Are you an eCitizen in the Digital Age?

Back to the immediacy of blogging again. After reading the post on Creative Commons at http://portfoliothings.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/thing-4-creative-commons/ I feel compelled to write a few things. It is also a distraction from walking up and down the corridors of eLearning theory and frameworks.

Copyright and Intellectual Property are complex issues and not everyone is enthusiastic about trying to unpick what they mean. The connective web has transformed the way many educationalists view copyright and IP. Creative Commons emerged in 2001 with a vision of “ realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture” in order “to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity” (Creative Commons, 2011). It offers a means of protecting the creativity of educationalists, scholars and artists and includes not just text and web based resources but music and art. You cannot discuss creative commons without looking at OER (Open Educational Resources). This movement, spearheaded by MIT (Massachussets Institute of Technology) in 2001 recognises that it is often very productive to share work online in the spirit of collaboration and community that Web 2.0 epitomises. Look at universities like the Open University who have acknowledged that making resources open and even re-usable is to their advantage. OpenLearn is an example of this with over 600 free course to choose from.

For me, creative commons is quite a straightforward forward concept and is pivotal to issues such as Information Literacy, Online Community and eCitizenship. Flickr Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons are great examples of online communities in which people share their photographs and images. Serious photographers and artists understand it is a way of promoting their work as long as their creativity isn’t abused by Tom, Dick and Harry “nicking” these photos and putting them in their sales presentations or glossy brochures. This is why works of merit are assigned a creative commons licence which stipulates the rules behind the usage of the work.  eCitizenship and eResponsibility play their part in this Digital Age. As educators we really must send out a clear message that searching for images using Google Images and copying and pasting them into your own work is simply unacceptable. The majority of youngsters do exactly this and who is to blame them? Not all educational organisations can pay for copyright cleared databanks like Scran which charge a substantial licence fee. At the same time you don’t necessarily want young primary school children wading through Flickr as the content may not be suitable although there are other free image banks like NEN Gallery.

Not everyone has even heard of Creative Commons but government funded bodies like JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) help to disseminate good practice in FE and HE. One effective way of doing this is to ensure that any publicly funded research is published under creative commons for the benefit of others.

So we can ask ourselves? Are we using the resources we find on the web legally  and responsibly by attributing works to their authors. Also, are we contributing to the social web by making our works freely available for others to use and share and how does this facilitate dialogue and learning?

I have personally never needed to attribute a commons licence to any of my own works simply because they have been created specifically for my organisation and would not be of much relevance to others although it has been fun playing around with widgits to get one on this blog 🙂 Also I have not felt the need to “protect” my work although some of it is already out there in the public domain on the internet.

If I was to engage in further scholarly activity in the future then I may be tempted to choose a creative commons licence for it so others could use it with confidence.

http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/bpcreativecommonsv1.pdf

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