Modeling Ethical Use of Media


In this post I reflect on the fourth ISTE Standards for Teachers. As with previous posts, I use a four-step process. First, I pose a triggering question; second, I explore various resources and research the topic in an effort to answer my triggering question; third, I integrate suggestions from my DEL cohort; finally, I seek a resolution–at least an attempt. Feel free to leave feedback in the comment section or find me on Twitter.

ISTE Standards for Teachers 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

This is the fourth standard for teachers and discusses the importance of teachers modeling and promoting the ethical use of information which includes using and teaching about copyright and appropriate practice.


How do teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices?

Triggering Question

What tools can professors use to model appropriate and ethical use of media used in their presentations and other classroom resources?


Krissy Venosdale (2014) wrote a helpful article titled Ten Commandments of Copyright. Her article is mostly aimed at K-12 educational situations, but the commandments can be adapted for the university context. Rounding out the ten commandments, Venosdale writes about the importance of educators serving as the example, “Thou shalt never, ever forget that you are modeling behavior for your students at all times. Kids are learning from us. When we share, we inspire them to share. When we cite sources, kids see how respectful sharing works.” This week I explore tools that professors can use to model the appropriate and ethical use of media in their own presentations and classroom resources. Venosdale’s final commandment sets the stage for educating students by learning from their professor’s modeling: a student understands how their professor integrates various resources ethically.

Jason Ohler (2012) writes about the need to integrate digital citizenship into normal curriculum and school processes. Ohler unearths character education from the 1960’s (p. 15) and argues that now is the time to transform the ideals taught in that generation, updating them for life in the digital age. He writes, “The digital age beckons a new era of character education, aimed directly at addressing the opportunities and challenges of living a digital lifestyle” (p. 16). Students need help navigating the digital world and the education systems can be one of the most important settings for educating students about responsible digital citizenship. In particular, much of the engagement is occurs when educators (professors and librarians) teach students the skills needed. Ohler describes that the ideal school board is one that “empowers librarians and teachers to actively train students in the opportunities and ethics of digital activities” (p. 16).

University libraries often have the important task of teaching other campus educators and students the world of copyright law: how it impacts the use of materials and how to manage personally created works. A university copyright specialist at the University of Michigan library, Molly Kleinman (2008), started a campaign on her campus inviting faculty and students to learn about copyright and, in particular, the benefits of using and creating Creative Commons licensing. In May 2007 the library began a university-wide campaign by updating the copyright website and inviting faculty and students to workshops (p. 596). The workshops included a history of copyright, current laws, watching a video about Creative Commons called Get Creative, information about how the different Creative Commons licenses work, and an overview of where to find free Creative Commons materials (p. 596). In Kleinman’s closing comments she writes about one of the successes of the program, “A professor who likes to include a lot of images in her conference presentations was thrilled to learn about all the photographs that she could use without worrying about copyright when she posts those presentations online” (p. 597). This is the key to my triggering question, educating faculty about how to find and use ethically-sourced media in their presentations and classroom materials creates an environment where they serve as models to their students who are in the process of learning how to be responsible digital citizens. Not to mention adhering to copyright policy!

We explored how professors may learn about their role as mentors to their students by modeling the ethical use of materials, a program that supports the university community in learning about a resource–Creative Commons–and tools to use such materials ethically, and that professors should integrate such licensed media into their own classroom material. Finally, we look at what specific tools make the process easy and effortless. While understanding copyright and Creative Commons is crucial, many educators don’t have a significant amount of time to search for pictures, for example, that fit the need of a particular slide.

Creative Commons Search

First, the Creative Commons Search is a helpful aggregator of various media (images, sounds, etc). Using this resource redirects you to the particular site with the appropriate filters. For example, choosing Google Image Search redirects to Google Image Search with the filters for Creative Commons content enabled. It is important to remember the proper attribution is required when using the media.

Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck is a web-based presentation creation program. Similar to Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Keynote, but different in two distinct areas. First, Haiku Deck integrates Creative Commons image search. Incorporated right into the slide production process, the user can quickly search based on a keyword or phrase and automatically apply the image as a background to a slide. Better yet, the attribution is automatically created and added to the bottom of the slide. The second distinct difference is that Haiku Deck only allows the user to include a limited amount of text on the slide. This text reduction feature reduces the chance that presenters will fill their slides with too many words: either causing the presenter to read the slides or the text is so small many are unable to read it.

haiku desk
Screen capture of using Haiku Deck to search for an image based on “untethered”

Professors are often in a hurry and need to find appropriate media to integrate into their presentations and other classroom materials. Using Creative Commons licensed works provides an ethically sound alternative to a simple Google Image Search or Flickr. Furthermore, when educators use Creative Commons Search or Haiku Deck they can save time by using the search to find the media required, and in the case of Haiku Desk, automatically include the attribution. When professors use these tools they model ethical responsibility in the digital culture to their students.


