Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Digital Citizenship Week: Copyright and Wrong

creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by liako:
http://flickr.com/photos/liako/3700283776
Happy Digital Citizenship Week!  This year, Digital Citizenship Week is from October 19-25 and it's mission is to recognize and celebrate the safe, appropriate, and responsible use of technology. In lieu of Digital Citizenship Week, I thought I might share some information and resources regarding Copyright Law as it pertains to education. 

As Digital Citizens, we often emphasize the importance of digital safety, security, and appropriate communication, which are all critical elements of digital citizenship.  However, copyright is also a critical element of digital citizenship that often gets overlooked.  Why, you might ask?  Maybe because it's not valued as much as the other components of digital citizenship.  Or, maybe it's because we as educators don't fully understand copyright, or know how to find and use resources responsibly and appropriately.  I'm thinking it's the latter.  So, hopefully this blog post will shed some light into copyright and highlight some resources and tools that are available for educators and students to use for projects and learning assignments. 

So, what is Copyright exactly?  

Copyright is basically an exclusive right that is automatically given to the owner of an original work. To be considered work, it needs to be tangible in some form of text, imagery, visual art, audio, video, or performance.  Believe it or not, but, “Copyright vests automatically as soon as you create an original work that is fixed in a tangible medium.  Consequently, nearly every person in the country today is a copyright owner” (Crews, 2012, pp. 23-24).  For example, if you snap a photo on your smartphone, you automatically have copyright protection on that photo.  So in reality, we are all owners and users of copyrighted material.

What happens if I want to use someone else's work?

Below are some strategies that you can use to avoid copyright infringement (Crews, 2012, p. 139). However, it is always a good idea to include attribution to the author or source when using someone else's work:
  1. No permission is needed if the work is in the public domain
  2. No permission is needed if you use the work within fair use or any other exception
  3. Permission for some works may be available though a collective licensing agency such as Creative Commons
  4. Contact a copyright owner and draft a permission letter 
  5. Create your own original work  

1.  Public Domain: No permission is needed if the work is in the public domain. Works that are found in the public domain are works by owners who "... choose to publish online and to make the content available in full on the Internet, without restriction" (Crews, 2012, p. 37).  Due to recent advances in technology, many people are now choosing to publish their work online for open access. "Open access is a choice made by the copyright owner—not to relinquish rights, but to use the legal rights in order to make the work easily accessible" (Crews, 2012, p. 37). 

2.  Fair Use:  No permission is needed if you use the work within fair use.  When determining fair use, there are four factors that need to be considered: purpose, nature, amount, and effect (Crews, 2012, p. 59):
  • Purpose:  A nonprofit educational purpose can support a claim of fair use.  A transformative use can also be highly influential.
  • Nature:  Uses of factual, nonfiction works are more likely to be within fair use, while fair use applies more narrowly to creative works.
  • Amount: the less the amount of work used, the more likely it is fair use. 
  • Effect:  Uses that do not compete with the market for the copyrighted work are more likely fair use. 

3.  Creative Commons:  Permission for some works may be available through a collective licensing agency.  "Authors are now choosing to make many of their works available to the public under a Creative Commons license.  This voluntary system is essentially a grant of permission to the public to use the work for certain purposes. One of the most common options permits any noncommercial uses of the work with attribution to the author or source.  A work marked with that CC license may be used by anyone, for say, nonprofit education, provided the copies include the author’s name or other identification” (Crews, 2012, p. 37).  To find works that have a Creative Commons license, visit search.creativecommons.org.

4.  Reach Out:  Contact a copyright owner and draft a permission letter.  Sometimes it can be advantageous to make a general request to the copyright owner.  When making a request, it is often helpful to explain how you intend to use the work in connection with teaching or learning.  Some details to include in the request are (Crews, 2012):
  • A termination date for the permission
  • A maximum number of students using the work
  • The medium by which you will share the work
  • The specific nature of the use

5.  Create:  Become a copyright owner and create your own original work.   Often, the best solution to avoiding copyright infringement is to simply create your own work. Even though it might take longer, there can be a great sense of pride and accomplishment as a result.  Some ideas might include taking your own photos, drafting your own artwork, and writing down your own thoughts to be used for various projects and assignments.  And if you are interested in adding some extra protection to your work, you can always consider registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office

Why Bother?

After reading this, some of you might thinking to yourself, "People infringe on copyright almost every single day (with or without even knowing it).  No one ever gets caught and no one ever faces any consequences, so why should we even bother paying attention to the complications of copyright at all?"  While that may appear to be the case, it is important to know that "the owner can seek statutory damages of up to $30,000 per work infringed, in lieu of actual damages or profits. Moreover, the owner may also ask for reimbursement of attorney fees and the costs of litigation" (Crews, 2012, p. 102). Furthermore, "If you have committed a willful infringement, you may also face criminal penalties—including monetary fines and time in the federal prison system. (Crews, 2012, p. 103).

