Stop turning a blind eye! Media literacy in action.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Cayusa

I’d like to think that all teachers and librarians are clever enough to know how to work well with images to promote creativity in learning. My post-grad students working on Digital Citizenship in Schools  have just completed a phase of their learning that included an investigation of how to find and use images in their work using free images online, and even using Greasemonkey and Flickr to speed up their image attribution. Media literacy is an important part of digital learning environments.

Media literacy education helps people of all ages to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens. Media literacy is the capacity to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms. This expanded conceptualization of literacy responds to the demands of cultural participation in the twenty-first century. Like literacy in general, media literacy includes both receptive and productive dimensions, encompassing critical analysis and communication skills, particularly in relationship to mass media, popular culture, and digital media. Like literacy in general, media literacy is applied in a wide variety of contexts—when watching television or reading newspapers, for example, or when posting commentary to a blog. Indeed, media literacy is implicated everywhere one encounters information and entertainment content. And like literacy in general, media literacy can be taught and learned. Using images is just one aspect of media literacy educaiton – but none-the-less a vital one. Media literacy education can flourish only with a robust understanding of fair use.

Fair use in education means that educators and learners often make use of copyrighted materials that stand ‘outside’ the general use e.g. in the classroom, at a conference or within a school-wide setting. When this takes place within school fair use indicates flexibility.  Each country has it’s own specific rules and regulations that apply to copyright. But for teachers, the aim should be not to teach or bend rigid rules, but rather to promote media literacy in action and help students learn HOW to use media to empower their work, and promote a creative commons approach to sharing and mashup works.

For this reason I was excited AND disappointed with the newest enhancement to Google Images, mainly because in my experience teachers have continued to turn a blind eye in this area of media literacy action. Google has announced you can now sort Google Images by subject.

To see this in action, go to Google Images, conduct a search and look on the left hand side for the search option. Directly under the “More” link, you will find the default sort option set to “by relevance,” click on the “Sort by subject.” The results will then shift and group images by subject topic.

Decorating print and digital material with google images is pretty standard amongst kids – no attribution, no use of creative commons materials etc. Your students may be different – but I’m considering the general norm that I have seen, and now the job just got easier!

What interested me most though was watching the video about this new feature.  Notice how they’ve cleverly ‘covered’ the value of this new feature?  You’d use this feature to help you understand a topic better? pick a better dog! and perhaps add a nice image to presentation at school?

Sorting just made searching a lot more visual.  Yes.  No mention of copyright, creative commons, fair use. No mention of th Advanced Image Search, and the option to filter by license. So there are rules…and they did not promote breaking them. But they did leave the rest of the job up to us!

OK – so I guess it’s up to teachers and teacher librarians to get the fair use message across, as part of our media literacy education.

Will you stop turning a blind eye now?


Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media LIteracy Education

Copyright Livebinder

Via search engine land

14 thoughts on “Stop turning a blind eye! Media literacy in action.

  1. I have recently, at an inservice at Jakarta International School by Chrissy Hellyer from International School of Bangkok, learned how to use with my grade 5 students.They had their first lesson today and we are all thrilled to be doing the right thing by photographers! All our teachers will get a lesson on how to use it very soon. I think we really can’t turn a blind eye to the improper use of images when it can be done legally!

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  9. Why is it just teacher librarians (correct me if I’m wrong) who have the lonely task of teaching attribution? Teachers turn a blind eye or insist that they have more important things to cover in their class time. I think you make a fair point about Google’s lack of effort to make users aware of the need to check licences and attribute images but is this any different to the way they provide any other resource? Still, I can see how easy it would be to provide a user-friendly citation tool for all results. That could only boost Google’s reputation surely?

    • Attribution, copyright, creative commons etc are the job of all teachers! But when a whole school is turning a blind eye, then sometimes a teacher librarian can make a difference – sometimes not!

    • Some English teachers are very pro-active about teaching attribution and other elements of (digital) literacy. I believe the English faculty could be teaming up much better with the library on tasks like this. The Art teachers too. As much as ‘attribution, copyright, creative commons etc are the job of all teachers’ in reality this kind of literacy has a much more profound significance for students creating works in the arts (including ‘language arts’ = English), don’t you think?

    • Agree totally! It is so encouraging to see collaboration on these elements, and equally discouraging when it is absent. But a combined approach, speaking the ‘same language’ and sharing the same passionate approach to creativity is the key.

  10. Hi Judy,
    I’ve been spending a lot of time in classes this year teaching our students about how they locate creative commons images for use in their presentations and how they attribute correctly. I have to say I share your thoughts about how lax Google are with their lack of concern about filtering by usage rights. You really have to be a power user to figure out where the sort by licences feature is in Google search. Why they don’t provide a quick and easy option to search for creative commons images on their images page is beyond me.

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