Five or six years ago, I attended a lecture on the science of attention. A philosopher who conducts research over in the medical school was talking about attention blindness, the basic feature of the human brain that, when we concentrate intensely on one task, causes us to miss just about everything else. Because we can’t see what we can’t see, our lecturer was determined to catch us in the act. He had us watch a video of six people tossing basketballs back and forth, three in white shirts and three in black, and our task was to keep track only of the tosses among the people in white. I hadn’t seen the video back then, although it’s now a classic, featured on punk-style TV shows or YouTube versions enacted at frat houses under less than lucid conditions. The tape rolled, and everyone began counting.
Everyone except me. I’m dyslexic, and the moment I saw that grainy tape with the confusing basketball tossers, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep track of their movements, so I let my mind wander. My curiosity was piqued, though, when about 30 seconds into the tape, a gorilla sauntered in among the players. She (we later learned a female student was in the gorilla suit) stared at the camera, thumped her chest, and then strode away while they continued passing the balls.
When the tape stopped, the philosopher asked how many people had counted at least a dozen basketball tosses. Hands went up all over. He then asked who had counted 13, 14, and congratulated those who’d scored the perfect 15. Then he asked, “And who saw the gorilla?”
I raised my hand and was surprised to discover I was the only person at my table and one of only three or four in the large room to do so. He’d set us up, trapping us in our own attention blindness. Yes, there had been a trick, but he wasn’t the one who had played it on us. By concentrating so hard on counting, we had managed to miss the gorilla in the midst.
Attention blindness is the fundamental structuring principle of the brain, and I believe that it presents us with a tremendous opportunity. My take is different from that of many neuroscientists: Where they perceive the shortcomings of the individual, I sense an opportunity for collaboration. Fortunately, given the interactive nature of most of our lives in the digital age, we have the tools to harness our different forms of attention and take advantage of them.
It’s not easy to acknowledge that everything we’ve learned about how to pay attention means that we’ve been missing everything else. It’s not easy for us rational, competent, confident types to admit that the very key to our success—our ability to pinpoint a problem and solve it, an achievement honed in all those years in school and beyond—may be exactly what limits us. For more than a hundred years, we’ve been training people to see in a particularly individual, deliberative way. No one ever told us that our way of seeing excluded everything else.
I want to suggest a different way of seeing, one that’s based on multitasking our attention—not by seeing it all alone but by distributing various parts of the task among others dedicated to the same end. For most of us, this is a new pattern of attention. Multitasking is the ideal mode of the 21st century, not just because of information overload but also because our digital age was structured without anything like a central node broadcasting one stream of information that we pay attention to at a given moment. On the Internet, everything links to everything, and all of it is available all the time.
Unfortunately, current practices of our educational institutions—and workplaces—are a mismatch between the age we live in and the institutions we have built over the last 100-plus years. The 20th century taught us that completing one task before starting another one was the route to success. Everything about 20th-century education, like the 20th-century workplace, has been designed to reinforce our attention to regular, systematic tasks that we take to completion. Attention to task is at the heart of industrial labor management, from the assembly line to the modern office, and of educational philosophy, from grade school to graduate school.
The Newsweek cover story proclaimed, “iPod, Therefore I Am.”
On MTV News, it was “Dude, I just got a free iPod!”
Peter Jennings smirked at the ABC-TV news audience, “Shakespeare on the iPod? Calculus on the iPod?”
And the staff of the Duke Chronicle was apoplectic: “The University seems intent on transforming the iPod into an academic device, when the simple fact of the matter is that iPods are made to listen to music. It is an unnecessarily expensive toy that does not become an academic tool simply because it is thrown into a classroom.”
What had those pundits so riled up? In 2003, we at Duke were approached by Apple about becoming one of six Apple Digital Campuses. Each college would choose a technology that Apple was developing and propose a campus use for it. It would be a partnership of business and education, exploratory in all ways. We chose a flashy new music-listening gadget that young people loved but that baffled most adults.
When we gave a free iPod to every member of the entering first-year class, there were no conditions. We simply asked students to dream up learning applications for this cool little white device with the adorable earbuds, and we invited them to pitch their ideas to the faculty. If one of their professors decided to use iPods in a course, the professor, too, would receive a free Duke-branded iPod, and so would all the students in the class (whether they were first-years or not).
