Can I play that video in my class? (or library, or assembly, or fundraiser…)

This is a response to a question from one of the ISTE forums on using video in online courses, especially ones using a password-protected Learning Management System (LMS). There were several points in the post, but the main question is whether it’s o.k. to rip videos from a DVD and post them to an LMS for students to view? 


Hi Ruben,

This is a great question and one that comes up often, in both brick-and-mortar and online courses, both of which may use LMS. Unfortunately, many educators believe that if they purchase a video, then it’s theirs to do with as they please, even showing it in classes. However, most commercial videos are licensed, which gives the license owner special rights, and you need to know what kind of license you own. For videos from most major studios, the license usually appears at the beginning of the video, sometimes paired with that familiar FBI warning. In most cases, commercial videos, even if you bought the DVD, are licensed only for personal use. That means that educators are likely infringing on the copyright of the owner of the video if they go to their favorite store, buy a DVD, and show it in its entirety in a class, at an assembly, as a reward, on a jumbo screen as a fund raiser… It doesn’t matter whether that showing is online or in person. You have to know what license you have.

Online streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon, and video-sharing sites, like YouTube and Teaching Channel, also have their own licensing agreements. They’re harder to find, but with a quick search and the click of a couple of buttons on the site you can often find the licensing terms for these sites. Most educators are unaware of video licensing and their obligations.

There’s always a bit of outrage and disbelief when I share this information, which was the reaction a couple of years ago when I shared this to a group of library/media specialists in a midwestern school district. But the assistant superintendent stood up and confirmed that the district had indeed been sanctioned three times in the past year by the owners of commercial video licenses and their lawyers were currently working to avoid substantial fines. It’s important to note that Copyright, Fair Use, and Public Domain are guidelines and not clear dictates. That’s why there are different interpretations, and the way these guidelines are tested is often through the courts. You probably don’t want to be a test case.

On the positive side, most commercial videos are licensed by one or more organizations (see Swank.com as one example) and institutions can purchase these licenses for different uses, like annual licenses or a one-time showing. These are most applicable for in-person viewing. Its more complicated and still murky for online streaming. One thing that is very clear is that you can NOT change the format of the video (or other media) for showing, no matter what purpose or setting. For example, it’s likely a violation of copyright to scan an image from a book and show it in class if the book is the format you have. So, it is a violation of copyright to rip a DVD and post it online, even behind a password-protected LMS. You can post portions of it in the format it comes in, generally 10% or less, in accordance with Fair Use, but that’s not going to solve your problem. (The U.S. Copyright Office has Circular 21 with more guidance on this.)

The best advice I have for you is to visit your school/university librarians or media specialists. They are usually the experts in issues like this. Mine always was, and when I told her I wanted to show a movie in class she would tell me whether we owned a copy with an appropriate license or she could obtain one or not. If not, I had to have a Plan B. Your library/media center may have access to options that your university has purchased that you may not be aware of. I’m hoping others will reply with examples of how their institutions are licensing video for classroom use, because it’s a changing field.

Best of luck and I’ll be following to learn more,
JR

P.S. If you’re an ISTE member, you can view other responses or contribute your own here.

New Edition Published!

Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use. Third Edition.The third edition of Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use: A Standards-Based Approach is now available from Cengage. If you’re familiar with the book, you know those standards are the ISTE Standards for Educators, which were released in their third edition last summer. I attended ISTE to learn as much about the new standards as possible, but my co-authors, Kathy Cennamo and Peg Ertmer, have been keeping tracking of trends and research in technology since the last edition, so we were able to pretty much completely revise the book over the rest of the summer and fall.

One of the aspects I like most about the new edition is the inclusion of lots and lots of stories from reach teachers, coaches, and others–many of whom are people I’ve worked with across the country. They share their stories of success and even some challenges they’ve overcome with technology integration. I’m deeply indebted to all the great educators who shared their stories with us so we could include them in the book. There’s even an index in the back, and Kathy created guidelines for how you might use the stories as you explore the book and reflect on your practice.

There are some things that remain the same, like the emphasis on our self-directed learning model, The GAME Plan (shown to have statistically significant impact on improving self-directed learning habits as determined in my dissertation), and lots of tips and tools. The new ISTE Standards for Educators focus on empowering student learning, and that’s the spirit we took with this edition. I hope many educators find it helpful.

 

What do you want to create today?

Transformers by Mary Kim SchreckMore than a few years ago I had the opportunity to dig deeper into the ideas of creativity and creative thinking thanks to the wonderful Mary Kim Schreck. She was thinking about, writing about, and sharing her ideas about creativity in her book, Transformers: Creative Teachers for the 21st Century. She had been thinking about creativity so much that she was about done with the book! But she asked me to contribute a chapter about technology in the creative classroom.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been thinking about creativity most of my career! I taught music and most people segregate musicians into a small, select group of “creatives,” that includes visual artists, actors, dancers, writers and a few others. But creativity is not the purview of the few. Everyone can be creative, and in fact, we need more people to be creative in their lives and in their work, now more than ever. I appreciate that Mary Kim gave me a reason to dig deeper into my own ideas about creativity and to compare them to others. It was a valuable experience and, luckily, I get to keep thinking about creativity.

