The idea to search on the relationship between copyright and freedom of information came to mind, while I was reading ideas and opinions from different individuals on topics related to open education, OERs, licenses to protect intellectual property, and sharing in education.
Copyright protects the ownership of an author to use and distribute his own material as he wishes. “Copyright does not protect ideas or information but rather their expression, provided such expression reaches a certain threshold of originality.” Basically, if I am expressing an original idea, it is my right to do what I want with it for a certain amount of time. This right encourages individuals to seek and search for innovative ideas which can provide advancement in our society and globally.
Freedom of Information which is governed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) stipulates that the public has the right to access information gathered by government agencies. This right falls under the umbrella of the fundamental right of Freedom of Expression of theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights since it not only protects information, opinions and ideas to be communicated but also gives individuals the right to seek, receive and impart information. This fundamental right is important for“diversity within cultural expression, creativity and innovation.” Society also has the right to know, share and express information and ideas which can promote access to the knowledge and enhance growth and creativity in the world.
Although Copyright and Freedom of Expression seem to promote similar innovation, what is done to the information and the ideas being expressed appears to be in conflict with one another, in regards to access to knowledge and cultural growth.
“The Internet has been at the center of an alarming expansion of copyright claims at the expense of freedom of expression and, more generally, the protection of human rights.” With the increase of information, ideas and created material being made available on the internet, there is a belief that it is all there to be used by anyone who wishes; however, this is not true for most material available online. All material found on the web is protected under copyright unless it has been licensed under Creative Commons or Copyleft. Therefore, although material is available online, it cannot be taken for someone to use freely for self-expression. Copyright is in some way an infringement of the Freedom of Expression law. Yes, I have the right to express myself, but I cannot do so simply by infringing upon somebody else’s work that is protected by Copyright.
I believe that further discussions and reviews of the copyright law are required to make sure that the Freedom of Expression is being respected. According to Patfield, “in order to strike a balance between copyright and freedom of expression, an approach should be adopted which looks both at the nature of the protected work as well as the purpose behind the allegedly infringing speech (or allegedly infringing derivative work), following categorizations familiar to freedom of expression analysis such as political speech, artistic speech and commercial speech.” (p.189) Until such an equilibrium is reached, it is important for people to respect the intellectual property of others and copyright material when expressing themselves freely.
This week’s topic is on “Making learning visible”. Two main ideas in the reading list that caught my interests were on the importance of sharing as an educator or an individual and how to share ideas brings on learning.
According to Thompson in “Why even the worst bloggers are making us smarter” , “Literacy in North America has historically been focused mainly on reading, not writing; consumption, not production. “ However, since the increase of the usage of the internet, a sharing revolution has begun to take shape. We are sharing photos, personal information, locations, ideas ... Depending on the comfort level of an individual; he can view and learn anonymously or publicly from what others are posting online. The more people share, the more they can learn from a variety and wider range of people. As teachers, we share our knowledge and skills with our students but why does this sharing need to stop here? According to Ewen McIntosh: "sharing, sharing online specifically, is not in addition to the work of being an educator. It is the work." So, it is important to share with other educators beyond the four walls of our institution or our school district. Sharing with educators from other countries with different backgrounds provides a variety of perspectives on teaching a common subject area. Shareski mentions in his video “Sharing: the moral imperative” that: "Good ideas and great work should be shared with as many people as possible". He also mentions that “Everyone in the education system should be sharing” and that we owe it to others to share.
I agree with this statement to a certain point but not entirely. In the past six years, my colleague and I have developed the only French Immersion (FI) program online in BC. It took many years to market it to the point that our enrollment would cover the expenses in the program. Some schools in the province don’t like that students are coming to our online school to take FI courses instead of taking it in their brick-and-mortar school. Personally, I believe that we are meeting these students’ specific needs that would not be easily met in the face-to-face classroom. Since the program is still in a growing phase, I worry that if I share its delivery model and content that it could be used by competing online school.
However, this does not mean that I am not willing to share ideas. Lately, I am finding myself wanting to share and express my points of view and ideas regarding teaching French Immersion or French as a first language online with others around me but at this point in my professional life, the audience is not available or not interested. Thompson says that “failed networks kill ideas.” I think that some of my ideas on how to teach French online are pretty innovative but right now, the only ones benefitting are my students. Heick defined the “the goal of creative nonfiction: [is] to communicate.” This quote inspired me to begin blogging as a tool to express myself. My interest in teaching is very specific which means that the audience might be limited; however, it does not really matter if someone reads it or agrees with what I write but at least I am sharing it. This winter, I had created a blog to document the process that I was going through in preparation for a teaching and leadership position that really inspired me and that I wanted to post my candidature. I was going to present my blog during my interview for the position. However, after a while it seemed easier to just write it down on paper. In the end, I did not get the position but I still have so much to share about leading and teaching the French language in an online environment that I decided to go back to this blog called: “Mon cheminement vers un nouveau monde” and to change some of its purpose. It will now be focused on two main ideas: Teaching the French language online and How to lead this change in pedagogy? Thompson says that “Having an audience can clarify thinking. It’s easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face areal audience, you have to be truly convincing… studies have found that the effort of communicating to someone else forces you to pay more attention and learn more.” At this point, I am not looking for an audience but the fact that I am writing online will allow me to clearly develop my ideas and arguments prior to sharing them. My area of expertise is very specific and there are probably only a few people teaching this subject online; however, if anyone reads it and wants to comment, that would be great. Most likely, we will be able to learn from each other’s ideas and opinions.