The purpose of sharing this information isn't to scare you, rather, it's to inform you! And in my opinion, the most important reason to care about copyright is simply because it's the right thing to do. Even though the chances of getting caught and facing consequences are slim to none, we should lead by example by showing respect to creators of work, and give credit where credit is due.  That's what it takes to be a digital citizen.  That's the difference between copyright and wrong! 

So, the next time you find yourself wanting to use someone else's work, follow the five strategies to avoid copyright infringement, and use these resources below to help you find and cite your work.

Images
Google Advanced Search: Usage Rights
Flickr Creative Commons
Every Stock Photo
Free Digital Photos

Audio
YouTube Audio Library
Royalty Free Music
UJAM
GarageBand

Video
YouTube → Search Filter → Creative Commons
Vimeo → Search Filter → Creative Commons

Attribution
Flickr CC Attribution Helper
EasyBib.com
Bibme.org

Educational Resources on Copyright

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Reference

Crews, K. D. (2012). Copyright law for librarians and educators: Creative strategies and practical solutions. Chicago: American Library Association.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Did You Know? Google Sites No Longer Redirects to Other Websites ... Or Does it?

File:Mandatory road sign no right turn.svg
Image is cc licensed for reuse on wikimedia commons.

Did you know that Google recently stopped enabling Sites to redirect or forward to other sites (such as a domain that you might have purchased)?  I just noticed this today when I tried visiting my website when I wasn't logged into my account and I discovered a blank, white page. Apparently, others have been running into this same issue.  I think it might have something to do with a potential security issue.

How does it work?

After doing some research, I was able to find a workaround for this.  If you still want your Google Site to redirect (or forward) to your own domain, or to another site, all you have to do is check the box in your settings that will "allow embedding of your sites in other sites".

To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Login to your Google Site
  2. Select the "Open More Actions Menu" (gear icon)
  3. Select "Manage Site"
  4. Select the "General" tab
  5. Scroll down to "Security"
  6. Check the box that says "allow embedding of your sites in other sites"

I got this information from the following Google Product Forum:

https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/sites/chg5IL7ITFI

Here's an example

If you visit my professional webpage: www.bradleylands.com you will see that the site is up and running.  It was created with Google Sites and you can confirm this by scrolling down to the bottom of the page.  If you had visited my website anytime during the last three weeks, you would have seen a white, blank page.

Now that you know
  1. If you happen to have a Google Site that redirects to a different website or domain, consider using this quick workaround to display your domain on your Google Site.
  2. If you ever create a Google Site in the future, keep this trick in mind if you decide to forward your site to a different website or domain.

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Did You Know? Blog Series

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hello, Earth - Let's Go Explore!

Image is CC licensed for reuse.
In lieu of Earth Day today, I thought I would share a collection of Google Earth and Google Maps resources and webtools. Google Earth is actually one of my favorite learning tools due to its versatility.  It allows for investigation, exploration, creation, and collaboration in multiple subject areas, and it even allows its users to take virtual field trips to places they have never been before.

While there are several Google Earth Tutorials that can get you started, I am going to highlight a few tutorials, websites, and features that use Google Earth as a learning tool for different content, as well as a presentation tool for creating projects. Finally, I am also going to share some webtools that integrate Google Earth and/or Google Maps into its functionality.

"Google's geo products give you and your students easy access to the world's visual information. Once, maps were available only to royalty but now, you can explore Earth, Moon, Mars, and even dive into the depths of the oceans. The possibilities of using Google Maps, Earth and Street View are as endless as your imagination. We encourage you to explore, create, and collaborate." - Google Maps Education

Ideas for using Google Earth to learn content in different subjects

Geography: Investigate and explore any place on Earth. [1]
  • Overlay topographic maps on to Google Earth to compare and contrast different types of geographic representations [1]
  • Challenge students to make their own real-world decisions using Juicy Geography lessons for Google Earth [1]
  • Practice differentiating between physical and cultural landscape features of the world's largest cities [1]


Math: Learn geometry and measurement. [1]
  • Utilize Real World Math and the variety of lesson plans that utilize Google Earth to teach a wide range of math concepts [1]
  • Use the Ruler tool to calculate distances in various units of measurements [1]
  • Find the angle of elevation for hiking trails or ski runs using trigonometric functions [1]


Language Arts: As a place to make connections to pieces of Literature (visit: Google Lit Trips) [1]