This was an educational experiment without a syllabus. No lesson plan. No assessment matrix rigged to show that our investment had been a wise one. No assignment to count the basketballs. After all, as we knew from the science of attention, to direct attention in one way precluded all the other ways. If it were a reality show, we might have called it Project Classroom Makeover.
At the time, I was vice provost for interdisciplinary studies at Duke, a position equivalent to what in industry would be the R&D person, and I was among those responsible for cooking up the iPod experiment. In the world of technology, “crowdsourcing” means inviting a group to collaborate on a solution to a problem, but that term didn’t yet exist in 2003. It was coined by Jeff Howe of Wired magazine in 2006 to refer to the widespread Internet practice of posting an open call requesting help in completing some task, whether writing code (that’s how much of the open-source code that powers the Mozilla browser was written) or creating a winning logo (like the “Birdie” design of Twitter, which cost a total of six bucks).
In the iPod experiment, we were crowdsourcing educational innovation for a digital age. Crowdsourced thinking is very different from “credentialing,” or relying on top-down expertise. If anything, crowdsourcing is suspicious of expertise, because the more expert we are, the more likely we are to be limited in what we conceive to be the problem, let alone the answer.
Once the pieces were in place, we decided to take our educational experiment one step further. By giving the iPods to first-year students, we ended up with a lot of angry sophomores, juniors, and seniors. They’d paid hefty private-university tuition, too! So we relented and said any student could have a free iPod—just so long as she persuaded a professor to require one for a course and came up with a learning app in that course. Does that sound sneaky? Far be it from me to say that we planned it.
The real treasure trove was to be found in the students’ innovations. Working together, and often alongside their professors, they came up with far more learning apps for their iPods than anyone—even at Apple—had dreamed possible. Most predictable were uses whereby students downloaded audio archives relevant to their courses—Nobel Prize acceptance speeches by physicists and poets, the McCarthy hearings, famous trials. Almost instantly, students figured out that they could record lectures on their iPods and listen at their leisure.
Interconnection was the part the students grasped before any of us did. Students who had grown up connected digitally gravitated to ways that the iPod could be used for collective learning. They turned iPods into social media and networked their learning in ways we did not anticipate. In the School of the Environment, one class interviewed families in a North Carolina community concerned with lead paint in their homes and schools, commented on one another’s interviews, and together created an audio documentary that aired on local and regional radio stations and all over the Web. In the music department, students uploaded their own compositions to their iPods so their fellow students could listen and critique.
After eight years in Duke’s central administration, I was excited to take the methods we had gleaned from the iPod experiment back into the classroom. I decided to offer a new course called “This Is Your Brain on the Internet,” a title that pays homage to Daniel J. Levitin’s inspiring book This Is Your Brain on Music (Dutton, 2006), a kind of music-lover’s guide to the brain. Levitin argues that music makes complex circuits throughout the brain, requiring different kinds of brain function for listening, processing, and producing, and thus makes us think differently. Substitute the word “Internet” for “music,” and you’ve got the gist of my course.
I advertised the class widely, and I was delighted to look over the roster of the 18 students in the seminar and find more than 18 majors, minors, and certificates represented. I created a bare-bones suggested reading list that included, for example, articles in specialized journals like Cognition and Developmental Neuropsychology, pieces in popular magazines like Wired and Science, novels, and memoirs. There were lots of Web sites, too, of course, but I left the rest loose. This class was structured to be peer-led, with student interest and student research driving the design. “Participatory learning” is one term used to describe how we can learn together from one another’s skills. “Cognitive surplus” is another used in the digital world for that “more than the sum of the parts” form of collaborative thinking that happens when groups think together online.
We used a method that I call “collaboration by difference.” Collaboration by difference is an antidote to attention blindness. It signifies that the complex and interconnected problems of our time cannot be solved by anyone alone, and that those who think they can act in an entirely focused, solitary fashion are undoubtedly missing the main point that is right there in front of them, thumping its chest and staring them in the face. Collaboration by difference respects and rewards different forms and levels of expertise, perspective, culture, age, ability, and insight, treating difference not as a deficit but as a point of distinction. It always seems more cumbersome in the short run to seek out divergent and even quirky opinions, but it turns out to be efficient in the end and necessary for success if one seeks an outcome that is unexpected and sustainable. That’s what I was aiming for.
