Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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What does FREE mean to you?
By Barbara Bray    November 7, 2008 -- 08:28 AM

When you first see the word FREE about a product, you get excited. right? Free - for me? Yeah! Of course, youíre going to jump at the chance of getting something for FREE.

What does that mean to you? Do you value it if it is FREE? Letís take a look at what that might mean now in these scary economic times.

So you joined Google Groups, use Google Docs, uploaded a video to Google Videos, made a Google Site with Pages. Those are FREE and cool. I agree. Have you read the Terms of Use? Here's an excerpt from Google's Terms.

11. Content licence from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this licence shall permit Google to take these actions.

If you are okay about allowing others to adapt or modify your work, then use all of the Google tools. If you are okay about having Google Ads on the pages you work on, then thatís okay. Go ahead and work in this environment. However, be prepared for more ads and sometimes ads that donít meet your criteria. I put up ads on my public library and there was an ad for a state proposition I didnít agree with. It looked like I sponsored it. It took me several hours to figure out how to filter out that ad.

Okay - letís look at some of the Web 2.0 tools. I really like all of these tools and created a way to integrate them into eCoach which many consider a Web 2.0 tool also. I created a website showcasing specific Web 2.0 tools that will help educators with their work. Go to Web 2.0+ to check it out. The economic environment is shaky for some of these tools that I listed so will be adding and updating regularly.

Some that are FREE now will have to charge in the future. Or may be free for limited access and charging a fee for all of the features. The only issue is that did you budget for an annual fee? Will you be able to access your work if you donít pay for the annual subscription?

Another concern is will these FREE tools be around in a year? If you put lots of work into a specific tool, will you lose everything you put up? Think about valuing you. What is your time worth?

Letís say you are into Open Source and put Moodle on your server. Whoís managing it? What is their time worth? How much do you pay them? What is the total cost of ownership for these kinds of tools? Are they really FREE?

I know I may upset some of my friends who are managing these servers. But the power of Web 2.0 and Open Source is to let go and let the users take over. If someone is managing the server, they also are acting like a gatekeeper in some capacity. They may or may not allow certain actions by the user. Is this happening to you? Read Stumbling Blocks from Edutopia.

What is working out there? Facebook is one. The user has complete control - which is scary because some of the materials the users upload are not allowed in schools. I created eCoach with the idea of something like Facebook for educators with the support of local coaches who support their community members. Toughest part about this is there is a cost in training the coaches. This is important but, for some reason, professional development is the first to lose funding.

Why are coaches or mentors a crucial part of the community?

Letís be real. I talk to professional developers all over who say changing teaching practice is really difficult. Change is difficult. Learning to collaborate doesnít happen overnight. Having someone available on-site and online to hold that teacherís hand is crucial.

Whatever you ask your teachers to do, someone will resist. Actually more will resist than those that jump in. Coaching is crucial. I ask you to look at the tools you show your teachers and be careful of not overwhelming them without any support. If you really like a tool that is FREE or low cost, donate to them. They will not stay around if thereís no more money.

I created a Wordle ( with the text. Iím going to make a tip on Wordle.

Categories: "My Ecoach" "Web2.0" "Community" "Free" "Wordle"

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Comments: Add New Comments
By Janet Bianchini      January 13, 2009 -- 11:20 AM
Hi Barbara

We've just become friends on the ningdigiprofiles workshop so I thought I'd just check out your blog. Wow, it's very impressive! Your Word Cloud is great. I like using Wordle, too.

The extracts above re Google privacy and content licence are pretty scary. Do we really understand what we have let ourselves into by sharing so much stuff? My theory is that it seems to be ok for millions of people. Surely, we can't all be wrong in allowing Google so much access to our work? It's a really good topic of discussion.

Catch up with you later on ning.
Bye for now

Reply to Janet Bianchini


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