The Value of Performance

I cringe a bit when I see or hear the directions “be creative” in an assignment, because usually this is followed up by using crayons, markers, or different backgrounds in a slide deck. Students are encouraged to “be creative” without ever teaching them what that means. And what does that mean in, say, science? Or math? It’s not the same as in my class. What few teachers realize is that we folks in the creative fields had content standards we had to address, and just like every other class, some of our standards promoted creative thinking, some did not. The important message here is, yes, science, math, and all the others have standards that promote creative thinking.

As a former high school band director I often reflect back on what was then a somewhat routine conversation that has turned out to have significant impact on my life. I had been through my annual observation with my principal, something all teachers go through. My principal, Dr. Barry Beers, was great to work with and full of ideas that pushed and stretched his teachers. I didn’t realize how valuable that was at the time. During our follow-up conference he said to me, “John, I really appreciate how you move from whole group, small group, to individuals, and back and forth whenever you need to. You’re customizing your instruction to the needs of each student.”

I replied to him, hopefully not too snarkily, something like, “Dr. Beers (I still have a hard time calling him Barry), I was just doing a rehearsal. That’s what musicians to do get ready for a performance. Nothing special.”

He tried to help me see the importance of what was going on, but I didn’t really understand his statement until later. Because everything my students did in my class eventually led to a performance, he tried to help me understand how a performance can only be successful when all of the students can play their part, literally. He reminded me that by working with all of the students individually and in groups during rehearsal that I knew who was ready and who still needed work. Then he challenged me.

Learning-Driven Schools by Barry BeersDr. Beers asked me to help teachers in other content areas understand how they can help their students learn how to “perform” their content. Whether math, science, English or whatever, Barry wanted me to help other teachers in other content areas understand how to help their students rehearse so they’d be better prepared to perform in a more authentic context. He enlisted all the Fine Arts staff, and I collaborated with a social studies teacher one year, English the next. It was a challenge, but it helped me to see connections I hadn’t seen before. So, thanks Barry, for thinking creatively about teaching and learning back then.

You can find out more about Barry’s work in his book Learning-Driven Schools: A Practical Guide for Teachers and Principals from ASCD.

Performance in All Classrooms

Recently, perhaps in reaction to the horribly mind-numbing compliance mentality promoted by federal education policy, the education community is once again seeing the value of performance. I saw this in the release of new college-and-career standards both at the national and state level. New standards in the core areas and the arts definitely push students to work towards levels of creative thinking in their domains. And now, in many states, students demonstrate higher levels of learning through performance.

The best performances are not compliance. They’re not mechanical. They’re not simply the replication of what someone has done before. They’re not multiple choice. The best performances give people a chance to be creative—to pull their knowledge and skills together—to address a real problem or situation in or across content domains.

In this way, creativity is a cumulative skill. I liken it to the top level of the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. You can’t get to the top without working you’re way up. You have to have the foundational knowledge and skills of any domain you plan to be creative in—whether that’s writing, speaking, visual or performing arts, or science, or engineering, or even legislation. You have to know what the accepted strategies and processes are before you can change them. In other words, you have to know the rules before you can break them.You have to understand what work has come before and to analyze and evaluate information in order to provide a creative solution to address a problem.

Revised Bloom's Taxonomy

One interpretation of the cognitive process dimension from the revised Taxonomy of Learning by Anderson & Krathwohl (2001)

Ideas that don’t build on a foundation are not creative. They’re simply novelty. And novelty wears thin fast and falls apart. Creativity has weight, value, and lasting appeal.

The most creative ideas can live a long time—in an individual, a group, or society, but everyone can be creative as we are all faced with authentic problems that are routinely found in the real world. We need creative solutions for providing affordable housing to everyone no matter where they live. We need creative solutions on how to ensure our planet will be able to sustain us. We also need creative solutions to simply provide the best education to each generation of students.

Creativity: Imaginative processes with outcomes that are original and of value.

Sir Ken Robinson
“Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative” (2001)

What do you want to create today?

I’ve been given another chance to continue my musings about creativity. I’m very honored that Dell and Advanced Learning Partnerships have asked me to share my ideas and some of the work we’ve done in districts across the nation around promoting instruction and assessments that encourage creative thinking. Dell is calling these events, appropriately enough, “What do you want to create today?”

We’ll talk a bit about creativity and why it’s important, but the main plan is to co-create ideas of how creative thinking can be promoted in all classrooms—not just a few. We’ll explore performance tasks—something I’ve been immersed in for years (like this one a creative teacher from Lake Travis ISD just Tweeted out), but we’ll also explore how preparing kids to perform (in math, or English, or whatever) has deep implications for all curricula.

At these events I’m looking forward to hearing from district leaders from across the country who are promoting creative thinking in their own schools, and we’ll share ideas on how we can help every student in every classroom experience learning that helps them develop critical and creative thinking and perform what they’ve learned. I look forward to hearing your ideas whether you can attend one of these events or not.