Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Why Storychasing is relevant for all educators – Contextual learning about copyright is important

I am in the midst of discussing keynote topic options for an educational technology conference in 2010 with the conference organizer, and wrote the following paragraphs recently in response to the question, “How does StoryChasing: Empowering Students as Digital Witnesses speak across the spectrum to many disciplines?” The organizer wanted to know if my keynote topic for Learning@School09 in New Zealand, “The Landscape of 21st Century Learning: Personalised and Differentiated,” would make a better topic. I think both are great topics and good presentations, but this was my explanation of why “story chasing” is relevant for all educators.

I would certainly be happy to share the keynote “The Landscape of 21st Century Learning” if you want, but I am recommending the “StoryChasers: Empowering Digital Witnesses” topic because the activity of digital storytelling is relevant to all teachers, in all content areas, and includes a host of traditional as well as twenty-first century literacy skills which we need to be addressing in our schools. By using digital video to “show what we know” both for class assignments and as after-school or extracurricular activities, students and teachers have opportunities to contextually experience and practice uses of multimedia and the social web which are authentic and impactful.

I think all teachers should become, at some point, “digital video certified.” This does not mean all teachers will know ALL the “point and click” steps for making videos with every piece of software, but it should mean that teachers have created some basic videos themselves and are comfortable facilitating student multimedia projects where students create videos integrating still images, audio, music, and possibly video footage for assignments and assessments.

In the keynote, I’d like to share multiple, compelling examples of student-created videos and multimedia, and discuss not only the “why” (or “the case for”) storychasing / empowering students to be digital witnesses, but I’d also like to specifically discuss free TOOLS including open source software, free software, and websites which educators and students are/can use for digital storytelling.

In short, I think this topic is highly relevant to educators across the K-12 spectrum, and attendees to the conference will find it valuable on a practical level as well as inspiring.

I should have also included in my answer the importance of addressing intellectual property / copyright issues in a meaningful context via digital storytelling projects. This is a topic I do address in isolation (like my ITSC 2009 presentation “Copyright for Educators”) but it’s even better to discuss it in context as educators and students create multimedia projects. This is one thing we do in our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices digital storytelling workshops, now presented by the nonprofit StoryChasers. As I discussed in that presentation, it makes sense to use media materials in the following order to, if possible, avoid more complicated determinations of “fair use.”

  1. Homegrown: Use homegrown media you create yourself, via a digital camera, camcorder, digital audio recorder, scanner, etc. Limitations still exist for how you use photos of individuals and copyrighted/trademarked items, but generally with homegrown media you should be on secure ground in terms of copyright as long as you have the permission of the owner of the original media to share it. An example would be photographs or scans of old family photographs.
  2. Creative Commons: Use media files for which permission has already been granted to reuse and remix, via a Creative Commons license.
  3. Fair Use: Use the fair use provisions of copyright law for the nation in which you live to determine if a use of copyrighted materials in your project is permissible.

The video “Remix Culture: Fair Use is Your Friend” is the most recent video I’ve seen on copyright which can help teachers gain practical guidance on the subject of fair use.

This video accompanies the printed “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video” available as a free PDF download from the Center for Social Media. They have more materials related to fair use on

Hat tip to Louise Maine and Kristin Hokanson for this video link.

I’ve added these links to our “Copyright and Fair Use Resources” page on our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices project wiki. Stay up to date on COV project news and updates by following Storychasers on Twitter. 🙂

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