I teach English as a second language to pre-college adults in the U.S. and I'm interested in the idea of using essays from previous students as examples in a writing class. At a previous institution we used a permission form that students signed giving the university the right to reproduce / modify written work, in part or whole, and with identifying information removed.
However, as an adjunct who will likely work at multiple schools, I would like to have that permission myself as well.
What would be the legalities to consider doing such a thing?
If I have students' written permission, should I still have permission from the institution to do this?
Will a signed statement (in English), given by someone who's understanding of English is demonstrably weak, function the same as any other?
Is there a precedent for instructors to gain this permission? As opposed to the institution as a whole.
Would a blanket statement applying to all assignments work, or should it be for each individual assignment?
Edited to clarify: I'm interested in both positive and negative examples. Perhaps more so negative ones since the errors produced by international student populations would be more authentic and difficult for me, a native speaker, to reproduce.
I also have no intention of publishing them outside of classroom materials. Anonymous Mathematician made an excellent point that withdrawal of permission would be impossible if I did this. The only foreseeable publishing I can imagine would be as a course pack or teachers guide given to the institution or other teachers, but I would still want to ask for additional permissions to do this.
asked Dec 28 '14 at 16:10
The students' are only in the ESL classes based on a low test score in English language skills. While it doesn't prove that they would not understand the forms they sign, it could be a tricky part. Then again, they sign all sorts of documents with just about any college or university, so I'm not sure. I would probably want to make sure I state that translations could be made available if the English form is not clear. – William Denny Dec 28 '14 at 17:32
I ask students individually by e-mail if I can use their essays as examples for future classes. Almost always they are thrilled and happy. Then again, I only ask people who serve as positive examples. But I think if you explained to an ESL student that they have the bones of a good essay and that you would like to use it as a sample essay for future students to work on to help improve, I think they would be similarly pleased.
This would be more problematic if I wanted to use the examples in a textbook, used negative examples, or if I posted essays publicly on the internet. Then I might want a stronger version of a copyright waiver, such as what your previous school uses.
answered Dec 28 '14 at 16:36
I think it's all in the phrasing of how you ask them. If you've used student essays previously and have kept the tone positive and constructive even when dealing with a non-perfect one, then students will have faith that you won't be using their essay to make fun of them. I'd also stick to ones that are relatively impersonal (i.e. that don't discuss their personal/ethnic/religious background). Rather than a blanket request, I'd stick with targetted ones. – RoboKaren Dec 28 '14 at 20:16
I'm not a lawyer and can't address the legalities, especially for students with a weak grasp of English. I'd imagine it would be best to write a clear, straightforward permission form that gives some explicit examples of what you have in mind in addition to an overall statement. I'd recommend the following principles as well:
Students should be assured that they don't need to agree to this and can withdraw their consent at any time in the future by getting in touch with you. (The main drawback I see to this is that you wouldn't be able to use their work in published teaching materials, since that wouldn't be compatible with withdrawing consent in the future. However, if you have in mind large-scale public distribution or anything that hints of profit, you should really make this explicit anyway.)
To avoid the appearance of coercion, it's best not to ask the students until after the course is over. That way, they won't worry that their decision could affect their grade.
I'd mention this in advance to your department chair in e-mail, not necessarily to ask permission but just to make sure he/she is aware of it. That way you'll find out quickly if the chair considers it a problem, and you'll have the e-mail as documentation if you run into any difficulties later. (Adjunct positions can be precarious enough that it's not worth taking unnecessary risks.)
If you request permission for a small number of carefully chosen essays, you can explain to the authors why each one would be a useful teaching tool. That would likely get a better response than just asking for blanket permission, although it would be more work and cut down on your flexibility.
A technical but not legal suggestion (as I'm not a lawyer). You can choose a license from Creative Commons and ask your students to release their work in such a license.
You would have though to release your material with the same license (and I see as a feature, not a bug, but that is a personal opinion): often this is seen as a limitation if you want to publish something, but as long as you don't want to incorporate these excerpts outside classroom materials it's not your problem.
