#thattech Week 6–It’s Mine Now!

As I was reading back-to-back texts, I found two very different topics with similar underlying messages being discussed in each book.  Born Digital was more focused on piracy while Grown Up Digital was dealing with the “N-Fluence” and its impact on Net-Gen consumers.  When I was reading ­Born Digital, I couldn’t help brainstorming ways to get a better handle on internet piracy issues.  I thought the authors were going to present some dreamlike idea which would solve present-day and futuristic concerns.  John Palfrey and Urs Gasser repeatedly mention, “There may be a need for radical changes to the copyright law in response to changes in media forms, but simply piling on more protections to the age-old framework, which is ill-fitting to the digital era, is not the answer” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  My “ah-ha” moment finally came when they said, “This also means that all of us Digital Immigrants, parents and teachers alike, will need to familiarize ourselves with copyright issues” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2010).  Unfortunately, it appears as though this idea is not at the forefront of current education, at least from my perspective.  Even as the digital age is in full-swing, most students, teacher, parents, and consumers appear to know only the minimum when it comes to copyright laws.

While reading the text on piracy, I immediately thought about a particular situation that happened to a teacher at my school this year.  Our school has 1,500 middle school students and well over 100 faculty, staff and administration.  If you teach or have taught in a large school, you probably know it might be easy to get away with unethical actions because you are one of many in the school.  With that being said, a hardworking teacher in my building created many classroom resources and activities from scratch to enrich the curriculum.  This teacher worked countless hours inside and out of school dedicated to elevating the educational experience in which she delivered.  As a courtesy, she posted every assignment online for easy student access.  Midway through the year, this teacher noticed other students in the building, whom were not her students, using the very same worksheets she had created.  When investigated further, it turned out another teacher (we’ll name Tammy), was pirating each and every assignment from her website.  Not only was “Tammy” distributing these educational documents to all of her students, she too was posting them on her class website.  Well, turns out the victim was actually me.  Would you consider “Tammy’s” actions unethical?  Did “Tammy” simply really like what I was doing in the classroom and want to use my ideas?  Should “Tammy” have asked first?  What are your thoughts?  How would you have handled this situation if you were the victim of a piracy act?

The lesson I chose to share by Jenn Tordel entitled Copyright could work for any age group but would be most meaningful for younger students.  I found this lesson on the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security website which hosts many lessons on internet security.  The lesson I picked is linked to the very issue I dealt with this past school year.  It teaches students, through personal experience and role-playing, about copyright and personal individuality.  The lesson starts by introducing copyright laws to students based on historical facts and evolution.  Then it leads students into an engaging activity which allows them to get creative.  Students are instructed to draw a colorful picture of any sort based on the teacher’s instructions.  Students cannot identify their picture in any way or put their name on it.  The teacher then collects all art pieces and randomly passes them out to the students.  Holding a classmate’s piece of art, the students share it with the class by discussing the piece and telling how and why they made it.  Afterward, students are given time to reflect on how they personally felt when somebody took ownership of their artwork and changed the meaning of how and why it was intended to be created.  The lesson goes on to discuss copyright further by brainstorming strategies of why laws are important, and when, how and why they could be used by students.

Experiencing an instance in which you have been personally affected by a copyright violation can be a powerful lesson.  One of my favorite lines from Grown up Digital in chapter seven was Don Tapscott’s mentioning “With the Net Gen, hearts, not eyeballs, count” (Tapscott, 2008).  This message is suitable for the lesson I chose to share.  Tapscott also notes in his discussion, “The strongest norm is integrity” (Tapscott, 2008).  I think this Net Gen norm is a characteristic many people seek in individuals, friends, and family.  Honesty and trustworthiness goes a long way.  In the end, the underlying message that resonated with me was the importance of finding the right balance between enabling and constraining our student’s digital use in order to promote productive digital citizens.


CERIAS, Purdue Unversity. (2014). CERIAS – Lesson Plans/Presentation Handouts. Retrieved from http://www.cerias.purdue.edu/site/education/k-12/teaching_resources/lessons_presentations/ on June 17, 2014.

Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2010). Born Digital : Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Tordell, J. (2001). Copyright. Retrieve from http://www.cerias.purdue.edu/education/k-12/teaching_resources/lessons_presentations/copyrightjenn_pdf.zip on June 17, 2014.



5 thoughts on “#thattech Week 6–It’s Mine Now!

  1. I don’t know why Tammy didn’t just ask. Usually if somebody wants to use something I’ve created, they ask and I’m very happy to share. I wonder: Did her students think she’d created the exercises? Did she try to take credit for them?
    A lot of people these days operate under the assumption that if you can download it, it’s okay to take and use, and that any content creator who has a problem with that will make a note of it on the website somewhere. And if that is the norm, those of us who create things might want to play it safe and label things with how we want them shared (if at all). It’s sad in a way–I think the responsibility should lie with the person who wants to borrow. It isn’t hard to ask permission.

  2. I hope not to step on toes or anything, but first of all, if you did not copyright the work or legally protect it in some way, then what Tammy did was not piracy. If she is trying to pass the material off as her own work, there is plagiarism; but that’s between her and whoever she is lying to. Secondly, in our district we foster an environment of freely sharing ideas and resources. Over the past few years, as part of a curriculum realignment initiative, everyone in our district has been creating lessons to put in a big online curriculum bank for everyone to use. In this class we have been asked to go online to find lessons we like. If I was in your shoes, I’d be flattered that she thought my work was good enough to incorporate into her lessons and happy to share. But if you’d prefer folks ask to use your stuff, I’d note that preference somewhere on the documents or website. And if you really want to protect your stuff, copyright it and hope you can afford the legal team required to enforce it.

  3. I agree with both Jon and Michael. First, why didn’t “Tammy” just ask to use the materials. I also agree with Michael, though that it is not piracy as defined by wiki (under copyright infringement) “the use of works protected by law without permission,…” (wikipedia.org). Still, if it were my work I would prefer that people ask prior to using it. I don’t mind if people use it just ask. It would also be nice if people who borrowed it recognized the person who created it, regardless of what any “law” says. I have lots of great stuff in my toolbox and much of that “stuff” is not my own. Still, to this day when I share things I always say things like, “I got this idea from my friend. She was an awesome teacher.” Or something to that extent. I think it is important to give credit where credit is due even if the person you are crediting knows you borrowed it. I think most teachers would agree that no matter how creative we are sharing and borrowing stuff is important if we want to get new ideas and become better teachers. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing Nicole.

  4. Asking seems like a simple solution. Honestly I didn’t do anything about the situation as I didn’t feel it would be constructive to call out a colleague for using my resources with her students. Instead I just ignored the situation. I love the aspect of sharing common materials, especially when they are great ideas. But if you work hard outside of school to create resources and somebody else just takes, takes, takes, it might change your opinion and makes asking definitely more preferential.

  5. Obviously you are an awesome teacher and you created great resources, so much that “Tammy” wanted them too 🙂 Since she is a colleague I think it’s weird she didn’t ask permission to use the resources in her classroom and on her website. As far as unethical I hope not, because for my module I am using others work and sharing it. I do have a references tab where I am citing where I got my resources. I think you should say something to her and just let her know that you know she used your resources and if next time she could let you know ahead of time or ask. Maybe if you start the conversation, “Tammy” might have some cool resources you could use too.

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