Understand (and teach!) Creative Commons

In my experience, many teachers–and most students–would rather not think about copyright. In this respect, they resemble just about every other person on the planet. Copyright is an undeniably thorny topic, full of arcane details and legal minutiae: most of us would, understandably, rather not spend our time studying the fine print of the Copyright Act.

But copyright is not something teachers can easily avoid. Most of the educational resources used by teachers are locked under copyright; the copyright to all the resources teachers produce is held by their respective Board of Trustees. At the same time, sharing, remix and reuse is fundamental to teaching. After all, “without sharing, there is no education.”

Digital technologies promise to make sharing educational resources much easier. In theory, the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) promised with the Network for Learning (N4L) could enable every school in New Zealand to work together, a truly exciting possibility. Under existing copyright legislation, however, teachers are not allowed to remix, adapt and share copyright materials across the N4L.

This is where Creative Commons can help. Creative Commons provides the tools that enable sharing to occur. Our licences are legally robust and–unlike most copyright legislation–human-readable.

Using Creative Commons licences, teachers can make and share open education resources across the N4L. Teachers can also use Creative Commons licences to teach their students about copyright, attribution and referencing–an increasingly essential part of the curriculum.

But if learning about copyright is difficult, teaching it can be even harder. To this end, we’ve put together some resources for Creative Commons champions across the country. We want you to help us spread the word about Creative Commons.

  • We’ve put together this template slide show, for everyone to share, remix and reuse. Use it in your classes, conferences and professional development days. Email us at admin@creativecommons.org.nz if you want the script. Let us know if you make a better version, and we’ll put it on our website.
  • The latest issue of Interface Magazine has an A3 pull-out poster for students and teachers. A version of the poster is here, though you’ll need to get the magazine for the glossy original!
  • Creative Commons champion Helen Baxter, who runs Mohawk Media, has written a series of columns on how to use and reuse Creative Commons resources for the NZTA Remix competition.
  • The National Library (again!) have made a guide to remixing materials, Free To Mix. This is an excellent home-grown guide. As a living document, it is continually updated.
  • We have a box of brochures sitting in our office. Email  us if you want some to share with your classroom, conference, library or colleagues.
  • And, of course, our rather awesome video is to your right. More general resources can be found here.


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