Podcasting for Educators- we CAN do it!

“It’s not about the technology, it’s about the experience of working with information, and then sharing that information with others” As a person slightly intimidated by the content of this class and the technology, I love this quote as a way of thinking of podcasting. Podcasting was nearly the only term on the signup sheet … Continue reading

who owns what?

When I think of copyright laws, I first think of my early experiences with Napster. The program became available and I thought it was the best thing in the world- spending long long hours downloading songs. I never even had a thought that it would be considered “stealing” from the artists. I downloaded singles, albums, but mostly a lot of unreleased, live and demo songs from my favorite artists. And now, looking back, I guess my “payment” for this music was the countless hours I spent in front of my computer working my download “queue” and networking with other sharers.

This was in high school, around 2000-1, and then more attention was paid to Napster, by Metallica and other artists who were upset that their songs leaked onto Napster before they were actually released. And then we started hearing all about copyright infringement and I learned it was no longer safe to use Napster. As I entered college, I became more fascinated with the laws and sided with the music artists and took a stand against illegal downloading of music. I even gave a persuasive speech in speech class about it. Since then, I do believe that I’ve file-shared a bit between family and friends, but I’ve also spent HUNDREDS to have my music legally available through iTunes.

But what does this mean for me in the classroom? And, since my experience was with music- how do I apply it to images? Have I ever considered image use in classes I’ve been in?

So of course, I wanted to start my thoughts on digital copyright laws with a clear definition:

Definition of Copyright:
“The legal right granted to an author, a composer, a playwright, a publisher, or a distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.” 

But I love this layman’s definition even better:

“This means that you can get in just as much trouble for stealing someone’s song as you can for stealing her purse.”

Now as a teacher-artist, I immediately think of Google Images and how often I run to that to pull images from. Do I have the right to even do that? Most of the time I’m not paying attention to WHERE the image is coming from or WHO, but I just need that image right then and there. I know that when I worked in newspaper advertising, we used a paid stock image service with thousands of photos and images that we could use in our ads or in illustrating stories. But outside of that, I pull images for art projects, presentations, even posters. And I might have used some of these pulled images in the classroom….uh oh.

Ok, so I found a great website that seems to put this all into plain english, PLUS it is geared towards educators! (yay!)

http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/6623.aspx  (haha, i figured out how to make sure that opens for you in a new window!)

Reading up, I had no idea that ideas and creations were “automatically” copyrighted! Under our Constitution, any original, creative work is copyrighted. This site even says that since 1989, the copyright symbol and the phrase “all rights reserved” aren’t even necessary anymore! But, as teachers, we are mostly protected in presenting images/music/movies to our classrooms under the Fair Use rule.

After learning that most young people today are using YouTube over Google for basic search, I sought info on Fair Use/Copyright on YouTube. Most helpful, I found this vide0: http://youtu.be/Uiq42O6rhW4 The description of Fair Use is helpful, and the quick and dirty, helped to clarify the issue overall for me.

But more specifically, this video is a guy who is actually in a technology for education class (like us!) and is using some “high-tech” gimmicks in his presentation here. He recommends this website that even has an easy-to-use handout that teachers can print! http://www.techlearning.com/index. And then as I’m digging, I realize that this guy has his own blog! and BINGO! I’ve found some super relevant info on copyright and education!

But overall I have learned that as educators, we have some freedoms under the Fair Use rule. And here are the rules:

Fair Use and Teachers

Fair use explicitly allows use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Rather than listing exact limits of fair use, copyright law provides four standards for determination of the fair use exemption:

  1. Purpose of use: Copying and using selected parts of copyrighted works for specific educational purposes qualifies as fair use, especially if the copies are made spontaneously, are used temporarily, and are not part of an anthology.
  2. Nature of the work: For copying paragraphs from a copyrighted source, fair use easily applies. For copying a chapter, fair use may be questionable.
  3. Proportion/extent of the material used: Duplicating excerpts that are short in relation to the entire copyrighted work or segments that do not reflect the “essence” of the work is usually considered fair use.
  4. The effect on marketability: If there will be no reduction in sales because of copying or distribution, the fair use exemption is likely to apply. This is the most important of the four tests for fair use.
I think teachers mostly need to be careful about the worksheets they use. It’s got to be so easy to just make copies, pass them along and before you know it, you passing out most of the book for 6 years. In the past, when I have taught (guitar, piano) lessons, I have built my own worksheets. I usually do this so that they can be exactly what I need at the time. If I can keep this up, it will be an easy way to avoid the copyright problems with published workbooks. And I think that showing film might also be easily problematic for a teacher. Even though you may not be showing the movie to the entire school at one time, you may be showing class by class to the entire school, and that may be problematic with the law.
In the end, as teachers, we should be very aware of the materials they use in the classroom. And I think it is important to relate that to the students as well so that they can learn the copyright laws. So, maybe when you are passing out copied materials, remind the students of why you made this copy and how it is OK that you do so in this case. This will also help to keep you accountable as a teacher.


