Streaming Copyrighted Films


copyright-white[ The following are the thoughts of ACS staff and should not be interpreted as the legal opinion of Vassar College. ]

Vassar College has the technology that will allow instructors to stream videos for their students’ viewing. But instructors must first determine that doing so does not violate copyright law.

Most film and audio recordings are protected by copyright law, meaning that you can’t make copies and/or distribute copies unless certain exemptions exist. It is incumbent upon you, the instructor, to determine if any particular material can be copied and shared in any particular situation.

Ideal Scenarios
If the work is in the public domain, due to its age or because it was produced with federal funding, or simply because the creator waived copyright, you’re free to copy it. If you’ve gotten explicit permission from the copyright holder or acquired a license to that effect, you’re free to copy it. If, after a reasonable and earnest effort, you’ve been unable to contact the copyright holder to request permission, you may copy it.

TEACH Act
Under the TEACH act, you’re allowed to copy a non-dramatic work (i.e. a documentary)  and post it online for members of your class, as long as it is required for the class, and as long as it is directly related to issues that the class will be discussing during class meetings. The copying and posting should be done yourself, not by an institutional unit. For dramatic works, the TEACH Act only supports posting small portions of the work.

Fair Use Exemptions
Copyright law does allow for making copies of a work without the copyright holder’s permission, if “fair use” will be made of the copy. In determining whether or not a particular situation is fair use, you should take these four factors into consideration:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of copyrighted work. (Creative work is protected by copyright, but facts and ideas are not.);
  3. Amount and substantiality; (The smaller the portion of the work that you use, the more likely the use will be considered fair.);
  4. Effect upon the work’s value. (Copying a work is less fair if it is used as a substitute for a product on the marketplace, depriving the copyright holder of potential income.)

There is no exact formula for determining fair use; you must consider all four factors and base a conclusion on the aggregate of all four. The American Library Association makes available this tool for helping you make a determination about the fairness of a use that you are considering:

Fair Use Evaluator

If you’ve determined that your intended use cannot be strongly defended by the fair use guidelines, or any of the other exemptions, then you should consider other ways of providing your students with access to the work, such as scheduling a screening or leaving a copy of the material on reserve. Many films are also now available inexpensively, for online rental to individuals; Google the film title and the results may show that Amazon Video, YouTube, or iTunes may stream the video to individuals for $2.99 each.

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ACS Collaborates with ART 386 students and faculty on “first-of-its-kind exhibition.”

Amitabha Buddha, Central Tibet, 19th century; pigment on cloth; 38 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.; The Rubin Museum of Art, New York, F1997.6.3.

Amitabha Buddha, Central Tibet, 19th century; pigment on cloth; 38 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.; The Rubin Museum of Art, New York, F1997.6.3.

ART 386,  Embodying Compassion in Buddhist Art: A Curatorial Training Seminar was taught by Karen Lucic during Fall semester, 2014. The purpose of the class was to give students the opportunity to research and curate an exhibition at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. During the summer of 2014, Professor Lucic contacted me to discuss creating a website for her students to use as a repository for their research and eventually this site would become a companion site to the final exhibition in April, 2015. Over the course of the Fall semester, students wrote and compiled content for the site and they worked closely with ACS to design and populate the site.

From ART 386 Syllabus:

Each student will be responsible for the digital content and interpretation of 2-3 works in the exhibition. The instructor will assign the objects to each student, based on her/his experience and preparation. These student contributions will be posted on the exhibition application and/or website. (60% of grade.)

Students will work in teams to produce additional resources for the exhibition: gallery guide, interactive maps, guide to web resources, etc. Students in the team will also give feedback on other team members’ work before submission (20% of grade.)

From ART 386 Assignment Sheet:

The purpose of this assignment is to create digital educational content for the exhibition. Always remember who your audience is: visitors to the exhibition, or online users, who might not know much—or anything—about the topic. What you write, and your choice of materials should be based on your assessment of what will enhance their experience and understanding of the exhibition. Texts should be concise and to the point. Other materials should be short but engaging.

For each work you have been assigned:

1) Write an interpretative text (no more than 100 words) for app/website

2) Select one comparative image (must be open access and high resolution); include full caption of comparative image

3) Write a text (no more than 100 words) explaining the comparison

4) Select an audio file, if possible, that enhances the work (no more than two minutes). Examples: chanting, singing, mantra recitation, etc.

5) Select a video file, if possible, that enhances understanding of the work (no more than 2 minutes). Examples: practitioners circumambulating, prostrating, spinning prayer wheels, making sand mandalas, offering incense, etc.

6) If there are no appropriate audio or video files, choose another comparative image.