Heick, Terry. When Student Writers Learn That They Must Make Their Audience Care. Retrieved from: http://www.teachthought.com/uncategorized/students-wrote-no-one-cared/
This week, we are to dig deep into some OERs and MOOC courses to evaluate their usefulness, organization, and quality. Since most of my teaching is done in French, I decided that I would spend my week searching and evaluating some French OERs.
The first OER in French that comes to mind is TV5Monde, a worldwide French television station. Within its website, there is a tab labelled “Langue Française”. Under it, you can find a French dictionary, a virtual library of classics authors and two other sections called “Apprendre le français” and “Enseigner le français”. The first one can be used for anyone who wants to learn French on their own. The second one has online resources that a teacher can use with his students. Both sections have videos on current events and exercises of listening comprehension. The OERs for the teachers also has worksheets based on the videos with speaking and writing activities as well as a teacher’s guide. All OERs in both sections are divided into different levels of proficiency from beginner, intermediate to advance. Since the French in the videos is at a high level, transcripts are provided to help the students understand the content. These OERs are very well developed, comprehensive and easy to use. I would recommend that French as a Second Language and French Immersion teachers use these resources to enhance the authenticity of the learning.
For the purpose of this blog, I was determined to find new OERs to use in my courses. There are websites with resources in French but usually, I am only able to use a minimal amount of resources in a classroom. It took me a lot of digging on the web to finally find something that was worthwhile. The website is called éduscol, which is developed by the France’s Ministry of Education. This website has a variety of resources designed to either inform or to be used for teacher professional development. However, in my opinion, the best OERs found on this site are the science ones. The website links to two different sites: Planete Vie and Culture, Sciences et Chimie. The former focuses more on the biology part of the science while the latter has an emphasis on chemistry. Both contain videos, laboratory experiments, and explanations of the subject matter. The information is comprehensive and easy to understand for both the teacher and the learner. Both sites are also divided by grade level; except that since it is from France and their grade system is different from ours, it is necessary to understand their education system to know which level coincide with ours. I recommend these OERs for anyone who is teaching Science in French.
During my search, I also found two websites offering French MOOC courses. The first one is MOOC Francophone which offers courses in a variety of academic and non-academic disciplines. Some of the courses are offered synchronously and asynchronously. The descriptions provided with each course is comprehensive and complete (i.e. who is teaching, the prerequisites, the amount of time required each week to do the course and if there is a certification provided or not). I looked at an algebra course which was comprised of videos, practice worksheets with answer key and a quiz for each unit. I also looked at an ecotourism course which was composed of videos, reading material, reflective questions and a synchronous meeting for all participants to interact among them and with the experts. The other website that offers French MOOC courses is also from France. It is called sup-nemerique.gouv.fr which offers about 30 000 pedagogical resources, courses, exercises, list of references, interactive lessons, demonstrations, cases studies and much more. Although, the site seems to have lots to offer, it also seems to be time consuming to find what you are looking for. I looked at the section on “se former avec le numérique- to learn online” which was dedicated to the MOOC courses. This site also offered a variety of academic and non-academic disciplines but all of the courses were following a calendar which means that none of the courses seemed to be at your own pace. Overall, both website offer a variety of MOOC courses and appear to be well build and presented; however, in order to get a complete perspective of their value, one would need to enroll in some courses to see if they meet the desired needs.
Since I have begun to create French Immersion online courses, I have searched for good OERs on the internet. It has always been difficult to find quality material, but I believe that with the increase of online learning and the usage of technology in the classroom, there are more French OERs available. My findings of OERs and MOOC courses for this assignment prove that it is possible to come across valuable French resources.
There are two distinct topics that I would like to discuss in relation to openness and copyright.
The first is in regards to the story of the life of Aaron Swartz who was a brilliant individual, a computer programming genius and an information and democracy activist. Prior to watching “Internet’s own boy”, I did not know anything about him. Because of whom he was and what he did, the United States’ government and justice system saw him as a threat. They decided to make an example out of him. Their persecution on Aaron was done to deter other individuals including hackers to try to follow in Aaron’s footsteps.
