Weeks 14-15: Final Project

As some of you may have heard at the presentation on Friday, I created a guide to music copyright for graduate students. I designed this to be a short guide so that it wasn’t time consuming for grad students to go through, since we all know how busy this life can be! The guide included a check list that basically determined whether or not you would be safe to use a copyrighted song for graduate school related presentations and other possible purposes. Another resource in the guide was a list of common misunderstandings about copyrighted music, such as “I bought the song, so I thought I could use it.” Wrong! I hope for this guide to be useful to any graduate student giving presentations that would involve music or other copyrighted sounds. It was suggested that this is given to the InnovationSpace as a resource, because most students in that lab are working with video and music – the guide could really help them with following copyright rules. Some challenges I faced with this project was finding the correct information from credible sources. Some sources gave a little bit of information here, and other sources added some more information there, so the research was very time consuming! Overall, I enjoyed working on this project and I think it can be a great resource at Virginia Tech. I’ve attached it to this post! See it here: A Graduate Student’s Guide to Copyrighted Music

13. Ethics and Personal Ethos

In one of this weeks readings published in the Collegiate Times, “Students to retake exam after solutions appear online” by Emily Hughes and Dean Seal, I found it difficult to have a strong opinion about either side of the story. I’m not a very opinionated person anyway, because I often find that there’s not a definite right or wrong. In this case, I tossed my opinion back and forth. Yes, in some circumstances I would consider this cheating because the students basically had the answers walking into the exam. As defined in the article, cheating at Virginia Tech means “the actual giving or receiving of any unauthorized aid or assistance or the actual giving or receiving of any unfair advantage on any form of academic work, or attempts thereof.” These students technically received unauthorized aid and because every student may not have known about this resource, it gave some an unfair advantage over others. On the other hand, is it the professors responsibility to change their exam every semester so that things like this doesn’t happen? I’m not sure.

I realized that I pair very well with normative ethics when the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy compared it to the golden rule – if I wouldn’t want it done to myself, then I shouldn’t do it to others. I think like this for almost everything I do. Before I ask someone a question, give them a gift, ask someone a favor, consider telling someone that they have something in their teeth, anything. I think, “If this were to happen to me, would I be okay with it?” Concerning applied ethics, I mentioned before that I’m not very opinionated, so after reading about what applied ethics was, I don’t think this is a huge part of my personal ethics. For one, I am very open to hearing other peoples opinions and reasoning for supporting something, and two, if I do have a strong view and I speak out about it, and then someone disagrees with me, I don’t deal well with conflict and argument.

12. The State of Higher Education Today

I really enjoyed the video “A Vision of Students Today” published on YouTube by Michael Wesch in October 2007 because I can very closely relate to the statements that were written and presented by the different students. If I were to create a video like this, it would look almost the same. I will speak for myself here when I say, although I think many of my peers would agree, that as a student:

  • There are more things expected of me in a day than I have time for (especially if I need to get a good night of sleep, eat good meals, and have some “me” time to work on my self growth)
  • I purchase expensive textbooks only to (sometimes) read a handful of chapters, and even then, most of the time I can’t find the time to fully read each page of every chapter I’m assigned because I work 25+ hours a week!
  • Sitting in a room for three hours while someone tells me everything they know about a topic doesn’t really help me learn or get necessary experience. And then, they expect me to then memorize that information and test well on it in a few weeks, in addition to all of the other things that are pulling me in different directions.

The list could go on! Don’t get me wrong, I am learning in college, and I’m very, very thankful to be getting such an awesome education compared to what so many other people may have, but is this the best way to teach and learn?

In regards to the documentary “Declining by Degrees,” it was a unique lens to see higher education through. The documentary kept referring to college as a rite of passage and a stamp of approval from society, as if it’s expected of any normal human. I believe this is true! As a high schooler today, there is so much pressure from your teachers and coaches to go to college. Most often than not, the convincing factor is being on your own, making new friends, and being in a new place. The emphasis isn’t always on what an education will do for you. I also believe that college is about the experience of being on your own, making your own schedule, having to make new friends, etc. I do think there are life lessons that come from this, but it’s not always as focused on knowledge as it once was. This week had very great videos to watch and I enjoyed them both very much!

11. Disciplinary Codes of Conduct

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m getting my masters in Public Health. While looking at the master of public health program page for Virginia Tech, I could not find anything that related to the programs code of ethics, other than Virginia Tech’s core values and principles of community. Therefore, I searched online and came across a document written by James Thomas, Michael Sage, Jack Dillenberg, and James Guillory, all whom have a masters in public health. This document is titled Public Health Code of Ethics and was published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website, which is run by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Both of these titles are familiar to me as they have been mentioned often in my program courses, so I imagine this code of ethics is something that my program abides to.

