As surprised as I was to learn about the Creative Commons, I was even more surprised to know that this access has been around for over ten years! Designed to combat the harsh restrictions and limitations on traditionally copyright resources, the Creative Commons essentially opens up educational resources for others to use, learn from, and be inspired by. The Creative Commons eliminates the “intermediaries,” or the people between the creator and the potential user. It allows an author or creator to share the rights to their material. It provides freedom and flexibility to access and utilize resources that internet sharing and communication was designed to maximize.
As a teacher, the Creative Commons opens up a vast library of media for me to use to enhance the learning in my classroom. Through the Creative Commons, teachers and educational institutions can exchange information and share ideas globally. This drastically enhances the sharing of a vast amount of education information. I know that my students and I directly benefit from the access to such resources. I am constantly browsing and hunting for video clips, photographs, illustrations, diagrams, songs, texts, and mnemonic phrases to include in instruction. Whether for flipcharts, PowerPoints, PhotoStory projects, or other technology-based resource, I am always looking through Google, TeacherTube, Wikipedia, United Streaming, etc. to find ideas that related to the concept being taught. Other times, I use ideas found on the internet and in other media as a spring board, ideas to build upon and expand. Without the Creative Commons, I would not be able to use these resources without going through a lengthy process of applying for legal permission.
While there is great potential in the power of the “pool of resources” included in the Creative Commons, it is also evident that some may find this less restrictive access concerning. One concern that I have related to the Creative Commons is that there is no foundation in place to ensure that information accessed and utilized is properly cited. For example, I constantly create interactive flipcharts through ActivInspire. And, because I want to broaden the impact of these resources, I share the flipcharts on a website called Promethean Planet. While I want anyone to be able to modify and utilize my flipcharts, I also want my name to be tied to my original work. Unfortunately, by sharing my work, there is no guarantee that my name will remain associated with the work. When I consider this in the “big scheme of things,” I am reminded that if it enhances student learning, I do not care who is credited with creation. I think the benefits of the Creative Commons far exceeds any risks or potential negative impact.