Great news! Thanks to comments from Mike Muir and Tammy Worcester on my blog this morning and yesterday, I was alerted to ISTE’s announcement emailed to NECC 2008 presenters at 23:15 GMT on 21 June 2008 (yesterday evening here in US Central time):

Dear NECC Presenter:

ISTE recently disseminated a code of conduct regarding video and audio recordings at NECC 2008 which has generated some thoughtful and energetic discussion.

We welcome your interest and comments and would like to clarify and amend the code of conduct for NECC 2008.

For NECC 2008, ISTE’s permission is not required for non-commercial video and audio recording of sessions and workshops.

However, for NECC 2008, written permission from the session or workshop presenter is required prior to capturing a video or audio recording. Any permitted recording should respect the presenter’s rights and not be disruptive.

Under no circumstances may any length or quality of video/audio capture be used for marketing, advertising, or commercial purposes without express written permission from both the session presenter(s) and ISTE.

Thank you. We look forward to an ongoing dialog about fair use.

NECC Program Staff

I have several responses to this new announcement, but the first and most important one is this: Thank you ISTE leaders for being “plugged in” and listening to the ideas and input of your members and constituents! I am very pleased to see ISTE making a policy change on this issue for many reasons, but one of the most important is the MODELING opportunity which ISTE has and is utilizing to show educational leaders around the world how new media recording, sharing, and collaboration technologies can be used CONSTRUCTIVELY to improve opportunities we have for professional learning and growth. Thank you ISTE leaders!

The NECC 2008 Attendees: Registration: Overview webpage which contains the original code of conduct has not been updated yet, but I’m sure it will be soon. (It IS Saturday here in the U.S., after all.)

This ISTE announcement sparked a large volume of discussion and conversations about intellectual property, new media coverage and publication, and educational conference participation in the blogosphere and in face-to-face meetups. I understand (thanks to a tweet from John Maklary) many people at the Classroom 2.0 meetup in Houston, Texas were talking about this yesterday. I sense this situation triggered MANY conversations at MANY levels with MANY folks. In this context, I think catalyzing these conversations is a wonderful thing.

I haven’t seen Miguel Guhlin get as worked up and passionate about an issue as he did with his original post on this topic, “NECC 2008- Old Fears and Habits Rule.” To Miguel’s credit along with ISTE leaders like Leslie Connery, these thoughts and emotions translated into thoughtful email messages which were not only received, but also thoughtfully considered. In reviewing the background of what transpired late this week, I encourage you to read Miguel’s posts “Not the Evil Empire” and “ISTE Responds.” According to Miguel, Leslie wrote:

We …have had great internal conversations in the last 24 hours about how best to respond. We needed to listen to and address the valid concerns of ISTE members while also protecting the rights of the people who have agreed to present at NECC… Post NECC2008, we are planning to convene a discussion around the issue of broadcasting presentations and to work together collaboratively with podcasters, bloggers, presenters, and other stakeholders to develop guidelines for NECC2009 that meet the needs of the education community… For NECC 2008, ISTE’s permission is not required for non-commercial video and audio recording of sessions and workshops.

One immediate result of these blog posts, email messages, and conversations is the official email announcement from ISTE which I quoted at the beginning of this post. It appears, however, these conversations will continue at an official level, and that is outstanding.

As I wrote in my post last week, “Are teachers in your building parallel players?” it is conversations which change us as individuals, and collective conversations which change the cultures and organizations in which we live, play and work. It takes TIME to change perceptions. It can be frustrating to wait for changes, especially when we see something taking place slowly or a policy announced with which we strongly disagree. Conversations, however, are the key to change. Conversations involve thoughtful sharing but also intentional and careful listening. This photo remains one of my favorites to visually communicate these ideas:

a conversation over a good meal

Chris Rogers, a management consultant, echoed this perspective of organizational and cultural change in his comment to my post last week. Chris wrote:

As a management consultant, I view organizations as networks of conversations, through which people make sense of their world and decide how they are going to act. Outcomes emerge from the interplay of these formal and – most importantly – INFORMAL conversations, and the actions that flow from them. As the content and patterns of conversation change, so does the organization.
The more scope that individuals have for meaningful conversation with others, the more likely it is that novel perspectives will emerge and new behaviours take hold, as people coalesce informally around these emergent themes.

