Exploring Digital Culture

Entries by a MOOC participant

Moving Away from a Cut & Paste Culture


Image Courtesy of: explore.noodle.org (A discovery engine for meaningful knowledge, fueled by cross-disciplinary curiosity.)

Just started Dave Cormier’s Rhizomataic Learning:  The Community is the Curriculum on the P2PU platform with 300 like minded individuals, many of whom I’ve met in the MOOCisphere in the past year — EDCMOOC, ds106, CICMOOC, and of course, the Fraingers.  In the introduction to the course, Dave has asked us to imagine we are going to camp for 6 weeks. Love the metaphor.  Many people will see what’s available at the cafeteria, but I want to go directly to the arts & crafts tent and start making stuff.  I don’t want to do the cookie cutter ceramic vase or the felt animals.  I want to make stuff with other campers.  Looking forward to the ride.

arts and crafts

Image Courtesy of Camp Thunderbird, Community Service Day http://www.adu.edu/about/news/2010/09/09/communityserviceday

So it seems fitting that the Week 1 Challenge revolves around cheating.  We are encouraged to use cheating as a weapon. “How can you use the idea of cheating as a tool to take apart the structures that you work in? What does it say about learning? About power? About how you see teaching?”

This made me think about how our ideas of cheating (elevated to a lofty plagiarism in our institutions as a punishable offense) have come to be transformed to the “Remix” in an Open Online Learning Environment.  Remix is blatant and open cheating, stealing and plagiarism — while acknowledging the original source but improving and embellishing upon the original so that is becomes something new and more importantly has meaning for the remixer — and demonstrates new learning.

I remember my first remix “We are All Artists,” inspired by Tim Owens.  The best part about this presentation was that it was the first time I used all my own photos.  For me, the beauty of the remix was in my own learning.  It is this feeling of accomplishment that I like to share with others in the process of co-creation.  And, as a teacher, it is this process that I would like to encourage in my students.

In searching my browser history for articles and presentations on plagiarism that I have recent read, these were the ones that stuck in my head:

1. In Clint Lalonde’s Blog: “Remix, Mashups, Aggregation, Plagiarsim, Oh My” he bemoans the TurnitIn infographic, The Plagiarism Spectrum” that shares a recent survey by teachers rating the severity of the type of plagiarism.

“Remixing is the 4th most nefarious form of plagarism, and mashups are #7…at least according to these 900 teachers and instructors. This saddens me because I happen to consider these two activities some of the most creative and original cultural acts happening today.” 

I couldn’t agree more, and it seems that one of the biggest challenges we have here is the education of our teachers!

2.  In Jennifer Carey’s blog: “Plagiarism vs. Collaboration on Education’s Digital Frontier“, she points to  a recent PEW research study that found while educators find technology beneficial in teaching writing skills, they feel it has also led to a direct increase in rates of plagiarism and infringement of intellectual property rights.  And she rightly concludes, (IMHO):

“Perhaps instead of focusing our concerns on technology as a wonderful aid to plagiarizers, we should focus on its ability to foster creativity and collaboration, and then ask ourselves (we are the clever adults here) how we can incorporate those elements into our formalized assessments.”

So, we need to emphasize the need to revise our formalized assessments to not look for the right answer but to assess the processes of creativity and collaboration. This is more than education of our teachers, this is a paradigm shift in the culture of standardized testing.

And finally, the conversation would not be complete without sharing Kirby Ferguson’s Ted Talk “Embrace the Remix.”

“Copy, transform and combine. It’s who we are, it’s how we live, and of course, it’s how we create. Our new ideas evolve from the old ones.”

Technology has given us powerful tools to communicate, collaborate and co-create.  We need a paradigm shift in education to see these tools as just that and to encourage their use by creating innovative lessons where students can thrive in the demonstration of their knowledge and not simply “Cut and Paste.”

How are you communicating, collaborating and co-creating in Rhizomatic Learning Community?

1. Make sure you add to the community Vialogue started by Kevin Hodgson @dogtraxx

2. Not to mention checking out my own Pinterest Board “Rhizomatic Learning: An UnLearning Camp” on the subject (shameless self-promotion)

3. Other interactive applications that may be of interest to you in gathering your tribe: Flipgrid, VoiceThread, Padlet, or these 12 iPad Apps recommended by TeachThought.

4. B sure to check out what other people in the Community have to say about Rhizomatic Learning and leave a comment on their blog.  After all the Curriculum is the Community.

