Posts Tagged ‘copyright’

Picture This: Charles Dickens’s 199th Birthday
February 7, 2011

Charles Dickens, born on February 7th 1812, is a famous English novelist from the Victorian era. Many of his works follow a recurring theme calling for social reform. Some of his most recognised novels include Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and Hard Times. The picture below depicts a scene from Oliver Twist, the story of an orphan in London who gets involved with a gang of juvenile pickpockets led by the Artful Dodger.

Credit: Corbis Images

Teaching Activity

Open up a discussion with your class about stealing and ethics. Start off the discussion by asking your students if they think stealing things, just like the pickpockets in Oliver Twist did, is wrong. Develop the conversation further with some of the following questions:

  • Is it always wrong to steal?
  • Is there a difference between stealing from your neighbour and stealing from a large supermarket?
  • How might one steal something on the internet?
  • Is there a difference between stealing from a shop and stealing something online?

Now would be a good time to introduce the topic of copyright infringement to your students. For this we recommend reading Proper Tea is Theft by Simon Finch, a great article on copyright that emphasises the need to respect other people’s value.

Learner Outcomes

Develop social responsibility; develop knowledge and understanding of citizenship

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Using Images in Teaching: A Quick Guide
December 7, 2010

It might be cliché, but it is nevertheless true.

A picture speaks a thousand words.

How We Learn

Butterfly - CorbisThis is of course not to say that words are less important than pictures. But it’s useful to remind ourselves that our brains are essentially twofold, made up of the left hemisphere, which is often described as analytical and verbal, and the right hemisphere, the left’s more creative and visual counterpart.

This means that individuals will absorb information differently depending on how we respond to certain types of stimuli. A textbook or article might serve well in introducing a topic to the learner, but a relevant image to go along with it can then reinforce that learner’s recollection and comprehension of the material. Various studies have shown that this is the case.

This is inherent in what is known as the ‘Multimedia Principle‘, which states that people learn better from words and pictures than words alone.

So the right picture at the right time at the right place is a great way to boost understanding as well as helping your learners build a memorable mental construction around a topic.

However, not all images are created equal. What is one teacher’s trash is another teacher’s treasure. So what should you take into account when using images in your lessons?

Tips for Teachers

Firstly, the image should be relevant to the topic at hand. This requires a judgement call from you as the teacher, and that’s a good thing, as it allows you to be more creative around lesson planning. It’s not very useful to be ultra-prescriptive in aligning an image to a specific area or unit of the curriculum. The beauty of images is that they are ambiguous and can be repurposed across a range of different topics.

Secondly, be creative in how you use an image with your students. A picture is a snapshot in time with clear boundaries but as well as being informative they can also offer great opportunities for opening up wider debate. For example, asking the children to imagine or explore what might have happened before the picture was taken, what happened afterwards, or what might they be able to see just outside the edge of the picture to the right or to the left?

Thirdly, it is always important to bear in mind the origination of an image, and its associated copyright. Copyright is complex, but it can be broken down into a simple rule of thumb: assume everything is copyrighted and approach it from there.

Lastly, you should be aware of the limits imposed by the rights associated with an image. With GGfL, our license allows unlimited use, editing and repurposing of images for educational purposes. But not all sources will offer this flexibility.

Summary – The Hallmarks of a Good Image

Images are a great way for teachers to spice up a lesson and engage visual learners. However, there is a lot of uncertainty around the vast amounts of information available via the world wide web. So to be sure you are using images effectively for teaching, bear in mind the following:

Relevancy: The image should directly relate to the topic at hand. It should reinforce a concept in a way that words alone can’t.

Authority: Make sure the image is coming from a trusted source. As mentioned, there are a lot of known unknowns online. So be sure the source is a reliable one and that it won’t throw up any inappropriate or offensive content for your students.

Copyright: Not an easy issue but one teachers and schools need to be cognizant of nonetheless. Make sure the image is copyright-cleared for use so that you don’t end up on the receiving end of a hefty fine for copyright-infringement. Also be aware of what you can and can’t do with an image, even when it is copyright-cleared.

Are you a teacher or education professional who uses digital images for teaching? Let us know your views and opinions or even share some of the imaginative ways that you’ve used images in the classroom.

Proper Tea is Theft
July 21, 2010

It’s an old joke, barely a joke at all – bit like copyright laws really.

Why do marxists only drink tea made with tea bags?

Because property is theft.

I thank you, start the car, taxi for simfin.

An alternative title for this post could be:

Why We’re Happy to Teach Our Learners to Steal

So. I’ve had ‘copyright/IPR’ on my ‘to-do’ list for over a year and still struggling to make sense of it all. I know where I need to be; we want some ‘simple guidance’ for schools to ‘put on our website’. Trouble is you can’t do simple guidance for something as complicated, at times perverse and, as I hope to outline here, at odds with the values and behaviours of teachers and our society.

Here’s where we are going with this. We’re a nation of thieves with no respect for other people’s property, ideas or economic well being and we’re happily sharing this immorality with our learners in our schools.

