On occasion, we come across areas of our practice that conflict in some way with our beliefs, thus we are faced with the ethical dilemma. For me, it is the desire to share. With a common goal and limited time, it makes sense to share any and all resources we have created to save others ‘reinventing the wheel’. If someone out there has done it already, likewise we draw on our connectedness through the wonders of modern technology and make use of that which others are willing to share. Well, yes but we do need to be aware of how and what we share.
As a beginning teacher, I was so enthusiastic I spent hours creating resources and designing learning experiences that I’d then use and refine. Asking others for critique and sharing ideas that worked well was encouraged wasn’t it? These ideas and resources belonged to me, so I could share them out however I liked. Or did they? In my blissful ignorance as a new teacher, I hadn’t stopped to question… “To who do these resources belong?” And “Is it my place to share?”.
Intellectual Property Rights
“How many times today have you broken the law? If you’re a teacher who likes to adapt and share resources, the answer might surprise you.” Elizabeth Heritage (2015).
Elizabeth Heritage (2015) writes “There is currently a major problem with copyright in education.” Many of us may be unaware that it is not us but our employers who hold the copyrights to all resources that we create during employment. Without the Board of Trustees express permission, each time we share resources with our teaching colleagues at another school or use those created while working on one job at another, we are breaking the law!
In my second year of teaching, I worked hard to feed the culture of sharing and collaboration across colleagues nationwide. Upon hearing that it was likely, I was breaking the law in doing this; I approached my principal with these concerns. Thankfully, there is some good news. Although the Board did legally own all of those resources I had been tirelessly creating in the wee hours, I was reassured that they would never draw on their ownership in a way that limited my ability to share and adapt the resources I had created. It is up to the owner of any copyright to permit or deny the use of the work. However, not all teachers may feel confident in a vocal arrangement. That is where developing a Creative Commons policy will help.
A Creative Commons policy can be used in schools to change the default copyright relationship. The policy would shift licensing to enable the sharing, adaptation and reuse of teaching resources. Current Government thinking supports such a change as nationwide collaboration is made increasingly possible through digital technologies. Boards of Trustees are encouraged to consider the Future Focused Learning in Connected Communities report as they develop their Creative Commons policies (Ministry of Education, 2014).
Video: CC Pukeko from CreativeCommons AotearoaNZ on Vimeo.
Tools and resources to help your school get started with their Creative Commons licensing are found at Creative Commons AotearoaNZ.
Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ. (2014). Creative Commons in Schools. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://creativecommons.org.nz/ccinschools/
Heritage, E. (2015). How Schools Can Share OERs – Legally – NZ Commons. Creative Commons Aotearoa. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://nzcommons.org.nz/share-oers-legally/
Ministry of Education. (2016). Future-Focused Learning Report Released. Education in New Zealand. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.education.govt.nz/news/future-focused-learning-report-released/
Ministry of Education. (2016) Know your copy-rights! Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.edgazette.govt.nz/Articles/Article.aspx?ArticleId=9224