support.gifScenario B

Created by: Mike, Kelly, & Mary

Middle School Science Wikis

You have several seventh grade science classes collaborating on wikis. Students are divided into groups and are collecting information on each of the kingdoms of living organisms. The wikis are used to present the information, including some slide presentations and graphics your students have created.

Your Monera kingdom group has been doing extremely creative work and has created an impressive presentation on bacteria. The group has received a request by a teacher to use some of their graphics on bacteria cell structure for a project at a school in a nearby state. The students who created the work would get credit for their contribution, and the request is for two graphics out of over a dozen in the presentation.

How do you advise your students?

The Issues:

This is a great recognition for the 7th grade students involved, and they will obviously be very excited and proud to have their work included in this school project in the nearby state. However, since they are only in 7th grade, using their full names may pose a problem. Depending on the age of the students and the school district’s privacy policies, the students may not be able to post their own names. Protecting privacy is an extremely important part of safety, especially with younger students. The primary objective of this other teacher is sharing the content, not the students’ identity. Even while remaining anonymous, students can learn how to build their networks and respond to their audience. In addition, since the designs have been created by them, the issue of copyright arises.

Although the scenario does not specify which license was assigned to the wiki, it is important to know which license was assigned at the development of the wiki by the teacher. The type of license will help to determine what type of permission the school needs to acquire.

These issues need to be addressed prior to making any decisions about how to submit the student work. Since the parents were given information about online safety prior to beginning the science wiki project, and the students were taught how to collaborate safely online, both parties are aware that safety is an issue. As the teacher, it is your responsibility to provide them with options for how to proceed, keeping the safety of the students in mind.

Plan of Action: Get More Information

Before you can truly recommend a plan of action to the students and their parents/guardians, you need to determine in what form the school from the nearby state plans to use these graphics. They state that they want to use them for a school project, but in what medium? Is this school project going to be available online, like the wiki where the original work was spotted, or is is just something along the lines of a school science fair or classroom demonstration? The plans of the school district requesting use of the images will determine exactly what will be recommeded to the students, etc.

Since this is a first for your district, it would be good to consult with the principal first. If the district has a policy in place, which more than likely it doesn't, since this is an event that most district solicitors had not even dreamed of, the principal will be able to give you direction. Otherwise, the principal will take it to the district administration for direction. Be prepared to be asked to present the project, student work, and the request of the other school along with any suggestions you may have before the education committee of your district board of directors.

Plan of Action: Student Names

The first step is to contact the parents/guardians of these students to make sure that they are not against having the student creations submitted to the nearby state in the first place. Once we receive their approval, we need to decide exactly how we are going to attach the students' names to their work. It would be important to communicate to both the parents/guardians and the students about the safety measures recommended for online collaboration. Referring back to the safety guidelines provided at the beginning of the year, we would communicate to the parents a few options they have, leaving the final decision with them.

Option 1: submit the work, using only the group name, teacher's name, school district, and class
The Monera Group, Miss Cave's 7th Grade Science Class, Middleton School District

Option 2: submit the work, using only the first names of the students, followed by the same information
John and Stacey, 7th Grade Students in Miss Cave's Science Class, Middleton School District

Option 3: with the parent/guardian's permission, along with district approval, use full names (not recommended by teacher)
John Smith and Stacey Adams, 7th grade students in Miss Cave's Science Class, Middleton School District

Plan of Action: Copyright of Pictures

The school district requesting the pictures has stated that credit will be given to the students for their work. Once it was determined how the students' names would be attached, the next step is to inform the parents about their options for getting the work copyrighted. It may just be that the parents/guardians are NOT concerned about the use of the pictures by others; however, it is important to inform them of their rights just in case. If the school district plans to put these images on the web, thousands of individuals will have access to them. They can, if they choose, have these images copyrighted. The teacher can provide the parents/guardians with information from the U.S. Copyright Office, allowing them to make the final decision, unless the license on the wiki is a Creative Commons Share

Plan of Action: Building the Student's Educational Network Safely

The students may wish to begin to build an online educational network of contacts. This group of contacts may provide them with more knowledge or information about topics that interest them or that they are studying. One idea would be to make their works or the citation clickable. I would advise them to have the link either send an email to their parents or to me, especially since they are only in 7th grade. As they get older, they may want to have links sent to their own email addresses. There is a good chance that someone may see their work (another student or another teacher) and would like to ask them a question about it. This exchange could prove to be quite valuable and only adds to their Web 2.0 experience.

The fact that the students and you and your class are having this discussion is a great teaching opportunity. Lessons can include copyright laws, preventing plagiarism, and cyber safety.