Copyright, images and teaching: experiences at the JCS Online Conference

Jane, Chris and Catherine Davies from the IPO at JCS Online

Two weeks ago we attended the first JCS Online conference. It was subtitled “From digital literacy to independent learning: challenges and opportunities for teachers and librarians” and was largely aimed at those in the school sector. JCS Online provide a range of digital resources for schools, such as JSTOR,  and various newspaper collections. I was delighted to give the opening keynote at the conference but in this short blog post we’ll share our experiences of running a workshop on copyright and the use of images in teaching.

What was the conference all about?
The JCS Conference was aimed at school librarians and teachers to help them support students develop digital literacies and to explore their role in independent learning. One point we’ve been trying to make for some time is that understanding copyright is a fundamental part of digital literacy. Our workshop was really aimed at teachers to help develop their own digital literacies and to understand the issues they face when using images in teaching. We wanted to cover issues such as where to find openly licensed images, and to give them some good practice guidance on using images in the classroom and in online environment.
Who attended and what did they do?
We had around 18 people come along to the workshop and most were school librarians and a few teachers. It was also great to be joined by Catherine Davies from the IPO Education team. Catherine was attending the conference all day and had a stand promoting the Cracking Ideas website. She told us it was really interesting to participate in our workshop, partly to understand the types of questions that people had about the use of the images.
Rather than just present some good practice we wanted to use the workshop as an opportunity to find out what concerns people might have about using images in teaching. We were also interested to see if people knew where to find openly licensed images and their understanding of section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act which covers illustration for instruction. We gave out four scenarios for people to discuss in small groups based on four different types of teachers who were looking to find images to use in class. We hoped that these scenarios, (using our characters from the Publishing trap game but adapted for the school context) might help explore the variety of issues that can arise when finding and using images to teach in different subject disciplines.
Did the scenarios work to start a discussion?
The scenarios worked well and they sent people off down some interesting tangents, such as when someone comes into a school and isn’t a teacher and how they are covered by section 32: Illustration for Instruction. We wrapped up the session with some good practice and Chris was able to share some of the early findings from his masters research with the group.
People asked a whole variety of other questions to, for example:
  • What are the key issues when using images from companies, or using logos and brands in teaching – is this acceptable?
  • What is considered ‘commercial’ use of photos – what about using them outside of traditional teaching such as at a conference?
  • How to attribute images used in teaching properly.
  • If they always had to rely on Creative Commons and other openly licensed images.
Caption competition time!

Our slides are available from the JCS Online conference website. There are also lots more photos from the day* and loads of resources from the day that people shared. My new favourite photo was taken during the workshop and we’d like to set a challenge for the best caption for this picture. I suspect I was going over time (waffling) or inadvertently talking to a slide that was supposed to be led by Chris. Who knows?! Please submit your caption competition suggestions to us using the comments feature to this blog post – we will announce the winner in the new year and may even be able to offer a small prize!

Thank you to Joyce and all the team at JCS Online, it was a great event and going to be repeated next year, given how much interest and enthusiasm there was during the day.
*With thanks to the JCS Online team for taking the photos and allowing them to be reused, as well as organising an excellent event.

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