Muddling through the blogosphere

February 19, 2018
by blogwalker

Two Reasons Why Teaching about Copyright Just Got Easier

“Great leaders give credit.” George Couros

If you consider teaching students about their intellectual property rights and responsibilities an essential component of a digital citizenship program, I’m with you. So thanks to a recent change by Google and a new Google Docs Add-On by teacher Brandon Dorman, we have two great items to spark discussions on copyright.

Item #1 – Google’s removal of the View Image button from image searches – Yes, there has been some public pushback over losing a super-fast way to view and copy an image. Personally, I am glad for the change since image searchers will now use the Visit Site button to view the actual hosting site for images. Although the Visit Site button was always there, image searchers could ignore it.

If you are not yet familiar with the Visit Site button, it is from the host site that you will find out exactly how the creator would like you to respect and/or attribute his/her work through Creative Commons licensing (see the video below for a Creative Commons introduction).

For those opposed to visiting the host site and viewing the creator’s licensing, there are already a number of workarounds available. I hope the workarounds do not deter image searchers from giving proper attribution to those who are freely sharing their creative work.

Item #2 – Former 7-12 math teacher’s Creative Commons Google Doc Add-On – The best way to bring students on board with respect for intellectual property is to have them create and share their own work. So I was delighted to learn about Brandon Dorman’s Creative Commons Google Doc Add-On, which makes choosing and adding CC licensing to a Google Doc a snap.

What would make this Add-On even better? I’d love it if it were included in the Google Docs Tools dropdown menu rather than as an Add-On. Due to the agree-to components of 3rd party Add-Ons (which legally equate to a contract), my district blocks student access to Add-Ons and extensions.

At this point, though, for students 13+, I would certainly encourage them to add Brandon’s Creative Commons licensing option to their personal Google accounts.

Note to Self: Need to head to Can I Use That? A Guide to Creative Commons and accompanying hyperdoc lesson and make updates to reflect the above items.

December 28, 2017
by blogwalker

We should choose to teach copyright …

We should choose to teach copyright not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because the goal of understanding copyright will serve to measure the best of student energies, skills, and citizenship.” Tara Woodall

I somehow managed to miss Tara Woodall’s article The Right Stuff – Teaching Kids about Copyright when Common Sense posted it back in July. But thanks to a re-tweet from Common Sense, the article came my way in December. I have read it, bookmarked it, tweeted it, and days later, keep circling back to Tara’s quote.

Tweeting Tara Woodall's post

The challenge to teach copyright and fair use, even though “it’s not easy,” resonates with me on many levels. I started weaving copyright into my workshop agendas about 10 years ago, making sure to remind teachers of legal constraints when adding images found on the Internet to blogs, wikis, VoiceThreads, or whatever program I was teaching.

Initially, I shared Hall Davidson’s chart. Fair use was not part of my agenda. But I let go of Hall’s chart in 2011, after attending an amazing 3-hour  ISTE workshop facilitated by Renee Hobbs. Renee’s Copyright Clarity session provided me with a window into “how fair use supports digital learning.” I left the session with a commitment to develop workshops for my district and region on copyright and fair use and to embed the resources into a digital citizenship toolkit.

As a co-director of my district’s digital citizenship initiative, I’ve had the good fortune to team with Kathleen Watt. Ironically, as we were developing Can I Use That? A Guide to Creative Commons, schools and districts across the country were copying Kathleen’s digital citizenship graphic – without giving credit. Oh, yes, a teachable moment: Oh no they didn’t:

Although we continue to post and add resources to our digital citizenship blog, copyright has taken a bit of a back seat due to a continual abundance of cyberbullying issues and the current rise of fake news. Even Google’s newly released Be Internet Awesome program focuses on confronting fake news, protecting privacy, and combating bullying, and omits teaching students about their intellectual property rights and responsibilities.

Not since the March 2017 CUE Conference have I facilitated a workshop on copyright. I’ve had a lot of things on my plate (mainly the roll out of a new student information system!), but it’s time to start submitting proposals again. Tara Woodall’s post is a call to action and a reminder that, as rapidly as technology changes, digital ethics are timeless. An understanding of copyright “will serve to measure the best of student energies, skills, and citizenship.”


September 17, 2015
by blogwalker

“Oh no they didn’t!” – Modeling good digital citizenship

I blog often about digital citizenship topics. Part of my day job (technology integration specialist for the Elk Grove Unified School District) involves supporting the teaching of digital citizenship across grade levels and subject areas. Beyond the school day, I co-curate the Digital ID Project.