These perspectives have been important as I’ve attempted to articulate “who I am” on my personal bio page, which includes the phrase “catalyst for creative engagement and collaborative learning.” According to WikiPedia:

Catalysis is the process by which the rate of a chemical reaction (or biological process) is increased by means of the addition of a species known as a catalyst to the reaction. What makes a catalyst different from a chemical reagent is that whilst it participates in the reaction, it is not consumed in the reaction. That is, the catalyst may undergo several chemical transformations during the reaction, but at the conclusion of the reaction, the catalyst is regenerated unchanged. As a catalyst is regenerated in a reaction, often only a very small amount is needed to increase the rate of the reaction.

Authentic conversations have great potential to constructively change ALL the participants. Conversations are NOT simply one-way delivery exercises in content delivery, but a dialog. My favorite definition of dialog comes from Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelson, who defined it as “a meaningful exchange of perceptions in a non-threatening environment.” When we engage in conversations and dialog, we grow in our thinking and our intellectual development. Sometimes, cognitive changes lead to behavioral changes. Sometimes, those changes lead to larger political and policy-level changes in organizations.

To ISTE’s credit and specifically to the credit of ISTE’s current leadership, it is clear they ARE listening. And to the credit of many others, like Miguel Guhlin and Christian Long (who wrote not only in their blogs but also directly to the leaders of ISTE on this topic) we’ve seen in a few short days how the voices and opinions of ISTE members can and DO shape the policies of the organization.

Along these lines of organizational participation, Sylvia Martinez summarized the opportunity this situation presented and continues to present to US, the members of ISTE, in her blog comment post yesterday:

ISTE is a member organization. This is not “us” against “them”. Every member should expect that these policies are open for discussion and can be changed.

This is a perfect opportunity for ISTE members to make their voices heard – so now seems like the time to get involved. How about coming to the ISTE Member Welcome session Sunday afternoon and state the case there?

In fact, in past years, wasn’t there a member meeting at NECC to discuss ISTE policy and direction? Did that go away? Or am I not seeing it in the schedule?

I plead totally guilty of ignoring my duty as an ISTE member to speak up and take part in the organization policy development.

Sylvia is absolutely correct, this IS and REMAINS “a perfect opportunity for ISTE members to make their voices heard.” In much of the world, the opportunities for individuals to freely participate in public discussions about organizational policies and procedures are sharply limited. I know we are not talking directly about human rights issues, terrorism, or other more “explicitly political” topics, but the subjects we are addressing here and the processes through which we are discussing them are HIGHLY relevant and important to multiple facets of our connected, digital lives and societies in the early 21st century.

For some time, I’ve sensed that the potential for new media technologies like blogs, podcasts, photo and video sharing sites to constructively catalyze and organize conversations focused on supporting change at political, organizational, and societal levels is HUGE. If I had the time and opportunity to develop and lead a university course this fall on any topic, I would choose citizen journalism. When new media technologies are combined with more established communication technologies like email, television, radio, and print publications, the results CAN be dramatic. Any of us are just a phone call away from an invitation to be on Oprah. It doesn’t take a traditional television broadcast program leader like Oprah, however, to galvanize attention on a specific topic or situation today. “Regular folks” can do that as well, via the extended, digital learning communities which now connect us. While we may feel isolated and alone at times in our individual educational contexts, the web 2.0 world has offered us the potential (which is now only beginning to be realized) of drawing us ever-closer together in more tightly connected communities. When leaders in these contexts are responsive to the ideas and imaginations of individual members, the result can be a dynamic, forward-thinking and relevant role for the organization in helping influence and guide others who are both members and non-members.

The advocacy issues at stake in this conversation over who “owns” the right to give permission to record and share non-commercial copies of a person’s ideas at an educational conference extend far beyond San Antonio, Texas, at NECC in a few weeks. The tools and communication potential now at our fingertips as bloggers, podcasters, educational change agents and digitally connected learners in the 21st century are unprecedented in human history. It may seem repetitive and now blase, since I stay this fairly often, but I personally find this reality to be mind-blowing. Convergence is taking place before our very eyes, and we are participating in this digital communications revolution.

I am Here for the Learning Revolution

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