I had the students each contribute a new entry or amend an existing entry on Wikipedia, or find another public forum where they could contribute to public discourse. There was still a lot of criticism about the lack of peer review in Wikipedia entries, and some professors were banning Wikipedia use in the classroom. I didn’t understand that. Wikipedia is an educator’s fantasy, all the world’s knowledge shared voluntarily and free in a format theoretically available to all, and which anyone can edit. Instead of banning it, I challenged my students to use their knowledge to make Wikipedia better. All conceded that it had turned out to be much harder to get their work to “stick” on Wikipedia than it was to write a traditional term paper.
Given that I was teaching a class based on learning and the Internet, having my students blog was a no-brainer. I supplemented that with more traditionally structured academic writing, a term paper. When I had both samples in front of me, I discovered something curious. Their writing online, at least in their blogs, was incomparably better than in the traditional papers. In fact, given all the tripe one hears from pundits about how the Internet dumbs our kids down, I was shocked that elegant bloggers often turned out to be the clunkiest and most pretentious of research-paper writers. Term papers rolled in that were shot through with jargon, stilted diction, poor word choice, rambling thoughts, and even pretentious grammatical errors (such as the ungrammatical but proper-sounding use of “I” instead of “me” as an object of a preposition).
But it got me thinking: What if bad writing is a product of the form of writing required in college—the term paper—and not necessarily intrinsic to a student’s natural writing style or thought process? I hadn’t thought of that until I read my students’ lengthy, weekly blogs and saw the difference in quality. If students are trying to figure out what kind of writing we want in order to get a good grade, communication is secondary. What if “research paper” is a category that invites, even requires, linguistic and syntactic gobbledygook?
Research indicates that, at every age level, people take their writing more seriously when it will be evaluated by peers than when it is to be judged by teachers. Online blogs directed at peers exhibit fewer typographical and factual errors, less plagiarism, and generally better, more elegant and persuasive prose than classroom assignments by the same writers. Longitudinal studies of student writers conducted by Stanford University’s Andrea Lunsford, a professor of English, assessed student writing at Stanford year after year. Lunsford surprised everyone with her findings that students were becoming more literate, rhetorically dexterous, and fluent—not less, as many feared. The Internet, she discovered, had allowed them to develop their writing.
The semester flew by, and we went wherever it took us. The objective was to get rid of a lot of the truisms about “the dumbest generation” and actually look at how new theories of the brain and of attention might help us understand how forms of thinking and collaborating online maximize brain activity. We spent a good deal of time thinking about how accident, disruption, distraction, and difference increase the motivation to learn and to solve problems, both individually and collectively. To find examples, we spent time with a dance ensemble rehearsing a new piece, a jazz band improvising together, and teams of surgeons and computer programmers performing robotic surgery. We walked inside a monkey’s brain in a virtual-reality cave. In another virtual-reality environment, we found ourselves trembling, unable to step off what we knew was a two-inch drop, because it looked as if we were on a ledge over a deep canyon.
One of our readings was On Intelligence (Times Books, 2004), a unified theory of the brain written by Jeff Hawkins (the neuroscientist who invented the Palm Pilot) with Sandra Blakeslee. I agree with many of Hawkins’s ideas about the brain’s “memory-prediction framework.” My own interest is in how memories—reinforced behaviors from the past—predict future learning, and in how we can intentionally disrupt that pattern to spark innovation and creativity. Hawkins is interested in how we can use the pattern to create next-generation artificial intelligence that will enhance the performance, and profitability, of computerized gadgets like the Palm Pilot. The students and I had been having a heated debate about his theories when a student discovered that Hawkins happened to be in our area to give a lecture. I was away at a meeting, when suddenly my BlackBerry was vibrating with e-mails and IM’s from my students, who had convened the class without me to present a special guest on a special topic: Jeff Hawkins debating the ideas of Jeff Hawkins. It felt a bit like the gag in the classic Woody Allen movie Annie Hall, when someone in the line to purchase movie tickets is expounding pompously on the ideas of Marshall McLuhan and then McLuhan himself steps into the conversation.
It was that kind of class.
“Jeff Hawkins thought it was odd that we decided to hold class when you weren’t there,” one student texted me. “Why wouldn’t we? That’s how it works in ‘This Is Your Brain on the Internet.'”
Project Classroom Makeover. I heard the pride. “Step aside, Prof Davidson: This is a university!”
“A wacko holding forth on a soapbox. If Prof Davidson just wants to yammer and lead discussions, she should resign her position and head for a park or subway platform, and pass a hat for donations.”
Some days, it’s not easy being Prof Davidson.
