A One-Page Site for Using and Sharing Creative Works

For many students, much of the 2020-2021 school year will consist of virtual classrooms, digital sources, and blended learning. Distance learning comes with many challenges but even more opportunities. There are opportunities for students to build knowledge as part of a process of making sense of information and their experiences. During remote teaching, students should have opportunities to demonstrate their understanding and skills. The Internet is filled with programs and tools students can use to create digital products for learning and assessment. Many student-generated products will contain images, videos, sounds, and music. The big question here is: Where does this media come from?

I encourage students to create their own original works. An appreciation for creative work and intellectual property is the first step in correctly and continuously crediting authors’ works and adhering to copyright law. Often, though, students do not have time or the training needed to develop original works. Student products usually contain media files that they themselves did not create. There are rules and guidelines students must know and follow when borrowing, modifying, and sharing work created by others.

According to the AASL Standards Framework for Learners, learners use valid information and reasoned conclusions to make ethical decisions in the creation of knowledge by:

  1. Ethically using and reproducing others’ work.
  2. Acknowledging authorship and demonstrating respect for the intellectual property of others.
  3. Including elements in personal-knowledge products that allow others to credit content appropriately.

During this time of blended learning, at school and home, I find myself asking the following questions:

  • Do students know how creative work is protected?
  • Do students know the factors of fair use?
  • Do students know where to find works they can build upon legally and share?
  • Do students know how to give credit to works that carry an open license?

And so, I created a one-page Google Site with information about copyright protection, fair use, open licensing, and attribution. The primary draw of the site is its section of links to open-licensed resources (photos, images, videos, and music).

The open licensing agreement or public domain status of the media located on these websites give users the freedom to:

Share — copy and redistribute the material

Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material

Some of the sites have their own licensing agreements, so it is important to reference their terms and conditions for information and guidance.

One condition of Creative Commons and most open licensing agreements is attribution (the acknowledgment as credit to the creator of a work).

Ideal attribution includes:

  1. Title
  2. Creator
  3. Source
  4. License

Mountain Peak, Alaska” by Andrew Shiva is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

This is an ideal attribution because it includes the:

  1. Title: “Mountain Peak, Alaska”
  2. Creator: “Andrew Shiva “
  3. Source: Link to the original photo on Wikimedia Commons
  4. License: “CC BY-SA 4.0”

Students’ respect for intellectual property and their ethical use of others’ work won’t be the result of a one-page Google Site. Hopefully, the information on the site will lead to conversations centered on the safe, legal, and ethical sharing of knowledge products. During blended instruction, students can use their experience, reflections, and the ethical use of intellectual property to demonstrate learning. Through this process, may our students be the ones who develop original and creative works.

A One-Page Site for Using and Sharing Creative Works


Author: Sam Northern, Ed.D.

Sam Northern is a National Board Certified Teacher-Librarian at Simpson Elementary School in Franklin, Kentucky. He currently serves as President of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians. In 2014, Sam was selected for the Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminars Abroad Program where he spent four weeks in China. Since then, Sam has voyaged to Antarctica as a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow and worked aboard a research vessel on the Atlantic Ocean as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. From January to April 2018, Sam traveled to Finland as part of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program to research best practices for project-based learning. Connect with him on Twitter @Sam_Northern and Facebook @themisterlibrarian.

Categories: Blog Topics, Intellectual Freedom

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