Aaron’s curiosity was endless and he lived his life according to some fundamental ideas such as: Information is power, books are the cultural legacy of the world and computer programming can accomplish things that human cannot do. Throughout his life, he used his knowledge that he acquired from books, his ability with computers and his intelligence to try to make the world a better place for everyone. For Aaron, public information should be free and readily available instead of being locked up and only accessible at a cost. He also thought that the law should be an operating system of the democracy and for this reason; he tried to download the Federal court files to post them on a public domain. He also tried to do the same thing to scholarly journals so that anyone could have access to it. He saw corporations and governments being driven by greed which to him was morally wrong. Although, Aaron’s actions were guided by good intentions, the institutions did not see it the same way and their persecution towards him took a toll ton Aaron to the point that he committed suicide. I find it very sad that Aaron Swartz tried to use his abilities to help the common good but ended up being persecuted by the justice system and large corporations. However, I am not surprised by it. Decisions based on money, power and greed can be seen everywhere around the world. In Canada and BC, we see those in regards to the environment, the education, the homeless, the elderly and much more. Teachers in this province have to deal with funding that is based more on budget and power than on the well-being and education of the next generation. I don’t know when it will change but I think that until it does, there need to be more people like Aaron Swartz and other activists who believe in fairness and openness.
The second topic that I want to discuss is in regards to the intellectual property rights of the course content that teachers create for their classes. In the “old days”, it was easy for a teacher to claim ownership over his course material. He could share it with other teachers and he could also take it with him when he was switching positions. These days, with the increased use of technology to create course content and to deliver it using the district’s technology, there are questions as to who control the intelligence property rights. In the United States, “the Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that materials created by teachers in the scope of their employment are deemed ‘works for hire’ and therefore the school owns them.” Following the same rules, “In 2004, a federal appellate court in New York ruled that “tests, quizzes, homework problems, and other teaching materials” were works made for hire owned by the district and that the “academic tradition” of granting authors ownership of their own scholarly work cannot be applied to materials not explicitly intended for publication.” In regards to the intellectual property rights for a teacher in Canada, I have searched online without much success mostly because there has not been many court cases on the matter. However, Guay write in the article Who owns copyright: employee or employer? that “if the ultimate authority over the performance of [the employee]his work reposes with his employer in the sense that the individual is subject to his employer’s orders and directions. It has long been established that the employer does not need to exercise this control de facto as long as he could do so.” This means that when the employer provides direct instructions of what to do; then, the material being produced belongs to the employer. However, “if the employer simply gives the individual objectives while the manner in which the tasks are to be accomplished is left to the individual’s discretion, courts are more likely to conclude to a contract for services.” In regards to a teacher under contract in a school district, the employer instructs the teachers to teach therefore, the teacher is providing a service to the student. Furthermore, most teachers teach their students during the instructional day and if there is any extra time left, it is used to assess or report on students’ work. Teachers are allowed preparation time but as we all know, it is not sufficient. This means that the development of course material is most likely being done on the teacher’s own time away from the school with his own computer and stored on his own device, so he would have the right to copyright, creative commons or copyleft for the educational material that he created. However, according to the Copyright Act, if the course content is created on a school computer and during school time with school materials it belongs to the school district. This fact raises the issue that some districts in BC are now promoting the Google Application for Education (GAFE) program for educators and students. Some are even providing computer devices for their teachers to use for teaching. If teachers decide to use school district devices to create their educational material and host it under the district GAFE account then, the district has copyright to it. Personally, as a teacher, I think that it is important to protect our intellectual property rights. I am all for sharing but I should be the one who gets to make the ultimate decision just like in the old days when I could chose to take all my course material with me or to leave it all behind.
All of the above were related to course content being delivered in a traditional manner. However, what about online course content created by a teacher would belong to the district. Is the teacher allowed to use it to teach in another online school? If not, how much does the course material need to be altered to prevent the district from suing the teacher for impediment and for the teacher to be able to license it under Creative Commons? The digitization of our education system is raising more ownership issue of teaching material that will need to be addressed in the future. If a case is ever brought to light, the court would have to “consider various factors such as whether the work was prepared in the individual’s free time or in his work time, whether the work was prepared following instructions given by the employer or at the individual’s own initiative, whether confidential information to which the individual would not have had access without his employment was used to prepare the work, whether the employer’s resources were used, whether the task is part of the individual’s job description, etc.”
Aaron Swartz did not agree that a researcher should have to hand over his findings to the corporation who funded the research. He believed that researcher should have the right to make public for everyone to learn from it. The same idea is also true for material created by teacher in a district. The teacher should have the right to licenses under Creative Commons which allows for some restrictions to be stipulated or under Copyleft which means that anyone can do anything to the material. If Aason Swartz were alive today, I would love to hear his opinion on if the teachers have the intellectual property rights on what they have created to teach their students.
