Friday, 24 October 2014

Teachers Don't Own Their Own Content!

Last night I attended a presentation on Creative Commons in Education presented by Creative Commons NZ  and hosted by the Christchurch Connected Educators’ Network. To learn more about the background and basics of Creative Commons read Rob Clarke’s post “Knowledge Creation, Sharing and Creative Commons in Education.”  It is an interesting subject and one all teachers and schools need to understand. Copyright and Creative Commons is a major part of digital citizenship, and our students need to know how to avoid ‘stealing’ the work of others as well as protecting and perhaps even more important sharing their own creative works. However the point that created the most discussion and interest was the fact that teachers don't own their own content!

Did you know that New Zealand teachers don’t own or have copyright to resources they create! It is a grey area but essentially it means anything educational you create while employed, even on weekends is not yours. This is a worry for those of us who create and sell educational resources. According to the Creative Commons in Schools website, “The 1994 Copyright Act grants first ownership to employers, which in the case of New Zealand schools is the Board of Trustees (BoT).” Although some of us find this shocking, it is not a conspiracy, but an old legal default of policy that has never been changed. This is another reason why you as educators need to be aware of copyright issues, take charge of the contracts you sign, and take action to change policies at your school.
We all want to have a fair playing field and luckily the government is on your side. The New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL), advocates the use of Creative Commons licensing and encourages Boards of Trustees to take NZGOAL into account in their copyright policies. The solution is to adopt clear and transparent policies to allow schools and teachers to share and reuse content. The benefits are: teachers will not need to ask permission to use resources, they and the school can legally keep and reuse resources, plus the teacher who created the work can receive credit when their work is reused. Of course this doesn’t cover educational resources or books teachers may be creating in their own time, but the answer is to be upfront and talk about these issues with your Boards of Trustees. Preferably get any conditions included into your contract.

To learn more about Creative Commons in Schools and how to pass a Creative Commons Policy change at your school visit Creative Commons in Schools for more detail, including a policy template developed by Albany Senior High School which you can use.

It is an interesting barrel of worms, and here are some other things for you to consider.
- Who owns the content of your personal teaching / reflective blog?
- Students work is all automatically copyright, should they also agree to a Creative Commons sharing policy?

By Shaun Wood, teacher and consultant at
Twitter:             @mrwoodnz