Muddling through the blogosphere

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” ?



May 1, 2012
by blogwalker

Four Days Left for Digital Citizenship PSA Challenge

If you’re looking for opportunities to take your students’ videos to beyond the classroom, check out this contest from the Digital ID project. But act fast – entries are due this Friday, May 4, at midnight:

Digital Citizenship PSA Contest

Tell us/show us, as a (digital) citizen, how you exercise your rights and act responsibly.

To help make your declaration public, we’ve created an online opportunity. Check it out!

(Up to) 90-Second Video Contribution
All students in grades 4-12 are warmly invited to contribute a video to our Digital Citizenship PSA Challenge Contest. Teachers may submit up to 3 student-generated videos. The rules are simple:

  • Video must address authentic issues relevant to digital citizenship (cyberbullying, intellectual property, digital footprint, protecting privacy)
  • Video must be appropriate for a mixed audience (from grade level to school board)
  • Video must follow appropriate copyright guidelines

For more information on the contest, along with guidelines to help building an award-winning PSA, visit the Digital ID – PSA Challenge page.

Winning entries will be showcased on both the Digital ID wiki and this blog.

If you know of other PSA opportunities for students to share their thoughts on topics of digital citizenship, please leave a comment.

March 18, 2012
by blogwalker
1 Comment

Digital ID Project – An invitation for collaboration

Bringing digital citizenship into the core curriculum

I just returned from a 4-day trip to the fabulous CUE Conference in fabulous Palm Springs, California. In addition to joining some outstanding speakers and sessions (which I’ll blog separately later today), the conference was also the first time my National Writing Project/MERIT colleague Natalie Bernasconi and I were able to co-present our Digital ID project.

We were fortunate to have a wonderful group of teachers and administrators, ranging from elementary through high school, joining us for the session – with a several jumping right in to join the wiki and add to the resources.

The goal of the Digital ID project is to collectively and collaboratively- in one online location – provide students, teachers, and parents with the resources and strategies to make digital citizenship an integral part of the core curriculum – while addressing the legal requirements of current legislation such a AB 307 and the Broadband Data Improvement Act.

Natalie and I warmly invite you to download, tweak, share, and contribute to our growing bank of resources. We especially want to draw your attention to our Digital Citizenship PSA Challenge. We would love to showcase your students’ projects!


September 20, 2008
by blogwalker

Childnet International – UK resource for kids, parents, teachers

I’m impressed with the U.K. Childnet International resources, including their links and PDF brochures on Young People, Music and the Internet and Young People and Social Networking. Nice handouts for parents – teachers too- to provide common sense guidelines for safe, effective, ethical use of the Internet.

The resources on their link are equally excellent. The intro sums up their mission:

Digital citizenship isn’t just about recognising and dealing with online hazards. It’s about building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage personal information, and about being internet savvy – using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way, and inspiring others to do the same.”

Digizen’s Cyberbullying resources also include a powerful video that I’m sure would spark classroom conversations, starting with the reality that kids in the U.K., just like in our school districts, are having to deal with 24/7 cyberbullying challenges.

June 30, 2008
by blogwalker

Digital Citizenship in Schools: NETS*s Refresh

Mike Ribble, director of Technology from Manhattan-Ogden School District in Kansas, is starting his session on digital citizenship, using the NETS standard. His opening quote in from the movie “Full Disclosure” with the quote “May you live in interesting times.” Technology opens so many possibilities but also so many issues.

NETS*Standard 5 in-a-nutshell definition: “The norms appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.” Full blown: Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal ethical behavior.

Why is digital citizenship important? (Side trip into Michael Wesch’s video A Vision of Students Today. What are the issues?:

  • providing tools without explaining how to use them
  • between two generations – one that has watched the growth of technology and one that has not known a world without digital opportunities (Prensky)
  • Setting a foundation for the future

Key Questions for today’s session:

  • What are the issues related to Digital Citizenship?
    • digital access
    • digital commerce
    • digital communication
    • digital literacy
    • digital security
    • digital etiquette
    • digital rights and responsibilities
    • digital law
    • digital health and welfare
  • How are we going to deal with them?
    • to understand Digital Citizenship we need to be able to see all the parts (Peter Senge, 1990)
    • working with AUPs – how can we turn them from negative phrasing to positive? (Jordan School District, Jordan Utah video on students powering down for school). How do we make it clear to students what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate. Considering that first graders are showing up to school with cell phones, we have to start in kindergarten.
  • Digital law: the legal rights and restrictions governing technology use.
    • YouTube video of teacher hitting a student, taken by a student on a cell phone
  • Digital health and welfare: the elements of physical and psychological well-being related to digital technology use. Internet addiction problem is exploding. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to alcoholism.
  • Digital security (self-protection): the precautions that all technology users must take to guarantee their personal safety and the security of their network. Constant issue with kids finding proxy servers to tunnel on by the firewall.
  • Digital Access: full electronic participation in society. Everyone should have opportunity to be involved in a digital society.
  • Dgial Communication: electronic exchange of information. All users of digital technologies need to understand the rules and options when using digital communication (cell phones, blogs, wikis, RSS).
  • Digital etiquette: the standards of conduct expected by other digital technology users. Students need to realize how their use of technology affects others.
  • Digital rights and responsibilities: the privileges and freedoms extended to all digital technology uers, and the behavioral expectations that come with them.
  • Digital literacy – the capability to use digital technology and knowing when and hwo to use it.
  • Digital commerce: the buying and selling of goods online.

So what do we do now? Where do we begin? Don’t attempt to teach them all at once. Work from the framework and work back out. IT departments and teaching and learning need to work together. State and federal need to coordinate where and how technology should be monitored.

February 19, 2008
by blogwalker

New Resources for Digital Citizenship – Get 3/Give 1

I really like the way the CTAP4 folks have organized resources for learning about and teaching all aspects of digital citizenship. They’ve included links to PowerPoints, workshop wikis, and even this wonderful poster. I think much of the credit for this valuable website goes to at&t’s Linda Uhrenholt.


I also appreciate Doug Johnson’s sharing his Cyberbullying and How to Avoid It student guide and poster – and Nancy Willard’s willingness to allow him to incorporate information from her website.  Doug will send the Word version to educators wanting to adapt the guide to meet their school or district’s guidelines.

And for our elementary students, I like McGruff’s Shrink the Cyberbully activity.

OK, in appreciation of all who are contributing resources to promote digital citizenship, I have one to give.  Many of the teachers and administrators attending my iSafety workshop ask for additional explanations of some the terminology that comes with Web 2.0.  I’ve been working with our district webmaster, who co-teaches the iSafety workshop, on developing a Cyberspace Glossary.  I can send the Word version to anyone who wants to tailor it for their own site.

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