Second: What is Creative Commons? Relax. This is an easy, but incredibly significant one. || || ||
photo by Franz Patzig
photo by Franz Patzig
|| || photo by Franz Patzig || || || photo by Franz Patzig || || || photo by Franz Patzig ||

Fair use guidelines enable teachers and students to use copyrighted materials within the classroom for direct educational purposes. But fair use is restrictive, can be confusing, and more-or-less stops at the schoolhouse gate. All of those wonderfully illustrative images found via Google search and pasted into that Oscar-worthy Powerpoint presentation cannot legally be shared back out on the Web, even with proper citation -- citation does not equal permission. As educators, it is our responsibility to teach students about the ethics of content gathering and use, whether for a research paper or a digital storytelling project.

One of the hallmarks of Web 2.0 is the creation and sharing of user-created content, and tools like Flickr, YouTube, Scribd, Thinkfree, (and hundreds of others) make uploading, sharing and obtaining digitized content a snap. But with the free exchange of content comes the responsibility of determining how it is shared, how it may be used, and how to properly credit the author or creator.

Enter Creative Commons, the best thing to happen to Copyright since, well, ever...

"Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally"

"Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from 'All Rights Reserved' to 'Some Rights Reserved.'"

Creative Commons celebrated its fifth birthday in December 2007. Currently, there are millions of photos, books, songs, poems, artworks, videos and other media shared on the web under Creative Commons licenses, including this course. K12 Learning 2.0 is an example of how you can take a piece of information or a product (in this case, the original Learning 2.0 course) and 'remix' it to make it fit your needs, giving attribution to the original author.

One of the most exciting developments in Web 2.0/Creative Commons culture is the OER Commons -- a site where users can find and contribute to the collection of thousands of Open Educational Resources. The most highly-rated content in the OER Commons comes from the MIT Open Courseware (OCW) project -- an online repository of free lecture notes, exams, and other resources (including, increasingly, audio and video) from more than 1800 courses spanning MIT's entire curriculum. MIT recently announced a subsection of OCW called Highlights for High School.

Cool, huh?

Discovery Exercise
Watch the two animations below to learn about the history and basic concepts behind Creative Commons.

Get Creative (6:37)

Write a comment on our class blog, richardsonbiology, reflecting on how you think Creative Commons may affect you academically and/or personally.
Some prompts:
  • Have you noticed the CC logo on any websites you visit? Did you wonder what it meant?
  • Do you think CC will impact the way you and other students learn and create projects? How?
  • Do you use digital images, audio or video clips from the web in your teaching (or professional practice)?
  • Do you ever share content on the web?
  • What are some potential negatives for using CC?
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Note that the content you create on is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License. Please only submit content that you write yourself or that is in the public domain. Learn more about our open content policy.