answered Jan 2 '15 at 14:44
This is asking students to grant an incredibly permissive license, far more so than is required for your purposes, so I'd strongly recommend against this unless you discuss the implications with them in detail. There's no way I would have agreed to this as a student. For example, a Creative Commons license would allow anyone to repost the essay on their website to make fun of it or humiliate the author. (Of course the chances of this happening are slim, but I don't think it's a good idea to ask ESL students to authorize anyone to do almost anything with their essay.) – Anonymous Mathematician Jan 2 '15 at 16:16
I think that you are right (theoretically), but the same could happen even with a full copyright. From a practical point of view, everyone with access to a text can copy it on the internet and do what they want (and this happens all the time). I'm assuming the teacher would not state the identity of authors, and I'm assuming a general "good faith environment". Copyright does not protect from bad faith or trolls. CC are at least translated in different languages, and this could be helpful. – Aubrey Jan 2 '15 at 16:23
Secondly, I would definitely encourage students to request that their name be left out; which should remove most of the concern that Anonymous Mathematician brought up. Another one: would this prevent them from using their own work outside of the CC license in the future? Say, if they wanted to publish it or sell it for some reason? – William Denny Jan 2 '15 at 19:40
Ctrl, Alt, Delete Cyber-School
Through the advancement of electronics and the ease of communication, the Internet has found many useful purposes. But is Cyber-Schooling actually an improvement from regular school education? Although the synonymous clicking and melodious button taps of a classroom may sound enticing, should Cyber education become the future choice of all learning? I believe it should not be the future "norm" of schooling because it will not improve education just by the use of computers and easy unlimited access to the Internet. Although many people believe that cyber-education would provide the best education, many also feel that cyber-education should not be the only option for educating students, because it isolates the students, does not allow everyone involved to express their opinions, and removes the vital student-teacher relationship.
In addition, Cyber-education isolates students by its separate learning techniques that will divide the online students from the "offline" students in the workforce. George Landow in his essay, "Twenty Minutes into the future, or How Are We Moving beyond the Book "states, “These new digital information technologies involve fundamental changes in the way we read and write, and these radical differences, in turn, derive from a single fact, the physical to the virtual” (219). George compares how there will be different methods of learning that will start with the use of Cyber Schools.The teachers in Cyber Schools will have to create new methods for the students involved in Cyber-Education. Because of these differences in techniques a distinct separation will occur among the students in their future. The difference may cause corporations and certain job to create separate work for the type of learning techniques each student was taught.
Another reason why this style shouldn't be the only schooling is because cyber-education eliminates the opinions of teachers, students, parents, and voters by putting technology as the top priority. In Clifford Stoll’s strongly opinionated essay, Cyber-school he explains how to eliminate the struggles of dealing with different opinions of people, “Sound like a tough call? Naw- it’s easy to solve all these problems, placate the tax payers, and get re-elected. High technology!” He makes claims that persuade people to want cyber-education because he writes his essay to sound like technology will solve every problem. Allowing the opinions and input of different people to be shared can bring lots of positive effects to a school system, business, or even an election. By considering the various opinions of others, you can find faults that you have never noticed before and hear new ideas that could greatly improve your school or business. By making technology the receiver of opinions, you are eliminating the valuable information that could improve and fix the assessed problems.
Likewise, Cyber-education removes the vital student-teacher relationship because the entire class is performed on the internet. Mark Edmundson, a professor of English at the University of Virginia, writes in his op-ed column in the NY Times about this relationship entitled, "The Trouble with Online Education". He states, “Online education is a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It tends to be a monologue and not a real dialogue. The Internet teacher, even one who responds to students via e-mail, can never have the immediacy of contact that the teacher on the scene can, with his sensitivity to unspoken moods and enthusiasms. This is particularly true of online courses for which the lectures are already filmed and in the can. It doesn't matter who is sitting out there on the Internet watching; the course is what it is.”. Mark creates a vivid image of cyber education and why it is better that classroom learning. In Scott Newstok’s article on this classroom relationship entitled, "A Plea For Close Learning". he writes his opinion: “To state the obvious: there’s a personal, human element to liberal education, what John Henry Newman once called “the living voice, the breathing form, the expressive countenance.” (2001, 14). “He then continues, “I propose that we begin calling it close learning, a term that evokes the laborious, time-consuming, and costly but irreplaceable proximity between teacher and student. Close learning exposes the stark deficiencies of mass distance learning, such as MOOCs, and its haste to reduce dynamism, responsiveness, presence.” (pg. 1-2). Scott shares his idea of close-learning and why it is vital to a student's education. Whether they are college, elementary, or middle-school level – online courses will always lack contact between the student and teacher. I believe that this has a negative effect on the student because it is harder to learn and understand without the vital teacher-student relationship.
In contrast, Cyber-education creates new methods of learning that can help particular students exceed in school where others may not. Although cyber-education creates a divide between “offline students” and online students, it does create an opportunity for students who exceed well with online-style classes to do so. Stoll explains some positive effects for cyber-school in his essay, “Every student will work at his or her pace. … It’s the ultimate in individualized, child-centered instruction.” Stoll explains that cyber-education allows students to work “at their own pace”. But cyber-education is always changing and pace will not be a consistent positive action. Many students could possibly take it for granted and procrastinate. Not to mention, not every student is able to learn without a structured schedule with teachers and administrators supervising.
