When we explored Creative Commons last week in our DC101 class, I started to really think more about what’s happening out there, on this big social forum we call the internet. I had genuinely never even thought about just grabbing an image from google, and suddenly we were questioning the ethical implications of doing so! It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I was just using somebody’s photo without asking permission, never mind crediting them. Yet when I thought about it, I realised if people took my photos and used them, that’s exactly what I’d want them to do, at least acknowledge me as the creator. So starts the learning process. I guess most people don’t even think of Google Images as being composed of pictures from millions of people. Well I certainly never did. When I typed in google, I just saw it as a public service which could find information and pictures for me. I think that’s maybe just an assumption we all make if a service is made freely available to us. If I did credit the image, I wrote ‘Image from google’ … (see earlier blog posts!) as if that was a credit, as if that’s gonna help anybody find the photographer. I might as well have just written ‘Image from somebody, somewhere in the world’. Jabiz showed us Flickr last week and how to use it, suggesting we use it in the future if we want photos because people share them with a creative commons license (well most of them do). Beginning to use Flickr has helped me understand more about this idea of a shared, collaborative online community. It has made me think about the way I access information on the internet so freely and greedily. I browse Teaching forums regularly, asking for and giving advice to teachers who post both from the UK and abroad. If I need something for my class, I’ll quickly search on google or using a couple of resource websites and download them. If I need a picture for something, I’ll use google images. I search youtube almost daily to find cool songs and videos relating to our current UOI for my students, I research articles depending on my work, I use the internet everyday and I use people’s resources and thoughts/ opinions/ ideas everyday. Yet I had never even thought about how much I use other peoples information, thoughts and resources so readily and anonymously until last week.
Having been educated (a little) these past few weeks into the ethical issues regarding the internet, and the amazing privileges we now have as people, as teachers to access and use this kind of information so freely, I realise how lucky we are in this new digital age and how much we can also contribute. I doubt I’ll make resources (maybe, possibly one day!) but I can contribute my thoughts about teaching, offer my advice on forums, blog about my classroom practice and generally put myself more into this online community. When I think how cagey I was about sharing things initially, this idea of ‘sharing everything’ I am a little embarrassed. Now I think about the ton of stuff I use, which informs my own ideas and teaching/ planning/ thoughts, then it seems a little selfish to say, ‘Why should I share this stuff?’ And I’m starting to realise it’s not about sharing everything. If I offer advice on a forum which helps others, I’m contributing, if I write something on this blog which helps inform another person, then that’s wonderful. If I write about a lesson or activity which worked really well in class and this sparks a thought in somebody else, fantastic! If I write about a book I love or share a story from my life that makes somebody think, I am contributing. I know somebody in class today was truly touched by one of my posts on my blog, and knowing I shared that story, that they listened and thought about it feels amazing.
We watched a video today about this online digital community, and it did inspire me. I see how this can affect people, how it can create change, how it can enable bigger things. I am beginning to think about our new age of digital technology in a new light. I am inspired to learn more about this and creating shared content and a collaborative digital community. I also understand much more, having seen how I, myself, flouted internet etiquette so flagrantly by grabbing google images without even crediting people, that our students are entering a digital world in which rules are not clear. A world which is so new, issues such as privacy laws are only just being worked out as we go along. As teachers, I understand much more, already about these issues and feel much happier committing to our ‘obligation’ to helping our students understand how to explore and utilise this new age technology safely. This article on a news website the other day only highlights the only too real dangers of a digital age in which information is so freely uploaded and accessibly by the world! We must help our students navigate their way through this ever changing world as much as we can and we can only do that by being committed to understanding it ourselves. People like Jabiz and Jane, and the many other educational bloggers out there that I have begun to read and learn from understand this and have sparked an interest in me to do so too. Thanks guys 😀