Creative Commons Policies for Schools

Read this piece, published last year in the Education Gazette, for a brief introduction to the concept of Creative Commons policies for schools.

What is a Creative Commons Policy?

A Creative Commons policy enables all teachers within a school to share their teaching resources under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. This means that they can legally share and collaborate with other New Zealand teachers, without having to ask permission from their Board of Trustees.

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons provides free, simple to use and legally robust licences, to enable people to easily share and reuse copyright material. The six main Creative Commons licences give a range of permissions, from more free to more restrictive. The more restrictive licences prevent derivative works and commercial reuse; the most open licence allows users to adapt, remix and share materials as they wish, as long as they credit the original work. Our video provides a quick and easy explanation of the licences.

Why can’t teachers decide to use Creative Commons for themselves?

The copyright to all resources made by teachers in the course of their employment is held by their employer–i.e., their Board of Trustees. In order to avoid infringing copyright, teachers technically have to ask their BoTs for permission before they share resources.

Why do teachers need to share?

While all classrooms are different, many teachers around the country are facing similar challenges. Creative Commons licences allow teachers to reuse resources from other New Zealand teachers and adapt them to their specific classroom situation.

Because the six main Creative Commons licences all require users to provide attribution, teachers will receive credit when their high-quality resources are used by others.

What will the policy achieve?

Beyond enabling teachers to legally share resources and collaborate, Creative Commons policies have been found to contribute to wider cultural change within schools. Albany Senior High School, for instance, found that “teachers are collaborating more, and they’re also involving their students in the development of those teaching and learning resources.”

The policy will also introduce the issue of copyright and open licensing to both teachers and students.

Why now?

With the rise of Ultra Fast Broadband and hand-held devices, it has become extremely easy to copy and reuse material found online. However, this also means that it is become easy for everyone–including students and teachers–to unintentionally violate copyright. It is more important than ever for both students and teachers to know about copyright, as well as free and legal alternatives like Creative Commons.

What is the New Zealand Government’s position on Creative Commons licensing?

The New Zealand Government Open Access Licensing framework (NZGOAL) was approved by Cabinet on 5 July 2010, to guide public agencies in their release of materials for creative reuse. Where appropriate, NZGOAL recommends that public agencies apply New Zealand Creative Commons-Attribution licences.

Under the current framework, NZGOAL “invites school boards of trustees… to take NZGOAL into account when releasing copyright material and non-copyright material to the public for re-use.” By adopting a Creative Commons policy, schools will find themselves in line with government policy, and will be well placed for any further developments in this area.

What about when teachers leave?

A Creative Commons policy will ensure that when  teachers move to a new school, both the teacher and the school can retain access to all teaching resources.

Will the policy mean that the school gives up its copyright?

Not at all. The Creative Commons licences simply mean that the school gives permission for others to share and reuse its copyright works. There are six Creative Commons licences, ranging from more free to more restrictive. Learn more about the licences here; or, alternatively, watch this short video.

Who has a Creative Commons policy?

Creative Commons policies have been adopted at Albany Senior High School, Warrington School, Wellington High School and Tawa Intermediate. Follow those links for detailed case studies on their use of Creative Commons. Many other schools are in the process of adopting a Creative Commons policy.

How much does it cost?

Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand provides its licences free of charge.

Will I have to write my policy from scratch?

No. Albany Senior High School has kindly made its policy available under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. This means that all schools are free to adapt and reuse the policy for themselves.

What do I do next?

1) Learn more about Creative Commons licensing. Talk with teachers and about copyright and Creative Commons.

2) Draft your policy.

3) Take your policy to your Board of Trustees for approval.

4) Begin sharing your educational resources.

What if I want to teach Creative Commons licensing to my students?

Alongside education on copyright, plagiarism and privacy, Creative Commons has become an integral part of good digital citizenship. To support efforts by teachers to introduce Creative Commons licensing to students, we’ve developed a range of resources. Our video is the best introduction to the licences themselves. This short Free to Mix guide (PDF) is a simple introduction copyright, Creative Commons and how to find and use Creative Commons material. Stick up this poster (PDF) in the classroom, as a reference tool for the different licence types.

To make this more interesting, encourage your students to enter Mix & Mash: The New Storytelling, organised by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand, the National Library and DigitalNZ.

Can you come and talk about Creative Commons licensing?

Sure. Get in touch and we’ll work something out–either in person, over videoconference or Skype. In the meantime, this slideshow introduces some of the issues around copyright and Creative Commons licensing in schools.

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