Monday, November 13, 2006

Why Do People Share?

Are you one of the many educators who have struggled with how to provide students with music and photos that students can ethically use in multimedia presentations? The increased access to photos and music available on the Internet increases our responsibility to model and teach computer ethics and help our students understand copyright. The Read/Write Web has created a wealth of opportunities for anyone to publish text, images, video, or music. With these increased opportunities for creative works to be shared, came the need to redefine the way we share.

Along came - Creative Commons with the mission of "Enabling the legal sharing and reuse of cultural, educational, and scientific works.” Creative Commons has changed the way I teach "intellectual property". While I still use valuable resources like Kathy Shrocks's Copyright and Citation Resources as a reference and the free NoodleBib MLA account by Noodletools , I no longer start by introducing students and teachers to "what they can't do" because of copyright and the restrictions of Fair Use Legislation. Instead I start by introducing them to what they CAN do because of new ways to share and grant permission for others to use your work. Creative Commons new comics and videos make it fun and easy to help students understand copyright and also spread the spirit of sharing.

I still stress the importance of proper documentation and respecting copyright. I show them my email correspondence with author Tom Friedman granting permission for me to use some of his materials in my presentations as testimony to how the Web has made it easier than ever to contact authors of copyrighted materials for permission. But now I start my lessons with a different 'essential question' --- "Why Do People Share?"

We explore Yvonnie Kim's insight that "Some might share because it is more fun, some might share because they believe it is for social goodness, and some might share because they want more people to see what they have done. No matter what motivation individuals might have for sharing, it seems obvious that ’sharing’ is related to the issue of how people are motivated and eventually how they are rewarded.”

I have discovered that the approach to teaching intellectual property combined with the spirit of independence and sharing that is an inherent part of adolescent development makes the students desire and seek out legal resources instead of grumbling that they can't use "Green Day" as the music to their presentation.