Where's the Respect? A 21st Century Learning Question
As I read updates on Twitter today, I saw a reference Jeff Utecht made to an article entitled Cut and Paste 'not plagiarism'. Dr. Spender was speaking to a group of educators and made the statement that what some schools (her context was universities) police as plagiarism is not plagiarism at all within the new context of web 2.0. She goes on to say that all the students are doing is remixing:
“What kids are doing in downloading text is exactly what they are doing in downloading music,” she said.
“They take bits and pieces, mixing and matching them and making something that is their own product.”
My initial reaction to this article was one of but of course it is plagiarism! When I work with students, I fight against them copying and pasting (without thinking) and changing words here and there and calling that their own work. What I really want from students is for them to think about the information, organize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the information from a number of sources before they write.
I also wanted to shout, "but how do we teach them to respect intellectual property?"
Then I started thinking about it a little more myself. I went to the Partnership for the 21st century skills website and reflected on some of the skills listed there: Information Literacy.
- Accessing information efficiently and effectively, evaluating information critically and competently and using information accurately and creatively for the issue or problem at hand
- Possessing a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information
My next stop was to revisit with the NETS for Students from the ISTE website. In particular, I looked at the Research and Information Literacy strand. Students locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
Now I am under the impression we need to define ethical use of intellectual property as it relates specifically to web 2.0 tools. Is it ok for a student to "remix" information and put it into a format to turn in as "their own" work? In some respect, that's kind of what I've done with this blog post. But hopefully, I have taken information from a variety of sources, thinking critically about it and drawing my own conclusions. Does this make it "my own" work?
Dr. Spender also said in the article, "I don't really care if there are bits and pieces in their initial information that is downloaded from different points. What I care about is: do they understand it and did they use that information to come up with a solution to solve a problem?"
On this level, I understand the point she is making. I believe this is one area of web 2.0 that hasn't been talked about nearly enough. In my opinion, we need to revisit our definitions of plagiarism and we need to teach our students what respect looks like in a web 2.0 world.
Image used by permission under CC license by Old Shoe Woman