Are your ideas ever your ideas?

Photo Credit: Pictures by Pascal Lemaître in Wissen – Was ist das?

Reading about remix creativity and remix culture over the past two weeks opened my eyes in regards to the endless possibilities to create these days. The possibilities have always been there and people have always been influenced by others like Brain Lamb writes in Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to stop Worrying and Love the Remix.

Elements of reuse have always been present in creative work, even though the borrowing may have been framed in terms of “tradition,” or “influence.” Artistic and scholarly works build on the work of others.

But over the past years creation got another dimension due to the immense development of technology. Following few definitions of remix:

“Remix”, in the sense the competition intended, means a creative work that builds upon the creative work of others. … It means using the work of others in a way that it is transformative, or critical. (The “Imbecile” and “Moron” Responds: On the freedom of Remix Creators)

Remix Defined points out three different levels of remixing and creating in the context of music but I think it is transferable to other areas as well.

  1. The first remix is extended, that is a longer version of the original song.

  2. The second remix is selective; it consists of adding or subtracting material from the original song.

  3. The third remix is reflexive; it allegorizes and extends the aesthetic of sampling, where the remixed version challenges the aura of the original and claims autonomy even when it carries the name of the original; material is added or deleted, …

The author describes even a step further and calls it regenerative remix. Remixes are remixed again; it’s a second and anew mix of something existing already as well as constantly updated and changed by the community; “meaning there are designed to change according to data flow.” The article mentions Wikipedia and YouTube as examples of that regenerative remixing.

The article “Everything is a Remix” got me to the thinking that everything is about ideas.

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.

At this point I see a connection to speak with my grade 1/2 students about remixing and creating something new. Often a student comes to me and complains: “Student x copied me.” In that case I try to get the students together and try to explain to them that get copied also means that somebody liked the idea. Of course I also try to point out that it would have been better and fairer if student x asked to use the idea. My experience is that students are fine with this way of thinking.
Next time I could go a little bit further. The following book inspires me to philosophize and to ask children about ideas and where they are coming from.

Was ist WissenOscar Brenifier: Wissen – Was ist das?  (in English: Knowlege – What is it?)

One part is about ideas and it asks fantastic questions which could be a great opportunity to develop a different awareness.  Here are some questions:

  •  Are your ideas yours?
  • Do you have to search for the ideas in your mind or do they come by themselves?
  • Do you decide by yourself what ideas you keep?
  • Did you change the ideas you have?
  • Where do the ideas come from which you read in a book?
  • Is there a world of ideas?
  • Did the ideas always exist?
  • Do you people have to think so the ideas can exist?
  • What would be a world without ideas?
  • Why do you have ideas if you can’t share them?
  • Did you understand your ideas if you can’t make them understandable for others?
  • Do we all use the same words to express our ideas?
  • Can we have an idea without having words for it?

Infographics and the Explanation Game (Grade 4)

For the next unit the central idea for Grade 4 is Discoveries and explorations continue to impact our world. In German we are going to integrate through the line of inquiry Past and present discoveries and explorations and to inquire into space and space travel. The language focus will be story writing from a certain perspective using digital tools like Storybird or Book Creator on the iPad to present the story.

At the beginning the students will get (unfortunately only short) time to inquire into the planet system because the focus then will be on the astronaut and his motivation as an explorer. At a certain point I’m going to use the following infographic to introduce the infographic itself as well as the suit of an astronaut.

infografik space

I found the infographic on Printerest and unfortunately nowhere else. Therefor I have to admit that the source is not 100% clear for me. Of course I checked and also the creator Karl Tate who seems to be an infographic artist.

Following the criteria of Daniel Zeevis What Makes a Good Infographic? I tried to evalute this above infographic. The content is reliably ( and timely. It describes and explains the way astronauts can work outside of a spacecraft for up to 7 hours. The colors (mainly light blue, white and black font) chosen by the designer fit into the topic, the layout supports the understanding of the complexity of the suit for space travel. The way the information are presented inspires the interest of my students in space travel.

While searching for an infographic for my Grade 4 German class I had to realize that there are not many infographics written in German for Primary School. I decided to take the one in English and integrate the vocabulary work into the lessons. After understanding the vocabulary and the content I want to give the students the chance to ask questions about what they read, to explain and to think further why an astronaut needs such a complex suit or certain parts of it.

Very useful tools to guide and to tease out student’s thinking are visible thinking routines. One in particular is called Explanation Game. It’s very important to model this routine first to make sure that the students know how to ask the questions of explanation and to give clarification to the others. The documentation of each step is important to let the students follow and comprehend the whole process of their thinking. The following are the steps:

  1. Observation -> I noticed that …
  2. Question -> Why is it that way?
  3. Explanation -> It …, because …
  4. Reason -> What makes you think so? What makes you say this?

Let’s see how it will go …

Some thoughts about shareability

There are already millions of infographics these days (f.e. Infographic World, Daily Infographic or even on Pinterest).

Some are very good, some are less good depending on data, purpose and intention what to inform about or what message to tell as well as the design. I am following actually Daniel Zeevi how to judge a good infographic.

