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How to Teach Copyright and Fair Use to Students

January 16, 2020

What does it look like to prepare students to navigate the digital world? This is a question I often tackle in both in my own moments of brainstorming and searching for new resources to share, as well as in conversations with fellow educators.

Finding the right resources for teaching students the basics of copyright— including its limitations such as fair use—is essential. We want to make sure students are prepared to work and create in digital and traditional spaces, too. Both the ISTE Standards and the American Association of School Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner address the issues of preparing students to navigate and create in a digital world. Although we know this is important, tackling the idea of copyright and fair use can sure feel intimidating.

That’s why I’m so excited to share the Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens curricula for elementary, middle, and high school students. In this blog post, I’ll take you through some of the big ideas around creativity in the classroom and introduce you to the Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens curricula. It’s totally free and full of lots of K-12 resources you can dive into right away!

Creativity in the Classroom

In my book, Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom, I talk about the topic of creation in the classroom. Here’s an excerpt:

“Digital tools now let students create dynamic products that include a range of media, allow for instructional differentiation, and promote curiosity and collaboration. Advances in technology allow students to build, sketch, and write as they explore new concepts and demonstrate their learning.” p. 24

So when I connected with the folks at Copyright & Creativity this year, I was very excited to learn more about their work.

Digital literacy isn’t a buzzword. It is an essential skill for students of all ages. With a few taps on a screen, anyone and everyone can publish their work online. It’s an exciting time for students to share their learning with the world. In any subject area, students can explore a new concept, synthesize, and apply what they’ve learned to create something new. 

For students to have a clear understanding of what they can publish and share with the world, they need a special set of skills. This is where digital literacy comes into play. And a big part of navigating digital spaces and knowing what to share online is having an understanding of copyright.

How to Teach Copyright

Students today can open up Google and find lots of things — images, websites, videos, and more. They need to understand what they can and cannot do with this information as they increasingly take on the role of creators. Navigating these online spaces and using materials ethically and legally is an important digital citizenship skill.

Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens is a full K-12 suite of resources for teaching copyright, fair use, public domain, and Creative Commons. They have free resources for educators, which include:

  • in-class lesson plans
  • plug-n-play lesson slides
  • independent learning videos
  • visual aids
  • a professional development course for teachers

All resources were developed on a nonprofit basis with input from independent educators, academic copyright experts, and online civil liberties advocates. Click here to check out the resources.

Learn how to teach copyright and creativity to students, and where to find resources to share with students and teachers this school year.

Copyright Resources for Teachers and Students

I am not a lawyer. I have a master’s degree and a doctorate, and the idea of copyright is still intimidating. So how can we teach kindergarteners and high school students about copyright?

This is where the resources from Copyright & Creativity come into play. They have resources for elementary, middle, and high school students, and a PD course for educators. And it’s completely free! That means you can head over to their website and access lessons and resources — with an option to save content to your Google Drive. These links will take you to the landing page for the respective resources:

Upcoming Educational Webinars

The team at Copyright & Creativity hosts webinars periodically for educators who want to know more about copyright. Some of these are coming soon. They are all totally free, and you can sign up for them here.  

  • PART 1: January 22nd @ 4PM PT or February 1st @ 9AM PT
  • PART 2: February 12th @ 4PM PT or February 29th @ 9AM PT

The webinars are broken down into two parts. In the first webinar, you’ll learn about copyright basics and the second webinar you’ll learn about using others’ work in your own creations.

Ready to dive in? Head to the Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens website to access the resources, watch the videos, browse the slides. All resources are free for everyone, and you can find them all right here. With no upgrades or “hidden” paid content, you can get started right away!

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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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2 Responses to “How to Teach Copyright and Fair Use to Students”

  1. Vicki Carter

    Thank you for the link to Copyright & Creativity! I went to the site and signed up for their class. It is so helpful and informative. Copyright is not easy to understand and the class does a great job of explaining it.

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