What caused the ruckus in the blogosphere this time was a blog I posted on the Hastac, an online network, which I co-founded in 2002, dedicated to new forms of learning for a digital age. The post, “How to Crowdsource Grading,” proposed a form of assessment that I planned to use the next time I taught “This Is Your Brain on the Internet.”
It was my students’ fault, really. By the end of the course, I felt confident. I settled in with their evaluations, waiting for the accolades to flow, a pedagogical shower of appreciation. And mostly that’s what I read, thankfully. But there was one group of students who had some candid feedback, and it took me by surprise. They said everything about the course had been bold, new, and exciting.
Everything, that is, except the grading.
They pointed out that I had used entirely conventional methods for testing and evaluating their work. We had talked as a class about the new modes of assessment on the Internet—like public commenting on products and services and leaderboards (peer evaluations adapted from sports sites)—where the consumer of content could also evaluate that content. These students said they loved the class but were perplexed that my assessment method had been so 20th century: Midterm. Final. Research paper. Graded A, B, C, D. The students were right. You couldn’t get more 20th century than that.
The students signed their names to the course evaluations. It turned out the critics were A+ students. That stopped me in my tracks. If you’re a teacher worth your salt, you pay attention when the A+ students say something is wrong.
I was embarrassed that I had overlooked such a crucial part of our brain on the Internet. I contacted my students and said they’d made me rethink some very old habits. Unlearning. I promised I would rectify my mistake the next time I taught the course. I thought about my promise, came up with what seemed like a good system, then wrote about it in my blog.
My new grading method, which set off such waves of vitriol, combined old-fashioned contract grading with peer review. Contract grading goes back at least to the 1960s. In it, the requirements of a course are laid out in advance, and students contract to do all of the assignments or only some of them. A student with a heavy course or workload who doesn’t need an A, for example, might contract to do everything but the final project and then, according to the contract, she might earn a B. It’s all very adult.
But I also wanted some quality control. So I added the crowdsourcing component based on the way I had already structured the course. I thought that since pairs of students were leading each class session and also responding to their peers’ required weekly reading blogs, why not have them determine whether the blogs were good enough to count as fulfilling the terms of the contract? If a blog didn’t pass muster, it would be the task of the student leaders that week to tell the blogger and offer feedback on what would be required for it to count. Student leaders for a class period would have to do that carefully, for next week a classmate would be evaluating their work.
I also liked the idea of students’ each having a turn at being the one giving the grades. That’s not a role most students experience, even though every study of learning shows that you learn best by teaching someone else. Besides, if constant public self-presentation and constant public feedback are characteristics of a digital age, why aren’t we rethinking how we evaluate, measure, test, assess, and create standards? Isn’t that another aspect of our brain on the Internet?
There are many ways of crowdsourcing, and mine was simply to extend the concept of peer leadership to grading. The blogosphere was convinced that either I or my students would be pulling a fast one if the grading were crowdsourced and students had a role in it. That says to me that we don’t believe people can learn unless they are forced to, unless they know it will “count on the test.” As an educator, I find that very depressing. As a student of the Internet, I also find it implausible. If you give people the means to self-publish—whether it’s a photo from their iPhone or a blog—they do so. They seem to love learning and sharing what they know with others. But much of our emphasis on grading is based on the assumption that learning is like cod-liver oil: It is good for you, even though it tastes horrible going down. And much of our educational emphasis is on getting one answer right on one test—as if that says something about the quality of what you have learned or the likelihood that you will remember it after the test is over.
Grading, in a curious way, exemplifies our deepest convictions about excellence and authority, and specifically about the right of those with authority to define what constitutes excellence. If we crowdsource grading, we are suggesting that young people without credentials are fit to judge quality and value. Welcome to the Internet, where everyone’s a critic and anyone can express a view about the new iPhone, restaurant, or quarterback. That democratizing of who can pass judgment is digital thinking. As I found out, it is quite unsettling to people stuck in top-down models of formal education and authority.
Learn. Unlearn. Relearn. In addition to the content of our course—which ranged across cognitive psychology, neuroscience, management theory, literature and the arts, and the various fields that compose science-and-technology studies—”This Is Your Brain on the Internet” was intended to model a different way of knowing the world, one that encompasses new and different forms of collaboration and attention. More than anything, it courted failure. Unlearning.
“I smell a reality TV show,” one critic sniffed.
That’s not such a bad idea, actually. Maybe I’ll try that next time I teach “This Is Your Brain on the Internet.” They can air it right after Project Classroom Makeover.
