With increasing pace of information online, the rules have changed when it comes to accessing original information. International education faces a whole new challenge, often setting guidelines and requirements on a school by school basis. We tend to become the keepers of our own laws when it comes to copyrighted material. Justified by the stringent shipping procedures, some take the view that the “ends justify the means” with copying worksheets here and there. But what laws technically apply to our local? It is all in the name of better educating our students….right?
But what are we REALLY teaching our students when we reproduce copyrighted material for them? In South Korea, there is quite a booming business for stores to copy and bind textbooks for students so that they can write in and highlight the text. While I completely understand a student wanting this format of a textbook, I always cringe at the sight of one.
In light of all this, I cannot help but ask the question: are we simply creating more red tape for education? If our sole purpose is to educate students shouldn’t we be releasing more material rather than restricting it? If we are giving credit for the work, shouldn’t that be enough?
Organizations like the Creative Commons are on the right track encouraging the free share of information. Flikr has jumped on board, offering incredible resources of photography free for use. With information being disseminated at such a rapid rate, this offers a great way for all to share their information while at the same time protecting it.
It is our responsibility to acknowledge the wishes of the original author. This means in our classrooms modeling the behavior for our students. It also means protecting our own material and educating them on how to do the same. So often, material that is copyrighted fails to protect itself against unfair use. iTunes has done an incredible job at protecting its media against unfair use. As a result, both authors and consumers have put their trust in the product.
I believe educators should be collaborative. However, this requires work on both ends. If an individual allows open source to material, then credit should be given. Also, in order for the wheel to keep spinning all educators should be in the practice of ‘giving.’
In the classroom
A colleague of mine Brian Bennett had his AP Chemistry students for their ‘After the Exam’ project create a Chemistry Lab Manual. The students really took ownership in the fact the manual was going to be available for download by people around the globe. He added a creative commons license to the manual license and added their names to it, their first ‘published’ material. A great lesson in both creating their digital footprint and the importance of copyrighting material.