Happy Steve

Innovation and Learning

Start with clarity of intent.

Now build it out with an evocative vision. Improvise progress by tinkering: with lots of trial and lots of error. The not knowing is the best bit: the mysteries the surprises, and from time to time the windfalls! 

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Sample Parental Letter for Mobile Blogging

Dear Parent/Guardian,


I am writing to let you know about an exciting project
involving your son/daughter.


The project will be run with in
collaboration with


The project is entitled ‘


Poetry Blogging’ and will involve students posting a ‘blog’ (a ‘blog’ is simply
a journal entry done on computer) once a week related to their studies of
poetry by William Wordsworth. Student ‘blogs’ will appear online and will be
accessible freely over the Internet.


Students will be challenged to make their blogs of such
quality that the final blog website, where all the blogs will be found, might
gain a good reputation amongst other teachers and students around the world who
may also be studying Wordsworth in the future.


This project should be highly beneficial to the students’
learning, since their class work will be feeding into a larger, public, arena.


Although the students will be able to create their blogs
from any computer connected to the Internet, they will also be able to publish
directly from a mobile phone. This creates some unique possibilities. With a
mobile phone, students will be able to record audio directly to the Internet,
by dialling a number and speaking, and take images or videos and send them
directly to their online blog using email. Now, Wordsworth’s poetry is
concerned with truth and beauty in nature, and he perceives human industry and
city living to have an alienation effect on our connection with nature.
Students will be able to post blogs about nature, while sitting in a valley or
on the beach, or on a busy polluted road. This a way of them taking their
learning process on the road, so to speak, which ought to make their understanding
less artificial than if relying solely on discussion inside a physical


To my mind, three issues need to be considered and managed
in regards to this project.


Issue # 1 The students’
privacy is at stake, since the Internet is open to anyone in the world.


Management: Students will
be entirely anonymous and will be strictly instructed not post personally
identifiable information, or images or videos of themselves. Students’ first
names will not even be used. Students will be very carefully trained over what
they can and can’t post. Mrs Temlett and myself will be able to monitor the
blogs to enforce this, and if necessary, delete blogs.


Issue #2 Copyright on
material created by students cannot be enforced, since online material can
easily be copied and copyright undermined, especially when the material is
posted to the Internet anonymously, as is the case in this project. The service
we will use to publish from the mobile phones is www.utterz.com. You can read their terms and
conditions here: http://www.utterz.com/terms.php.


Of particular interest is this:
“You own all content that you post on Utterz, and by posting any content, you
grant Utterz the perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, sublicensable right to
display that content in any form on any Utterz Service (whether by phone or
over the internet) or anywhere else, without limitation. You also agree that
you will only use any Content you view at Utterz for your own personal,
non-commercial use.”


In other words, utterz.com
reserves the right to republish the blogs in multiple forms.


Management: In this
project, students will not be publishing any material that is likely to be of any
commercial worth! Nevertheless, students and parents need to give permission to
participate in the project, knowing that, practically speaking, when material
is posted freely to the Internet, the author’s copyright (the student’s
copyright) is unlikely to be enforceable, and it is possible the blogs could be
reproduced. A good rule of them with the Internet in general is, “if you
publish it online, you immediately relinquish control of it”.


I’ll make a final comment that if
the blogs are reproduced and republished at other websites, it will be a great
compliment to the quality of the students’ work. If, for instance, some of
their text shows up in Wikipedia, I would not, for one, be distressed. However,
being anonymous, students could not claim public credit.



Issue #3 The
project will require students have access to certain technologies.


Management: Students will
need at least access to a computer with an Internet connection,
and ideally have regular access to a mobile phone, even if this
is not their mobile phone. They will need to bring this phone into school for
one nominated lesson to be set up. If students record audio from their mobile
phone, they’ll be charged for a local landline call. They could blog from their
home phone for the cost of a local call instead, but this defeats the purpose.

Students will be posting one or
two blogs a week for about 6 weeks. So, their mobile phone costs could add up
to the cost of 12 local calls over the duration of the project, which does not
seem to me to be excessive.


To send images and video directly
“on the spot” from their mobiles they’ll need to have email access from their
mobile phone. Now, I suspect many students will not have this feature, but
there is an easy alternative: students can send images or video from home by
transferring them from their mobile phone to their home computer.


Note that this project is experimental. It is the first
project of its kind to be run at the school, and will undoubtedly be a learning
experience for all. As such I am particularly keen to hear any comments or
concerns you have.


Please feel free to contact me on or via
email at \to discuss further or ask questions.


If you are happy for your son/daughter’s involvement in this
project to proceed, please sign and return the attached permission slip.