wanted to reflect further on.

Susan D. Dion

We watched a video by Dr. Susan D. Dion, a Potawatami-Lenapé educational scholar, on introducing and disrupting the “perfect stranger.” I was not familiar with Dion’s work before this, but a quick web search shows that she is an Associate Professor in Education at York University who is the author of a book with UBC Press, Braiding Histories: Learning From Aboriginal Peoples’ Experiences and Perspectives (2009).

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What I (should not) assume

Road with a sign on the side saying "Welcome to Idaho"

Welcome to Idaho, US Route 91, Franklin, Idaho, photo by Ken Lund, shared on Flickr with CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

 

This is the third blog post in the 9x9x25 challenge I’m doing (still one behind, as it’s week 4!). See this post explaining the challenge.

 

I’m part of a book club, and right now we’re reading Educated by Tara Westover. I’m most of the way through the book and hopefully won’t give too many spoilers, but as it’s a memoir and her bio can be seen at the website linked above, the general outlines of her educational journey are easily known. I’ll just add a few more details from the book here in my reflection on her experience and how it has led me to reflect on my own teaching practices.

The memoir

This book is about a young woman growing up in rural Idaho (and since I grew up in Idaho too, a number of the places mentioned are familiar to me, though I am not from the same region as her). Her family, due to religious and other beliefs, chose not to send their children to school (though some went for a time anyway if I remember correctly), and wouldn’t go to doctors if they could at all help it. Tara never went to school but managed to study on her own and get high enough marks on the ACT (one of the exams high school students can take to get into some colleges and universities) to be admitted to Brigham Young University in Utah. There, she went through deep financial and personal struggles, including facing a world where the beliefs she had grown up with were frequently challenged in ways she wasn’t always ready to deal with.

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Openness and/as closure

black and white photo of several old and rusty padlocks, one open and the rest closed

Padlocks, by Skitterphoto on pixabay.com, CC0

In my previous post I considered one way to think about how those of us who value and practice open education may also value and practice respect for privacy, that openness and privacy need not be considered opposites (despite the fact that one could think of openness as related to reducing barriers and privacy as putting them up or maintaining them).

This reminded me of a blog post I read recently, “Towards a Pedagogy of Closure”, by David Gaertner who is in First Nations and Indigenous Studies at UBC.1 In the post Gaertner talks about closure being a form of, or leading too, openness. He explains that, as a non-Indigenous scholar working with Indigenous communities, “listening to my collaborators and recognizing boundaries is a necessary part of what I do. There are places that I am not welcome and conversations that I should not be a part of.”

I don’t think this is about privacy in the same way that Meinke and Wagstaff were talking about, in my previous blog post. It’s more about respecting the appropriate boundaries of spaces, conversations, and knowledges given the context of what those are; sometimes this is about privacy (e.g., personal health information being restricted only to some), but not always. It is also about resisting colonialism.

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Open and privacy

 

In their presentation at the Open Education 2018 conference entitled “Open” Education and Student Learning Data: Reflections on Big Data, Privacy, and Learning Platforms, Billy Meinke and Steel Wagstaff asked whether we might consider open education to include the value of respecting privacy. Their presentation was about data gathered from students by educational technology tools, some principles we should consider when using learning analytics, and how one might include a privacy statement in one’s syllabus. The slides are chock-full of information and extra reading; I highly recommend you take a look.

Similarly, in a keynote I gave at the eCampus Ontario Technology-Enhanced Seminar and Showcase in 2017, I had a slide that said: “open is not the opposite of private.” I want to here dig a little more deeply into how and why that could be the case, since on first glance it could seem these are opposed.

In another keynote in 2017 (What’s Open about Open Pedagogy?), I tried to come up with some overarching similarity between various aspects of what people have called “open pedagogy,” including: students producing OER, students co-creating curricula, connecting people in a course to people outside of it, being transparent & fostering trust, and ensuring equity in teaching and learning. It seemed to me at the time (see slide 33 in the deck for that talk) that one way to link them all together was around removal of barriers: between teachers and students, between a class and people outside of it, barriers that block visibility….

But if what’s open about open pedagogy (and possibly open access, open educational resources, and other parts of open education) is the reduction or removal of barriers, then why isn’t privacy—which seems to be about closing things off—the opposite of open? Or rather, for the purposes of this post, why would it make sense to say that one of the values of open education could be to be concerned about and respect privacy?

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OER and free (of cost) resources (CC Cert)

For the Creative Commons Certificate course I’m taking, one of the discussion prompts is:

Many educational resources are available to faculty and students for free or in a manner that they perceive as being free. These include resources available through library database subscriptions and most of the pages on the public internet. Many of these resources are highly engaging and some are even effective at supporting student learning. What risks are associated with adopting these resources? What is the role of these free resources in the context of efforts to create, adopt, use, and improve open educational resources? (see all assignments & discussion prompts for the course)

Here is what I wrote in the discussion board; I’m posting it here for future reference since I’m guessing that content in the course disappears into the ether after the course is finished.


