I've been ruminating over this post for a couple of days. On the heels of Sunday morning's Edublogger Twitter frenzy over NECC photos, ownership and lack of attribution I was sitting in the Blogger's Cafe with Ewan McIntosh who was surfing my blog and offering encouragement. That is, until he found this.
"Laura, this is really good stuff, but this is my Flickr image. You didn't give me attribution."
You can imagine how I felt. Sure, I was able to fix the problem quickly, and with that twinkle in his eyes and great Scottish accent he offered redemption-assuming I could get him a good Americano coffee. (That's a whole 'nother story.) However, as someone who wants so very much to "do the right thing" even when someone else isn't looking, even if the audience is zero, I crumbled inside. Peace of mind I could not keep, and I knew that I had to write something meaningful--at least for me--in response.
As I pondered what to write, taking notes to self for how to use this example with students and schools, a much bigger thought began to evolve. In all of our efforts to sort through copyright, fair use in education, and the "everyone is a publisher" world, we make understanding and "doing the right thing" much too complicated for our students. It needs to be simpler. It needs to be less about who the audience is, how big it is, and how the work is presented and distributed. (Although these are important questions and distinctions, and we need to teach methodologies for each situation.) More importantly, we should be focused on building individual character such that when the situations and gray areas come, there is a better chance of making the right choice. So I propose we model the process by asking ourselves these questions:
#1 Is it mine or yours?
#2 Are you sharing it with me freely or are there conditions?
#3 Who should get the credit?
And, then model the following actions:
#1 Be honest. Regardless of circumstance, form, or audience give credit where credit is due.
#2 Don't take what isn't yours. If someone isn't sharing, they aren't sharing.
#3 Model and encourage sharing. The best way to change behavior is to model the behavior you wish to see.
Sure, there can be all kinds of nuances and conditions and "gray areas". But, if we keep it simple, the idea might become a habit. It just might stick.
Thanks, Ewan, and so many others for sharing. And for being so gracious.
Compliment and Attribution to: Average Audience for Students' Work by Ewan McIntosh