Digital Citizenship – teaching the concept of plagiarism early on

In my last entry, I talked about using the Form function in Google Docs. When I presented the Form to my grade three students, I posed the question to them, “Where can we go to find an image that we can use to best represent our understanding of our Central Idea?” Of course, the hands shot up and the answer on everyone’s tongue was, “GOOGLE!!!” Not surprising! I know I’ve been guilty in the past of needing to find an image to share, so off to Google I went. I typed in my search, find image, copy image, paste image, done! No citing of the source, no checking to make sure it wasn’t a copyrighted image. I wasn’t taught in school that I have to pay attention to those sorts of things. Heck, I don’t even think I was taught how to copy and paste an image into a document! Oh, how times have changed!

So…we needed to take a step back, and revisit the concept of plagiarism (we have talked about plagiarism already this year in the sense of copying words directly from a book). In order to be a digital citizen (again, we have already talked about what it means to be a citizen in a community), there are certain expectations of us. One of those expectations is that we give credit where credit is due, even when we are using images. Someone has taken (and owns) that picture, and if we don’t give them credit for it, it is the same as copying someone’s words and using them as our own.

Luckily, there are some copyright-friendly image websites that we can use, where photographers have kindly given their permission for people to use their images! It is also (in my opinion) safer than just allowing kids to hop on to Google, type in their search query and see all of the wonderful** (and non-relevant) images that can pop up with even the slightest spelling or grammar error (or sometimes, even without those errors).**I hope you sense my sarcasm in the use of the word “wonderful” 😉

One of the websites that I have used is Pics4Learning, where all of the images are categorized into different topics that students can navigate through. It is very easy to use, and the kids love browsing the pictures according to their interests. Another site that was introduced to me by Brenda Dyck (at the same workshop where I learned the beauty of the Form) is Flickr Storm. The trick with this site is that not all of the images are copyright-friendly. So when you type in your search query (say, architecture for example), you must click on the “advanced” tab, and then from the drop down menu, select the “Non-commercial & No Derivatives” option (this means that the images are not for commercial use and will not be used in any other manner). This will then show you only the images that are provided by photographers that are copyright-friendly.

I want to get the students out of the habit of relying on Google to find images, and get them into the habit of recognizing their responsibilities for proper use of the internet and their role in digital citizenship. By showing them different sites where they can access images (legally!), I hope to instill in them that principled behaviour as they move up in the grades and into their adult lives, as it will be something that they will no doubt, continue to use throughout their lives.

If you have any other websites for images that are copyright-friendly that you would like to share, please feel free!