I feel that I have been putting off learning about copyright, but the infographic PDF in this week’s reading package grabbed my full attention. Its cheerful colors, neat-looking symbols, and many speech bubbles made me feel that this was something I could learn. It must have taken Silvia Rosental Tolisano (the author) so much imagination and energy to plan out and create this graphic presentation on such a complex topic. For what? Just to attract readers? I am amazed, and it certainly worked on me. Well, I digress.
The takeaway for me was to create one’s own as much as possible, and if not, use materials form the public domain, with Creative Commons licensing or within Fair Use allowance. This is why, I think, websites like openwashington.com would be so useful – OERs are usually in the public domain or CC-licensed, am I right? Another tool I found helpful was Google’s Advanced Search feature. Apparently it allows specification of various usage rights such as “free to use, share or modify,” and I did not know that!
On a related note, I’ve discovered that the library has been purchasing more and more new publications in electronic format only. To check it out, we are granted access for 14 days. But, we cannot download or copy/paste any of the material. I wonder how this would impact classroom use of excerpts from scholarly books. In the past, I would request for sections of the book (with the fair-use allowance) to be uploaded to CourseReserve, so that students can download and print as needed. I guess students can access the ebooks the same way we do, so we can bypass CourseReserve, but I can no longer require them to bring a hardcopy to class (I don’t allow computers in the classroom). Well, maybe that’s not the end of the world.
Many years ago, while reading an article about a psychologist who was doing some work on person perception in paintings, I came across the name of E.H. Gombrich. I had never heard of the man but wanted to see if he had written anything that I might be interested in (the art historians out there, please contain your laughter). We had card catalogues in the library back then (I am quite old, remember) so I had to physically go to the library to search him out. Having braved the frigid crossing of quadrangle, I entered the cavernous catalogue room of the library and pulled out the drawer labeled “Gom to Gom.” This label struck me as odd until I opened the drawer and realized the entire thing was nothing but E.H. Gombrich! He was a giant figure in art history and he was totally new to psychologically provincial old me.
And so it was again today with these OER’s and the Creative Commons. I felt the same sort of shock (and thrill, actually) I had felt standing before the card catalog in the library. I had not heard of these things (I admit total spaciness on this) and here they are, arguably among the most important advances in education in my lifetime (whiteboards and smart podiums have not really moved me that much). As I read about what is available and saw how relatively easy they are to access and use, I was blown away. Ready-made for my course on abnormal psychology, I found Open Access Youtube videos depicting various types of mental disorders. I found PowerPoints from old friends at Yale who are teaching the same sort of abnormal psychology curse I am planning. I learned that Youtube videos are automatically closed captioned, that they can be translated via Google translate into and from any language, that I can actually embed them into a VoiceThread. I found Flickr (anyone else old enough to refer to this as “My Friend Flickr”?) and Bookstax. What a delightful afternoon of surprises. I have not used these OER’s before, but clearly I will be using them now and will not wait until my online course.
The tutorial on finding OER’s was excellent. The materials on copyright and varieties of Creative Commons licenses were helpful and enlightening. This has been fun, pure and simple.