I use a lot of these kinds of resources when I teach my courses in philosophy. I try to keep the costs for students as close to zero as possible, and because of the lack of OER in philosophy, most of how I do that is through resources like these. Depending on what I’m teaching, there are a number of texts that are in the public domain, but that’s only if we’re discussing things that are fairly old. Most of the other things I assign are free to read but not openly licensed (e.g., journal articles our library has subscriptions to, other academics’ website and blog posts, newspaper and magazine articles, podcasts, YouTube videos that aren’t CC licensed, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy…).

Risks and downsides of using these kinds of resources

I can think of a number of downsides, not all of them “risks” necessarily, but certainly things that aren’t as useful for teaching and learning as OER.

Risks

The one that comes to mind first is that things can disappear or change quickly. I have had it happen where I put a resource on the syllabus and then by the time we got to that point in the term the resource had either moved to a different place or disappeared. And library subscriptions aren’t stable either, given that library budgets are strained with increasing subscription costs.

Another one is kind of subtle: without careful discussion of copyright and permissions, students may get the sense that because I’m using such resources in my course, they can also use them however they want. I often ask students to consider posting some work publicly on the course blog (they can choose to do so or not, as they wish), and it’s sometimes hard going to clarify what they can post publicly and what they can’t. I think it’s very useful to have a conversation about copyright and fair dealing and how those work in educational contexts, and how they affect what students can post publicly, when using “free” resources like this.

In addition, we are in somewhat of a limbo in Canada right now with fair dealing, due to a recent court case with York University. A number of colleges and universities are now wondering just what exactly they should be doing to protect themselves against similar lawsuits related to fair dealing, where they can be liable for many millions of dollars. So there is a potential risk around using materials under fair dealing.

Downsides

These are things that I wouldn’t necessarily call risks, but are downsides to such materials.

Because these materials are not openly licensed in a way that allows for revisions, one can’t adjust them to fit one’s own context or update them oneself. One has to take the good with the bad, and what one wants along with what one doesn’t. Frequently I ask students to do things like: read sections 2.1-2.3, 2.5, 2.8-2.9…etc. It’s confusing and annoying, and it would be much easier if I could just copy the sections I want and put them together in a new document. I could do that with OER.

As noted in the modules this week, if these works aren’t openly licensed one loses another great benefit of OER: students being able to update the works themselves. Just as we see with people making suggestions about the materials in this course here (on the content documents that are open for comment), one can do that in one’s own course–students can often find new, relevant information to include, new links to include, can reword things so they’re better understandable to other students, can write new materials to add in, etc.

A downside with some library resources that may change in the future: sometimes I assign chapters from books that the library has digital copies of, which is great (students don’t have to go to the library to make a paper copy of a chapter on reserve). But the ebook platforms can be awful to read on, very cumbersome and sometimes bad on mobile (depends on the platform). It would be great if I could just post a direct PDF on my website but that’s not always allowed (depends on the particular license agreement with the publisher).

Another issue with library resources: license agreements with publishers are widely different and incredibly complicated. Our library keeps a database of such agreements and when you click on a digital resource you can find out the various permissions, but they differ depending on the particular publisher (see, e.g., Licensed Materials on this library guide for instructors). So one has to check every single digital resource from the library to see what one can do with it (can you make paper copies? Can you post a PDF? Can you only post a link? Where can you post it? etc.).

And some licenses for library materials are less permissive than exceptions to copyright. Here is a quote from the page linked to just above: “If the terms of a licence prohibit uses that would otherwise be permitted by an exception in the Copyright Act, then the terms of the licence apply.” I don’t quite get that because if there is an exception to copyright then why can the copyright holder restrict the terms like this?

Role of these resources in efforts to create, adopt, improve OER

I guess mostly what can happen is that people get confused that OER are the same as free of cost resources like these. So I think pointing out the risks and downsides are important so people can see not just the differences with OER, but why OER are better!


From others’ posts in the discussion board, as well as further thought, here are some more ideas:

  • Students lose access to some of the “free” resources when they finish a course or leave an institution.
  • Resources that are free of cost but not openly licensed may not be able to be revised in order to make them more accessible.
  • Free resources may not be free of cost to the institution: e.g., subscriptions to journals through the library can be very expensive, and as the costs rise then libraries have to cut the number of subscriptions they have.
  • Some kinds of free resources require that people sign up for accounts, so as teachers we may be requiring students to give up some of their privacy in ways that they (and we) may not fully understand.