Exploring Art Educators’ Blogs

Teacher Blogs

After reading Weblogs: Learning in Public by Jill Walker, I am further intrigued to see how this blogging phenomenon may be useful to my developing teaching styles and methods and how it may play out in this class with my fellow classmates. My favorite quote from the reading, that I plan to keep in mind throughout this process is, ” [Blogging is…] taking control of your own learning, finding your voice, and expressing your opinions. It’s about responding to the world around you and listening to the responses you receive in return.”

In looking out for some teacher blogs that I find useful, I realized that I already had a couple on my Bookmarks list. I don’t “follow” these regularly or anything, but I have found them interesting when surfing “teacher stuff” in the past. I will use this opportunity to dig a little deeper.

First off: http://www.schoolartsroom.com/

This is a Blogger blog that is hosted by the School Arts magazine editor, who is an experienced teacher herself in all levels from elementary to graduate. I found this because I was being cheap and didn’t want to pay for the magazine subscription and was hoping this blog may be an interesting substitute. (that’s a plus for blogs- they are CHEAP resources. and by cheap i mean FREE).

This blog contains all kinds of blogs and resources for teachers and pre-service teachers. There are some blogs that are personal reflections of teachers- such as the most recent post from a teacher encouraging that students are prompted to find artistic connections to nature. Other posts contain advice, lesson ideas, professional development topics. In the editor’s profile she notes “I am here writing for my like-minded compatriots, aiming to share your world of art education by providing timely art news; entertaining or thought-provoking artists, ideas, stories, and issues; professional opportunities for you; and project and lesson ideas and exhibition possibilities for your students.” I think she does an adequate job here on the blog- especially with the links to other websites and other blogs that she advocates and/or follows.

Second: http://linesdotsanddoodles.blogspot.com/

This blog is from a local teacher in Bowie, MD. I like her site because she seems to keep it updated and her teaching position is unique since she is an “art-on-a-cart” teacher with 3 elementary schools that she teaches at. She posts lessons and pictures of student work which is always helpful. I found this when looking for photos of classroom setup. Since I have no space of my own yet, I like to research ideas. I feel like this blog is most helpful because of all the photos that she includes. Since art is so visual and we as art teachers are likely most easily stimulated by visuals, I think her blog could have wide appeal for art educators and may be why I enjoy the blog so much.

Third: http://ms-artteacher.blogspot.com/

Again, a blog by a female teacher that incorporates lots of photos. BUT I do enjoy looking at this blog more than the last simply because I find the design, layout and colors so much more pleasing. I guess that is definitely something to consider when creating a blog! not only should your writing be relevant, but neon green letters on a black background are not that appealing. also, the labels she provides along the side of her blog make navigating to specifics SO easy. She also encourages interaction and community by posting questions to fellow art teachers- such as “when do you have students dump their dirty paint water during a lesson?’ I love this example b/c it is SO geared towards art educators. No one else would find this questions remotely interesting, yet it’s completely relevant and even important to her audience, making this blog very much geared to a specific audience. She received 11 very involved comments to this post- proving that the question was very engaging to it’s audience.

SO, in conclusion, I believe that there are a few key factors in making a blog useful and helpful for teachers. First, I think that the writer needs to have some kind of credentials in their field, and I think they should make their goal clear in their profiles. I found that blogs that were just labeled “all things art” were just not engaging enough because they didn’t have a clear purpose. I preferred that the person spoke from clear experience and had clear intentions. Second, the layout/format of the blog has a big influence on the page’s “stickiness” or how long I, as a reader choose to spend on their site. A site can only be helpful if people look at it and spend time reading the posts and linking to a blog roll or commenting on posts. If the layout is not user-friendly, you are likely to have users leave your site and not take in any information. Lastly, I think that for teaching specifically- pictures are very helpful. Just because of the nature of art and teaching art, step by step lesson photos and finished student work photos are extremely interesting and helpful.

peace, love and art,



Jill Walker, Dept of Humanistic Informatics, University of Bergen, Norway. Published in On the Horizon, Vol 13, Issue 2, 2005. Pages 112-118.


***UPDATE*** Found a new blog to follow! http://artwithmre.blogspot.com/