A long time ago I was a teenager in the ’70s and music was a huge part of my, and my friends’, lives. Unlike today, the only place I could see Slade, Status Quo, David Bowie and pals was on Top of the Pops. Half an hour, once a week. (I’m being a tad disingenuous – there was often a pop group on ‘Crackerjack‘)

We had much more choice when it came to radio though – the impressive Radio 1 or Radio Luxembourg both in whistling mono on medium wave.

Fortunately for us disciples of subversive culture some of us had a crummy cassette recorder and by holding a mike to the telly, or radio we could record our fave bands, and, frustratingly, a few words from the DJ at the start and end of the song. It was when stereo, hi-fi and the ubiquitous ‘music centre’ came along that we saw true stealing sharing by families and friends. ‘Tape it for us will ya?’ became part of everyone’s vocabulary – in fact you would be reprimanded if you bought the same album as a friend ‘Why did you buy that when I’d have taped it for you – you should have got ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway‘ and taped it for me’. And so, we see the beginnings of the notion that it’s ok to steal from the Big Boys – those record companies making so much money from us poor teenagers, and our not so poor parents and their peers.

I think at that time we had some perverse logic that if one of us bought the record then that was okay – and certainly seems to be a tad less dishonest than today’s youth where nobody seems to have paid for the album, choosing to download from some dodgy (yet institutionalised) website. Lord (three strikes and you lose your internet connection) Mandelson was prompted to act, he says, when he discovered that only one in twenty downloaded tunes was downloaded legally. Anyway back then it appeared to us that bands had untold wealth and surely they’d not miss my £5 for their album?

So that was that; music for the masses via the humble cassette tape.

(Let’s rewind for a moment. ‘File sharing’? It’s a bit like ‘joyriding’ – and ‘collateral damage’ – euphemisms to make us feel better about our crimes against humanity.)

Enter then the video recorder. How could it be illegal to copy videos when high street stores sold the technology to do so? I remember the somewhat bizarre conflicting messages around ‘yes you can record TV programmes but you can’t show them to anyone.’

By this time (1984) I was a young world changing English teacher in an inner city ‘challenging’ secondary school – in Thatcher’s Britain. We had no budget and kids in families approaching 3 generations of unemployment. So I bought a ghetto blaster and spent the following years recording plays and music from the radio and films, documentaries and drama from the television. Don’t get me started on books. When we could afford books (Of Mice and Men, Buddy, 18th Emergency) – the kids liked them so much they kept them! I remember we had so few copies they’d often share one between three.

So I was the photocopying king, like some master counterfeiter, churning out resources ‘for the kids’. I’m sure at that time I thought I’d happily go to prison for them – if I didn’t teach them, then what chance did they have?

So there we were, a nation of thieving teachers stealing other people’s work and justifying it with a higher moral ground and a collective sense of righteousness.

Let’s whoosh on into the 90′s. By this time I’d expanded my criminal activity to encompass Macs, desktop publishing and a very challenging 14.4 modem to access all 15 websites available globally for the committed teacher. As an empowered Mac user there was no stopping me and it is here that I perhaps differed from my PC colleagues who were happily copying clipart and program discs for their Windows 3.1 PCs. In some weird spat of loyalty to the minority Mac community I paid for all my software. I was the one who bought ClarisWorks thinking that somewhere stateside I was helping to keep Apple in business (I didn’t say I was normal).

Imagine my delight in the opportunity to say goodbye to my Brother portable typewriter and endless packets of Letraset. No more crude attempts at making a NASA logo for my class trips to space. No more attempts to make Newspaper mastheads. I could go to The Guardian’s website and take myself a copy of theirs. I can remember lolloping around the school to show colleagues the quality of my kids’ newspapers. Let’s not forget my creative teaching of the apostrophe. Grabbing cartoon characters from Disney and Looney Toons websites for the kids to make posters like this:


Simple yet effective and powerful task – one I replicated again in the noughties with images of mobile phones, cyberbullying etc. Providing even the most reluctant writer the opportunity to succeed and write for a real audience.

Of course I wasn’t alone, there are technology and ICT teachers across the land who have encouraged learners to source content from the interweb and it is only in recent times that we can see that some have ceased ‘because the exam board won’t let us’ – not exactly the best reason – and I’m getting to that in a moment.

He that steals a cow from a poor widow, or a stirk from a cottar, is a thief; he that lifts a drove from a Sassenach laird, is a gentleman-drover. And, besides, to take a tree from the forest, a salmon from the river, a deer from the hill, or a cow from a Lowland strath, is what no Highlander need ever think shame upon.

-Scott, Sir Walter
Evan Dhu Maccombich to EdwardWaverley.Waverley, ch.18.

Okay, where am I going with this? Our man Walter has hit the nail on the head. It has been the view that it’s an ‘Us and Them’ world. We, the poor downtrodden under-funded, doing-good ‘for the kids’ teachers have traditionally ‘bent’ the rules because that’s what ‘normal’ people do. We are a nation of cassette and video recording, floppy disc copying, CD burning, right click saving internet voyagers enhancing the learning experience for the next/this generation’s learners. The anti-piracy warnings at the beginning of DVDs prompt universal derision- ‘You wouldn’t steal a car’ – ‘I would if I could download one’.