The Internet can be a researcher’s dream come true. By browsing the Internet, much as you would browse the shelves of a library, you can access information on seemingly limitless topics. In addition, web-based catalogs are available in many libraries to assist researchers in locating printed books, journals, government documents, and other materials.
Possibly the biggest obstacle facing researchers on the Internet is how to effectively and efficiently access the vast amount of information available with the simple click of the mouse. With the Internet’s potential as a research tool, teachers must instruct and guide their students on manageable strategies for sorting through the abundance of information. The search for reliable resources can be both overwhelming and frustrating if students are left on their own in their initial search. A few simple guidelines can make conducting research more manageable, reliable, and fun.
The research process
Lessons and projects should be designed so that research time on the Web can be maximized in terms of efficiency. This may mean gathering necessary information beforehand, having students work in groups, or focusing on whole-class projects.
Barron and Ivers (1996) outlined the following cycle for online research projects.
Step 1: Questioning — Before going on the Internet, students should structure their questions.
Step 2: Planning — Students should develop a search strategy with a list of sites to investigate.
Step 3: Gathering — Students use the Web to collect and gather information.
Step 4: Sorting & Sifting — Students analyze and categorize the data they gathered on the Web.
Step 5: Synthesizing — Students integrate the information into the lesson, and draw conclusions.
Step 6: Evaluating — Students assess the results, and if necessary, begin the process again.
Searching the Web
There are billions of pages of information on the World Wide Web, and finding relevant and reliable information can be a challenge. Search engines are powerful tools that index millions of web sites. When entering a keyword into a search engine, you will receive a list with the number of hits or results and links to the related sites. The number of hits you receive may vary a great deal among different search engines. Some engines search only the titles of the web sites, and others search the full text.
Techniques for using the different search tools vary. For best results, read the search tips or hints that are provided at each search site. Also, note that some of the search engines do not allow Boolean searches that combine words with the logical connectors of AND, OR, or NOT.
Common commands for search engines include:
- Quotation Marks ( ” )
Using quotation marks will help to find specific phrases involving more than one word. For example: “Martin Luther King”
- Addition Sign ( + )
Adding a + sign before a word means that it MUST be included in each site listed. For example: + Florida + taxes
- Subtraction Sign ( – )
Adding a – sign before a word means that it will NOT appear in the sites listed. For example: + Washington -DC
- Asterisks ( * )
Asterisks can be used for wild-cards in some search engines. For example: Mexic* will look for Mexico, Mexican, Mexicali, etc.
Search engine capabilities
Search engines are rated by the size of their index. Large engines such as Google are good tools to use when searching for obscure information, but one drawback to an extensive index is the overwhelming number of results on more general topics. If this is the case, it might be better to use a search engine with a directory structure such as Yahoo.
Many search engines provide directory-listing search tools such as yellow pages, white pages, and email addresses. In addition, many allow you to personalize their site to your needs. For example, you might want to set the attributes of the page to show educational news headlines and your favorite teacher resource links. In the preferences of your web browser, you can then set this page as your home start-up page.
Search engines especially for children
Search engines designed for younger students are useful tools for the classroom. They screen for inappropriate material and provide appropriate sites for students on topics related to educational and entertainment purposes. Using these sites helps to narrow the scope of hits on a search inquiry. As a result, the student will spend less time reading irrelevant material.
Although some search engines allow you to turn on filters to help filter out adult content, they are not always thorough or accurate. There are several good search engines that are specifically designed for the younger audience, such as Ask Jeeves and Yahooligans.
Evaluating Internet sources
Students often uncritically accept information they see in print or on computer screens. Students should be encouraged to carefully evaluate sources found on the Internet. The evaluation tool (below) will help students analyze web resources in terms of accuracy, authority, objectivity, timeliness, and coverage. Consideration of these factors will weed out many of the inaccurate or trivial sites students may encounter.
|Analyzing web resources
Answer the following questions to evaluate web resources.Accuracy
Are sources listed for the facts?
Can information be verified through another source?
Has the site been edited for grammar, spelling, etc.?Authority
Is the publisher reputable?
Is the sponsorship clear?
Is a phone number or postal address available?
Is there a link to the sponsoring organization?
Is the author qualified to write on this topic?
Does the sponsor have commercial interests?
Is advertising included on the page?
Are there obvious biases?
Is a publication date indicated?
Is there a date for the last update?
Is the topic one that does not change frequently?
Are the topics covered in depth?
