In the move to a totally-open environment, before long you will begin looking at Creative Commons as a solution to content (hopefully!). In education, especially, we need to be cognizant of the resources available to us. As a former classroom teacher who used technology regularly, one of the most difficult things to deal with was not finding an activity, but finding content to complete the activity. Whether students were generating webpages, podcasts, movies, or (and I say this one through gritted teeth) a PowerPoint, the most difficult process was to find music or image files that both address the activity and can be fairly used. Yes, I know about Fair Use, especially its implications for education, but a good educator still can feel nervous when using Disney content, even under the appropriate Fair Use guidelines.
Enter Creative Commons and folks like Lawrence Lessig. Lessig, a Harvard Professor of Law at the Center for Internet and Society, is renowned for his stance on open source software, Creative Commons (serving as CEO), and through other ventures dealing with freedom (free as in freedom, not free as in beer). I only recently began listening to Dr. Lessig’s presentations, reading his books, and visiting his blog (http://lessig.org/blog/). In that short time, however, his work helped to solidfy my vision for technology, especially in education, and just so antiquated our Copyright system in the US continues to be thanks to folks like Disney.
The Creative Commons project and licenses intrigue me. I believe they continue to suffer from underexposure, as most in the education field, at least in my immediate circles, either have not heard about CC or say they do when they have not. More and more the latter in my discoveries. What we need to do is continue to spread the word. At least in our tiny piece of the globe, I help to do this. After working with my colleagues, all who influence 15-20 school systems, we continue to present at conferences, professional development sessions, and more, all in the hope that those folks will tell other folks and continue to spread the available resources.
And that’s a great point to share. The content (music, video, images, etc) released under Creative Commons needs to be shared. It’s great stuff! I believe, possibly in the past, many would overlook CC due to the inconsistency of the quality of resources. Not so much now. When you visit the main Creative Commons site, www.creativecommons.org, you can now search through a large number of databases and limit the query to just Creative Commons resources. For instance, when I searched flickr for laptop, I received 36,917 Creative Commons images. THIRTY-SIX THOUSAND! And you can find more when you search through other resources like the OpenClipArt Gallery (http://www.openclipart.org/) and did you notice in your Firefox search box–you can either switch to the pre-loaded CC search box or add it, depending on which Firefox version you use. With the continued addition of high quality resources, we will continue to persuade others to use these resources.
I think most educators would agree that, while some may use CC as a personal vendata against the RIAA, MPAA, or other corporations, we just use these resources so that we can pop up a student presentation to our school website, share a piece of student work at a conference, or print out copies of a student-created brochure, all without needing to submit twenty letters to a variety of institutions. Creative Commons above all other benefits, allows teachers to teach. Yes, they still must teach students how to cite these resources, but now they do that and move on. Students can feel safe in using a video clip and then the teacher can feel safe displaying the finished presentation at a Back to School Night, without fear of being taken to Copyright Infringement Jail. And that, is the beauty of Creative Commons.