7) Compile a list of unfamiliar terms from your texts, with definitions

8) Map your work, at least by country. With some works (Putuoshan, Nachi, etc.), it may be possible to be more precise about locations.

9) Record your written contributions.

While students were working to create the content for the site, ACS student employee Bryce Daniel worked on building a wireframe for the WordPress site. Professor Lucic also collaborated with Duke University students to design an App for the exhibition. The App hosted audio files recored and edited by ACS Consultant, Baynard Bailey. These recordings, narrated by both students and Professor Lucic, include short commentaries describing individual pieces in the exhibit, as well as a pronunciation guide for a glossary of terms.

The Embodying Compassion WordPress site is a comprehensive online exhibit reference guide, containing audio, video, images, interactive hotspot maps, and extensive research, curated by ART 386 students. This project proved to be a excellent example of how students, faculty, and ACS consultants collaborate to produce educational materials for the classroom and public audience.

 

Links:

Embodying Compassion Website

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art  Center: Embodying Compassion is a first-of-its-kind exhibition celebrating one of the most important figures in Buddhist art, April 23-June 28, 2015

Get the App

 

 

 

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Downloading Audio and Video from YouTube

If you want to download the audio or the video from a YouTube video, here’s a great resource for you: http://offliberty.com/

It is very straightforward. Paste the YouTube url into the box, and press the power button. After a shortish wait (can be longer if the video is long) you will be given the choice of downloading the audio as .mp3 and/or the video as .mp4.

The demonstrative part of this video begins at 51 seconds in.


I can imagine any number of situations where this utility would be extremely handy. (It is always good to have a backup plan when you are teaching a class.) However, as the website points out, “Sometimes browsing offline content requires permission from its author or owner. Remember to be sure that you have it.”

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GIS Tools for Teaching and Research

by Baynard Bailey

Anthropology Professor April Beisaw is a very active user of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and other technologies in her research and in her classroom. ACS recently produced a video featuring Professor Beisaw employing mobile mapping devices in the field (devices she was able to purchase via the Frances D. Fergusson Technology Exploration Fund). Using the GPS mobile mapping device makes it easy to collect data that can then be imported/loaded into GIS to make nice maps. The video features April Beisaw using mobile mapping devices for field research.

Professor Beisaw continues to be a dynamic user and an advocate for using various GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technologies in her classroom. Last year she asked that QGIS be added to the base image for public computers on campus. I didn’t know about QGIS until April pointed it out to me. QGIS is a free and open source tool that empowers users to “create, edit, visualize, analyze and publish geospatial information”. It is also cross-platform, so that means you can use it on your Mac, Windows or Linux machine. (As an educator, I really appreciate it when software is free and cross platform!) Not too long ago, April gave a little demo in her office showing me and a couple Economics professors how to import maps into QGIS and how to get started creating your own customized maps. It seemed like a great tool for teaching and research, although there is a bit of a learning curve.

All of these maps were made with free QGIS:



I should also mention that Vassar has a GIS lab (using ArcGIS) in Ely Hall 114 and that GIS is available on the SciVis Lab machines. Vassar GIS users can also arrange a consultation with Stephanie LaRose, who is a GIS specialist that comes to campus a couple days a week. If faculty or students are interested in pursuing any of these technologies or resources and would like help, please contact Academic Computing Services by emailing acs@vassar.edu.

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Flipping the Classroom

arrowsA hot topic in Higher Ed circles is known as “Flipping the Classroom.” The idea is to take the standard, traditional structure of student work in and out of the classroom and flip them— move the lecture out of the classroom and move the “homework” into the classroom. Typically, the lecture is moved out by making a recording of it available to students online.

The idea is for the mostly one-directional transmission of information to happen out of class, so that the in-class time can take maximum advantage of everyone being together.

Of course, this oversimplifies a lot of diverse practices. In reality, a lot of classes— especially humanities and social science classes at small colleges— already place the bulk of their “information transmission” (in the form of reading) outside of class and use class time for discussion. And “homework” may be an inadequate label for what happens in many flipped classrooms. Often, class time is used for what has been called “active learning,” which might include small-group problem-solving or project development.

Benefits
The biggest benefit of flipping is that the most valuable time— the time when everyone in a course is together in one place— is used to its best advantage. If your class time— or even just a portion of it— is used for mostly non-interactive lecturing, why does everyone need to be together?

group_work

[Image from http://serc.carleton.edu/sp/library/sac/]

Another benefit of moving the lecture outside of class is that students can pause a recording, replay it, take careful notes, then continue it. This can be helpful for all students, but especially for those for whom English is not a first language or for students with learning disabilities.