Does the content appear to be complete?
Setting bookmarks on the Web
Browsers such as Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer provide a way to create a list of your favorite sites that you can access with a click of the mouse. The procedure for creating a list of sites is an easy and powerful tool for web use. When you find a web page that you want to bookmark, simply select the “Add Bookmark” or “Add Favorite” option from the menu bar. To return to the site at a later time, choose the name from the bookmark or favorite list, and you will immediately access the site. You can organize your bookmarks into file folders and can save them on a disk to transfer and use on other computers.
Teachers and students have a somewhat flexible, but not unlimited, copyright privilege under the “fair use clause” of the U.S. Copyright Act. “Fair use” is the means by which educators of non-profit educational institutions may use copyrighted works without seeking permission or making payment to the author or publisher. Teachers and students are also protected to some extent by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which went into effect in October 1998. Under current guidelines, teachers and students are able to make limited use of copyrighted materials for instructional purposes.
Currently, copyright law as it relates to the Internet is vague and being challenged and rewritten on an ongoing basis. However, the guidelines of the “fair use clause” can be applied to Internet use in the classroom. Although classroom use allows teachers and students to be creative, you must also be extremely careful. Teachers and students should realize that all materials found on the Internet are protected by the same copyright laws as printed materials. Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are in a tangible form of expression.
Copyrightable works include the following categories:
- literary works
- musical works, including any accompanying words
- dramatic works, including any accompanying music, pantomimes, and choreographic works
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- sound recordings
- architectural works
These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most “compilations” may be registered as “literary works”; maps and architectural plans may be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.”
Important questions to ask
- What is the purpose for using the material?
- Who is the audience?
- How widely will the material be distributed?
- Will the material be reproduced?
It is allowable under copyright guidelines to use copyrighted materials for class assignments. Check specific guidelines for length of time the material can be kept up on a web site.
When in doubt, ask.
If you and your students find a graphic or portion of a text on the Internet that you want to utilize in a class project, locate the source of the web site and email them to ask permission for use of their graphic or text. Many web site designers are happy for you to “borrow” their graphics and words. Some ask that you give them credit and others do not. Although your students may be too young to comprehend copyright law, they can understand the concept of respecting someone else’s property.
It is advisable for school sites to have an online service provider or an “agent” who can act as a filter on copyright issues. The agent would be the person someone would notify if they found a copyright violation on a student or school web site. In most cases, you are simply asked to remove the offending copyright violation.
For more information on fair use guidelines for educational multimedia, go to the
Multimedia Fair Use Guidelines (CCMC) web site.
Copyright discussions with students may include:
- Does copyright apply to student web pages? Any original work of authorship, whether created by a student, teacher, or professional is protected by the copyright laws. An original piece of work does not need to possess or display a copyright to be protected under the copyright laws.
- May students “borrow” art, sound, animation, etc., from others’ web pages? Resources (such as graphics and sound files) from most web sites are copyright protected and require permission to use, but the resources at some web sites are advertised as “free” for use. These web sites may require that credit is given to the original source of the materials.
Student activity: Finding a Needle in Cyberspace
Using the major search engines on the Web, find the best way to look for a needle. Fill out the following chart, noting the number of hits you receive in each of the search engines for the word needle and the phrase “Space Needle.” Then, answer the questions at the bottom of the page.
- Which search engine would be the best if you were looking for something very obscure?
- Did searching for “Space Needle” always result in more hits or less hits than searching for needle? Why?
- Which search engine seemed to display the result fastest?
- Try another search. This time, look for sites that contain all of these words: needle, sleeping, and beauty. (Hint: On many of the search engines you can specify that certain words MUST be included by adding a + in front of the word: +needle +sleeping +beauty.)
NOTE: This activity is available as a separate web page or as a PDF file for printing.
Student activity: Owner’s Rights
Often a web site will state the terms and conditions for the use of copyrighted materials. The following activities require students to find this information on two different web sites.
America’s Story from America’s Library
America’s Story from America’s Library is from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and is designed for young people.
About this Site
From the “America’s Story” web site, go to About this Site and find out who owns the site and copyright information.
- Does the Library of Congress own the rights to everything in its collections?
- What type of information does the Library of Congress provide?
- If a researcher would like to use material from this site, whom must they contact to get permission?
- Where can a researcher find more information about U.S. Copyright law?
Explore the States
From the “America’s Story” web site, go to Explore the States and then click on Florida. Next, click on the spyglass for enlargement of the photo credit.
