I thought the Digital Citizenship article was a very effective piece in its simplicity in outlining some of the core issues surrounding the protocol of technology usage. In the etiquette section, I could easily relate to inappropriate texting and IM usage. I have a daughter who is in seventh grade, and she freely admits that she and her friends exchange text messages during school when they’re not even supposed to have their phones in class. While my wife and I don’t really approve, we can’t be too authoritarian about this because she remains a consistent straight-A student. And we’ve warned her that if her phone is confiscated by one of her teachers, we will ground her from using it for a period of time. I did have to draw the line, though, by asking her not to post Facebook updates from her phone while she was in class. It seems her teachers have had to resort to ignoring this texting during class behavior because it is so rampant and difficult to police–all while trying to teach class. I can’t help but wonder–especially after some of the readings in this class–if both teachers and students wouldn’t be better served by accepting the prevalance of mobile devices and somehow incorporate them into instruction somehow, and hopefully discourage violations of classroom etiquette. But then, that raises another issue discussed in the article: access. Not all seventh graders own a cell phone (though it sure seems like it to me); so is it fair to make that a required instructional tool. Of course, the article does outline some suggestions for this, such as pairing students up for this type of assignment to ensure that everyone has access to a mobile device.
The other topic that I found to be particularly interesting was that of commerce. There’s no question that the market has changed with online retailers like amazon.com and the countless others. And I guess I never really thought about teaching wise online consumerism until I read it here–and I think that would be an invaluable topic to teach middle school and high school students; such as ways to determine if an online retailer is reputable and how to protect one’s identity. And I think this ties into the notion of responsibility, too. Though when it comes to music sharing, I have to confess that in the old days, my friends and I exchanged many cassette copies of albums one of us had purchased–so it would be hypocritical of me to denounce music file-sharing too harshly. In my opinion, I think sharing a copy of downloaded music among a few friends is an understood–though perhaps unwritten–assumption within acceptable boundaries; much in the same way that if I buy a book, I shouldn’t have reservations about loaning it to friends so they can read it. But I think when media is posted on file-sharing sites for thousands of people to download freely, that is an abuse of the system. Though I believe it’s an uphill battle to dissuade most people from avoiding free content. But, of course, that is all a part of the larger issue of ownership that needs to be communicated and taught, as the article describes–and perhaps a good place to start is with proper source accreditation.
The Basics of Copyright Law piece was very useful to me because I’ve always had an uncertain understanding of copyright law, and this chapter cleared up a few misconceptions I had–such as intent being a factor–and it confirmed some of what I already knew, mainly that an original work is automatically copyrighted, whether or not is bears the “C” symbol. The follow-up piece that dealt with fair-use was also very interesting for me because of the many discussions around the computer science department regarding who owns lecture and seminar content. There are times when an instructor will lecture from another professor’s slide presentation. So when we capture the video of the lecture, who’s property is it? The professor who created the presentation? The instructor who actually delivered the lecture? The decision around here has been that it belongs to the university. Of course, when we have guest speakers who are not employed by the university, the issue becomes a little murkier–is the video now the property of the speaker? Of when the speaker is a member of another university’s faculty AND an employee of an organization like Microsoft, who has rights to the content then? Though I imagine most–if not all–of this content falls under the “publish or perish” category. We assume that this is all worked out between the lecturer, the university for whom they work, and their employer. But to be on the safe side, we usually have speaker sign some paperwork drafted by the legal department.
My examples here may be a bit unique, but I still believe that they illustrate just how complex the issue of content ownership really is.