When I was in eighth grade I plagiarized on a few projects, and I was caught by my teacher. I had to have a meeting with my principal and my parents. I admitted to plagiarizing my science assignments, but not the poetry for language arts unit. I rented some science videos and had taken notes and typed those up, turn it in. It was an unpleasant situation, but I was embarrassed and learned my lesson. It is incredibly easy to plagiarize today with all of the copy and pasting from website to various software. This was very evident this year with my third graders.
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This year I taught a third grade PowerPoint unit, “If I could go anywhere in the world…” The students used Encarta for Kids to research the country they would like to travel to. In my demo PowerPoint I briefly covered copyright and citing sources of work that is not theirs. It was clear to me in the first thirty minutes that the idea of copyright and citing was not understood. I changed my demo PowerPoint to focus on what copyright is, why and how we can use it. This resulted in my students thinking great I can copy anything I want as long as I included where I got it from. This created a series of copy and paste information on slides, I was not happy about this result. I talked to my students about the importance of creating original work, I explained that anyone can copy and paste. I was interested in what they have to say, not a copy of information from a encyclopedia, that anyone can do. This idea was lost on many of them, but not all. A handful of students were able to research and paraphrase accurate information about their country. Their presentations were much better because they had digested the information and understood it, shown by retelling it to the audience. Reflecting on the things that went wrong with this unit, I can help but think that I haven’t set a good example. Even though it’s Myanmar, I should be regularly using cited photos and including the copyrighted information in any lesson it appears in.
The question about global society needing to rethink copyright laws is a good one. My students are not exposed to many of the copyright issues that go on in the world around them. Do I accept the lack of copyright law in this country? Or do I as a teacher adhere to the highest expectation of the copyright rules to ready my students for any country they may go to? I think there is a need for a global copyright revision, however I don’t think it will ever include all the countries in the world. The Creative Commons movement is an inspiring reaction to our “all rights reserved” copyright laws today. Giving creators the power to choose how they would like would like their work to be used by others. Introducing Creative Commons to students would be a great to start or continue the dialogue about copyright issues and technology. I think that we do have a responsibility as educators to set a positive example by consistently citing sources correctly. This one I’m definitely guilty of, and need to improve on.
I have to admit that my school uses unauthorized copies of software. This has been the norm here because current educational software has been, and continues to be difficult to find. I read the articles from course two, week three about the particulars of copyright with iTunes, podcasts, and fair use, and the problems that can arise from not following them. Currently the detailed questions about using these resources are not applicable to me because we primarily work offline, but they will apply in the future. The importance of the reading for me is to highlight the risks that are taken when copyright and media are used inappropriately. I will continue to set up my school for being connected someday, starting with a good policy on copyright.
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