Plagiarism Brokering via Instant Messaging

Nate Kushner’s blog reports an amusing story of how he received an instant message from a college student looking to commission a term-paper on Hinduism (via Boing Boing). Kushner ended up writing a “silly” paper, riddled with intentional errors and poor sources, and sold the paper to the student for $75. Additionally, Kushner blogged the entire incident, and sent the story to the College’s president after the paper was assumed to be handed-in.

I am not sure if Kushner’s handling of the incident was particularly honorable, but it certainly makes for an interesting story. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

ICT & Teacher Education: ETC Report

A few weeks back, there was a report released by the Education & Training Committee (Victoria, AU) titled “Step Up, Step In, Step Out” which emerged from the “Inquiry into the Suitability of Pre-Service Teacher Training Courses”. A portion of that report targetted ICT in Teacher Education, and this type of information, of course,is central to my role here at the University of Regina.

Here are summarized points from the report, with my brief interjections.

“ICT linkages between teacher education faculties and school systems
are under-developed.”

I absolutely agree. This is something we’ve noted here in our own iTeacherEd research, and something we need to continue to address.

“ICT resources and applications within teacher education has not kept pace with developments in the schools sector.”

In our case, I think it’s the opposite. The computer hardware in many of the classrooms in our local systems are out-of-date. Our interning students complain that many of things they learned in our technology integration courses cannot be used when they hit the (sometimes) poorly equipped classrooms. Of course, the proprietary lock-in on software is another entire issue, and schools are not quick to upgrade software when each new version costs money and takes time and resources to implement.

“linkages between education faculties and developers of ICT products
are not strong enough.”

Yes! Not strong enough, or in many cases, non-existent. It would be interesting to see (open source) ICT developed in-house in collaboration with CS students (perhaps) and Education students. Hmmmmm.

“experiences of pre-service teachers in ICT instruction during pre-service teacher education vary considerably in breadth and quality.”

Agreed, strongly. And it’s something we are certainly trying to address through elective and mandatory content, but more so, through the professional development of education faculty members in ICT. Still, my belief is that once we have professors modelling appropriate uses of ICT in ALL classes, we will have won a major battle.

The Australian report can be downloaded here.

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Subliminal Fun!

Good … something a little less depressing.

I remember as a kid scratching the heck out of my records, looking for some sort of backwards message. And I remember spinning “Another One Bites the Dust” (Queen) backwards and listening to this message that was apparently telling me “it’s fun to smoke marijuana”. I can’t remember who told me that’s what it said (likely a childhood friend) … but I always thought, if its suggested to you, you could “hear” just about anything.

Well … now you TOO can decide for yourself as Jeff Milner has posted some of the most popular sections of infamous “backwards” recordings on his blog. He includes everything from “Stairway to Heaven”, to “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. Worth a laugh, at the least.

I think that the other one I would like to see included was the intentional backwards message that Bob & Doug McKenzie (wow, they have their own publication) included on the Great White North Album. Ahhhh … I miss those hosers.

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School Killer’s Animated Terror

Well, I hate to write about utterly depressing topics, but this is really interesting to me. To go along with my recent post on “hate sites and a recent tragedy“, it seems that Jeff Weise, the 16-year-old boy who is responsible for a high-school massacre, had recently produced an extremely violent, animated video.

The Smoking Gun
“The Minnesota teenager responsible for Monday’s high school shooting spree last year created a violent, blood-soaked video that included an animated character shooting four people and blowing up a police car before committing suicide….”

Wow … scary insight into a killer’s mind.

You can view the video here.

Hate Sites and a Recent Tragedy

I’ve previously done presentations on the rise and influence of hate sites on the Internet, and certainly, this recent CNN story caught my attention.

Of course, the story tracks the recent tragedy in Red Lake, Minnesota where 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed 9 people before killing himself. What I find interesting is the shooter’s alleged fascination with Naziism, and his participation on hate-based sites.

The Libertarian National Socialist Green Party, owner of Nazi dot org (which I would rather not link to), issued a statement that Jeff Weise had posted to their site.

Here is one of his posts from March 2004:

“I stumbled across the site in my study of the Third Reich as well as Nazism … I guess I’ve always carried a natural admiration for Hitler and his ideals, and his courage to take on larger nations.”

While I am sure there were many factors contributing to this massacre, hate sites can be a powerful influence on young, impressionable minds, and should not be discounted in tragic events such as this.

What can you do to promote open access?

So in my previous post, I find myself wondering how, as a relatively new academic, I can take Lessig’s Open Access pledge without harming or delaying my career growth.

So I was very happy to receive an email message from Peter Suber who supplied me with a list of things I can do to promote open access as a faculty member. This is just what I needed, and I am very happy to pass it on. Thanks Peter!

Lessig’s Open Access Pledge

I believe in open access publication … this is one of my strongest convictions. I hadn’t realized how strongly I felt about this until I moved deep into my research of the open source movement.

Lawrence Lessig is certainly one of the leaders in the push for open content, and the Creative Commons is a wonderful, living statement to the conviction of others in transforming the social and legal understanding of copyright/copyleft.

I was very interested in reading Lessig’s recent post where he declares his “open access pledge”.

“I will not agree to publish in any academic journal that does not permit me the freedoms of at least a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.”

So I wonder … and struggle …. Here I am at the beginning of my academic career, in a world where the old adage “publish or perish” still stands strong. Can I, in my position, possibly resound Lessig’s pledge? While my heart and mind will fight for this, what sacrifices will I have to make in the short term? Or, alternately, will I be able to build my career through the opposition of this seeming inevitability? It’s too soon to tell … one thing at a time … but what a ride it will be.

People Information Summarized at

New Scientist reports “a new search engine focused on people”. takes publicly available information on individuals from various sites and attempts to weave it into detailed summaries. I searched my own name, and the information was accurate, but certainly not nearly comprehensive. However, I also unveiled a rich conspiracy as I found out that George W. Bush is not only the President of the United States, but is ALSO currently employed as the British Prime Minister.

I guess that helps to explain Iraq.

Creative Commons and Copyright Reform

There is an interesting article in the Washington Post titled “Creative Commons is Rewriting Rules of Copyright“. While most of the content shouldn’t be anything new to the majority of readers, if it IS new, it’s an accessible piece that gives a decent overview of the work of the Creative Commons. If you don’t have an account for the Washington Post, I suggest using BugMeNot to get around the compulsory web registration.

Pay note the following passages:
“… art has always been about stealing, recycling and mixing: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin were said to borrow from each other’s brushwork. The 1990s hit “Clueless” with Alicia Silverstone was a modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma.'”

“Technology has given the world an unprecedented ability to digitize works, copy them, take them apart and put them back together again. But Lessig said he worries that the extension of copyright laws is keeping many works out of the public domain, hampering creativity.”

Lessig‘s goal with Creative Commons was to create a body of digital work, which he calls “artifacts of culture,” for the public domain, accessible to all.”

Like I said, not much new here. But for those that are just getting to know the Creative Commons (like many of my ECMP students), these are important, basic ideas.