Challenges

[From http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2013/feb/19/]

[From http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2013/feb/19/]

The biggest challenge with flipping is probably the time and effort required by the instructor— both to produce the lecture recordings and to develop meaningful in-class activities. And some students react negatively to the flipped design— either because they prefer to be passive in the classroom or because they feel that their tuition payment entitles them to a “live performance.”

Interested in flipping, but not sure it’s right for you? You don’t have to flip everything. You can try just flipping two or three class sessions or just portions of a class. Your ACS liaison can help you with the recording.

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Prezi

by Steve Taylor

Prezi is a tool for creating presentations, just as Powerpoint and Keynote are, but with some interesting differences. Since its creation in 2009, it’s been seen more and more in conferences.

Metaphors
One way in which Prezi differs from earlier presentation tools is its metaphor. Both Powerpoint and Keynote use the metaphor of a series of individual slides that can be shown in a predetermined sequence, just as 35mm slides would be shown with a carousel projector.

In Prezi’s metaphor, the creator arranges materials on an infinitely large canvas and— as I think of it— uses a video camera to pan and zoom through those materials. That can be done on the fly or the creator can pre-record a series of pans and zooms. The resulting presentation maintains the spatial relationships among the various materials.

It’s On the Web
Although they can be downloaded, “Prezis” are assembled on the web, through your browser, and can be presented via your browser as well. They can be shared with the general public or with a select group of colleagues (or members of a class.) You can even collaborate with others on the creation of your Prezi, which makes it a great vehicle for group projects.

Good and Bad Uses
I’ve seen great uses of Prezi and uses that make no sense at all— unfortunately, quite a few of the latter. If your presentation materials consist of a series of bullet-point lists, quotations, graphics, etc. that have no particular spatial relationship to each other, then there’s no particular reason to lay them out side by side and pan from one to another. But if there are spatial relationships— such as in a complex chart, diagram or map— then Prezi may be the perfect tool.

Here are a few examples of great uses for Prezi. You can pan and zoom on your own, or click the Play button to step through a pre-recorded tour.

“Classification of Organisms,” created by Robert Kappus, will lead you systematically through a complex chart. The chart is circular, and the zoomed-in labels and graphics are aligned along radii of the circle, but that poses no problem, as the pre-recorded tour can not only pan and zoom, but rotate the view as well.
The “Physical Features of Africa Quiz” Prezi, created by Emily Thompson, will give you a tour through the major mountain ranges of Africa. Maps tend to be difficult things to project in a classroom, because the amount of detail means that labels often are too small to see from a distance. Prezi is a great vehicle for showing detailed maps, because of the extreme levels of zooming it can support.
One of my favorite uses of Prezi is to explore different details of a complex work of art. Here’s one that I created, providing a tour through some of the details of the painting Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch. An instructor can present a series of details from a work like this, without losing the context of each detail.
A number of people have realized that Prezi can be a good tool for creating a concept map— a diagram that shows relationships among various concepts. Here’s an example of a Globalization concept map, created by Dennis Carnduff.

Go to the Prezi website to explore other materials that various people have made public, to get more ideas on how it can be used.

Licensing
Prezi offers three levels of licensing:

  • Public, which is free, provides you with 100 MB of storage, but requires you to make your creations public.
  • Enjoy, which costs $59/year, provides 500 MB storage and allows you to make your creations private.
  • Pro, which costs $159/year, provides 2GB storage.

However, students and teachers— anyone with an “edu” email address— can get the Enjoy level of license for free.

Prezi U
The website also provides a gateway to “Prezi U,” a community of educators who share ideas about using Prezi in their teaching.

 

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Taxonomy of Learning Environments

by Steve Taylor
There’s been a great deal of talk in higher-education circles over the past year, about the perils and possibilities of online learning. Often that talk has been in the context of MOOCs or Coursera, but there are many variations of online learning and I often find that two people discussing the topic have fairly different things in mind. Here then is a taxonomy that we can use to get a little closer to understanding each other.

Classroom Learning (also called Face-to-Face Learning)
This type of course serves to anchor one end of the spectrum of remoteness in learning environments. It refers to the traditional environment, in which matriculated students and their instructor meet in real space, on a frequent basis— usually two or three times per week. Readings and homework assignments exist on paper.

Enhanced Classroom Learning
As in traditional classroom learning, matriculated students and their instructor meet in real space on a frequent basis, but some of their course materials— and more significantly their course activities— reside on the web. Students may be expected to contribute to online discussions or blogs, collaborate online with classmates on group projects, or take quizzes or exams online.

