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SHORT ANSWER: because students need it. Knowing how to create, collaborate, and share responsibly are twenty-first century skills. And, Teacher-Librarians are the best prepared to teach it.
NOT-AS-SHORT ANSWER: iKeepSafe is a 501c3, non-profit focused on helping children thrive in the digital environment. Since 2005, we have created educational content and experiences to help youth learn to become ethical, responsible and resilient online. In partnership with the California School Library Association (CSLA) and the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), iKeepSafe has been working with education professionals to create a series of lesson plans that will provide teachers and families with tools to instruct students about creative content.
This collaborative curriculum, which will be piloted in CA classrooms and is entitled “Be a Creator,” will provide videos, lesson plans, activities, and handouts to educators and parents to inspire creativity and help them educate students about the importance of being creative and protecting creativity by showing them that they are creators just like their favorite musicians, actors, and artists.
The curriculum aligns closely with the California Model School Library Standards to maximize their usefulness for educators and follow the recommendations of the Teacher-Librarians who are particularly knowledgeable on teaching copyright and “fair use” to youths. Specifically, Standards 2 and 3 (Students Evaluate Information/Students Use Information), call for copyright learning in the elementary grades, and fair use for grades 9-12.
Grades K-6 lessons introduce age-appropriate (non-legal) concepts of sharing and ownership. As we develop the older grade-levels we will begin to explore copyright as a legal concept, including the important concept of “fair use,” which–again– is recommended by the CMSL Standards for grades 9-12.
Recent press has focused on an early version of this project that was unfortunately released prematurely. The draft materials circulated by media reports reflect only initial drafts of the curriculum that had not yet been approved by iKeepSafe and our partners. iKeepSafe, the CSLA and CCI are very proud of the work we have done to date, however, the Be a Creator Curriculum is still in the editing phase. We plan to continue to revise the materials as we convene education leaders and stakeholders from around the country to solicit feedback on all aspects of the content to ensure the lessons are appropriate and welcomed within the education community.
This project fits snugly into our overall mission to help youth increase their skills and competencies in the six pillars of success for online digital citizenship: balance, ethical use, privacy, reputation, relationships, and online security. Once the curriculum is finished, we hope it will become a trusted and useful tool for the classroom and for parents, and that it will help students find both the value in their own creative work and ways to appropriately respect the creative content they love online.
Marsali Hancock is president of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. She speaks nationally and internationally on digital citizenship issues, including safety, security and ethics, and is the recipient of the 2009 Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) Award for Outstanding Achievement.