Back to my day job. For the past 7 years, as the co-coordinator of our district-wide digital citizenship program, I’ve teamed with our very talented graphic designer and web specialist, Kathleen Watt, on all components of the program. We have written this post together.

If you visit our Digital Citizenship website, you will see a graphic, created by Kathleen, to show visitors at a glance the four areas of digital citizenship we focus on (cyberbullying, building positive digital footprints, respecting intellectual property, and protecting online privacy).

This post is in response to the need to teach – and model – respect for intellectual property. More specifically, it is our reaction to Digital Citizenship and Copyright Stations, a post we came upon this morning via the wonderful, timely DigCit Daily. We are always looking for new ideas for teaching about copyright, since our teachers often share that they are trying to build their comfort levels in teaching about intellectual property rights and responsibilities.

To see one of our digital citizenship images copied without crediting the source was disappointing – and ironic, considering the image is being used as part of another district’s digital citizenship program. A quick reverse image search on Google turned “disappointing” into “troubling.” We find it hard to believe that more than a few educators have taken the image without attributing it back to Elk Grove – all for the purpose of promoting their own digital citizenship programs. (Shout out to the Plumas Lake School for crediting the source!)

We’ve created the Oh no they didn’t! slideshow to show our reaction, reflection, and next steps in dealing with the apparently very real issue of educators perhaps teaching, but not modeling, respect for intellectual property.

November 29, 2013
by blogwalker

GoldieBlox vs. Beatie Boys – A digital citizenship lesson in the making

If you (like me) believe that implementation of effective digital citizenship plans at school sites should include opportunities for students to put digital citizenship lessons into practice, then I bet you will share my interest in a recent lawsuit filed by the Beastie Boys against the California company GoldieBlox over the now viral Rube Goldberg style “Princess Machine” video.

I really like Eriq Gardner’s post Beastie Boys, ‘Girls’ Viral Video in Copyright Infringement Fight because he includes the four factors a judge would use in evaluating a case for fair use:

Is that “fair use”? To answer the question, a judge will be looking at the four factors of fair use: the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion taken and the effect of the use upon the potential market.”

I would love to hear from teachers who plan to share the article and case with their students as a shared read, or, better yet, as an invitation to discuss, debate and follow the case. To add to the messiness of the case, I recommend adding Sylvia Martinez’s post Need an Inspirational Video? How about one of kids making not selling? for raising some thought-provoking questions about the video.

As school sites in my district head into the second year of implementing  digital citizenship curriculum (to meet CIPA e-rate requirements and, more importantly, to ensure that students are “community ready” as well as “college and career ready”), many teachers have shared with me that while they are comfortable initiating conversations and lessons on cyberbullying, digital footprints, and online privacy, they do not feel prepared to move beyond teaching about plagiarism to addressing copyright and fair use. I think the GoldiBlox vs. Beastie Boys case may change their reluctance as they – and their students – follow the case and come to understand that fair use is an argument – on a case-by-case basis.

Thank you to the ever-inspiring Jim Bentley for tweeting me the link to the GoldBlox article. I bet Jim’s 5th grade filmmakers will also be following the case!


July 22, 2012
by blogwalker

Learning to “Flex our fair use muscles”

I’m a huge fan of YouTube. I really appreciate some of the digital citizenship/media literacy videos they’ve created and shared this year, such as Detecting Lies and Staying True.  This is one of several that I’ve embedded into the Digital ID project wiki because in 2 minutes it lays out the need for students to question information, an essential (digital) literacy skill.

I was therefore excited to delve into the lessons YouTube  just released as part of their free digital citizenship curriculum.  The one area of digital citizenship I find teachers are the least comfortable discussing or teaching is the fine line between copyright and fair use.  I was hoping that YouTube would have a content-rich, yet straight-forward piece that teachers would feel comfortable using with their students, similar to style of Detecting Lies and Staying True.

Maybe it was a mistake to start with the Fair Use Section of YouTube’s curriculum. But I did – and was frankly, well, disappointed by the lack of content. And the videos are weak.  Perhaps the fact that YouTube did not produce either Fair Use & Copyright or Legal Information  is part of the problem.