His overview gives a good idea and standards for the creation of infographics:

What makes a good infographic?

Photo Credit: What makes a good Infographic by Daniel Zeevi via

In addition to the above-mentioned three criteria, which I totally agree with, he lists shareability. Zeevi asks:

How relevant is the infographic? How much does it interest the audience? Is it optimized for the web and the search engines? Can it be shared through social media?

The two questions and also the thoughts Jeff Utecht expresses on Time Creating vs Time Learning made me think. He wrote:

Here’s the thing….creating something worth sharing takes time. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to create a really good presentation, it’s not easy to create a really good video and it’s not easy to create a good infographic…basically….it’s not easy to create something worth sharing.

He is kind of right – it takes time, which is good, but what does it really mean – to be worth sharing, to be interesting, to be relevant? To who will it be interesting, relevant and worth? Isn’t is very subjective? There is a great infographic about the life of Steve Jobs but I know a lot of people who are absolutely not interested in him. The same is valid for a presentation or any digital story. My story was about living your dreams. For some people it hopefully is something inspiring, for others nothing new and boring. In my opinion shareability in terms of relevance and interest is very subjective and depends on each single person. Or is there something like a common shared relevance?

Soon then some ideas how to use infographics in class …

My story finally ….

This is your life.

It’s done. I felt the flow but even more I am feeling the relief at the moment. Somebody said: 1 hour per minute. Forget about it. It felt like ages. BUT: It was a great learning experience and I’m pretty sure I’ll will tell a story digitally again.




Photo Credit:
This is your life. by  Aaron Fulkerson

Here it is:



Let me tell you a little bit about the process:

It took me a while to decide what story I want to tell. Should it be something personal, something related to school or about my passion regarding technology, f.e. Evernote (next time …)? For the first digital story ever I decided to tell a personal story. I thought that is the easiest for the beginning.

Google Drive
Google Drive was again a very useful tool to start with the outline, to save the pictures and the document for the credits. Not to forget, the document for the credits has to be published to the web. Very useful.

Luckily I know iMovie already a little bit from work in school but I have never used it to that extend. It was the first time that I recorded my own voice, that I underlined the whole thing with a song, that I used pictured I found on the Internet.

The pictures I found mainly on Flickr or Compfight. Part of the pictures I took during my time in South Korea. I’m very thankful that so many photographers already licensed their work so everybody can share, use and even modify them. For the near future it is my plan to license my pictures on Flickr as well.
I was never really sure and I’m still not 100% how to cite in a proper way. I create a google doc, published it to the web and put the link at the end of the movie. Is this the best way? I’m excited to hear and see how other COETAIL members found a solution for giving credit.

Luckily YouTube launched a free audio library just recently. What I worried about most at the start the audio was the easiest job to do. It’s not to easy to find on YouTube but you will find it within the Video Manager and then Creation Tools.

I would love to use Digital Storytelling in school more often. Especially for language learner I see the benefit because they can express themselves through pictures and the spoken language. A little concern arises regarding time. I’m curious know and I will definitely inquirer more into it in future.

The Revival of Storytelling

UntitledI asked several people whether they know storytellers and if what story kept in their mind. Some of the answers: “My grandfather always told us stories.” or “I had an aunt. She always told us about her life when she was young.” or “My father knew everything about the people selling animals at the market.” They often said this with nostalgia and kind of sadness that they can’t remember those stories. Interestingly often storytellers were understood as people who tell the stories orally and in front of others, f.e. at the family table.

But that is only half of the story…

Somewhere I read: We are ALL storytellers. Unfortunately I can’t remember where but it is so true. Our life is so full of interesting stories and often we wish to share them. Some people write a book. Some write articles for a magazine. Some tell stories during a dinner when they meet friends. Others make professional movies and record their story. As a teacher I read or tell a story to children. Personally I really like to read autobiographies because they tell the story of an interesting person (Recently of Marcel Reich Ranicki, who is a well known German literature critic and survived the second world war amongst other skills by telling stories.)

There is a new dimension to the storytelling. Everybody is a storyteller but everybody has also to possibilities to record them – Digital Storytelling. Wikipedia says:

Digital storytelling refers to a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to share aspects of their life story. … “Digital storytelling” is a relatively new term which describes the new practice of ordinary people who use digital tools to tell their ‘story’. Digital stories often present in compelling and emotionally engaging formats, and can be interactive.

This week I saw and listen to so many good stories and I’m amazed by the possibilities. It doesn’t have to be a huge and difficult project anymore. Because of the technology development over the past few years everybody can do it. You can choose to work with your laptop, your tablet or your smartphone. But technology is actually just a tool. If you want to go a little bit further then just recording something, follow The 7 elements of Storytelling or 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story.

Personally I again (like so often during this COETAIL course) feel positively overwhelmed (and stressed?) so I don’t know where to start and whether actually somebody wants to hear my story. I guess I just have to tell the story I have told many times before.

Soon to be continued … Soon one story will be told …