I finished up a few research orientation classes for ninth grade students this week, and I also began teaching another class about digital portfolios and Weebly in preparation for seniors' final advanced composition assignment. But the highlight of my week, without a doubt, was getting to teach the AP Language classes about copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons licenses.
These AP Language classes were the first to go through digital portfolio instruction a few weeks ago at the beginning of October. As I talked with their teacher about students' progress, she mentioned that many students had asked questions about what assets they could use in their portfolios and what the correct protocol was in regards to permissions and copyright. Like many teachers, she felt unequipped to answer some of these questions. I told her I would be happy to work with her to help address these concerns, and she invited me to teach another class in regards to how students could incorporate copyright best practices into their digital portfolios. I dove in wholeheartedly! The slides above incorporated the first part of the class, whereas the latter portion consisted of practice searches for images with usage limitations and also leading students through the process of embedding a Creative Commons license on the homepage of their own Weebly digital portfolios.
I feel like there is a huge need to cover these types of issues with students (and teachers!). So many of them are creating, sharing, and using online assets with little to no regard for what the limitations are or how to protect their own creative work. Giving them a long-term assignment that incorporates proper usage into the grading criteria has been the push we needed to make time for this type of instruction.
It's more than just teaching students copy"rights" and wrongs, however. As educators, we need to model that behavior for our students. So much of the content we create gets posted online somewhere--maybe a classroom blog, or on a school-wide LMS, or perhaps even a professional journal (like this one). We, too, need to pay close attention to copyright and make every attempt to follow the rules... as confusing as they sometimes are. And we can make those rules easier for others to understand by using Creative Commons licenses ourselves. As practitioners, we'll be better equipped to lead students through this territory, and we'll also be pegged as leaders in our school when it comes to digital citizenship. As a media specialist, what could be better?