I suspect the bigger problem is that there are not yet enough advocates for fair use for educators jumping in to produce informative, student-friendly guides and videos on the topic….and for a good reason: fair use, unlike copyright, is a little messy to explain. In my current job as a tech integration specialist, I often receive questions from teachers about fair use, generally related to projects their students are working on that will eventually move beyond the walls of the classroom to an authentic audience. I no longer provide teachers with Hall Davidson’s Copyright and Fair Use chart, which, unfortunately, even though the title refers to the chart as “guidelines,” the opening sentence states that the chart “was designed to inform teachers of what they may do under the law.” So it sort of sounds like law, no? (Note: Hall Davidson has since made several videos on fair use. He mentions the misinterpretation of “guidelines” for legal policy.)

Although the chart does eliminate much of the messiness of fair use, it does not provide students with any understanding of the original intent of copyright, as stated in the U.S. Constitution, or their rights to claim fair use, as spelled out in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. A much better guide for teachers (and where I learned about Section 107) is the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy (and accompanying slideshow). Thanks to the on-going work and commitment of Renee Hobbs and Kristin Hokanson, more and more educators, including myself, feel confident to help teachers and students understand both their responsibilities and their rights when it comes to using copyrighted materials for school-related projects.

I’ve had the good fortunate over the past few years to participate in several events with Renee and Kristin.  I’ve made progress: I’m now to the point where I actually see the “messiness” of fair use as a good thing – as a process that requires critical thinking and promotes media literacy. Kristin’s Reasoning Tool for Fair Use and her scenarios are great starting points for classroom discussions on what constitutes fair use and how to construct an argument, on a case-per-case basis. It is through discussion opportunities on such pertinent, timely topics that students become active, contributing (digital) citizens.

In addition to Renee’s and Kristin’s resources, I’m very grateful to Common Sense Media for stepping beyond the artificial percentages of the Copyright and Fair Use chart and crafting outstanding lessons that align with ISTE NETS, as well as the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy. Check out, for instance, Common Sense Media’s Rework, Reuse, Remix lesson for grades 6-8. The two lead up lessons provide students with the background on copyright issues. They are well-prepared to then head into this lesson and “expand their understanding of fair use, apply it to case studies, and create an original work of fair use.” Thank you, Common Sense Media.

I completely understand that YouTube is constantly having to remove videos that are clearly in copyright violation. But, at the same time, when I re-watch 3 of my favorite long-standing samples of remix + a newcomer (listed below) still, thankfully, hosted by YouTube, I feel the need to speak out and request policies that allow and invite our students to collaborate on a remix….already knowing they will raise the bar on this 21st century genre:

I honestly don’t mean to criticize YouTube. Their venue is an incredible teaching resource, and I very much appreciate their responsiveness to educators.  As I mentioned above, YouTube content rightfully occupies a chunk of real estate on the Digital ID wiki. My concern is simply with Fair Use, one tiny piece of their digital citizenship curriculum.  But given how many times over the last 72 hours I’ve seen links to their digital citizenship curriculum come into my Twitter feed, my concern is that school districts and sites that are just now waking up to newest CIPA requirements may opt for using – and limiting themselves to – this curriculum since the topics do address the three required CIPA components: Internet safety, appropriate online behavior, and cyberbullying – even though the depth and breadth fall way short of what Common Sense Media offers.

I hope administrators and teachers will create policies that guide students in the ethical use of intellectual property – in ways that do not shut down creativity and innovation. Although legal mandates differ from state to state and country to county, I believe strategies, best practices, and policies for teaching our students respect for intellectual property – including allowances for fair use – are topics worthy of both local and international conversations.

How does your school district educate students about copyright law and restrictions while encouraging them to, as Renee Hobbs puts it, “flex their fair use muscles” ?



June 27, 2011
by blogwalker

ISTE Day 2: Sandy Hayes – Using Images and Music Ethically in Multimedia Writing

I’m  joining my NWP/NCTE colleague Sandy Hayes to explore more resources for teaching about copyright. Sandy’s starting with the  Simpson’s Intellectual Personality quiz, followed by Fair Use and Cultural Development – a beautiful look at evolution of art icons.

“Fair Use is not a formula. It’s a matter of interpretation. And you can talk about “fair” and “more fair.”

Sandy’s approach to this messy topic is very user-friendly and a wonderful complement to Renee Hobbs’ Copyright Clarity session. Sandy has already posted her PowerPoint and her handout on the ISTE Workshop Description page. Besides a great collection of teaching resources, her handout also includes a template for an analytical storyboard for a book trailer of PSA.

Super job,  Sandy!

August 22, 2010
by blogwalker

Copyright Clarity – Workshop, Book, Resources, and More!

