Monday, February 20, 2012

Creative Commons Post (Part 1)

One thing I found very interesting in both the Teachers Teaching Teachers talk with Peter Jaszi ( and the best practices reading ( was that fair use in practice is actually open to a lot wider use than just in an educational setting, and that it can apply to educational uses beyond just a strictly educational setting such as a brick and mortar classroom.  I appreciated learning something about the guidelines by which to make my own assessments, such as whether one’s use of copyrighted material is for a different purpose and different audience (thereby not harming the copyright holder financially) and if you’ve used appropriate portions.  While the chart we were provided a link to was appealing to me in being pretty straightforward, it was also surprising to learn the standards outlined in it for the most part have no real legal standing, and may actually be much more restrictive than fair use allows in many instances. 

A challenge I personally have with fair use doctrine is that it pertains to US copyright law whereas I teach in Japan, where laws are quite different.  We recently had quite a bit of debate within my institution about whether Japanese copyright law allowed us to use textbook passages for entrance test reading assessments (the answer seems to be yes if it is attributed) and if we were allowed to alter them by simplifying vocabulary or changing sentence structure (less clear if this is allowed or not).  An interesting issue that came up during this debate is that publishers actually seem to be happy to have their material used in this way, as it tends to result in more sales the next year because these tests are made public each year and then people use them as a guide for how to study.  While this may be true, I was thinking from a materials writer’s standpoint, and found it inappropriate that there was changing of structure to the point to sometimes alter meaning while simply attributing it to the original author and not acknowledging the alterations.

Another interesting thing in the talk was actually not really related to copyright at all but kind of a serendipitous discovery.  The last few minutes focused on something called “BrainyFlix”.  This was contest for students making videos to teach SAT vocabulary in an interesting way, one word in roughly one minute.  As the guys behind this described the idea, I thought, “Hey, I could use these for my students to study English words!”  I started thinking that not only could I have them watch the videos to learn vocabulary, but I could also get them to make their own.  Then, lo-and-behold, one of the other teachers in the conversation piped in that this sounded great for foreign language teaching.  I am pretty sure I found something to add to my toolbox of making my teaching more interesting as well as appealing to more varied learning styles!

I know one of the key elements of this assignment is embedding and citing a creative commons licensed image as well as licensing one of my own.  Unfortunately, I have run into a “technical difficulties” roadblock in this respect.  I am currently away from home, and am in Bellevue with my students.  While I had managed to do most of this session before having to leave to come here, and downloaded many of the materials to review on the bus and airplane rides, I did not get to the point of selecting an image or licensing one of my own.  I brought my MacBook (which I hadn’t used for a few months) with me to finish all that, as well as keep studying while I am here, forgetting that I have continually had problems with images, including maps, displaying in Firefox on this machine.  I have tried following various troubleshooting advice from Firefox and changing overall system preferences, to no avail.  I have also tried using Safari since getting here, but it seems to be unable to connect to the Internet for some reason.  So here I am stuck, unable for the moment to do this portion of the assignment, too jetlagged to come up with a creative solution, and with a deadline imminent.  So the best I can do is post this for now, and try to come back and add the other portions when I find a way around my technical problems.  More later…

No comments:

Post a Comment

You are welcome to post comments, though they will be moderated before appearing and comments deemed inappropriate by the blog owner will be deleted.