 

Remixes vs Collections (CC certificate)

In the Creative Commons Certificate course I’m taking, there has been some discussion in the course slack channel about the difference between remixes and collections, in response to an assignment that asked us to create a remix (not a collection)–see my previous post for the assignment and the Story Map on Epicurus I created.

When one puts different CC licensed works together, when does one create a remix thereby, and when a collection?

Remixes/adaptations

The Creative Commons FAQ explains a “remix” as an “adaptation,” and defines an adaptation as:

An adaptation is a work based on one or more pre-existing works. What constitutes an adaptation depends on applicable law, however translating a work from one language to another or creating a film version of a novel are generally considered adaptations.

In order for an adaptation to be protected by copyright, most national laws require the creator of the adaptation to add original expression to the pre-existing work. However, there is no international standard for originality, and the definition differs depending on the jurisdiction.

Elsewhere the Creative Commons FAQ says about adaptations:

Generally, a modification rises to the level of an adaptation under copyright law when the modified work is based on the prior work but manifests sufficient new creativity to be copyrightable …

Note that an adaptation does not include redistributing a work in a new format: “Note that all CC licenses allow the user to exercise the rights permitted under the license in any format or medium.”

So just like many things in copyright law, what makes something an adaptation or remix depends on where you are, and even then it’s not necessarily 100% clear. The general idea seems to be that you are changing a work to enough of a degree that you can be said to be adding something original that can be copyrightable.

Collections

A collection, by contrast, would then seem to be using works (more or less?) unaltered and putting them together in some fashion.

Nate Angell provided a nice metaphor for the difference between remixes and collections, likening remixes to smoothies and collections to TV dinners.

image showing a TV dinner with different Creative Commons licenses on the parts of the dinner, and a smoothie made from different ingredients that each have a CC licenseQuotes from Nate’s post:

A “TV dinner” open work is when one collects separate works together and redistributes that collection, but clearly separates each work and its attribution. In this case, one is not “remixing” works, but rather curating them and offering that curation to others. Like with real TV dinners, you can still consume each ingredient by itself because they are served with clear boundaries separating each.

A “smoothie” open work is when one mixes together parts or the whole of one work with parts or wholes of other works to create a new, derivative work that includes material from many sources. Like with real smoothies, you can’t easily separate the different ingredients once they are blended together.

My lingering questions

This TV dinner vs smoothie description makes a lot of sense to me, but I wondered if one has to create a work where you can’t tell the “boundaries” between the other works in it, for it to be a remix. So, for example, if I add some arrows and text to an image, I can tell the boundaries between the original image and the text and arrows I’ve added on top of it, but I still think maybe I’m creating an adaptation or derivative work. Maybe it depends on how much I’ve added and whether those additions make the new work rise to the level of being copyrightable or not.

Let’s think about the images Nate created above as an illustration. He has taken original images and added CC license buttons to them. Are those images adaptations or collections?

Similarly, I created a few new images for the Story Map on Epicurus I created for one of the assignments in the CC certificate course. For some of them I just added circles and text to maps. For others I put several icons together into a single image. For one (showing the chronology of Socrates, Plato and Epicurus) I put three images together, added borders, and text. I am not sure if all of these are truly adaptations or not.

Question about using unaltered images in a set of slides

In the Creative Commons Certificate Slack channel I asked a few questions:

The more I think about this [the difference between remixes and collections], the more questions I have. So, for example, I thought that including an unaltered, CC licensed image in a slide show (maybe altering the size but nothing else) would mean I’m making a collection: the image (or images if there are multiple ones) plus my text plus maybe some other images. Then I could use images with licenses different from the license I gave to my slide show so long as I said “except where otherwise indicated, these slides are licensed CC BY” (e.g.).

Someone else posted in the channel that yes, that sounds right (I don’t want to quote or identify them because I haven’t asked permission!). I then continued:

But then a remix could also be considered a work where you take other works and put them together in a way that involves a degree of creativity and creation of something that could itself be copyrighted (I think), which I then think applies to my slide show because I use images in a way that they weren’t originally intended and I put them together with other images and text in a way that is copyrightable (or else how could I give it all a CC license?).

So is my slide show (as described above) a remix? And if so, can I not use, for example, CC BY SA images if I want to license the slides CC BY?

My issue here is: I could only rightfully put a CC license on my slides if they’re copyrightable, which would mean I have added enough originality to make them so. And if that’s the case, then it seems I’ve created a remix rather than a collection, and I couldn’t do the thing where I’m separating out the CC BY-SA image from the rest of the slides and license the slides overall CC BY. It seems I’d have to license them CC BY-SA.