I’m back from a three-day whirlwind trip to Philadelphia, where I joined 23 other educators for Renee Hobb’s fabulous Copyright Clarity Train-the-Trainers Workshop. And just like the workshop subtitle states, I’m truly ready and excited to “ Share the Good News about How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning.

This event was actually my third time to join Renee- and her wonderful co-presenter Kristen Hokanson – in their commitment to help teachers step out of the delimiting fog of copyright confusion and start “flexing their fair use muscles.”

My first session was a 3-hour ISTE 2009 workshop on Fair Use for Educators. I blogged that session live, using the same order of resources and activities, so that I would have a step-by-step guide for facilitating  a similar workshop. What impressed me about the session was that in 3 hours, I left, as did everyone at my table, ready to put away forever Hall Davidson’s handy chart on fair use and start the conversations back in my district on “how fair use supports digital learning.”

Last January, I joined Kristen and Renee for their Educon 2.2 session: The Cost of Copyright Confusion: The Future of intellectual property in a Remix Generation. How was this session different from their ISTE session? Time – 90 minutes vs. 3 hours. Although I would prefer a 3-hour, or even an all-day session, the majority of invitations I’ve had for unrolling Copyright Clarity are for  60-90 minute sessions.  I think if you refer participants to the Media Education website, provide a hyperlinked workshop agenda, and strongly recommend that they purchase a copy of Copyright Clarity, participants will leave ready to start their own journeys out of the copyright confusion fog.

Knowing that good things happen in 3’s, I registered for the all-day Copyright Clarity August 19 workshop in Philadelphia. At some point during last summer’s ISTE Conference, by chance, in one of the many crowded convention center hallways, I passed Kristen – who told me, “you should join us for the train-the-trainer summer workshop.” Coincidentally, my NWP/NCTE colleague and ISTE roommate Sandy Hayes had just been extended the same invitation during Renee’s workshop. A few weeks, a few emails, and a few phone calls later, it was settled: Sandy and I would meet in Philly and end our summers as certified Program Associates for Copyright Clarity. Definitely a great decision!

I’ll end with a few of my new Copyright Clarity take-aways:

  • A concept: You truly do NOT have to be a copyright expert to flex your fair use muscles. As a Copyright Clarity trainer, I will NOT be the one to rule whether teachers’ and students’ use of copyrighted materials could be argued as fair use. But I will be available to help them examine individual scenarios and start the reasoning process.
  • A strategy:  Want your workshop participants to leave feeling pumped and ready to replicate your session at their own sites? Working in teams, have them as an ending activity go through your workshop PowerPoint and prepare themselves to come in front of the group when their names are drawn to present one or two of the slides, which they have put their own spin on, based on an audience of their choice (administrators, tech integration specialists, parents, etc.).  Renee demonstrated this strategy beautifully, calling for “warm comments” after each team finished their 1-2 minute presentations.  What a great way to build conversations, enthusiasm, and confidence!
  • A CUE tip:  If you’re traveling to either the fall or spring CUE Conference, be sure to get to any of Spiro Bolos‘ sessions!. He has joined the dynamic duo of Renee and Kristen, which is now an absolutely amazing trio. But if you can’t make Spiro’s real-time sessions, you can also read about his transformative projects in Copyright Clarity.

Next on my Copyright Clarity to-do list: try converting the CC PowerPoint into a Prezi, a seed planted by my slideshow activity partner Mike George.

June 28, 2009
by blogwalker

Live from NECC – Best Practices in Fair Use for 21st Century Educators

I’m in my first workshop for NECC 2009 – Renee HobbsFair Use for Educators session. With copyright being such a huge and complex issue, I’m hoping to get a better handle on all those sticky issues teachers deal with increasingly as they led their students onto online learning and producing of content.

Joining Renee Hobbs are Joyce Valenza, who just shared the wiki for this event –; Mike RobbGrieco, and Kristen Hokanson. There’s even a link to the session handout!

