Making reading inconvenient

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with this statement. In fact, I couldn’t be more opposed to it. With all of the media options available to children, young adults and adults, we need to make reading more convenient, not less. Books and eBooks are competing against social media, online and console gaming, video streaming, video downloading and YouTube, podcasting, radio, television and more.

Time, of course, is limited. Reading and books have to compete for people’s time. So who wants to make reading inconvenient? Maja Thomas, a senior VP at Hachette (USA I assume). In a New York Times article published on Christmas Day entitled “Publishers vs. Libraries: An E-Book Tug of War”, the idea of public libraries lending eBooks to its patrons seems to be totally against (some) publishers’ policies.

Borrowing a printed book from the library imposes an inconvenience upon its patrons. “You have to walk or drive to the library, then walk or drive back to return it,” says Maja Thomas, a senior vice president of the Hachettte Book Group, in charge of its digital division.

To keep their overall revenue from taking a hit from lost sales to individuals, publishers need to reintroduce more inconvenience for the borrower or raise the price for the library purchaser.

To me, this misses the point entirely. In fact, it’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read in a while. If reading is too inconvenient, people will select another, more convenient entertainment option. And what will publishers do then? And where does this leave school libraries?

Another can of worms

Following on from my post on intellectual property last week, a few of the comments made threw up yet another can of worms.

Blogs, particularly, but other types of social media can have an enormous amount of time invested in them. Some people I know pretty much dedicate most of their spare time to blogging and as a result, their blogs are something that if we could value, would be worth a substantial amount of money. Some people have secured jobs as a result of their excellent social media presence. Others have been asked to write books. Some people develop a lucrative speaking career. Some go on to have careers in media. All based on their blogs.

So what happens to the blog if there is a divorce? Is it like other items of value and forms part of the settlement? Here is Australia, a general rule is that assets are divided 50/50 before children are taken into account. If a blog can be valued (and I know there are sites around that place a dollar value on the number of posts, hits, comments, etc) can it and should it form part of a settlement? Could you or should you have to buy out 50% of your partner’s share of your blog? What if you couldn’t afford that? What if they claimed half of the blog was theirs? If they cooked dinner every night while you blogged away and if the blog has such value, they might well have a try.

It’s all a bit of a nightmare.

The comments last week particularly focused on blogs and social media accounts being left in a will; URLs, usernames and passwords being recorded so that access to them could continue after the blogger departed. Again, some blogs could be of significant value and if they were bequeathed, what would be the result? Could a beneficiary sell the blog if they couldn’t/wouldn’t continue the work? What if the blog wasn’t mentioned in a will? Lots of people don’t even have a will, let alone think of adding something intangible like a blog. Would beneficiaries take the matter to court if there was a dispute over the bequeathing of the blog?

As mentioned in last week’s post, the use of social media has outstripped some of the understandings we’ve had as a society for many years. We need to start talking about some of these issues to help develop procedures for such instances.

Intellectual property: a word of warning

Almost two years ago I went to a DEECD inservice, where intellectual property was discussed. A presenter outlined that if we developed work at school, using school time and school resources (such as a computer) then the intellectual property belonged to the school. Initially, for about two seconds, I was shocked. But it all made sense really quickly, that’s why we get paid, to essentially sell our souls.

People who work for, say, Lego or Greenseas Tuna and develop a new line of toys or flavoured tuna don’t actually expect to be paid over and above the work they’re paid to do. They’ve been employed to develop these new lines and by doing so, they are fulfilling their role at work.

So if you work in your own time and use school resources, some of the work belongs to you and some to the school. How on earth would you ever work out who owns what in that instance? I guess you’d have to hope that there is never an issue arising with such work.

Taking the DEECD advice into account, it then follows that if you tweet, Facebook or develop blogs, wikis, etc. in work time using work resources, this actually belongs to your workplace. If you leave your workplace for another sector, you may actually be required to give up some or all of the examples above. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Almost panic, in fact.

What of people who kindly share their work, developed at school, but don’t attribute it to their workplace but just to themselves? What of people who sell such work on Scribd?

So what about if you do work in your own time, with your own resources, but make a wiki, for example, with your school name and/or logo on it? Expect that you might need to fight for it. I know of a friend who did all her work in her own time, using her own resources and no links whatsoever to her workplace and her school STILL tried to take it away from her when she moved on.

Some of these scenarios are nightmarish, so it could be useful to ensure that they are covered in the school or workplace social media policy. As the pace of technology outstrips policy and legislation, it may pay you and your workplace to be ahead of the game to ensure no nasty surprises down the track.

Cool tools for the connected classroom

Australian award winning teacher and all round edtech guru Anne Mirtschin has written a must have guide for teachers: Cool tools for the connected classroom.

Anne guides teachers and students from how and why these tools are used, suggesting activities right through to a number of assessments. Cybersafety and good digital citizenship are often referred to with some excellent guidelines for students to consider and discuss.

With lots of suggestions for tools for:
there is excellent support for using these tools for learning and teaching and how teahcers might go about introducing them to students.

Anne Mirtschin is an experienced and passionate educator who knows her stuff. Cool tools for the connected classroom is an ideal companion for those wanting to push the virtual boundaries in their classroom and school and is equally useful for those new to social media and those who have more experience and confidence. Written in an engaging and accessible style, lesson plans, activity sheets and exemplars will assist teachers in successfully implementing social media in their classrooms. An attractive and thoughtful layout adds to the accessibility of the resource.

It’s nice to see an Australian author and an Australian publisher produce a guide that is relevant to teachers globally.

Cool tools for the connected classroom by Anne Mirtschin is priced at $38.95 and the ISBN No. is 978 1 74200 498 3 and is available from Education Serviced Australia, PO Box 177, Carlton South, 3053. Ph: 61 3 9207 9600. Email:  Website: