When is the Right Time to Cite?

I am on struggle street this week with my post. I think because I need to admit some of my own serious failings when it comes to citing work and encouraging (or modelling) correct citation for my students. For too long I just felt that if I closed up my class Google site and made it accessible to my students only, then I could get away with bending the rules a little bit. Maybe, to some extent this is true (the part about getting away with it), but I am failing myself and my students by not modelling correct online behaviour. In fact, I am blatantly modelling wrong/illegal/innapropriate online behaviour. The worst part here is that I always kind of knew that I should be doing more to cite work (or in my case it’s more about doing less screenshots in the first place).

Now that my 9th grade students are blogging I am beginning to see how the examples we create can really influence our students. I introduced my kids to www.canva.com to help them add graphics and images to their blogs. Some of my students added nice blog headings (Julia’s Blog) but then others did something more like this image below.

Screenshot used with permission from https://sabrinacarneiromath.blogspot.com/

Screenshot used with permission claiming fair use from https://sabrinacarneiromath.blogspot.com/

Notice the watermark on the header image? You might need to click on the image. This is because my student used Canva and then instead of paying for the images (the sheep are too cool to be free) she took a screenshot. Here comes the nice teaching and learning moment (that clearly isn’t over as the blog post is still active) where I can explain how Canva (and other image creating sites) need to be used legally and responsibly.

I heard a teacher once talk about the push for use of creative commons media in her humanities class (where the project was creating a movie.) On the one hand her high achieving students became more creative by playing their own music/sound effects and acting in videos instead of finding clips online. But for many of the students the quality of the projects declined because they no longer had unlimited access to online media. (The debate about using small clips of music in student videos is ongoing for us. It seems that it is safest to never use legally purchased music, but Wesley Fryer wrote in Copyright questions and answers about iTunes, Podcasts, and Fair Use that it might be OK to use a small portion of tracks. Hmmm, the might isn’t too comforting here).

The teacher (or me for that matter) is not anti-copyright laws, but just sees the need to really help our students find resources that are available for reuse (or give them time to create their own). I think the first few times you lead your kids down the path of creative commons use you need to prepared for some hurdles. I mean look how long it has taken me to get my head in the game!

I still feel that I have a lot of learning to do and perhaps I should start in my backyard by talking more with Silvia Tolisano. Her office is a hop skip and a jump from mine and if anyone already knows Silvia then they know that this is a passion topic of hers! A couple of great posts from her Citing an Image is Not Enough and How to Cite Images on your Blog. The second includes this great image which might be worth including on your class website for easy reference:

The next steps for me is about making a commitment to lead by example and to create more opportunities to explicitly teach this to my students. I’ll start with another little chat with Sabrina and her watermarked sheep…

ps – Oh, I should answer my blog title question. Always. It’s always the right time.

7 comments to “When is the Right Time to Cite?”
7 comments to “When is the Right Time to Cite?”
  1. I can empathise with the getting away with it part. Back in the day when I first starting doing stuff online I thought the same way, but I then realised the negative modelling effect it was having on my students – do as a say not as I do style teaching – and changed, and the results have been a lot better since then. On that modelling issue I have to struggle to teach good presentation theory and practices (I’m the dpt7s presentation geek) in the 2nd and 3rd semesters when students have already been exposed to many bad presentations by other teachers in the 1st. And when I explain the theory I get, “but ….&…. don’t present that way”, leaving me no option but to say, “yes but how much of their presentations do you remember, and how bored were you?” This when I have already told these teachers what they are doing wrong may times – but it seems they don’t care. By contrast there are a couple of really motivate teachers in our dept – the other day I mentioned to one of them that their slides had a less than ideal font for readability and the came to see me the next day and said they read the links I sent and changed ALL the fonts in their work. Now that’s the attitude I like to see in students but seldom see in teachers as they seem to think they can get away with it (now caring) it seems. So kudos to you for making the change and modelling good practices to your students.