Renee has kicked off the session by assuring us that by end of the three hours all our questions on copyright will be answered:-)

She’s starting by walking us through her slide presentation, which I’m annotating below:

  • What is media literacy? “It’s the sharing of meaning through symbolic forms.”
  • Question: What’s the purpose of copyright? Partner activity
    • owner’s rights
    • ability to make a profit
    • other?
  • Purpose of copyright is to promote creativity, innovation and spread of knowledge – Article 1, Section 8 US Constitution. So where did our misunderstandings come from?
  • Section 110 copyright law – allows teachers to share entire video despite “for home use only” statement. Section 107 1976 – “The right to use copyrighted materials freely without payment or permission for purposes such as ‘criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.”
  • How Teachers Cope:
    • see no evil
    • close the door
    • hyper-comply
  • How does fair use apply to using popular and mass media? We’re watching the Center for Social Media video – -overview – which I watched for the first time last fall – and realized I could no longer use Hall Davidson’ niffy two-page chart. It’s all about “Transformativeness” = adding new meaning and value to an original works.
  • Myth buster: There are no cases of educators being sued for using copyrighted materials for teaching and learning who have actually sued. “Reasonable standard” of fair use – exempts educators liability if you made a reasonable attempt to comply with copyright as pertains to educational purposes.
  • Fair use reasoning in action: “When a user of copyrighted materials adds value to, or re-purposes materials for a use different from that for which it was originally intended, it will likely be considered transformative use; it will also likely be considered fair use” – Joyce Valenza. This is huge piece of the fair use puzzle!

Remix in Eduction – Mike RobbGrieco – also with Renee at Temple University – “Our students are fully immersed in remix culture. Remix is a way to make sense of our culture – but also well-suited for commentary, critique, and democratic exchange.”

  • Questions to ask: (and the video is incorporated into lesson – p 17 of handout).
    • benefit to society vs. cost to copyright older
    • transformativeness (is purpose transformed: is context transformed?
    • What is the effect on potential markets?
    • What is the amount of source text used

Back to Renee – How do you grab clips from DVDs – which are encrypted with the purpose of preventing copying? Renee went to Library of Congress Copyright Office regarding ability to de-encript DVD clips. She’ll know in October if her request will become a reality. And she emphasizes that “If we don’t claim our right, they’ll erode into ‘pay for click.'”

Kristen Hokanson – Oh, my… Watch Kristen’s video on her Upper Merrian Case Study. She’s also created a PDF worksheet to guide teachers. Check out her hands-on Scenarios! We broke into groups to work with the cards, which generated very focused conversations. Great stuff!!

This workshop is the only fee-based one I’ve signed up for. It was worth every penny! I actually feel that I have a handle on fair use for educators – and am looking forward to taking this training and resources back to my district.

January 25, 2009
by blogwalker
1 Comment

Three January Favs from Teachers Teaching Teachers

Following the January 14 Teachers Teaching Teachers Skypcast, I’ve been trying to get the word out to teachers in my district, region, and edublogosphere about three outstanding projects:

# 1 – BrainFlix’s great video contest, with its goal of helping students prep for the vocab section of the SATs. Come on, what better way for kids to build their vocabulary levels than by creating or viewing vocab videos?! The rules are simple and explicit and students can win $. So checkout the list and invite your students in. The contest ends March 16. What a great opportunity for our students to contribute to an online learning repository.

#2 Read-i-cide: A Conversation VoiceThread – Thanks to George Mayo for sharing about a VoiceThread created by Bill Ferriter with Kelly Gallagher . If you are concerned about the impact on mandated anthologies + worksheets on students’ engagement with reading, come join the VoiceThread conversation.

# Center for Social Media – I’ve already blogged about the excellent resources Peter Jazsi, Renee Hobbs, et al, are adding to this site. I keep adding more and more of their links to my Toolkit4BlogWalker wiki. But, oh my, for some hilarious examples of remixes, checkout all the categories at

January 17, 2009
by blogwalker
1 Comment

Transformativeness – I Get It!

Professor Peter Jaszi, from the Center for Social Media, was one of the speakers on Wednesday evening’s very informative and engaging Teachers Teaching Teachers Skypecast. I’ve printed out a copy of the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, which Jaszi helped produce. It’s actually an easy read – and only 17 pages long, so not too intimidating.  I really like the premise that “educators need to be leaders, not followers, in establishing best practices in fair use” and that we should be exploring the issues with our students.

I’m looking with particular interest at page 13 of the Code: Developing Audiences for Student Work and its use of the term “transformativenss”:

“If student work that incorporates, modifies, and re-presents existing media content meets the transformativeness standard, it can be distributed to wide audiences under the doctrine of fair use.”

Between Jaszi’s Skypcast and reading through the Code, I had a vague idea of what transformativeness might look like, but somewhere on the Center for Social Media site, I found a link to a YouTube video that absolutely made transformativeness visible. Note: Not appropriate for younger audiences

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