All this can be achieved because traditionally we don’t see the whites of the eyes of the fat cats from whom we are acquiring content and resources.


It’s different now.

Web 2.0, and the rest, is making us a world of creators and publishers. We’re uploading pictures, music, videos, Flash activities, personal writing, presentations, teaching resources and more – and so are our learners. That image that you’ve found is just the thing to add value and impact to the learning activity for that needy class of yours. But that image doesn’t belong to an international image company – no, it belongs to someone like you..

Now that’s different isn’t it?

Can you look a person in the eyes if you know they know you’ve taken something of theirs?

It’s 2010 and I’ve recently attended conferences where my resources have been re -presented by other speakers (did they know I’d be there when they created the presentation? Would it have made a difference?)

Intellectual Property – ’tis an interesting idea. Does it extend to my tweets on Twitter. Several times now I’ve seen my tweets passed off as someone else’s. Should I care?

My blog on eSafety appears on another site – did they need to ask me first?

Did they need to seek copyright permission?

We are all producers and creators. Web 2.0 sees learners and teachers mingling together in a complicated collection of communication tools from YouTube to Facebook and I believe we’ve missed the most important message when considering copyright.

Currently our thinking has been around the threats of being caught. Schools and individuals will be faced with hefty fines if their crime can be proven. Well yes, sad I suppose and nobody likes to have their money taken from them do they? Yet the real point is this; we must teach our learners to value IPR. It is simply wrong to take without asking. It is wrong to pass what’s not yours, as your own. We need to instil respect for one and other – that is our priority.

I don’t even think it’s all about money – it’s about acknowledging people’s value.

The top image belongs to Meg Pickard – the one below appears in a Horlicks advert. You can read Meg’s account of how the companies concerned responded when she indicated they had used her image and her ‘idea’ without permission.

So, in the absence of a better suggestion, I’m all for creative commons. It allows us to build a respect for creativity, IPR and collaboration. We should be building this into our teaching; ‘That’s a great poem Jimmy lad, hop onto the CC site and get your IPR sorted. Have you thought about whether you want to allow people to add to it or would you prefer them to only read it as you intended?

Seems to me I’ve had a good idea there. You can copy it if you like.

Reflections on the 2010 E2BN Annual Conference
July 2, 2010

It was bright and sunny in Bedfordshire for the 2010 E2BN Annual Conference. It was both GGfL’s and my first time at the event, and on reflection it was a pretty positive experience for both of us.

From the amazing food (thanks goes to both E2BN and the Robinson Executive Centre), the entertaining mind reader/comedian (Graham Jolly – I highly recommend checking him out) to the great conversations we had on our stand, it was a really enjoyable experience.

A particular highlight was some interviews we did for a bunch of students from Harrold’s Priory Middle School. A number of the students converged on our stand at different times throughout the conference to ask about GGfL (and receive some freebies of course), whilst recording interviews for their projects.

Being camera shy, I let Ian, my colleague, field the questions. It was really encouraging and refreshing to see that their teachers had provided a project for them based not only on using multimedia (filming with their camcorders and uploading it to the web), but also on learning about the range of different technologies that are currently available to them.What’s more is they seemed to find it a fun experience – and all the best to them for it!

Some Thoughts on the Workshops

In addition to talking to delegates on the stand, I’m always interested in attending seminars, keynotes, and workshops whenever I can, and one of the talks that immediately caught my eye at E2BN was ‘Copyright, Copywrong’ by Simon Finch – the alternate title being “Why are we happy to teach our learners to steal?”

Simon Finch - Presenter and Consultant on e-learning, esafety and IPR

Simon Finch: Photographer Diane Earl

It was a great session, and I thought I’d share some of the insightful points with you. Simon, a presenter and consultant on elearning, esafety, and Intellectual Property Rights, explained to a small group of ICT coordinators, advisors, teachers, and myself how we have been brought up in a ‘culture of theft’. Strong words – but they really do encapsulate online behaviour these days – if we are to be honest with ourselves. From the advent of the photocopier, the tape recorder, and eventually the internet, it has become easier for us to access and share copyrighted material. However, in the words of Simon himself, ignorance of copyright laws, whether blissful or intended, is neither ‘morally or economically sustainable‘.

Another aspect of our online behaviour is that we’re entering an age where we’re increasingly becoming producers, editors and creators of content online. We are all publishers in some sense. So shouldn’t we be ever more mindful of copyright? I think so – but I also think it will be a slow and long process to get where we need to be. But the sooner we begin the sooner we get there, right?

And I wholeheartedly agree with Simon when he suggests we need to begin instilling in kids the practice of acknowledging sources, while at the same time teaching kids at a young age to ask for permission to share and build on ideas. A core principle Simon put forward was to be less reactive to copyright,  simply fearing getting caught and fined,  to becoming more proactive in respecting others, getting permissions and clearance, and ultimately giving credit where credit is due – to the original source.

So, what’s your view on it? Are we a nation of thieves? Should we know better? And ultimately how do we move to a model of increased respect for Intellectual Property Rights?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue.


E2BN Website

Photograph of Simon Finch from E2BN Conference 2008