This code of ethics revolves around the sole idea that public health has a goal to protect the public in terms of health. It lists the 12 Principles of the Ethical Practice of Public Health, which all seemed to line up very well with my current impression of the public health realm. One of the principles from this article that interests me says the, “Public health programs and policies should incorporate a variety of approaches that anticipate and respect diverse values, beliefs, and cultures in the community.” I did not necessarily find this shocking or troubling, but I was impressed that this is in the principles. I feel that it is very important when working with the public to realize that not everyone is the same – people have different lifestyles, incomes, opinions, resources, etc. The way public health programs approach the public should vary depending on this audience, and this statement really makes that a priority. I’m very pleased to see how much public health programs value diversity, respect, and confidentiality.

10. Copyright Issues

It’s funny that this topic came right after my week 9 post, which was about my final project. I’ve chosen to do my final project on copyright issues – specific to music and YouTube! See my week 9 post for more information on that. The Can I Use It? page that was provided as a resource this week is similar to what I want to do for my project, only I imagine that mine will be more extensive and specific to music on YouTube videos. I may have to branch out a little bit if I find that topic is too narrow. Because this is my final project topic, I really enjoyed exploring the Creative Commons site that was specific to music – ccMixter. It’s a great place to get worry-free music. These resources are great, but I feel that not everyone is aware of them, or doesn’t take copyright issues seriously. Some of the other free music resources include Ben Sound and 123rf. As a fitness instructor, it’s difficult to determine what music we can and can’t use. As I explored this curiosity further, I found websites dedicated to creating fitness mixes, such as Cardio Mixes and My Group Fit. Also, if a fitness instructor is licensed by a fitness company (like Zumba® or Les Mills), then they are often provided with music that they have been given the rights to. I think this is all so interesting, and something that more people should know about!

9. Mid-Semester Check-In

For my final project, I’ve tossed different ideas back and forth, but I think I’ve finally settled on a topic. A topic that is of interest to me is copyright issues because I feel that it’s one topic many people don’t know all of the details for. For example, I’m a Zumba instructor, so I go on YouTube very often to get new dance choreography ideas to bring to my class. Most of the videos I watch use popular songs that are on the radio, and so many of those videos get hit with copyright infringement for using music illegally. Many of these YouTube channels think that writing “I do not own the rights to this song and am only using it for entertainment/educational purposes” in the description of their video will keep them from breaking the rules.

Honestly, I’m guilty of pulling that stunt, too. I think that a guide to music copyright infringement would be a great semester project. I imagine a check list or a chart that you have to answer yes and no questions to lead to whether or not you can use that music without breaking the law. As supplemental material, I could also write a guide to music that is free domain and won’t get you in trouble. I’m very excited about this topic now that I have an idea. I’ve been thinking on it for a week or so now, trying to find something that interests me.

7. Authorship Issues

This week’s topic was very interesting to me because I haven’t really run into problems with who should get authorship on something. I’ve rarely produced work where it wasn’t obvious who contributed to the final piece, because so far in my college career, all of the presentations and work that I’ve produced with a group have been with a specific group in an academic class. Therefore, I’ve never struggled with authorship issues, but I’m aware that it may arise anytime that I work on a project.

Regarding the reading about authorship between students and faculty members, I found it interesting how students don’t often feel that they can challenge a faculty member for authorship, because in the school system, the faculty member has natural authority. Not only is the faculty member in a higher position than the student, but they also could have control of the students success and grades. I would hope that faculty members, especially at Virginia Tech, would be fair when working on research and other publications with students and give them fair credit where it’s due, but I know that isn’t the case everywhere.

This summer, I will begin working with Hokie Wellness on developing a program for faculty and staff at Virginia Tech to be active while at work. While this is my project, I know that it will require a lot of collaboration with the staff at Hokie Wellness, and the other areas of campus that I will need to work with to create my program. In addition, I will have to work with faculty members in my program (public health) to make sure I’m doing all that I can. For this practicum experience, I foresee that I will have to consider how to give credit to all of the people I work with along this 300-hour project!

6. Citation Methods

One of the resources mentioned this week is the VT Writing Center website, and as I mentioned in my post for week 5, I used to work as a writing coach at the Virginia Tech Writing Center as an undergraduate student. In this week’s blog post, I’m going to discuss the VT Writing Center from my perspective.

