Participate 4.1.1 Digital Rights and Responsibilities
Many discussions revolve around how to keep people safe online, but we must also consider how to protect content. Members of a Digital Learning Community need to respect others’ work and adhere to laws and policies that address responsible and accessible use of the Internet’s resources and tools, including Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons licenses. An environment where creative work is protected, collaborative efforts are encouraged, and online resources are used is simple to establish with a few commonsense policies and procedures.
First, every Digital Learning Community needs to have a Responsible Use Policy (RUP) or an Accessible Use Policy (AUP) posted. These policies are similar to a Terms of Service document, and they tell members which behaviors are appropriate within the community and which behaviors violate ethical codes of conduct regarding online resources and technology. Topics may include plagiarism, piracy, and bullying. Many schools and online forums already have an AUP in place for their cinder block classrooms, and the digital instructor could easily adapt those policies for the DLC. Many examples and guides for building AUPs are also online. Common Sense Media has a great guide here.
In addition to an AUP, information regarding Copyright, Fair Use , and Creative Commons licenses should also be posted. These policies help members and the instructor to identify and condemn misuse.
Here are some good resources for Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons to get started:
Once the RUP or AUP is posted, the instructor should plan to review these policies and openly discuss key issues within each policy, the motivation behind each policy, and the consequences of violating parts of the policy. Some students might be confused about what the terms mean or have trouble identifying the behaviors that would violate the AUP and/or license policies, so the instructor should prepare mini-lessons or activities that specifically address the AUP, Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons issues. Common Sense Media offers a good lesson on Copyright and Fair Use with videos to support each, and this video is a student-friendly introduction to Creative Commons.
After students explore and discuss each topic, they could complete a quick assessment using Google Forms and then conduct an Internet scavenger hunt to look for examples of plagiarism, fair use, and different forms of Creative Commons licenses. Students could also analyze scenarios and discuss together whether they adhere to or break the policies. Finally, each student could create their own Digital Citizen Bill of Rights by drawing from each of the policies. These could be shared to create a Digital Learning Community Bill of Rights.
Although teachers might balk at planning lessons that don’t strictly match their curricula, teachers and students will benefit from exploring Copyright and Creative Commons through facilitated mini-lessons. First, open discussions at the beginning of the course will help develop relationships between learners and the teacher, and this dialogue will help prevent accidental plagiarism further down the course. Also, by emphasizing that it is important to protect creative, original work, the teacher will implicitly communicate to the students that he/she will value it. Students will work harder knowing that their teacher cares about their efforts.