This year's class are an enthusiastic bunch of bloggers. A few have even made their own headers and avatars, drawing on the usual source for eleven and twelve year olds - popular culture. At this age where they are still trying on various identity cloaks as they work out who they are, the worlds of entertainment, professional sports and technology hold enormous appeal. So it is no surprise that their methods include scouring Google Images using search words of their favourite soccer star, music artist or product brand, stirring them around in Photoshop Elements and then hitting the upload button to display their new creation in their blog.
Except this year, the teachers are trying hard to teach them about the ethics part of online participation. Our new Student Use Agreement also points out that students will respect copyright in any online situation but it comes as a big shock to the kids to find that the common belief of "if it's on the internet, it's free to be used" is not true.
"What if it doesn't have a copyright symbol? It must be OK to use then?"
"Why put it on the internet if they don't want people to use it?"
And once we have explained the concept of intellectual property and that there are rights that should be respected, the kids are on board. What they want to know is how can they still draw on the things that interest them while not running foul of anyone's copyrights. One big problem is that nearly every image one could find of Fabregas (our school is big on soccer) is owned by some sports photography agency or news corporation - and the kids don't really want to use some pic from Flickr of a suburban kick around in its place. We, the teachers, are bumbling around a bit too. Often, we dispense advice that is misinterpreted from what we have gleaned ourselves. It's a reason that I've got my name on a waiting list for a course "Copyright For Educators" run by P2P University. I lean heavily on educators in my network who know more than me to keep me current.
One thing's for sure - we are certainly all learning together on this one.