Repeat – Four Questions that Need Answers

Last week as the results of conversations I had or blog posts that I read, there were five ideas that reemerged and reentered my thinking. In this post, I am going to update my reflections from a post I wrote in July 2007 – Four Essential Questions that Need Answers (

Like many, I am intrigued by the promise and potential that integrating Web 2.0 tools provides for all learners, both students and teachers. I know that in many instances, that I leading the charge full bore down that path because I believe that it is imperative that we provide experiences for our students to begin to construct their learning environments using these new collaborative tools.

But as we delve further and further down the path, there are four questions that need to be answered before completely committing to these tools.

I feel that it is essential for institutions to provide clear directions and guidelines for these questions to avoid potential problems down the road.

1. Who owns the data?

I will admit that I do not read the terms and agreements of the new tools that I am experimenting with. If I create something, do I retain some kind of ownership of the idea? Are my ideas protected by Creative Commons or am I giving my intellectual property away?

One of the challenges for us in education is to teach all of our learners, faculty and students, how to use the best tool for them to communicate their message, so that it can rise above the rest of the “white noise” of information that surrounds us and is growing daily. But we also want our learners to be able to retain ownership of their ideas, for that alone may be what defines them. No one should be able to co-opt an idea. Enhance it, synthesize it to create a better idea, but the kernel should remain.

Since 2007,  we have standardized using combination of a closed Moodle server for our course management and Google Applications for Education for our collaboration. We have selected Google Apps since:

Data created and stored within Google Apps is available until you remove it for as long as you maintain an active Google Apps account. If you wish to move data in or out of Google Apps, our tools help you easily import, export, or download information. After you delete an account, we remove the data associated with that account. (

2. Who owns the curriculum?

One of the questions as teachers begin to modify and create new curricula to meet the needs and demands of the students is who owns it? Is it the school or the individual or team that create the curriculum?

In business, the answer used to be crystal clear, it was the business that had ownership of new ideas, especially if an individual left. In higher education, more and more institutions are beginning to define this with the curriculum belonging to the institution. In K-12 institutions, very few institutions have guidelines such as

All work product (including academic content and materials) developed while one is an employee of  this school is the property of the School. Unless specifically notified by the School, teachers are permitted to make copies and to use such academic content and material in their teaching for in this school, but may not otherwise sell, market or give away these materials. All other work product is presumed to belong to the School and should not be copied without the consent of the School.

This may become a bigger issue, especially if the teacher shortage that continues to be forecast in the next seven to ten years occurs and the demands for the excellent teacher who is getting results with the new tools. Also, since 2007, this will become more of an issue as more schools look to create online or blended learning environments which will have a greater reach than their own physical are.

3. Who owns the experience?

If the face to face classroom experience is what differentiates the leaner’s experience, who owns that experience and interaction between lead learner and others? Prestigious universities such as MIT, Stanford, and Cal-Berekleyand others such as Kahn Academy are making the experience, by posting podcasts and videocasts of courses freely available. As schools begin to use the tools and share the classroom experiences, who owns the content, the school, or the creator of the content, the teacher?

Since 2007, this has increased in importance, especially with the growth of the “flipped” or reversed classroom. If teachers are creating this and uploading the videos into a public sphere and institutions need to have conversations and shared agreement before venturing down this road.

4. What will draw students to your physical learning space and environment?

With the whole of knowledge is being made digitally available, what will bring learners to your physical space? To your virtual space? How will your school be defined, by physical location, by time, by content?

Again, since 2007, this question has been blown open by many, including Christenson, Horn, and Johnson in Disrupting Class and others. This leads us to additional questions, such as what is the nature of school?

I do not profess to have any answers, only questions. I do hope that these questions will help define what we mean by School 2.0 or beyond .

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