First, in order to be employed by the Writing Center, you must take a 3-credit, semester-long course and pass it, “Writing Center Theory & Practice” (ENGL 3744). Throughout the course, you review topics of plagiarism, grammar, working with ESL students, and more. As part of the course curriculum, you are expected to observe current writing coaches in a real session, interview them, and also sign up as a writing partner to meet regularly with a client to work on their writing skills (usually ESL students). While there are numerous quizzes and writing assignments in the class, it’s all worth it in the end when you feel undoubtedly prepared to work with students as a writing coach the following semester.


There are a handful of reoccurring incidences that I saw as a writing coach. First, it’s very common for students to come to the Writing Center the day their writing assignment is due. This puts a lot of pressure on the coach to give solid feedback under time constraints. I would suggest if you decide to utilize the Writing Center, to come several days, if not weeks, before your assignment is due. The more time, the better. You never know if you might need another appointment for further revisions!

Second, many people come into the Writing Center thinking that they can hand the writing coach a copy of their paper and a pen and say, “Please find all of my grammar and punctuation mistakes.” Just to clarify, that’s not the purpose of the Writing Center. The purpose of the writing center is to have someone listen to your paper to help you understand if it flows, stays on topic, and follows the guidelines of the assignment. No, the writing coaches will not deny any requests for help on grammar or punctuation, but that’s not their sole purpose. It’s a place to learn and grow as a writer, with a little help from a peer.

I hope that you’ve gotten a little insight on the process of becoming a writing coach at Virginia Tech and have a better understanding of what the Writing Center is for!

5. The VT Graduate Honors System, Part II

While working through the interactive movie on research misconduct, I felt I was making all the right decisions as Kim Park – ask Greg for time to read over the research article (rather than just signing it), actually read the article (as opposed to skimming it or not reading it at all) and personally confront Greg about the issues I found in the article regarding my past research. However, I learned that confronting the person who may be performing research misconduct is not the best option. I understand why, because it could rub them the wrong way and make them attack you in other ways, or work harder to cover up their tracks. I really liked this scenario, I thought it was a cool way to learn that lesson without just reading it somewhere.

I worked at the Virginia Tech Writing Center when I was an undergraduate, so I found the “Avoiding Plagiarism — Classroom Workshop” video by the Texas A&M students very interesting! We didn’t do anything like that for our writing center, but it would he a great idea. I liked that the students covered several aspects of what is considered plagiarism (even the scenarios some students may not realize!) and also explained how to cite sources properly, so that other students can avoid accidentally plagiarizing. The games they played and examples they gave about what is and isn’t considered plagiarism made it more enjoyable to watch, and more applicable to people our age.

I want to end with a brief comment on the Turnitin Webcast about why students plagiarize. I thought the most interesting part of the presentation was when they discussed three main reasons why students may plagiarize: they are under pressure to perform extremely well under time constraints and simply for a grade, they are uninterested in the topic they must write about, or they are simply unable to.

Screen shot from the Turnitin Webcase on Why Students Plagiarize

While I never think there is a good excuse for plagiarizing, I do think that these three factors play a big role in most plagiarism cases. Someone who isn’t interested in a topic will do very little exploring since they would find it boring anyway. Those are just a couple of my thoughts from this weeks readings and activities!

4. The VT Graduate Honors System, Part I

The link that I clicked on in the blog prompt to look at the Graduate Honor System (GHS) constitution didn’t work, but I was able to find it here, in case anyone else wants to reference it.

I think that the GHS does a great job of using simple language that is not hard to interpret (leaving less room for people to claim it’s confusing if they’re trying to defend themselves in an honor court case). I also think that the document clearly states what is allowed and expected of graduate students at Virginia Tech. I believe these are very fair expectations, and I would hope students at other universities are held to the same academic standards. Out of curiosity, I looked up the VCU honor code and could only find a very brief webpage that bulleted things that aren’t acceptable: VCU Honor System website screenshot


After some serious digging around their website, I finally found a document imbedded in another document that described VCU’s definitions of cheating, lying, etc. After looking at this website, I appreciate how easily accessible and extensive the GHS Constitution is.

The penalties given in result of violating the VT Graduate Honor System seem very fair, in my opinion. I really like how two penalties are given to all people accused guilty – the student is placed on probation and receives a zero on the assignment – but then there are other optional, but not necessary for every case, penalties. I think it’s important to leave some leeway because each case is very different and may not require all of the same punishments.

At the end of the day, I respect the Virginia Tech Graduate Honor System and do not plan to have any run-ins with student conduct!