Blended Learning (or Hybrid) Courses
In this type of environment, matriculated students conduct a majority of their learning online, but meet face-to-face with their class a few times throughout the term of the course. This is essentially a distance-learning approach, with some added checks, giving instructors an opportunity to confirm that students are on track, and possibly to administer an exam in a proctored setting. Blended learning courses are often offered for adult learners in rural areas, who have to drive a long distance to campus.

Distance Learning
In a distance-learning environment, matriculated students take an entire course— or sometimes an entire degree program— online. Many universities offer distance-learning programs for students who would not be able to accommodate the schedule and location of traditional courses. Many public universities, with their commitment to educating the diverse populations of their states, have had distance learning programs for years, and many large, private universities have such programs as well.

Massive Online Open Course (MOOC)
MOOCs started to become prominent in late 2011 or early 2012. They exist entirely online and, unlike the other learning environments mentioned, they do not require learners to be matriculated in any particular institution. They are generally free of charge, but offer no credits. Because there is generally no instructor interaction involved, an individual MOOC may have thousands or even tens of thousands of students.

A number of universities have endorsed and supported their faculty members who wish to design MOOCs. Their motivations at this point seem to be a desire to “push their brand” into a larger population and, to some extent, a desire to provide a public service to that population.

Traditional, residential colleges like Vassar have been providing enhanced classroom learning experiences for many years, but most are just beginning to consider whether it makes sense for them to offer courses with reduced face-to-face time.

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Moodle Site Revamp in Three Easy Stages: Part 1 of 3

by Baynard Bailey

Moodle sites are living breathing documents that evolve as the semester progresses. When push comes to shove during the semester’s crunch, one thing shoved is often an effective course site design. Thankfully, the semester ends and the mess goes away. But when it comes time to teach that course again, it is a good opportunity to revamp that course site. What to do first? Where to start? I hope to walk readers through some of the major steps and processes that will facilitate an effective instructional re-design of a course site.

Currently at Vassar, we are working with Moodle version 1.9.7 so my instructions are tailored to that, but I hope that some of the broader strategies could be applied to any Learning Management System.

In order to provide the best advice possible, I decided I would actually help revamp a site. I reached out to my friend and colleague Karen Robertson and offered to assist her in redesigning her Moodle site for Women’s Studies 240: Constructing Gender. The site was a good candidate for revamping. Prior to last year, it had been team-taught, so Karen had inherited the site and had yet to really “move in”. Last spring’s site contained a wealth of great materials, but the organization could be altered to improve the presentation. Karen warmly received my idea and so we met last week.

Mini Zen Garden

Good Instructional Design Reduces Cognitive Load

I had the goal to design a neat site with a clean and uncluttered look and feel (and then to share the strategies employed in our ACS blog). Karen and I discussed why it was important to keep an uncluttered appearance to the front page of the Moodle site. She reminded me that our goal was to develop a clear and easy to use site in order to reduce labor and cognitive load.

Step 1: Back up your old materials.

Before we began, we backed up the old site. Additionally, we printed out a copy of the main page so we could have a visual map of the old site. We also printed out lists of readings in the file areas so Karen could go through them on her own.

Step 2: Take stock of your current materials. Delete duplicates and unnecessary items (first pass).

We went through the site week by week, deleting unused assignments and various items that had been used in the past but were unnecessary now. Bear in mind, we didn’t go through all of her readings, we just deleted the “low hanging fruit”.

Step 3: Choose a style of course design that fits your teaching style

This is a big step. Karen and I discussed the pros and cons of topics versus weeks (these are the two most commonly used settings in Moodle). Topics are great in that users can choose to have as many or as few topics as fit their curriculum. Weeks are useful in that the dates are auto-created and visually correspond right away to the semester’s calendar.  Karen pointed out that some topics are much longer than others, and that weeks often bridge topics. She emphasized the importance of making it absolutely clear to students what was expected each class.

On my end, I wanted to avoid Moodle “sprawl”. Every time you add a topic or a week, it adds a space to a course site. Sometimes faculty use the “Topics” setting, and then create a topic for each time the class meets or just about any other reason. To make matters worse, faculty often include extensive directions in labels right there on the front page of the site. The end result is a Moodle site that is about ten feet long, difficult to navigate, and a hindrance for faculty and students alike. To avoid “sprawl”, I showed Karen how we could put in extensive and precise directions as a “web page” resource for each topic. Since the directions were web pages, we could even include links to readings, assignments, activities, or anything else we had in Moodle.

