In this week's class, we learned about the moral and ethical use of technology through the lens of an educator. While we did discuss social media usage, professional boundaries, and student empowerment - one thing that stuck with me was the notion of copyright in education, as well as the ethical use of resources. I think it's fair to say that this would be an area that many educators (including myself) are unfamiliar with, and may be breaking copyright law in our daily lessons and activities without knowing it.
Yes, shocking I know! However, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find an educator who is breaking copyright law with malicious intent. So many of these infractions are merely good educators doing the best they can with the limited resources they have, and I'd imagine many aren't even aware that they are breaking any rules. I know this is a boat that I found myself in after our discussion last week. Initially, I viewed myself as very copyright savvy, as ever since my undergrad ECMP 355 class, I've been very aware of using creative commons images in my lessons or side projects. This is also something I've worked to instill in my students teaching them the different usage rights on Google, or using creative commons websites such as Pixabay or Pexels. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, I found myself bucked off my ethical high horse when we learned more about the notion of Fair Dealing in education.
As Curtis highlighted in both his presentation and readings, Fair Dealing is such an important part of the Canadian Copyright Act that does allow for educators to utilize copyrighted materials in their lessons. Phew! Unfortunately as was also highlighted, there is a limit to how much educators are actually able to use in their lessons (cue the Dun Dun Duh sound effect). Yes! This was relatively new to me as I've been a big fan of photocopying, or more recently scanning pages from textbooks, novels, and other sources to include as part of lessons. Unbeknownst to me, for many of these documents, there is a limit of "10 % or One Chapter - whichever comes first" that I am able to use. Mind Blown!
While I certainly understand the need to have policies like Fair Dealings in place, as both Adam and Daniel pointed out in their posts this week, with recent events in mind, it certainly raises some interesting questions as to how to effectively navigate distance learning without "breaking some of the rules". For example, I'm currently struggling with this in my own classroom as before COVID19 hit, my students were participating in a Human Rights Book Club with a specific focus on the Holocaust. We were nearing the end of each book before this occurred, but unfortunately, all books were required to be returned to the library before schools closed. This meant that all my students were left wondering how the books they had become so invested in, ended. This also meant they would be unable to accomplish our cumulative activity on their books that we had planned since the beginning - which could have been completed at home during distance learning.
Although scanning the remaining pages of each book would have been difficult, I was 100% planning to either photocopy or scan these so students would be able to finish reading their books. However, once I checked the Fair Dealings Tool that was shared last week, I discovered that I would only be able to share one chapter. Obviously, this would not suffice as each book had around 5 chapters or 40-50 pages left and I would be unable to do this without breaking the rules. Then the thought struck me! What if I was to simply record myself reading the remaining parts of each book and post these to our classroom OneNote Notebook? After all, this is something that many teachers are already doing in learning platforms such as SeeSaw or Flipgrid, could there really be a problem with this? Once again, the more I looked into it, the results were murky as I found countless stories of teachers who were posting themselves reading to YouTube and it was being removed due to copyright infringement, while others weren't having the same difficulties.
So...where does this leave me? Well, fortunately many authors such as J.K. Rowling have granted an open license for educators to post videos of themselves reading the books in a closed learning management system. While this is only one author, I'm hopeful that more authors and publishers will see this and follow suit during these unprecedented times. As of right now, none of the authors of the books we were reading have granted the open license, so I'm still undecided as to what I would like to do with my own classroom as I can no longer play the "I didn't know card" (Thanks a lot Couros!). However, I'm going to continue looking into this issue as I desperately want to keep my students engaged in these book clubs as it is such an important topic and I would love to give them the satisfaction of completing the books they put so much time and effort into before everything changed. Is anyone else having the same issues? How have you been able to navigate these issues? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!