I am sure that most educators would agree that the nature of Web 2.0 has really exceeded the threshold of contemporary copyright licensing. Creative Commons has mitigated this somewhat, but [I think] teachers in general lack the confidence to truly bring their classrooms online for fear of copyright violation. I am in agreement with Vicki Davis [a.k.a. CoolCatTeacher] on this point.
So, I was thrilled to read Vicki Davis’ recent blog posting about ccLearn – a division of Creative Commons that just launched this summer. Many of us will recognize the names on the ccLearn Steering Committee: James Boyle, Hal Abelson, Michael Carroll, and Jimmy Wales.
ccLearn is a division of Creative Commons which is dedicated to realizing the full potential of the Internet to support open learning and open educational resources (OER). Our mission is to minimize barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials — legal barriers, technical barriers, and social barriers.
With legal barriers, we advocate for licensing of educational materials under interoperable terms, such as those provided by Creative Commons licenses, that allow unhampered modification, remixing, and redistribution. We also educate teachers, learners, and policy makers about copyright and fair-use issues pertaining to education.
With technical barriers, we promote interoperability standards and tools to facilitate remixing and reuse.
With social barriers, we encourage teachers and learners to re-use educational materials available on the Web, and to build on each other’s contributions.
For those of us who have obtained our digital passports [thanks to Steve Dembo for that catchy phrase], the issues of intellectual property and the democratizing of information that Web 2.0 has illuminated are not necessarily black and white. The shades of gray are infinite, though the CC licensing designations have helped.
While ccLearn has only just launched, it has articulated a fairly ambitious list of goals:
- Working with open education leaders to refine and share standards for the creation and use of OER.
- Sponsor competitions demonstrating the power of open education to enhance teaching and learning.
- Building communities of users and expertise around open learning and OER.
- Easing the process of discovering OER and open learning communities.
- Leveraging the power of open education to bridge educational divides: grade levels, disciplines, cultures and countries, and formal and informal instruction.
- Pursuing outreach and translation of intellectual property issues (copyright, fair use, educational exceptions, etc.) for educators worldwide.
- Building tools for derivatives, re-use, and creative alternatives to static content.
When I am working with other teachers on podcasting, blogging, digital storytelling, or any digital authoring activity, the issue of copyright infringement ALWAYS sparks apprehension and some measure of debate. Of course, this issue is not limited to teachers. I experience similar discussion when I introduce digital activities to my students.
Are you just learning about CC?
While I am certainly not an expert in any measure when it comes to copyright, I have been forced to investigate copyright license as I have delved further into the Web 2.0 applications with my students.
I came across an excellent comic, "Spectrum of Rights," posted on the Creative Commons wiki that explains in four short cells how licensing works and what protections copyright confers. This would be a great one to use with your students as an introduction into copyright issues.