Ind. Study - Intellectual Property (Week #6)

Intellectual Property, Copyright, Digital Citizenship

Intellectual property and copyright are familiar terms to most people, but "Digital Citizenship?"  If I were to ask my friends, family and even colleagues, a large majority would not understand what the phrase means and the implications surrounding it.  With the realization of the rapid advancements in technology and how information is created, consumed and shared, the issues involved around appropriate use of this information had to be expected.  As information, research, images, music, video and a host of other resources are available to us online, any time of the day, this notion of 'intellectual property' or 'digital citizenship' must be taught to people of all ages to conserve the growing trend in collaboration.  "We need not only to educate our children on the issues that are occurring with technology but provide resources for our teachers and parents as well," writes Mike Ribble author of Digital Citizenship in Schools and Raising a Digital Child.  The above quote from an article Ribble contributed to "Learning & Leading with Technology" (Dec/Jan 2008-09) that discusses one of the updates to the ISTE's students standards (NET-S) on, "The wording of the standard on social, ethical, legal, and human issues to digital citizenship."  Digital citizenship is now defined by the ISTE as:

Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior. In this students will:
1. Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
2. Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and
3. Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning,
4. Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship.

Reading these four points leads me to question the existing copyright, intellectual property, and digital citizenship practices that occur presently at the elementary and high school in my community.  Our students practicing appropriate and responsible use of information at school and at home?  Do most students use technology and social networking sites as productive and collaborative tools for learning?  Are students and staff exhibiting individual accountability for ethical and legal use of information online?  Are they taking a leadership role to keep others accountable for their use of technology and information they access?

I would hazard a guess that a large percentage of students are not using information and technology responsibly or citing and respecting their sources as required.  Nor are they using these tools effectively toward learning and productivity.  What is the main reason for this?  They have never been educated to do so.  Neither the high school or elementary school have a qualified Teacher-Librarian or Information Technology teacher to address these issues with the students or staff.

In my previous blog post on the topic of Filtering I had mentioned that I wanted to create a presentation for students, staff and parents to become cognisant of the issues surrounding Internet Safety Skills and ethical, responsible use of online information.  I referred to a 2006 Harris poll that found, "71% of parents believe the responsibility of ensuring children's safety online belongs to the school," and yet many researchers report that most students are getting online when they are not in school.  Now, after focusing on this topic of copyright and digital citizenship, I realize the importance of following through on that initiative.

Ribble and his colleague Gerald Bailey discuss nine "themes" in their book Digital Citizenship in Schools that they recognized as integral to the issue of digital citizenship.  "These nine elements create a foundation for helping to educate children on the issues that face them in an increasingly technological world."

  1. Digital AccessFull electronic participation in society.
  2. Digital CommerceElectronic buying and selling of goods.
  3. Digital CommunicationElectronic exchange of information. 
  4. Digital LiteracyThe capability to use digital technology and to know when and how to use it.
  5. Digital EtiquetteThe standards of conduct expected by other digital technology users.
  6. Digital Law - The legal rights and restrictions governing technology use.
  7. Digital Rights and ResponsibilitiesThe privileges and freedoms extended to all digital technology users and the behavioral expectations that come with them.
  8. Digital Health and WellnessThe elements of physical and psychological well-being related to digital technology use.
  9. Digital SecurityThe precautions that all technology users must take to guarantee their personal safety and the security of their networks.
These themes are discussed in more detail in their book and they also provide a cycle of technology integration entitled the Four-Stage Technology Learning Framework for Teaching Digital Citizenship.  This cycle offers a way for students to reflect on what they have learned regarding digital citizenship and consists of four phases:  Awareness, guided practice, modelling and demonstration, and feedback and analysis.  I have further looked into Ribble's book online and will be purchasing a copy to assist me in my initiative to create a presentation for the students, staff and community concerning Internet safety and digital citizenship.  As Ribble states, " There needs to be a common language between our schools and homes that clearly outlines what we expect our children (as well as ourselves) to know and follow."

Along with the safety, ethical, and citizenship aspects of online presence, their is also another issue that cannot be overlooked.  Intellectual freedom, "The right of any person to hold any belief on any subject and to express that idea in ways that he or she believes is appropriate," as defined by the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom (  Could there be issues around ethics and safety because of what some people deem appropriate or inappropriate?  Certainly.  For example, the Library Assistant that works at both the elementary and high school could have retired five years ago but hasn't.  What she believes as appropriate online content is VERY different from what the students at the high school deem appropriate, and for that matter, even myself.  Annette Lamb, a Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University, writes, "Social technologies test the boundaries of intellectual freedom precisely because they provide an open forum for ideas."  So, who is responsible for deciding what is appropriate regarding the creation and sharing of online information? Instead of relying on somebody else's definition of what is appropriate, qualified Teacher-Librarians should take it upon themselves to educate students in the positive and productive ways of learning through these social networks. 

Lamb offers eight ways to, "Address key issues related to intellectual freedom and social technology for young people."  As well as providing information about each issue, Lamb also offers suggestions for the TL in his or her role.
  • The controversyHelp adults and young people distinguish between media hype and genuine concerns about social technologies.
  • The law -  Stay informed about legislative issues and advocate for laws and regulations that help educate young people rather than simply limiting their access.
  • The tools -  Help students and teachers identify and use the most powerful and practical applications of these social technologies in teaching and learning.
  • The content -   Help students and educators evaluate the content of social networks and make responsible decisions regarding accessing and posting information.
  • The profile -  Provide young people and their parents with strategies for protecting their personal identity and security.
  • The access -  Build student social technology skills through guided experiences involving the use of both closed and open social systems.
  • The policies -  Ensure that your library policies are up-to-date and reflect the unique attributes of social technology.
  • The potential - Be an advocate of intellectual freedom.
A note about copyright - I searched Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog for his take on copyright and intellectual freedom issues.  As I suspected I was met with his 21st century view on the topic in the form of a four part blog entry, as well as his ability to infuse his sense of humour.  Embedded within his information, advice, and suggestions are words like "dope" (used in the non-marajauna sense) and an image of his face photo-shopped onto the body of a chippendale.  Both of these examples mentioned only to mess with filters.  Here are the titles and weblinks to his four blog posts on copyright and intellectual freedom:

Armed with information on social responsibility, Internet safety, copyright law, and digital citizenship one of my roles as Teacher-Librarian this fall will be to demonstrate to staff, students and parents the opportunity to use these social networking tools to engage students to, "enhance thinking and learning," and for, "furthering intellectual freedom by promoting creative thought, communication, and collaboration" (Lamb).