This year in addition to my consulting work, I will be a visiting art teacher at a local private school. This school has phenomenal technology resources and every student with whom I will be working has a laptop they are assigned for educational use. They are taught to use this resource ethically, effectively and responsibly.
As part of the art history instruction that I will be providing, I have created a blog. Students will use this blog to visit a variety of images that support instruction about medieval art. However, by linking to or posting copyrighted images, I have had to be very aware of copyright and usage permissions. As educators, you may be thinking of using a blog to support your instruction, however you may not have thought about the importance of paying attention to copyright and usage. Educators, as you know, are able to use materials in different ways in order to promote learning as is outlined in the fair use and copyright laws for educational purposes.
Let me walk you through my process of creating a blog that supports my instruction. I set up an account at tumblr.com (there are many blog hosts, this blog is through wordpress, others through blogspot, etc.). After working with the technology director at our school to make certain that I was working in accordance with the school’s established technology policies, I wrote my first post. If you are thinking about using a blog for your classroom, it is essential that you work with your school administration to make sure that you are following privacy and technology procedures. These procedures are put in place to protect you, your students and your school. If your school does not have established technology procedures, take some initiative and draft some with the help of your administration team.
For my blog, I knew that I wanted to download or link to images about Medieval Islamic Art. I had already established that I might want to use Mark Harden’s Artchive or a link to the Metropolitan Museum of Art . Before I could link to these, I had to read the terms and conditions for using the sites. On Mark Harden’s site, a fabulous archive of art images throughout history, he provides information about how to use the images from his website. After reading this, I realized that I would need to write to him for information to link to his website. In meantime, I was able to use the Metropolitan Museum of Art link, because under their terms and conditions it tells me that since my blog does not support advertising and is for educational purposes, I may link to the images on the website. Every website has different usage rules. If you can’t find posted policies, I recommend contacting the website directly and requesting permission. I believe that it is crucial that we model ethical use of media in our classroom. Just as you would not quote a text in a paper without citing it, you must also consider these copyright issues.
So far the blog has been a great way for me to link with my students. Not only has it been fun to share images and talk about the art work, but it has given me a great forum to get discussion threads started about art. It has also given me a way to show parents what it means to be a student in my classroom. And today I learned a great lesson from one of my students–how to add a discussion thread to my blog using code. I love the dynamic and collaborative nature of blogging in the classroom. If you have not started one already, please consider trying it out today!