Tuesday, 21 February 2012

We should teach copyright to students

I was really pleased to read the following in one of my students' blogs recently:
P.S. Sorry about the lack of photos. You can’t believe how hard it is to find a picture that is legally usable in a blog. It’s like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.
Yes, my banging on about the use of photos seems to have sunk in! With this blogging group of 15 students, it took me a couple of months of constant reminders until the students took to heart all the copyright advice I gave them, both online and orally in class. And now it's great to see how concientiously they look for photos with Creative Commons licences, and credit them in their blog posts.

As the world-wide web is such a treasure trove of material, I can understood why so many of us take it for granted that it is all there free for anyone to grab and do what they wish with. Even some popular recent services cause confusion amongst users. Here in Finland, the apparent copyright infringements in the use of Pinterest have caused a lot discussion recently. Especially women seem to find it irresistible to compile and share beautiful pinboards of their favourite pictures - usually totally ignoring any copyright issues. It's worth reading, for example, this article on the many concerns with Pinterest.

Another popular service among teachers is Glogster Edu. I am planning an in-service session for language teachers in my area, in which I intend to introduce some useful and fun net resources. I was going to include Glogster in it but decided not to, as I simply won't have the time to get into Copyright issues in any depth. Glogster certainly motivates students to create their own, colourful, multi-media posters but it inherently leads students to copy material online - mostly illegally unless their teachers are strict about it. Naturally, like Pinterest, also Glogster has clear instructions on 'Uploading of Intellectual Property' in their Terms of Use. It's another question, of course, how many teachers follow these instructions.

I wonder how many schools have a joint policy about copyright that all teachers know about and consistently adhere to - both in their own PowerPoint presentations, and in their requirements for students' work. I feel that it is every educator's duty to model the right use of online sources and materials.


jayc said...

Have your students done a Creative Commons search in Flickr? There's a treasure trove of imagery there:


sinikka said...

Hi Jay

Thank you for your comment! Yes, we have certainly used CC in Flickr. It's just that sometimes students want such particular photos that they don't seem to find them anywhere.