Emily Purser

Andy Mitchell

Jaap Bosman

Kevin Hodgson

Maureen Maher

Jenny Mackness

Lyn Hilt

Tharindu Liyanagunawardena

Mariana Funes


Thanks to Madhura Pradhan for the parting shot “individually each fish would be eaten up – but together they are a force”

12 comments on “Moving Away from a Cut & Paste Culture

  1. mtmaher
    January 15, 2014

    Cathleen I think this has to be the best piece that you have written thus far. I can really hear your voice come out in it (and for some reason you have a Southern accent when I read it;) All that curation that you are doing really comes out here and I can see all the rhizomes of your thought because of the references that you make. The Lalonde blog was so right on and it is great to see this backlash. I hope you find your “remix” tent in rhizomatic learning and maybe you can teach me a few things.

  2. cathleennardi
    January 15, 2014

    Wow! Thanks Maureen. I am working on that digital voice and your feedback tells me it is working. (When I was growing up in NY, people thought I sounded like I was from the South). Lalonde’s blog is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the mindset that has to change….Come join me in the remix tent. We can learn together!

  3. Jack Thompson
    January 17, 2014

    Cathleen, I did not detect in your digital voice an element of “The Islands”…Hopefully you can post some thoughts and ideas from study/research you are involved with here…A fascinating topic indeed…Jack…

    • cathleennardi
      January 18, 2014

      Hey Jack! Good to hear from you. You are correct, I should weave island lifestyle into my blog. I’ll work on that. Hope all is well and I’m still waiting for my sample island wear!

  4. francesbell
    January 28, 2014

    I loved this post even better on my second visit.
    “Remix is blatant and open cheating, stealing and plagiarism — while acknowledging the original source but improving and embellishing upon the original so that is becomes something new and more importantly has meaning for the remixer — and demonstrates new learning.”
    That doesn’t feel like cheating to me. Like you I try to use my own photos and if I can’t then acknowledge the original source but it’s not always possible. For example, the first image above might be yours but I am guessing that it’s one of those that floats around Facebook and Twitter every day. Well, that image made me smile because it privileges the text by attributing the words to Ford but I don’t know who remixed them with the image into the powerful ‘postcard format’.
    Wordpress.com forces us to upload the images and so the link is broken unless we specifically include it,

    So shouldn’t we even attribute our our own photos and remixes even if we don’t mind when people don’t attribute in turn. What are commercially-driven spaces like Facebook doing when they make it difficult for us to do that?

    An alternative to the ‘sanctions’ approach of Turnitin is the incusion of digital literacies in formal education so we can model to students ways of being in the digital age.

    • cathleennardi
      January 28, 2014

      Frances, before embarking on my MOOC journey a year ago (now a confessed Mooc-a-holic), I relied upon the fact that I was in education, and because I wasn’t using images in my work for commercial purposes, I didn’t really need to provide attribution. That changed when I entered the world of Flickr. I didn’t realize that it was anything more than a place to collect images (a picture curation site). I learned a valuable lesson then and now try to use my own pictures when possible. So, now I realize that I did not provide an attribution for the Ford picture, or for the Arts & Crafts pix as well. I am going back to amend that now. In fact, in #rhizo14, I try to keep notes during the week of who said what, so that I can attribute their words and not ‘take them’ as my own. It is conscious effort on all of our parts to share the learning and to acknowledge the contributors. (FYI, I am on HST).

  5. francesbell
    January 28, 2014

    I hope that didn’t come over as picky. I was trying to capture my realisation that we could find images without attribution that we wanted to remix and the image creator wanted us to remix and then the lack of attribution becomes a block. Compare that with Facebook which ‘doesn’t care’ about attribution of images because the images uploaded to FB are economic capital for them and they don’t want to slow the flow. What that means for me is that I try to publish first on flickr then share on other social media but attribution to the original source is difficult. I have used flickr’s links to WordPress for a sort of blog from a picture blogging style – where the picture inspires the post.

    • cathleennardi
      January 29, 2014

      No. I appreciate it because I am trying to be a lot more conscious about it. The beauty was finding not only the picture but a reference to spatial reasoning. It’s a left over bad habit that I am trying to improve upon. Sometime times when I get a great image from Facebook! I alter it in someway to make it my own. I like your idea of putting it on flickr first and making a picture blog.

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