Aviles, Chris. Do Teachers or School Own Resources Created in the Cloud? Retrieved date: May 15, 2016, from:
Walker, Tim. Legal Controversy Over Lesson Plans. Retrieved date: May 15,2016 from: http://www.nea.org/home/37583.htm
Prior to beginning OLTD 505 on Open Learning Resources, I had a vague idea of what open education was but I am excited to learn more. I have encountered online courses and I have used resources that were free for everyone to use to enhance knowledge and learning. However, in order to write about the foundations of open education, I definitely had to do some research about it. As an educator, I know that education can better someone’s economic, social and personal future, it can also improve the productivity and the growth of a community as well as a country. However, what is open education? According to Opensource.com, open education “is a philosophy about the way people should produce, share, and build on knowledge. Proponents of open education believe everyone in the world should have access to high-quality educational experiences and resources, and they work to eliminate barriers to this goal.” The video Why Open Education Matters? showed me how open education can be used to provide good learning material to everyone in the world. Creating educational content and sharing it on the web, allows anyone to access it. However, from what I know of copyright, using someone else’s content available online is not as simple as that. The copyright law says that “Simply putting the pen to the paper or in the electronic medium, putting the fingers to the save key creates a copyrighted work. Once expression is committed to a tangible medium (and computer media is considered tangible), copyright protection is automatic. So, postings of all kinds are protected the same as published printed works.” Therefore, it does not mean that just because a resource is available online that it can be adapted and modified at any given time by anyone. The copyright law stipulates that all rights belong to the author and individuals using online material are always liable to be changed of infringement. In order to have open learning resources available for re-using, re-distributing, revising, remixing and retaining, the author needs to license it under Creative Commons which means that only some rights are reserved to the author. There are several licenses under the Creative Commons umbrella and “Every license helps creators — we call them licencors if they use our tools — retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work — at least non-commercially. Every Creative Commons license also ensures licencors get the credit for their work they deserve. Every Creative Commons license works around the world and lasts as long as applicable copyright lasts (because they are built on copyright).”
After learning the definition of open education, I had to research the history how it got started to be able to better comprehend all of its future possibilities. Open learning resources came about with the need to share findings within a university’s faculty. However, not long after, other scholars joined the trend of sharing their resources, findings and course content. This also allowed more collaboration among scholars. This openness is widely spread at the university level. This movement of sharing information also helps to reduce the cost of accessing resources for research or course content. However, open does not automatically mean it is free. . Bates addresses the financial aspect of open education by saying that “while the use of open materials may be free to the end user (learners), there are real costs in creating and distributing open education, and supporting learners, which has to be covered in some way.” A similar movement of free software (FSM) has grown to allow users the freedom to run, adapt, and redistribute programs as they wish; but again this has to be produce like for open learning resources. So, the bottom line is that there is a will and ways to have open education but who will pay, either in time or money, to create the resources is the question.
The same phenomenon that is happening at the university level is also taking place at the public education level. The need for open learning resources has increased due to the cuts in the funding of public education. There is less money available but there is an expectation that the children will receive the highest level of education possible. This situation calls for more collaboration and sharing among teachers as well as the need to reuse what other teachers have already created. I am seeing this happening at my online school. Up to now, we have created our course work locally which required lots of the teacher’s time. However, now that there is a new curriculum being implemented which implies that all of our courses will have to be modified, there are talks at my school to join the BC Learning Network (BCLN). This is a consortium that develops course content and resources, which would allow us, the teachers to combine our own course material with what is created by BCLN. It would be cheaper to pay a small yearly fee to BCLN than to provide extra time to the teacher to modify their own courses for the new curriculum.
I think that the concept of open education and open learning resources are valuable for teachers in this day and age since having access to material that can be modified saves a lot of time when preparing course content. However, as a French Immersion teacher, I have had to deal with the fact that it is more difficult to find teaching material online in French than in English. When I began learning about open education and open learning resources, I was curious to know if any of this was available in French. With some research, I found out that open education is called: “éducation ouverte » in French and open learning resources is translated: “ressources éducatives libres (REL)”. Once again, what is available in French is limited but Lilian Ricaud presents a good diagram of what open learning is. I also found a website for open learning resources in French called: “Réseau francophone de ressources éducatifs réutilisables”. I have to say that I am very excited to further explore what is available in French. It would be nice to find some resources and course content that I could add to what I have created for my FI online courses. This could compensate for the benefits that my colleagues will receive if my school joins the BCLN.
I look forward to learning more on different aspects related to open education and open learning resources.
Bates, Tony. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age. (n.d.). Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/
Copyright Crash Course. Retrieved from: https://copyright.lib.utexas.edu/useofweb.html
Creative Commons. Retrieved from: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/