Copy…Right?

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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About kuebelherr

I teach elementary technology at International School of Myanmar. I moved here from Flagstaff, AZ where I taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade in the states. I have spent most my time in Rhode Island, Oregon, New Mexico, and Arizona. Adjusting to living in Myanmar has grown my patience, and opened my eyes to a kind hearted people.
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3 Responses to Copy…Right?

  1. Avatar of Jen Jen says:

    Great post, thank you for your insight. I teach grade 6 and also have come across a platoon of students who are excellent at copying and pasting. Kudos to your third graders who were able to digest the message at hand. I live in Taiwan where students at my school have also not been introduced to copyright information from an early age. Many students don’t understand that they are violating copyright laws when they are downloading things for free that they should be paying for. They don’t see this as part of the problem, and my commentary on copyright often falls on deaf ears. I agree that we need to be good role models, and I will also be highlighting good policies on copyright to follow at my school.

  2. Is copyright really the ISSUE we are all making it out to be? Yes, living in a “copyright free world” would probably open up so many interesting possibilities in all fields not just education, but it will also force us to re-think how many of us could potentially earn a living from our “copyrighted” material.

    I believe you hit the point bang on the nose when you say, and I quote ” Giving creators the power to choose how they would like would like their work to be used by others.” Maybe that is what we need to teach our students? How to evaluate their creative works in terms of its sharing potential? What criteria should I be using to decide how I would like my work to be used? What options for sharing are out there? These important questions would allow our students to make their own informed decisions as to the relevancy of their work, the potential profitability of their work, and how they could get it “out there” for the greatest possible audience.

    I do not believe that we should be discussing the abandonment of copyright laws. They do serve a purpose. We should keep our focus on educating the digital generation in appropriate use and compliance with these laws…and I include myself in this as well.

    Copy- RIGHT…only when you have the permission.

  3. Avatar of Meghan Meghan says:

    I’m reminded of a 6th grade student that was very indignant one day with me, because she had posted a link on Edmodo for an assignment, and then another student posted the same link (although their summaries were written differently). She was furious, fully believing that he had taken her idea and that this could NOT be allowed. To my eyes, the situation seemed rather funny, as the articles were posted nearly at the same time, and chances were he simply didn’t see that she had posted first. Either way, this indignation, this “He used MY idea!”, seems to come rather naturally to the students when they are the ones creating. Yet to take someone else’s creation, especially when it is no one they can actually see, they just don’t really see the relevance. Even for me, just using compfight and taking creative commons images and citing them has heightened my awareness that someone actually creates all these images and texts, they come from an individual. Perhaps this is part of the key, to help students see that the internet is a product of a bunch of individual people like them, who have preferences about how they want to share their creations.

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