Make a Habit of Educational Purposes

Social Media Garden by j&tplaman

When I see teachers using online media resources, I think of three-year-olds playing together. First, everyone is happy, looking around, exploring the boundaries, and loving each other’s toys. As soon as everyone gets comfortable, the limits are pushed – one kid decides all toys are his and the rest of the team should be quiet about it. Another kid slaps the leader, the rest disagree, and the fight begins. At this point, it becomes too complicated to figure out whose fault it was to begin with. A similar series of events happens when teachers access, use, and share media resources online. They begin to explore and enjoy resources developed by others. They admire some creations and ignore others. Finally, they find the one and want to use it in their work. It seems to perfectly fit into their blog post, digital story, online presentation, or website. They decide it’s theirs to use and want everyone (authors included) to be hunky-dory about it. All of a sudden, one person legally points out the injustice, and the mess begins.

In our school, many teachers (myself included) use videos, images, or songs in teaching and building online courses in itsLearning. Not many, however, cite the resources or give credit to their creators. I have seen an abundance of student projects with images that have copyright watermarks on them. Nevertheless, teachers celebrate the achievement by posting these projects online. It breaks my instructional technology specialist’s heart to watch students developing abusive habits for consuming online resources. We must start modeling and teaching students about public domains, Creative Commons, and how the rules apply to their everyday projects and online interactions.

In my opinion, Flickr can be an easy place to start teaching visual literacy to students. I have not been a member or active user of Flickr community simply because it was blocked on our network. Taking some time exploring the possibilities of Flickr has helped me view this resource in a very different light. I am impressed with the elementary school lesson ideas posted within the community and available ideas for integrating images across the curriculum. I find the annotation tool a great mechanism that can be used to enhance lessons in all grade levels. Flickr is truly a place “where the contributors interact and share and learn from each other in creative and interesting ways” (Richardson, 2010, p.102).

Modeling respect for work of others should be a part of every learning environment. Teaching how to treasure creations of others will change students’ perception of their own work. Kids need to learn that their creations are valuable contributions protected by the copyright law. They will view real people as their audience to whom they may choose to grant a permission to use, copy, or share their work. Students need to learn that the digital world alters daily, therefore, everything they see online today may be different tomorrow. Authors who give permissions to copy and share their work under Creative Commons may change their minds. They may take that right away without announcing their decision which makes it a potential negative for using Creative Commons resources. For that reason, it should not be the information we neglect to teach. Using digital media online should not be the area of education where we cut corners and save time by copying and pasting anything we see. Teachers must understand that hiding behind the “for educational purposes” blanket is not good enough for raising digital citizens of tomorrow.


Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. California: Corwin A SAGE Company.