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Becoming Part of the Remix Culture

Exploring this week’s content and resources made it painfully clear how little I know about Copyright and the proper use of other’s work, especially when it comes to digital media. This is particularly concerning for a number of reasons:

  1. I am in an EdTech role where I teach, mentor and coach students and staff

  2. I am looked at as the in-house expert on all things digital citizenship within the school

  3. I am (almost solely) responsible for developing policies and procedures for the entire school community around technology usage

  4. I am a curator and creator of resources for sharing and distribution among colleagues in my school and to my wider online PLN

  5. I am moving into a new role next year where this will likely be a big part of my job

And in true Reyna fashion, this realization led to a flood of worry and panic as I thought about what laws I must have been breaking over the years of being an educator and what a fraud I must seem like to others. Thankfully, that spell of lunacy didn’t last long and I dug a little deeper into the guidelines provided to educators under Fair Use, Public Domain and Creative Commons to try and bring some clarity to the ideas of intellectual property and copyright.

Simplifying a Complex Issue

It can be difficult to fully understand the scope of this issue, but several of the resources provided in this week’s materials were tremendously helpful in moving me in the right direction. The Copyright Flowchart created by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and Meryl Zeidenberg provided a nice visual outline of the options, rights and responsibilities to consider as educators when using materials for teaching and learning. With thought-provoking questions and suggested guidelines, the infographic makes it easier to evaluate the use of materials in our classrooms, presentations and blogs.

Another helpful visual provided was the You Can Use a Picture If: poster about using and sharing images. I only wish I had come across this earlier because it’s a great place to start with teachers and students. In my Course 1 project, I designed a math unit where students were tasked to create real-world problems involving decimals. Part of the requirements for the project included using a visual with each question written. It was a deliberate act on my part to include this piece so that I could teach them about citing sources and being good digital citizens. Thankfully, it’s something that I will need to circle back around to with future projects, so there are plenty more opportunities to use it in the future.

The Controversy of Copyright

The concepts and content presented this week highlighted the divide in people’s viewpoints about copyright and today’s remix culture. After watching Paley’s TED Talk, Copyright is Brain Damage, I went down the rabbit hole that is the internet and started exploring both sides of the copyright issue, including the play-by-play drama unfolding on Twitter with Article 13 being passed in the EU last week.  

Naturally, all of this reminded me of the legal troubles that musicians have faced over the years through sampling and mixing from other artists. And then that reminded me of an artist I used to listen to a lot, Girl Talk, whose entire music career is built on layering digital samples and mashups from famous artists. According to his Wikipedia page, he cites fair use as a way to use source material to interact with media and create something new.

After the better part of an afternoon, I then remembered I was supposed to be completing a COETAIL assignment and that I should probably start applying my newfound opinions, findings and wonderings to the arena of education.

Within My Current Contexts

So, how does all of this relate to me as an educator? As a Tech Coach? As a 21st century learner? As all of these while living in Southeast Asia, where western laws and ideals don’t generally apply? And where do I go from here?

Well, the fact is that these are all great questions, and ones that I hope to unpack over Course 2, but that I’m not fully able to answer just yet.

I find myself in a strange personal and professional dilemma living and working in Vietnam where the laws and expectations aren’t the same as in Europe or the Americas. In Vietnam, as in many other developing nations, it’s commonplace to see knock off apparel, photocopied books and a range of other counterfeit goods being peddled to consumers. Many times, you are unsure if you are getting genuine products even when purchasing from a higher-end mall or boutique. Unfortunately, this applies to schools and their resources as well. Photocopying books, bootlegging software and password sharing are all common practice here. This is something I have worked to change in a couple of schools, but sometimes it seems like a drop in the ocean.

And while operating within ethical and legal guidelines of more ‘Western’ cultures can be challenging, I would argue that we have an obligation as a private international school to hold true to our values of respecting intellectual property and modeling appropriate use for students, staff and parents. So, that will continue to be my aim and I look forward to how Course 2 can help me with this.

So for now, I think it’s important to note that, after doing a self-assessment and audit of the resources I posted to my blog during Course 1, I feel more assured that my practices are in fact aligned with the information from this week’s readings (at least more than I thought when I first opened the resource tab). That feels like a win.

And finally, I am having to prepare myself for what will probably be a very challenging few weeks of learning and application of ISTE Standards (2 for Students, 3 for Educators). Allow me to use an analogy for this one:

Base of Corcovado Trail

Much like starting a difficult hike, the beginning stages are full of self-doubt and second thoughts. For me, this stage lasted all week as I considered dropping Course 2, thought of all my current and upcoming work obligations, justified my lack of time by making to-do lists, and crying to my partner. I hate that this is part of my process, but hey, acknowledging it is the first step to changing it, right?

Halfway up Corcovado Trail

The next stage is acceptance. This is when the feelings from the beginning soon start to give way to a progressive struggle as you work towards achieving the goal. At this point, you have come too far to consider turning back and start to just embrace the journey. For me, a lot of this is stubbornness. I’m hoping this part will come soon.

The Summit

And then there’s accomplishment. Eventually (hopefully), this is where you begin to find your flow and start enjoying the process because you know the reward is just within reach. For me, that will probably come in the last week of Course 2 when I can look back and see just how far I’ve come and can then answer the above questions with confidence. And much like that difficult hike, this is what gives you the strength and momentum to take on the next challenge.

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