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Monday, January 12, 2015

Digital Literacy and Responsibility

One of the most difficult things to deal with when using technology to create a project is the idea of using the internet responsibly. Our society and the way we consume media has changed so much and so quickly over the past few years and has resulted in little regard for other people's work. The idea of intellectual property has changed and we now scorn any government that tries to restrict our consumption of art and entertainment. We live in a society where it is perfectly acceptable to download music, TV series, films and books illegally. It is so common that almost everybody will have downloaded a song or a film at some point. It has become the norm. It is important to bear this in mind when we think about using online information and resources for and with our students.

The first thing we should be aware of is that our students will have been brought up in this society. They or their parents will almost certainly be used to sharing content they find online. Unless they have been taught about digital literacy at school, they will probably not credit the creator, or even know where it came from originally. Many secondary school students are asked to do projects where they will include photos found on a search engine without naming the source. They probably won't have a clear idea of what ownership or copyright is. This is true for many adults too. This is where we come in.

The first thing is to set a good example. In any slideshow that you create and share with students, include the correct attribution for every single image. Most people do this in the smallest legible font, but I would advise making it as big as you can without ruining the effect of the slide, especially the first few times. Make it noticeable. Encourage the students to ask what it is and why you have added this information.

 Something you can do to encourage your students to provide correct attribution on their projects is to refuse to mark their work unless it is in place. Alternatively, you could mark students down for not giving credit where it is due. They will not be happy, but they will learn for next time!

 Another thing you can do is get students to experience the feeling of having their work or property taken (stolen?) and shared by other people. Ask one of your students to send you a photo from their phone. Then tell them that you are going to share it with all your friends on Facebook without their permission. How would they feel about that? Take a piece of work they have done, say a piece of art or an essay they have written. Erase their name and replace it with your own. What do they have to say? It may be a bit dramatic, but it might just help the message sink in!

Show your students the different Creative Commons licenses and explain each one in simple terms. Ask them which one they would choose for a) a piece of art they are proud of b) a video they have uploaded to Youtube c) a presentation they spent hours working on.

At first it takes time and effort to credit other people's work, however small, but students need to realise how important it is to use information responsibly.

Of course with our ebooks, we need to be the first to follow the rules. If your ebook will be interactive and require students to add content of their own, they need to be shown how to do so responsibly. Involving students in the discussion of the hows, whys and wherefore can only be a step in the right direction.
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