In opposition, A possible positive outcome of cyber schooling is that Cyber-education could save class-time because teachers are irrelevant and make education inefficient. This opinion was based off of the viewpoints of Stoll in his essay. He explains that there is no need for teachers at “Cyber-School” because “when there is a fun, multimedia system at each student’s fingertips. Should students have a question, they can turn to the latest on-line encyclopedia, enter an electronic chat room, or send e-mail to a professional educator.” Stoll ridicules the opportunity a student has to ask questions in a normal classroom environment by saying it wastes time. He later explains that having a teacher gives an opportunity to ask off-task questions that distract more students and waste class time. Although it is easy to see how working online can save time in that aspect, it has to be remembered that allowing students to directly ask an instructor a question can build the teacher-student relationship as well as allow the student to understand the material to its maximum potential. In a journal article from the autumn of 1998 issue of the City Journal entitled "Teens: Ten Going on Sixteen". Kay S. Hymowitz writes about a recent dilemma in school that has turned tweens into teenagers too quickly. In her journal, she talks about the correlation between this dilemma and the effects of it. This goes from premature sex to drug use and even to eating disorders in America’s middle schools. Kay rhetorically asks, “What change in our social ecology has led to the emergence of tweens?” By the use of online schools that keep the students away from each other the potential of this dilemma would drop and cyber-school could benefit our children.
Also, another opinion created by most people and explained by Stoll is that Cyber-education keeps people from having to make hard decisions and saves them time and headache because it allows technology to take-care of all the school problems. “Meanwhile, the computers will keep score, like pinball machines. They’ll send e-mails to parents and administrators…scores that will become part of each kid’s permanent record. … And if a student gets confused or falls behind, automated help will be just a mouse-click away.” Stoll proudly writes what it would be like if online education was strictly the only method of learning used. Programming computers and other technology to do the jobs of accountants, assistants, librarians, etc. at school is a simple-sounding way to take care of the typical school problems and keep the migraines away. But keeping up with the latest software and the toughest hacker-defense or security wall is expensive. If all cyber- schools went through this, school would only be allowed to the most affluent. Education has to be available to all people. Making technology solve the school’s problems can easily turn into a disaster that can remove education from lots of people.
In conclusion, there are many proved negative outcomes and effects of Cyber-Education that are in effect currently and can easily be viewed. Cyber-education should not be the only education because it isolates the students in the future, eliminates the opinions of the people, and removes the vital student-teacher relationship. Although there are a few choice circumstances that may positively help a student in their educative career due to Cyber-Schooling, not all circumstances are. Cyber-school is not an improvement from regular school. Normal, “offline” or “Close” learning needs to remain dominant in the school system and Cyber-education should move no further.
Hymowitz, Kay S. “Teens: Ten Going on Sixteen”(1998) The Longman Writer 8th Ed. Pearson,2011. 212-216. Print.
Stoll, Clifford. "High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian." Cyberschool (1999): n. Print.
Newstok, Scott L. "A Plea for "Close Learning"" EBSCO Industries, Inc. EBSCO, n.d. Web. Feb.-Mar. 2014.
Edmundson, Mark. "The Trouble With Online Education." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, July-Aug. 2012. Web. Feb.-Mar. 2014.
Landow, George. “Twenty Minutes Into The Future, or How are We Moving Beyond The Book”. Writing Material: Readings From Plato to The Digital Age. New York: Longman, 2003.
Knowledge flows from a learned to a learner. A school or college is an educational institute where teachers are the learned and students are the learners. Although, teaching and learning is a two way process between a teacher and a student, it is the teacher with whom lies the responsibility of imparting education.
Students are naive and ignorant about the ways and means of gaining knowledge. There are endless topics and subjects completely new to them. It is not possible for them to choose and decide what they need to study. Only the one, who are thorough with these topics, can decide how to make them easy and interesting for the students at different levels. They are better at selecting or rejecting a certain portion of the topics, depending on its relevance and importance.
For instance, in lower classes the learning of formulae in mathematics and science and rules of grammar in languages may not be comprehended well by students. It is not easy to explain to them the reasons for those rules, at such an early age. Even derivation of mathematical formulae for young children will prove to be a waste of effort. To ease the burden of students, the curriculum for different levels is framed by trained professionals. The difficulty level, the selection of topics, division of lessons along with a link with previous and next standards is looked after by the experts who frame the curriculum. Students who do not even have complete knowledge of any topic are not at all in a position to make a decision.
Instead of being skeptic about the topics being taught, they should welcome all the new things and clear their doubts wherever necessary. There are times when the queries of the students cannot be answered due to time constraints or their inability to understand the real details. It is quite natural that due to an overly inquisitive and restless mind, some students come up with endless doubts and seek detailed explanation thereby distracting the whole class from the topic being discussed. Manipulating or ignoring them gently will be beneficial in enhancing the concentration on the topic and will also help in completing the syllabus on time. If for the sake of satisfying the students, teachers do not draw a limit, then no topic will ever be completed and understood fully. Therefore, along with the framed curriculum, it is the responsibility of the experienced lot (teachers) to proceed in the interest of the ignorant students.
