Monday, September 8, 2008

Working Toward Understanding Creative Commons

Last year, the sixth through eighth grade worked on the ideas behind copyright, fair use, and plagiarism. It's a topic that needs to come up every year, at every grade level. I'm going to be using the work the students created last year as a springboard for the idea of Creative Commons.

First Steps
We will start with a survey. I'm very interested in seeing how the students respond to five short questions

1. You are making a video for your classmates at the end of the year with photos of everyone from the last nine years of school. You own Martina McBride's song "Blessed". You include the whole track with a large selection of photos. Is this fair use? Yes/ No

2. You work to put together parts of news clips from ABC, CBS, and NBC on a computer video. You like it so much, you want to put it on a CD the school sells to promote the projects students create. Is this fair use? Yes/ No

3. You interview people in Cranford about their roles in 9/11. It is loaded on the Saint Michael School web site to demonstrate your work. Another school in the US downloads the video clips for a 9/11 night. Is this fair use? Yes/ No

4. You write the DAR essay and find a web site that really provides great information on spies in the American Revolution. You cut and paste sections into the report. You don't include it in your bibliography. What is this called? Copyright/ Fair Use/ Plagiarism

5. You created a project about topics you are learning in science class. It is so good, your teacher wants to post it on the school wiki. You found photos on the NASA and Discovery Channel's web sites. Which photos have to be removed from the project? NASA/ Discovery Channel/ All/ None

Other Resources
I found a link to a resource via Clarence Fisher's blog post for a Copyright Comic. The students will read through the comic when they have finished taking the survey. This will lead them back to work they completed in Voicethreads from last year. I added a few questions for reflection. Finally, we will gather at the Promethean board to brainstorm words that should go around a bulletin board display on the side of the room. I want to add some words that describe the basic concept of copyright to the right of the current display.

Why Creative Commons?
When we create movies, podcasts, and other work in the computer lab I must be able to point the students to resources that can be used to enhance their work. I have found invaluable resources at podsafeaudio to create movies out of family vacation photos, a presentation that I am working on for the K12 Online Conference, and images for my blog. I want the students to recognize that they can have very professional looking and sounding work without breaking copyright law.

Making It Personal
We will be looking at videos from the Creative Commons organization to learn about the choices they have for their own work. Once we gain a bit of understanding, I will be having the students create little animated aquariums. They will be able to post their animation with the license of their choice. Hopefully, the will continue to build on their working knowledge of these important topics as a result of this work.

Image Citation:
Photo of my classroom bulletin board by me.


  1. This sounds like a great lesson. I agree that copyright needs to be covered over and over and over. Mind if I borrow some of the ideas here?

  2. Vicky, You're always welcome to my ideas. I want the students to really have copyright on their mind as they work both at school and personal projects. I'll be interested in hearing other ideas you develop in this area.

  3. Ann,
    This is great, and I, too would like to borrow ideas. I am sort of embarrassed to say that I don't know if I have all of the correct answers to the quiz. Would you share those or do I have to do my homework??? I am still sometimes hazy on what qualifies as fair use.

    As for using creative commons with students, I have found that it is very problematic. For example, in images, there are many that are just inappropriate for school. I use pics4learning, but that also poses problems, as the search capability is not that great.
    What do you do, for example, for using images with students?

  4. Any one can feel free to challenge me on my "answers", but I feel:

    1 - If you are going to give the CD to friends or sell it, it's not fair use. If you're just using it at home and you own the CD and you don't give it to anyone it's ok.

    2 - If your school is going to sell the CD, it's not fair use. You can use small sections of video for a school project, but it has to remain at school and be shown for that one project to be fair use.

    3 - It isfair use for the other school to download the video to show once at a school program. If they want to do more with the information or use it more than once, they should ask permission if you own the copyright.

    4 - It's plagiarism if you copy and paste sections into the essay and do not give proper attribution.

    5 - The photos from NASA can stay. They are public images available to us from the government. The Discovery images have to go unless you receive permission because the images carry a copyright.

    I want my seventh (and especially) eighth graders to become more aware of Creative Commons. First and foremost, to be able to share and let others build upon their work. We use images from Google when they look for something that will be printed and included in a report to hang in the hall. I will be cautious in discussing the use of Flickr CC images. I wish they had a safe search but I think I really have to at least discuss its availability with the eighth grade.

    I want to be able to work with the podsafeaudio site to find music for our projects this year. I also want the students to begin to make informed decisions about how their work on the Internet can be shared. I want the students to see the variety of ways they can choose to let others use their creations.

  5. I work with CC in Australia. We're putting together a group of resources for teachers to use.

    We're particularly interested in how CC can be used to educate kids about copyright in general (rather than just CC) because it provides a 'what you can do' rather than a 'what you can't do' approach.

    Thanks for the great post. We'll definitely be taking your experiences and ideas into account when we try to put our materials.

  6. I am very interested in seeing what you put together. The videos I will be using are going to help me in my classes. I'll be looking forward to incorporating your ideas when they are published.