I had an interesting conversation with someone on Slack about this, where we talked about how maybe what one is licensing with the CC BY on the whole slide deck is the stuff in between and around the CC BY-SA image. This person also noted: does it makes sense that if one remixed someone else’s image (maybe by changing the colour and adding text), then that one image must dictate the license of the whole deck of, e.g., 100 slides? This person noted that one could instead remix the image separately, post it on another site (like Flickr), license it CC BY-SA (if the original image were CC BY-SA) and say that the license for the remix was worked out before it entered the slide deck…and then again, what the CC BY on the slide deck is licensing is what else is in it besides that image.

Someone else on Slack helpfully noted that it’s useful to look at the license legal codes for complicated questions. For example, here is the legal code for CC BY-SA 4.0.

Here is what I then said on Slack, after looking at the legal code:

I found this sentence from the legal code for BY-SA particularly helpful:

“Adapted Material means material subject to Copyright and Similar Rights that is derived from or based upon the Licensed Material and in which the Licensed Material is translated, altered, arranged, transformed, or otherwise modified in a manner requiring permission under the Copyright and Similar Rights held by the Licensor.”

So, if I’m just using the “licensed material” (e.g., the original image) as is and not translating it, altering it, transforming it, or otherwise modifying it then I can put it into my slide show just as it is and say it’s licensed CC BY-SA even though my overall slides are licensed CC BY.

 

So I think I figured out the answer to my question about a slide show. But I am still not certain about how much adapting is needed for something to rise to a full adaptation/remix!

 

Story Map on Epicurus (CC Certificate)

For the Creative Commons Certificate course I’m taking, one of the assignments is to create a remix:

Create a remix in any medium (e.g., photo, video, audio) for use in a course you teach. If you aren’t currently teaching a course, create a remix for use in a future offering of the CC Certification course. Your remix must meet the following criteria:

  1. be comprised of at least five (5) pre-existing CC licensed works,
  2. contain appropriate attribution for each component work (remember to think TASL!), and
  3. be a legal remix (that is, the licenses of all component works must be compatible).

You are welcome to include your own original work in the remix but this is not required. Be sure to create a remix and not merely a collection. (CC Certificate course resources)

The question of what counts as a remix vs a collection is actually fairly complicated. See my next post on remixes vs collections for more.

 

I decided to try a Story Map for this assignment, and focused it on a philosopher I often teach in my Introduction to Philosophy course, Epicurus. We discuss Epicurus’ views on happiness and why we shouldn’t fear death, but to best understand those views it’s helpful to have some background information on him and some of his other arguments. I have been meaning to create a video to allows students to get that background information outside of class, but my experience creating course videos in the past has shown that it takes a lot of time to make them. And I thought…why not use this CC Certificate assignment to provide the information another way?

I am pretty sure I heard of Story Maps through this CC Certificate course itself, and I wanted to try it out. It was still a fair bit of work, but didn’t take nearly as much time as a video usually takes for me. The interface was really easy and intuitive to use, and made providing attributions for other works used in it fairly easy as well.

I just wish they had set it up so one could choose a CC license for the work and have the right machine-readable data associated, so it could easily be found through a search for CC licensed works. I have submitted that request to them on a survey they provided asking for feedback.

Otherwise, I’m quite happy with the result overall!

The Story Map is embedded below, but because this site isn’t full width (it has a sidebar), things don’t look as good in the embed as they would if it were full width (e.g., the black boxes of text that move up over some of the images are not supposed to be in the middle, they’re supposed to be on the side).

It’s better to go to the original link: Story Map on Epicurus: History, Epistemology, Physics

CC Licenses by the numbers

This is Assignment 3 for the Creative Commons Certificate course I’m taking:

Create a video, slide presentation, or infographic (or choose another medium) in which you describe the Creative Commons licenses as well as how and when they might be useful to your institutions’ work. At a minimum, include a description of:

  1. the three layers of the CC licenses,
  2. the four license elements and the icons that represent them (Links to an external site.)
  3. the six Creative Commons licenses,
  4. how the CC licenses affect exceptions and limitations to copyright, and
  5. how the CC licenses affect works in the public domain.

— See all the assignments in the course here.

 

This one was challenging to fit on an infographic–it’s got more words than I would like to include. I wanted to come up with some unifying theme and decided on “by the numbers,” which works best for the first three sections; the last one is a little bit pushing it into the numbers theme!

I used canva.com to make it, and a template that had approximately these colours (though I had to change them a bit to make them fit web accessibility standards).

 

Infographic that explains Creative Commons licenses

 

 

 

OER and Advocacy on Campus workshop

I was invited to give a workshop at the Student Union Development Summit at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, August 19, 2018.

I was asked to talk about open educational resources and student advocacy. Here are the slides for the workshop, in downloadable, editable Power Point format: OER & advocacy on Campus (SUDS 2018) (.pptx)