FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | February 16, 2013

This week has been very busy with work - we've been going full out on a couple development projects for clients, in addition to preparing for the The Write Stuff in San Francisco next month. As a result, I completely missed the kerfuffle over David Broder's test drive of Tesla Motor's Model S. Fortunately, Audrey Watters wrote a great post that helped me get up to speed (pun intended, and sorry).

Audrey's piece led me to this writeup by Tim Stahmer on interpreting data, and how the same data set can tell different stories to different people. While this is no surprise to people who work with both data and people, there is nothing like life to muck up the illusion of precision that a curated data set can suggest. This is something that I was...

Andrea Burton | February 15, 2013

For the first time ever, DrupalCon is featuring a User Experience Track. We will have 13 sessions discussing User Experience Methods, tools and philosophies.

Today, Friday February 15th, is the last day to submit sessions for DrupalCon. Get your sessions in!

UX Track Featured Speakers

We already have 3 Featured speakers planned for the track:

Bill Fitzgerald | February 15, 2013

I landed my first job teaching late in the winter, about eight months after I graduated college. I was hired by a school district near Boston to tutor a 15 year old kid - a sophomore - who had gotten expelled from school for pulling a knife on another kid. I was his tutor for his core academic subjects - English, History, Algebra, Biology. I learned later that no one expected him to show up, but as I hadn't been let in on that secret yet, I made the time to go and meet with all of his teachers, find out where he had left off in the curriculum, and hopefully (and yes, I recognize how hopelessly naive this sounds) get some insight into what he was like as a student.

Bob's teachers (that's not his name, but that's what we'll call him in this story) were not excited to talk with me. His English, History, and Algebra teachers refused to meet with me, and his Biology teacher met me with some questions of his own.

"Why are you here?" he asked me, as he gave me photocopies...

Bill Fitzgerald | February 7, 2013

If you are thinking about going to an open content authoring day, here are some tips to help you get the most from the day:

  • Identify what you want to get from the day ahead of time. The authoring events are a mix of community work days and a maker space, and knowing what you want to do with your time will help you make the most of the day.
  • If your goals for the day include working on a specific project, try and make progress on your working outline and your initial research before the event. This way, during the event, you can work with other participants on structure, editing, and other elements of the project where you will benefit from outside review.
  • If your goals for the day don't include working on a specific project, that's fine - one of the other ways that you can participate in an open content authoring day is by helping to clean up existing open content that has been released in clumsy formats (pdfs, word docs, powerpoint, etc).
  • ...
Bill Fitzgerald | February 5, 2013

Nearly every time we talk about open content, we are asked about licensing, reuse, and the possible risks of reuse. It's a complicated issue, but it is definitely worth noting that using Creative Commons licensed material is significantly less complex than traditional copyright. With authoring events coming up in Portland and San Francisco, we wanted to look at the resources that already existed to explain licensing, and come up with as simple a guide to licensing and reuse as possible.

This post is not intended to be a comprehensive review of either Creative Commons or traditional copyright. The purpose of this post is to provide people writing open content with some sound guidelines for using and remixing content.

Creative Commons Licensing: An Overview

Every one of the six Creative Commons license requires attribution of the original source, and we...

Bill Fitzgerald | February 5, 2013

As discussed in Open Content: Licensing, Attribution, and Reuse, the licenses of our source material can affect the licenses we can use when we release our remixed work. At times, there will be potential conflicts that need to be addressed. Unlike traditional copyright, where our options are limited by the whims and decisions of the copyright holder, Creative Commons licensing provides authors with more flexibility and choice.

With some thought and planning, licensing issues can be relegated to just another step in the process of authoring open content.

Resolving Potential Conflicts

If you come across a situation where you are looking at a licensing conflict that appears insurmountable, you have a few other options:

  • Contact the license holder and ask permission; or...
Bill Fitzgerald | February 4, 2013

As we work on open content, I try and separate my notions of the textbook from my notions of the textbook industry.

At its most basic, a textbook provides a starting point for the processes of learning. Textbooks can be used well, or used poorly, but this is an implementation issue. In the same way, some textbooks are better than others. But, the right text in the right hands can do a world of good.

However, the textbook industry gets into political, economic, and public policy issues. The means by which the Common Core standards came into being, and came to be adopted by 48 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia illustrates the issue.

On July 1, 2009, the working groups charged with "determining and...

Bill Fitzgerald | January 30, 2013

Last week, we put out a guide to creating openly licensed content prior to our first open content authoring event in Philadelphia, and our session at EduCon on open content. During these events, several people asked about the easiest way to find openly licensed content. Sites like OER Commons can be useful, but for us, the easiest way we have found is using Google's advanced search feature.

The screencast below gives a quick overview on how to find content. If you are doing this as part of research, you will want to use one of several methods to sort and organize the useful information you discover. We will cover how to...

Bill Fitzgerald | January 27, 2013

Last week, a group of people released a document with the ambitious title of "A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age."

The work was posted in several places (and I'm probably leaving a few out):

  • Hack Education, from Audrey Watters;
  • The Udacity blog; interestingly, the Udacity blog is the only announcement that makes the claim that the "Bill of Rights" was originally posted on EdSurge;
  • Cathy Davidson, on the HASTAC blog;
  • edSurge, from Betsy Corcoran;
  • ...
Bill Fitzgerald | January 23, 2013

Tomorrow, on January 24th, at Science Leadership Academy, from 10 to 4:30, we are having the first of several participant-led work days focused on authoring and sharing open content.

As we have discussed before, our goal is to create a framework that can be used by anyone, anywhere to hold similar community-led events for the purpose of authoring open content. Toward that end, here is a general schedule that we will use to structure the workday. We will likely adjust this as needed, but this general structure will get us started:

  • 10 to 10:30 - Introductions - if people have specific goals for the day, we'll use the intros to help set priorities and, where appropriate, set people up in teams;
  • 10:30 to 12:...

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