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It is my school’s policy that students and teachers use only copyright-free material. This makes sense hypothetically, but what does it actually mean? Where could this mysterious content be found? 

After asking around, it became clear to me that copyright-free material was not understood by many other teachers as well. So how could we possibly teach and model finding such content for our students? Although it was part of my job to ensure students were only using copyright-free material, I knew very little myself about what can and cannot be used nevermind how to monitor this from my students. 

However, teaching in a technology-focused school means the students use digital technology to create many of their projects. They take images, video clips, sound bites and more from the internet and to create their own products on a regular basis. 
I decided to make it my mission to learn about copyright licensing alongside my students. 

First, I compiled a list of websites with copyright-free material. I sent students to my Pinterest board of copyright-free resources.

However, my students thought Pinterest itself was all copyright-free material which could not be further from the truth. I witness numerous students searching for "copyright-free" content using the search bar of Pinterest!
I can see now why the students were confused.

So next, I modeled finding content using the Creative Commons website. This search engine links to various copyright-free sites. But students still struggled with the specific options on the different websites.

Luckily Creative Commons has a great resource to explain what each of the copyright permissions mean:


For my own students, I made it clear what the best options would be for them on various websites: 

We went over the above slides as a class before any task requiring images, video or audio. I also print hard copies of these slides for students to refer to at their desks. 

Whenever we brainstormed Success Criteria as a class, I made a point to include "copyright-free material" in the list. It became second nature to always use copyright-free content and students began searhing for only copyright-free content in their other subject classes without being asked to.


Research Function in Google Docs and Presentations


Since I mostly utilize Google tools in my teaching, one of the simplest ways for my students to find copyright-free material is using the Research Tool in Google Docs and Presentations. This tool allows you to search Google content (filtered by usage rights) directly in Docs via a pop up box. 

A few of my students made this tutorial video: 


I think it is important to teach students to identify and understand the copyright-free licenses so they can determine for themselves what material they can and cannot use. Furthermore, students should understand WHY they should use copyright-free material and how to label their own work in the Creative Commons.

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