Moreover, encouraging a skeptic attitude in students would not only develop a negative attitude in them, but also build arrogance and indiscipline in them. It may also promote a rebellious nature on the slightest provocation due to their limited knowledge and emotional behavior. This will harm studies and put teachers in an awkward position.
Although, at much higher levels of education, students may be given a right to question over some issues, it cannot be generalized. Thus, students as learners should have faith in the system and regard their teachers, as they have not earned the right to question the merits of either of them.
Arguments on W .C. Smith 1
Wilfred Cantell Smith a much respected Canadian religion academic died in 2000 but as other great thinkers like him his works continue to live after his passing
Smith has dealt extensively with the matter of faith ' and how we as people interpret or understand it on a daily basis. Faith according to Smith is the essence of humanity and it is for this reason that much of his work has delved largely on this matter
Before we go any further it is important to appreciate that
Smith is a world class scholar who spent sometime teaching a Christian mission college in the Indian subcontinent before and after it was divided to create Pakistan. While there he developed an appreciation for the Muslim faith and on his return to Canada he helped set up the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University. He later on moved to Harvard where he became the Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions Never one to be held down by conventions. his biggest aim was to move away from the Christian theology he had long dealt with. as a student and teacher. to a much broader way in which a better understanding of religion can be attained. Smith once described his work as. the search for conceptual clarification of man 's relation to transcendence (Jagger. 2004
Religion obviously has two terms that go hand in hand. belief ' and faith. as far as many people are concerned. Smith felt that faith is not only feature that defines religious life (Smith. 1998 ) but more what fully defines the human life. Faith according to Smith is different from belief. Not the matter that in Christianity the two terms represent the same quality and have therefore been used interchangeably as was used in the New Testament to in the translation of the word pistis (Smith 1997
Arguments on W .C. Smith 2
Smith 's beef. if you will. with belief ' today is that belief seemed to have acquired different meanings in English over time and it has brought about much confusion
In Believing. An Historical Perspective. Smith asserts that faith ' is concerned with persons and on the other hand belief ' refers to propositions (Smith ,1997. This led to his observation that belief has come to simply mean a lack of certainty. i .e. believing in something that may not have factual truths
Belief ' is an opinion or conviction (Random House Dictionary. 1996 This definition is one that made Smith discount belief as something that can influence religion. Smith has dealt further with this matter in another one of his works. Faith and Belief
He felt that the changes that have occurred the terms faith ' and belief ' are his reasons for the position he holds that religion is not about belief. About religion itself. Smith argues that the terms faith ' and cumulative tradition ' are more apt terms for it
Smith points out that faith. though also very diverse. does not attract.
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Quindlen was criticizing the application of standardized testing (perhaps in the wake of the controversial "No Child Left Behind" act which some say placed too much emphasis on standardized testing). Quindlen's argument is that if standardized testing is to be used, it should at least be interesting and more importantly, such testing should not edit works of literature to the point at which significant meaning is lost. Actually, she is arguing that literature should not be edited at all.
Quindlen doesn't think children are too feeble and weak to read controversial issues because they are exposed to such issues through the media and Internet every day. In fact, by sanitizing (editing out anything remotely controversial) literature, the test will not challenge the student.
Those who design the test claim that anything controversial might distract the student and affect his/her performance. Quindlen's response is that the kids can handle it and more to the point, if all remotely controversial issues are edited out, what is left can hardly been interesting or engaging. Also, to edit in this way is historically irresponsible. Quindlen notes that in Isaac Singer's excerpt about being a young Jew in prewar (World War II) Poland, all references to Jews and Poles were taken out.
Quindlen notes that there are other consequences of this editing. One is that the students will determine from this that those designing the test have no faith in their (the students') ability to handle differing perspectives and challenging intellectual material. Quindlen argues that this is sending the message to children that "we don't think you're smart enough."
But what do the kids learn from this? That the written word doesn't really matter much, that it can be weakened at will. That no one trusts a student to understand that variations in opinion and background are both objectively interesting and intellectually challenging.
This also tells the student that there is no power to the written word (as literature, laws, etc.) if we can simply edit things that don't appeal to a particular way of thinking. So, clearly Quindlen is against this manipulation of literature, in these tests and in general, for a number of reasons, all logical. This kind of editing also sets a dangerous precedent where those in power of educating children have the ability to subject students to a particular worldview that they only assume is the best for everyone. This is quite audacious and ignores one of the hallmarks of American culture: diversity.
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