- “Saint Augustine, Fla. Bastions of Fort Marion”, comes from what collection of photographs from the Library of Congress?
- Who owns the right to photo 1?
- Between what years was the photograph “Jacksonville, Fla. Signal tower” taken?
Visit the Mary Mack Singing Games section of “America’s Library”.
- The group of girls performing were from what high school?
- What was the date of the performance/recording?
- What is the name of the song?
- Can it be used for a class project?
Meet Amazing Americans
Visit the Frederick Douglas section of “America’s Library”.
- Click on “A Daring Escape.” What is the copyright year of the 1845 cover of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave?
- Who owns the rights to this image?
- Click on “Follow the North Star“. What newspaper did Frederick Douglas publish?
- Where in the Library of Congress is this newspaper located?
- Click on “Recruiting for the Union Army“. Who owns the rights to this picture and in what year was it copyrighted?
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has many beautiful photographs on their site. They also have a page on their site concerning the terms and conditions of use of these photos.
- Are you permitted to use images from this site in a school report that you are not publishing?
- Are you permitted to copy the images to a CD-ROM?
- Are you permitted to use images from this site on a personal web page that includes advertisements?
- Citations for images must include the author and source of the materials as you would from any printed work. What additional piece of information must also be included?
NOTE: This activity is available as a separate web page or as a PDF file for printing.
Student activity: Browse the Library of Congress
Visit the The Library of Congress Gateway to Library Catalogs .
01. Who is the author of Waiting for Godot?
03. What is the last digit in the ISBN number for Ann E. Barron’s 1997 book?
04. Who wrote The Mysterious Cat?
06. Who wrote a pantomime about Jack and the Beanstalk?
07. What is the first word in the title of one of Michael Verney’s books?
09. What is the last digit in the LC Call Number for 101 Dalmatians by Justine Korman?
10. Who wrote Anatomy of the Honey Bee?
12. When Ten Great Basketball Offenses was revised,how many offenses were there?
13. Who wrote the Global Mind?
14. What is the title of a book by Leon Uris?
01. Who wrote How Good Guys Grow Rich?
02. How many books did Judy Blume publish in 1972?
03. What does the F. stand for in F. Scott Fitzgerald?
05. Who illustrated the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published by Heritage Press in 1940?
08. Where was the Equestrian Statue of Peter I published?
11. How many years did the author of The Scarlet Letter live?
NOTE: This activity is available as a separate web page or as a PDF file for printing.
Answers: Chapter 5 activities
Student Activities Answers
Finding a Needle in Cyberspace
Answers will vary.
About this site
- Copyright Owners
Explore the States
- Selected Civil War Photographs, 1861-1865
- Sam Cooley
- Liberty High School
Meet Amazing Americans
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- The North Star
- African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
- Currier and Ives, 1863
Metropolitan Museum of Art
- The URL “www.metmuseum.org”
Browsing the Library of Congress
Innovation Imperative: Change Everything
Online Education as an Agent of Transformation
WHEN the first commercially successful steamship traveled the Hudson River in 1807, it didn’t appear to be much of a competitive threat to transoceanic sailing ships. It was more expensive, less reliable and couldn’t travel very far. Sailors dismissed the idea that steam technology could ever measure up — the vast reach of the Atlantic Ocean surely demanded sails. And so steam power gained its foothold as a “disruptive innovation” in inland waterways, where the ability to move against the wind, or when there was no wind at all, was important.
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
In 1819, the technology vastly improved, the S.S. Savannah made the first Atlantic crossing powered by steam and sail (in truth, only 80 of the 633-hour voyage was by steam). Sailing ship companies didn’t completely ignore the advancement. They built hybrid ships, adding steam engines to their sailing vessels, but never entered the pure steamship market. Ultimately, they paid the price for this decision. By the early 1900s, with steam able to power a ship across the ocean on its own, and do so faster than the wind, customers migrated to steamships. Every single transoceanic sailing-ship company went out of business.
Traditional colleges are currently on their hybrid voyage across the ocean.
Like steam, online education is a disruptive innovation — one that introduces more convenient and affordable products or services that over time transform sectors. Yet many bricks-and-mortar colleges are making the same mistake as the once-dominant tall ships: they offer online courses but are not changing the existing model. They are not saving students time and money, the essential steps to disruption. And though their approach makes sense in the short term, it leaves them vulnerable as students gravitate toward less expensive colleges.