    • Jeff Utecht wrote about the terrible presentations that he sees in classes around the world. It is no surprise that our students struggle with it too! I went to a presentation this week with slides full of text and presenters reading it out… WHY?!?!

      I actually came across Jeff’s post when I was searching for something pathetic like “How to create a good presentation” – it turns out that knowing how to create a bad one is equally important!

  2. Hi,
    This was a great post. I agree that the use of Creative Commons only media can limit the variety of images available on the internet – I struggled with the same issue myself when posting for this week. I am already noticing the same images (in this case dealing with copyright) popping up on the blogs of people in our cohort as we roll through the course week by week. I’m a bit sad as not paying attention to copyright used to mean I could conveniently post any image I wanted, but I’m assuming that as I grow more savvy at navigating Creative Commons websites, I’ll also become more adept at finding varied media which is both eye-catching AND legal. But I groan when I imagine the difficulty that my fourth graders will have! I’ll check out http://www.canva.com and I’ll have to check out Silvia Tolisano’s blog as well – I’d love to have a copy of her copyright poster hanging up in my classroom!


    • Thanks for reading Susan! I’m kind of sad at my growing understanding of my illegal/unethical behaviour – the ignorance of it was all so fun! I was actually trying to find a really really bad example of the kinds of crappy music/images that are available via Creative Commons but I actually couldn’t find anything crap enough! I think that the media stocks are piling up and the creative commons media files aren’t as bad as they used to be. I even found a decent music clip to use in a recent youtube video I made… Canva.com is fun, be sure to check it out! (It’s neat for creating facebook cover page images too!)

  3. Thanks for the info about Canva.com That’s new to me.

    More resources are becoming Creative Commons, include Getty Images. I don’t think it will be a big problem in the near future to find images that we want for our projects.

    For myself, I take loads of photos with the idea that I might use it in a blog or presentation one day. It gives me great satisfaction when I can say that all my images are mine…

    I don’t think our music choices are quite so varied nowadays. Youtube has copyright free music to accompany your projects. Go to “Creation Tools” in your account somewhere.

    At the same time, I have to say that we do have leeway because of Fair Use. So, it’s not as black and white as the laws make it. If we can claim Fair Use, then we should be able to exercise that option.

    There have been times that instead of taking a screenshot, I have taken a picture of the picture on my laptop while making it obvious that it is a picture of a picture on a laptop. I don’t think that would be a violation of copyright. It’s my photo?!

    • Hi Vivian,

      I’m really not sure about the photo taking rules. I guess it could also be filed under fair use? But, speaking of fair use, our school seems to be ignoring that as an option and is encouraging (telling?) all teachers and students that they can not use even short snippets of music in their videos. Their stance is that once it is published to an open audience it is no longer for educational purposes only and therefore it is not fair use.

      I don’t know. A student video with some Beyonce beats is better than a student video with CC tunes, right?!

      I’ll toe the line on this one (and feel sad about the missed opportunities)


  4. Hi Ange

    I do agree with you that a student presentation with a few Beyonce beats is better than one with CC tunes.

    Music is my “thing” and I find that music inspires and drives the direction of my video making. When I tried to make one with CC (for Coetail), it was a dismal flat experience for me and for my audience too.

    Since LangWitches is at your school, she has more experience and insight into this than most of us. At the same time, if we don’t push the envelope on what is acceptable for educational purposes, then improvements or changes to the laws will never happen. I can see that once it is “out there” it is no longer for educational purposes…or is it? The feedback and interactions, relationships we get from the global audience is part of our education? Yes? No?

    I read somewhere that we have to look at the impact we have on the creators (mainly financial) in order to decide “Fair Use”. A few Beyonce beats is not going to affect her financially… Outside of finances, most people aren’t that concerned about copyright apart from the fact they want credit for their work and giving credit is easy to do.

    Anyway, I respect your school for making a black and white line and I respect you for towing the line. Sometimes it’s just easier to make it black and white.

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