Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not Who? But How?

I don't think the question is:
"Who is responsible for teaching students about online safety?"
I think the question is:
"How do we teach students to be safe online?"
We being teachers, administrators, activities supervisors, and parents.

I fall into three of the categories above - I am a parent of two children (12 & 16 years old), I am a teacher of young children (5-7 year olds), and I help with a Girl Guide Troop (12-14 year olds). So now what I need is help. How do you make online safety relevant, understandable, and meaningful to all kids at all developmental levels? Especially when we don't all have the same definitions and understandings of privacy, cyberbullying, and "friends".

As a teacher and volunteer - I've looked at the Acceptable Use Policies for all three schools. Online safety is mentioned in all of them, mostly - keeping passwords secure and not sharing personal information. I'm not sure that is enough guidance for students to really understand what it means to be safe online and more importantly why it is important to be safe online and what to do if you don't feel safe. I know that the AUP's aren't curriculum or benchmarks and standards, but maybe that's what is needed to help teachers know what to, when to, and how to teach students about online safety.

As a parent I was very apprehensive when my own children wanted to start participating in online social networks.
My son's online social networking began with World of Warcraft in middle school and now he is part of the Facebook community. My daughter started with Club Penguin while she was in second grade, she has now moved on to Howrse. (A side note - when I asked her how to spell the website she of course wanted to know why I wanted to know. So I told her that I was going to use it in my blog. After reading what I had already written over my shoulder, she immediately assured me that even though she has friends on the website that she doesn't "know" she only communicates with one of her friends from school that her and I both "know". I assured her that I knew she was listening to me when we talked about "knowing" people and that we would have many more talks about it.) As a parent I have tried to stay aware of what type of social networks my children are using and I continually talk to them about being safe and not sharing too much. But I don't know if I'm going about it in the right way. Am I being effective or just enoying? Am I doing everything I should? Actually as I am writing this post I realize that the one thing that I haven't done is talk to my kids about what to do if they get themselves into a situation that is uncomfortable, inappropriate, and/or harassing. I guess I know what I need to do next as a parent - as for the when it will be soon - the how I need to think about.

So now as an educator I need to figure out the what, when, and how for my students.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Our Role in the Use of Fair Use

I think as educators we have the responsibility to model, teach, and encourage our students to adhere to copyright laws and the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.

In a world of Integrated Media Literacy Education there are two things that need to occur to ensure educators are living up to their responsibility:

1. We ourselves, as educators, need to be good models and follow the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. Instead of "Do as I say, not as I do", it should be "Do as I do!"

But before that can happen:

2. Everyone involved in the creation, distribution, and presentation of curriculum in all subject areas needs to know what the copyright laws are and understand the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy.

(Those of us involved in the second course of the ISB Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy Program:
21st Century Literacy Ideas, Questions, and Issues, are getting the information and training that we want and need. But what about everyone else?)

So now the question is: "What is a school's role in making sure that their educators are prepared to use Fair Use and teach students to use it, too?"

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Transformation, Intention, Distribution, Attribution, Limitation

Transformation, Intention, Distribution, Attribution, Limitation
These are the words that came to me as I sat down to do my blog post about Copyright and Fair Use. Each of these words are important in their own way but transformation is the one that leaves me with a couple of questions:

What actually constitutes "transformation"? Can you just change the color, font, size, and/or layout of an original piece of work and it has been transformed? Like I did with these Wordles that I created all using the same original words.

(A side note - I think this is one of the coolest websites ever. If you haven't tried it you should! Also you can create them and use them in blogs as long as you attribute the images to So all of the images in this blog post are from Wordle and are licensed under Creative Commons.)

What if someone takes a piece that you created, be it text, graphics, or pictures, and uses it to create an amazing product for all to enjoy and benefit from? That would be great and extremely flattering.

BUT . . . . . .

What if someone takes a piece that you created and uses it to promote or represent something that is offensive to you? Much like the use of the picture of the teenager by Virgin Mobile in one of their ad campaigns. Or if someone used it to favorably promote an idea like racism? It might be o.k. under Fair Use - the purpose of the piece has changed - but now how to you feel about being a part of the transformed work?

So, is Fair Use fair to original creators and transformer?