Generally, faculty have an excellent sense of the arc of a course and a strong understanding of the intended learning goals for the semester. How well those concepts are communicated in Moodle is a mixture of teaching style and sometimes fluency with Moodle. I wanted to provide Karen a tool that would allow her to describe the arc of the course in a glance, but also allow flexibility and specificity in terms of readings and class activities as the semester evolved. The end result was a compromise between “topics” and “weeks”; we would use the “topics” setting, but provide specific directions and links for each class meeting.

I thought we were done there, as determining the arc of the course would require some deep thinking, but luckily, Karen had already done the deep thinking and quickly summed up the major topics of the course:

  • Feminism and Pop Culture
  • Secret Life of Commodities
  • Visual Pleasure: Hollywood and the Gaze
  • The Romantic Industrial Complex
  • Postermaking

Our next steps would include organizing the files area to best fit the instructional design. As part of our conversation, we had made a prototype topic for the first few classes.

Topic Prototype

Our Topic "Prototype" Keeps the Main Page Simple

I offered to continue to make placeholders for the rest of course. Karen would review the reading list in preparation for our next meeting. It had been a really productive consult with good feelings on both sides. I looked forward to our next meeting.

To be continued…

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Don’t Assume Too Much: Teaching the ‘Digital Natives’

by Baynard Bailey

In Academic Computing Services, we supervise a number of students that are truly experts in multimedia production in a variety of forms. They continually wow us with their outstanding project work. The students create remarkable multimedia in a variety of forms (video, web sites, sound projects etc.). Based on these wonderful projects, it would be easy for us to believe that all college students possess this remarkable level of digital fluency. Faculty that have also been ‘wowed’ by student digital projects could be lured to into making this assumption as well.

According to the British Journal of Education Technology article, The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence, despite students’ nearly 100% fluency in email, word processing and web surfing, “only a minority of the (students 21%) were engaged in creating their own content and multimedia for the Web, and that a significant proportion of students had lower level skills than might be expected of digital natives.” My experience working with Vassar students confirms this conclusion. Despite being very facile with computers, most students need guidance and support when it gets to the nitty-gritty of multimedia production, whether it is video editing or posting to WordPress.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Alex Levy's ability to create beautiful video is the exception, not the norm.

If an assignment for class requires students to create some kind of media that isn’t a standard part of the course (like a podcast, movie, poster, website or digital story), arrange for mandatory skills training for the students. I’ve witnessed the best results when the workshops are scheduled as part of class time. In a pinch, arrangements can be made for something outside of class, though I’d encourage making it required. My experience is that if something is optional for students, they will opt not to come (and regret it later). In general, the students  have a tendency to overestimate their own digital production abilities, and then find themselves ‘stuck’ later on (e.g. two weeks after the workshop) when support is not available. At the very least, students should be put in contact with someone who can provide one-on-one help. Providing skill training as part of the curriculum will empower all students to have their best chances for success.

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Back Channels in the Classroom

By Matthew Slaats

There has been an ongoing conversation taking place here at Vassar College, about the role of the computer in the classroom. At a time when technology seems ubiquitous, there are still very strong opinions on the pros and cons of students using laptops in class. These range from those focused on the “chalk and talk” method to having highly digital classrooms. To me this is not a discussion of right or wrong, but a question of appropriateness, especially when trying to create an atmosphere of engaged learning.

One place where I feel that digital technology can make a major impact is the large lecture hall. Typically, these spaces are about the transmission of information from faculty to student. The relationship is directional, emanating from the lectern or chalkboard to the eyes and ears of students. At an early stage in a college career, this is a vital transaction, providing a foundation for the years to come. The lecture hall is a standard on every campus and will continue to be for many years. Concerns arise, however, as the computer begins to invade this space, allowing students’ minds to wander to their ever-growing social network. So, what can be done to maintain focus and build on the possibilities of the information being provided?

One idea that I’ve been thinking about for several years is the “back channel.” No, I’m not going to talk about some grimy alleyway to place misbehaving students in. What I would like to consider is a virtual space, organized and developed by students, that allows them to engage in conversation, ask questions, and bring their own perspective to what had been a one-sided conversation. This online space would allow for the class presentation to be viewed alongside other modes of communication. After a cursory review, an instructor might then bring some of these topics into the conversation when meeting with smaller groups. There are also significant possibilities for those students who are just a bit too shy to raise their hands.

With Powerpoint and Adobe Connect developing webcasting capabilities, this idea is already a possibility. A recent New York Times article discussed options and identified initiatives at several universities to create just such a space.

No matter which side of the conversation you fall on, may it be chalkboard or webboard, the important thing is to find modes of teaching that allow students to engage. It is about making the information meaningful, not just for meaning’s sake, but in such a way that the student can make it a part of their own personal experience. Providing modes of response accomplishes this objective.

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