Science: As a science tool ("Sunlight" tool, "Google Sky" tool, "Mars" tool and "Moon" tool) [1]
  • Explore the Earth's many biomes and habitats on all of the continents [1]
  • Explore the under water terrain, visit sea vents, and learn about the health of the ocean [1]
  • Using Mars in Google Earth, view images downloaded by NASA just hours ago, in the Live from Mars layer. [1]
  • Take tours of the landing sites on the Moon, narrated by Apollo astronauts [1]


History: As a history tool (use the "Historical Imagery" tool) [1]
  • Use Historical Imagery to travel back in time and view your neighborhood, home town, and other familiar places to see how they have changed [1]
  • Learn more about the US Presidents, their birthplaces, and the progression of states that voted during elections [1]
  • View the many historical maps from the David Rumsey Map collection, like the Lewis and Clark trail map from 1814 [1]

Art: As an art tool or resource (NASA Earth As Art):



Other creative uses
  • As a presentation tool (use the "Record a Tour" feature).
  • As a vacation planner (use the "Placemark" feature to bookmark all of your desired destinations)
  • As a virtual field trip (use the Google "Street View" tool get a 360 view of any location) Try visiting Instant Street View for a quick way to virtually explore somewhere.




Webtools that integrate Google Earth and/or Google Maps

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Did You Know? Google Account Chooser

Did you know that you can choose to add or remove accounts to your primary Google account? Most people know how to ADD accounts, but some aren't sure how to REMOVE accounts after they have been added.  This happened to one of my teachers today, so I thought I would share this solution for others.

What happened was, a student's Google account was accidentally ADDED to a teacher's Google account. This probably happened because the student logged into her Google account on the teacher's computer for some reason or another.  Therefore, every time the teacher went to login to her Google Account, her student's account was also an option.  The teacher wanted the student's account REMOVED from her Google account, but she wasn't sure how to do this.  

How it works

When a user logs into his or her Google Account, the user has the option to "Add account" or to "Sign out" of his or her current account.  All you have to do is click on your Profile Icon at the top right corner of your Google Account to access your Google Account Chooser.




Here's an example

Let's say that I wanted to REMOVE a Google account that is already associated with my primary Google Account.  The first thing that I would do is click on my Profile Icon and select "Sign Out". 




Then, after I had successfully logged out of my primary account, I would click on the "Sign In" button at the top right.  This would allow me to "Choose an account" that is associated with my primary account.  If I wanted to REMOVE an account from my primary account, I would simply click the "Remove" button, which will allow me to remove any or all of my accounts. 




Now, let's say that I want to REMOVE my school account.  All I would have to do is click on the "X" icon to remove it from my account.  And then select "Done".  I would repeat this process for every account that I want to remove.  





Now that you know
  1. The next time you see an account that is accidentally added to your primary account, you know how to remove it.
  2. You can help other students and teachers who might have encountered this same problem. 
  3. You can actively choose to add or remove accounts from your primary account to make accessing your accounts more efficient. 

For more information and support on Google Account Chooser, visit: support.google.com/accounts


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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Did You Know? ClassDojo Messaging



Did you know that a new feature within ClassDojo’s existing platform launches today, enabling teachers and parents to easily and meaningfully communicate about student progress?  It's called ClassDojo Messaging and it has the potential to be a very effective communication feature of this powerful learning tool.

I was actually contacted by Manoj Lamba from ClassDojo to help promote this great new feature. After witnessing first-hand how powerful this learning tool can be for students and teachers, I was privileged and honored to help spread the word!

How it works
  • Teachers will be able to send parents private, “Direct Messages” to update them about their child’s progress as well as “Broadcast” message an entire group of parents with ease about class events.

 

  • ClassDojo believes that this new feature is a major step forward for teachers, many of whom currently converse with parents using non-­ideal tools such as formal emails, impersonal text messages, or handwritten notes ­ all of which require more effort, are overwhelming, do not engage parents in a meaningful conversation, and ultimately result in less real communication about students and their progress.


  • The feature launches initially on iOS and Android devices, and has been tested by scores of teachers over the past month with overwhelmingly positive reactions! Teachers appreciate the thoughtfully­-designed, teacher­-focused features, such as the privacy of not sharing personal contact details, the two types of messaging (Broadcast and Direct Messages), and also “read receipts” showing acknowledgements when parents have seen messages. Most importantly, teachers are now finding it easier to engage in higher quality conversations with parents about students’ progress and development.


Now that you know

  1. Consider signing up for a free ClassDojo account to help with student learning and behavior management.
  2. If you already have a ClassDojo account, consider checking out the new Messaging feature of ClassDojo to increase communication with parents.
For more information about this new feature, visit classdojo.com/messaging


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