Adventures of a Technology Challenged Online Instructor

The Legalities of Online Teaching (Week 11)
The Legalities of Online Teaching (Week 11) avatar

I found this week’s material to be very informative, but now I’m wondering to myself if all my material is “legal.”  I’m pretty sure I haven’t infringed on any copyright issues, but now I’m going to go back to each week of my course and review everything I provide to students!

Lessing’s TED talk on How Creativing is Strangled by the Law was very interesting.  I think we may have reached Sousa’s prediction of our culture becoming a “Read Only” one.  At first, I took this idea of “read only” and related it to my students’ work.  So often, we have student’s regurgitate information back to us, without allowing any type of creativity in the process.  Students have such easy access to a wealth of information at their fingertips and can easily cut and paste an entire research paper together without putting much of their own thought or creativity into it.  I admit, I do have my students write a research paper, and now I’m questioning that assignment as well!

Then as Lessings talk progressed, I began to understand the dilemma of the law having to catch up to how quickly technology is moving.  Can it be done?  Once we’ve finally decided on a “fair” law regarding intellectual property use (such as the remixing as presented in the Ted Talk), our culture will have already moved on to some other type of technology that will need its own set of regulations.  I do think Lessing’s suggestion of allowing fair use of material to the amature is a reasonable start at bridging the gap between technology and the law.

I had never heard of the TEACH Act before, so I thought Ko & Rossen and the website provided some great information for me to help determine if I am indeed following the law.  I’d never thought about contacting the owners of site to let them know that I’ve embedded/linked their site in the class.  It definitely would be nice to be notified if the URL changes.  I think most of my links are to government websites, so I doubt I’d get any sort of notification if the site changes, though!  I think a professional development seminar on intellectual property and copyright issues would be extremely beneficial to faculty members who teach online or in the classroom.  But after reading through these two resources, I still had a question regarding posting information online.  Is there a legal difference between posting material in a Course Management System (such as Blackboard or Moodle) where only students can access that information vs. posting to a public website such as a blog?

Finally, we covered the issue of accessibility of online courses.  A few semesters ago, I had a hearing impaired student in my online course.  I had to make sure that any audio was captioned for this student.  Luckily, we have a great team of people at MiraCosta who assist with the captioning of video elements and I was able to provide all of my links to that department and they provided me with the captioned material.  Since then, I have added additional audio/video links to my course and have not yet had them captioned.  This is a good reminder for me to make sure that my entire course is accessible for all students before the need arises.  Has anyone else tackled the accessibility issues with your courses?  What steps have you taken to make your course accessible?

I think this week may have left me with more questions than answers!


2 Responses to “The Legalities of Online Teaching (Week 11)
The Legalities of Online Teaching (Week 11) avatar

  1. Rachele DeMeo says:

    The whole “law” thing is something I have wondered about for some time and have found difficult to know what is “legal” or not. Even when including the resource and/or link, I wonder if it is really sufficient to give credit to the author. But I also feel like there is not much “new” information out there and especially in the language I teach in (French), there are many other tools that already exist that I can implement in my classroom.

  2. Ralene says:

    Melissa – I learned as much from your blog post this week as I did from the assignments! Not that the assignments weren’t good — but just reading your comments and thoughts in response to the assignment helped me grasp more of the content than I was getting on my own. Aha! There’s a benefit of blogging. When a student gets ‘stuck’, another student’s blog may be exactly what helps them get unstuck.

    At any rate, I like your style… you explore and question and reflect. Thanks for a great post – I needed that!