The Story of an Image

In preparing for my Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom presentation at the Science Teachers’ of Western Australia Conference this weekend, I’ve learnt some valuable lessons about global connections, crafting powerful presentations, and about connecting science to the real world.

But perhaps the greatest lesson has arisen from my endeavours to model the appropriate (legal) use of images in educational presentations …

This is the story of an image, and there’s quite a story to tell ..

Image:  Jordi Rios. Reproduced with permission

I first came across this image through Twitter, where it appeared on the Facebook page of a prominent Science communicator in the USA. With the intention of using this quote and image in my presentation, I contacted the owner of the site – only to discover that he didn’t own the image!

With his kind assistance, I traced the imaged to the 500px site, where you can view the original version.

What followed was fascinating …

After leaving a comment on the site, I received an email from the artist in Spain, who was quite surprised to hear from me – for several reasons!

Firstly, he had no idea his image was being used in the above form, and secondly he wasn’t particularly happy that the image didn’t (and still doesn’t) attribute him as the artist!

With the help of Google Translate, and several emails later, Jordi kindly gave me permission to reproduce the image (and quote) for educational use.

But, this whole experience has left me with an important lesson about images on the Internet  Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you have a right to take it and use it. I’ve also learnt that that asking for permission can have some unintended, unexpected consequences. But I’m glad I did.

Digital Citizenship (#flatclass Book Club, Part 4)


Chapter 5: Citizenship, focussed on the complex educational issue of digital citizenship.

I was particularly interested in the idea that we could examine digital citizenship through 5 lenses, the areas of technical, individual, social, cultural, and global awareness.

As I am not a classroom teacher, I really struggled to relate this chapter to my own teaching practice. Personally, the guiding discussion questions for each area enabled me to critically examine my relatively limited understanding of this topic,  and I am sure that this chapter will be a useful resource in the years to come.

I’m going to close with a thought-provoking video on this topic, the keynote for the next Flat Classroom Project (2012). It is well worth watching, as it explores the various facets of our digital lives.

I learned a valuable lesson today (#flatclass Book Club, Part 3)


Chapter 4, Communication, focuses on the need to develop the “techno-personal skills”, the online habits, which sustain online collaboration and networking. For me, some key ideas from this chapter relate to the nature of online communication tools, and some handy ideas for efficient, inclusive communication between teachers and students involved in global collaboration.

While I was originally going to focus this post on ways we could improve the #globalclassroom handshakes, I’m going to jump ahead a little, and write about something I learned today (relating to Chapters 4 and 5).

The situation

Today, I invited a teacher from the Middle East to join an upcoming #globalclassroom project. A little later, I became concerned that involvement in this project might inadvertently place this teacher in a difficult situation …  relating to the volatile political situation in the region.

Sadly, I was correct.

We talked about the issue, and our teacher decided to decline the invitation.

I was disappointed, but relieved that I hadn’t put my friend at potential risk.

I had learned a valuable lesson

When we collaborate globally, our ignorance of cultural and religious differences can have dramatic, unintended consequences in the lives of real people, in the real world.

We need to learn about, and be sensitive to difference. Yes, this seems obvious, but is so much harder in practice – as we “don’t know what we don’t know”.

This is why I believe it so critical to have open, public and private communication channels for global collaborative projects, and why it is so essential to build trusting, respectful relationships with the teachers you work with.

We need to create the space for people to talk and get to know each-other. I have personally learned so much about other people through mindless conversations about our lives and families – via Skype IM and Twitter conversations. These conversations usually occur in private mediums, and help to build mutual trust and respect. This means that when potential issues arise, when we are not sure about something, we feel more confident in asking for clarification behind the scenes.

As teachers, we can’t teach our students to be ‘culturally aware’ if we don’t understand, and model this awareness ourselves.

You don’t realise what this means until you’ve experienced it first-hand. It truly seems the more I learn, the less I know.

So, looking ahead … 

I hope, over time to get to know my friend a little better. If permissible, I’d love to just chat about our work & life from time to time …  I know so little about her culture, work, and way of life. If not, I hope she can at least point me in the right direction.