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.
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.”