For-profit universities latched on early to online learning, rough as it was in the 1990s. The target, as with all disruptive innovations, was customers who wouldn’t otherwise consume their product — in this case, working adults for whom traditional higher education was inconvenient. In theory, for-profit companies should have shaken up the higher education landscape. But federal financial aid seems to have gummed up the disruption: the easy revenue has encouraged some schools to indiscriminately enroll, often at the expense of quality, and has discouraged cost reduction.
Still, the theory predicts that, be it steam or online education, existing consumers will ultimately adopt the disruption, and a host of struggling colleges and universities — the bottom 25 percent of every tier, we predict — will disappear or merge in the next 10 to 15 years. Already traditional universities are showing the strains of a broken business model, reflecting demand and pricing pressures previously unheard-of in higher education. One example: Needing a cash infusion, Thunderbird School of Global Management in July announced a merger with Laureate Education Inc., an online pioneer.
Even the venerable Harvard Business School has ceded ground to online instruction. Before starting school, students are directed to learning modules on the web that cover entry-level accounting concepts. With the basic competencies covered, classes spend more time on higher-order discussion, and more deeply explore real-world applications. Harvard Business School is also developing a series of “pre-M.B.A. and post-M.B.A.” online courses that it plans to have ready by summer. It calls the initiative HBX.
Meanwhile, many universities have jumped on the MOOC bandwagon, creating a hodgepodge of these massive open online courses for public consumption. But for MOOCs to really fulfill their disruptive potential, they must be built into low-cost programs with certification of skills of value to employers. So far, only a few traditional universities have incorporated MOOCs into their curriculum, and only to supplement what they are already doing — like “flipping the classroom,” with lectures watched from home. MITx is trying to add structure to the MOOC free-for-all by rolling out a sequence of computer science foundational courses this fall, and the MOOC provider Coursera has just started the Wharton M.B.A. Foundation Series. But perhaps the most promising experiment is from the Georgia Institute of Technology, which next year will start offering a $6,600 online master’s degree, a sixth the price of its current degree, in partnership with the MOOC platform Udacity and AT&T Georgia Tech is putting its reputation behind a MOOC credential.
The lessons from any number of industries teach us that those that truly innovate — fundamentally transforming the model, instead of just incorporating the technology into established methods of operation — will have the final say. So it’s no wonder that observers of this phenomenon ask if online learning portends the end of the residential collegiate experience — the opportunity for students to live, socialize and learn together.
The experience that so many of us remember fondly — those bridge years from childhood to functioning adult — is already one that only a minority of students enjoys. According to the Census Bureau, just 30 percent of all beginning students live on a college campus. But it’s unlikely that the residential experience will disappear. Counterintuitive as it may seem, online instruction may mean even more students benefit from the collegial spirit, though one that looks quite different from the residential experience of today.
Right now, some students who want to live on campus find it prohibitively expensive; some who would rather commute live too far away to do so. As online learning evolves, students should be able to customize their experience with what they need and can afford. This kind of unbundling has occurred in countless industries.
Consider personal computers. Nascent technologies always underserve their customers. As they mature, the opposite happens: they overserve, with bells and whistles customers are less willing to pay for. In the beginning, computer components were unpredictable and not standardized, and each company had to build every one of its parts. As the ways in which the components fit together became better understood, companies like Dell could quickly and affordably customize a computer. A customer ordering a Dell in the 1990s specified the amount of memory wanted and type of Seagate drive and Intel processor. Dell simply snapped the modules together and shipped out a computer within 48 hours.
The Minerva Project, a start-up headquartered in San Francisco that aims to provide an affordable liberal arts education, offers clues as to how this might unfold in higher education. Minerva anticipates that most of its students will be from outside the United States. To serve them, it will enlist operators to create mini-campuses around the globe where clusters of its students will live and socialize together in residence halls, as well as take online courses and work together on projects.
With this unbundling, many more students should have the ability to create aspects of a residential experience for themselves. Some students might take courses online and then, to develop their skills, attend learning spaces like Dev Bootcamp in Chicago and San Francisco, or one of General Assembly’s eight locations around the world. Others may just value the flexibility and convenience of a total online learning experience.
As concepts and skills are taught more effectively online, it’s unlikely that face-to-face interaction will cease to matter. Instead, students will be able to arrange for such experiences when it suits the job they need to get done. Given the reality that we all have different learning needs at different times, that’s a far more student-centered experience. It may not benefit some colleges but should create more options for all students.