In my use of Haiku Deck a robust internet connection is needed to create a presentation.

Creative Commons Search has a very important disclaimer. While long, it is important for users to understand before using the service.

Please note that is not a search engine, but rather offers convenient access to search services provided by other independent organizations. CC has no control over the results that are returned. Do not assume that the results displayed in this search portal are under a CC license. You should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link. Since there is no registration to use a CC license, CC has no way to determine what has and hasn’t been placed under the terms of a CC license. If you are in doubt you should contact the copyright holder directly, or try to contact the site where you found the content.


Based on discussion with my classmates, via our Google Hangout and Google Group conversations, there are two main takeaways.

First: Becky Todd (2015), one of my cohort members, discussed how teachers often group the use of media content under the “fair use” clause and don’t think too much about it. Yes, educators can often legitimately claim fair use for educational purposes, but the gray line is blurry. Fair use has much more validity when using content is lock in a system only accessible by students, e.g., an LMS, but educators should still practice copyright as a way to model and educate students. The simple fact is, when students leave the education world they cannot claim fair use for education purposes because they are no longer in that domain. Students should have the knowledge and abilities to procure and use content that is actually licensed for such use. Therefore, as an educator who partners with other educators to provide resources and training, we shouldn’t shame our teachers for unwise attribution/copyright practices, but rather understand their context and support them. Todd offers a wise way to partner with our educator colleagues:

If we meet teachers/professors where they’re at and show them ways to make their work more effective, they might be more receptive to being told, “Hey, you actually can’t use whatever you want just because you’re a teacher. Sorry.” (Todd, 2015).

Second: Annie Tremonte, another cohort member, requested a resource that outlines the image attribution process. While I wasn’t able to find a quick tool, such as my professor Cheryl Steighner requested to provide a quicker workflow, I did find two helpful resources.

The first resource is from Creative Commons. It offers a step-by-step process to properly include the best attribution for media. It offers helpful reminders about the requirements of using CC-licensed content including that use of CC-licensed content requires attribution. The resource is called “Best practices for attribution” and is located in Creative Commons wiki database.

The second resource is from The SPU Library’s Subject Guides. The Copyright Subject Guide covers a number of important copyright-related topics for higher education and includes a section on image use. The guide includes more information about Creative Commons licenses, how fair use impacts the use of images, and how to correctly analyze whether or not you can use a copyrighted image. Furthermore, the guide includes another list of databases to search for images available to legally use. Including Open F|S–the digital collections from the Freer and Sackler Galleries–which is available for non-commercial use.

I happened to connect with a George Fox University librarian, Robin Ashford, during my integration phase and she shared another resource called Unsplash. Unsplash offers 10 new photos everyday for free. Artists share their images with Creative Commons Zero, CC0, which means you can do anything you want with the images. The database is still in its infancy, but image quality of the Unsplash-curated images is quite phenomenal.

unsplash web
Screen capture of Unsplash’s website on May 24th, 2015

I emailed Unsplash to learn more about how the license works and how it benefits artists when they simply give away the images (CC0). Scott Webb responded and provided a very helpful overview. Webb shared that the Creative Commons team has even curated a collection of Unsplash images. Webb outlines how Unsplash works:

When photos are submitted, the photo appears on the photographer’s Unsplash profile (essentially a mini-Unsplash where they can upload their own 10 photos every 10 days). As the photos are submitted, our team curates the photos that catch our eye and would be great for creative use…Our system is very simple and aligned with the simplicity of the CC0 license. (S. Webb, personal communication, May 18, 2015).

I wondered, how does the CC0 license benefit artists? Webb responded:

Art needs an audience, and currently there aren’t many sites that do that well. Unsplash has created a massive audience for photographers. What they do with that audience is up to them. If they’re an amateur photographer, they might love it because it’s cool to see their photograph go viral. If they’re a professional, they generate a ton of traffic for their freelance businesses (similar to an author blogging to promote their book). The photos being free, high-resolution, and with a super simple understandable license creates that audience. (S. Webb, personal communication, May 18, 2015).

One of the benefits of a repository, such as Unsplash, is the ease at which one can connect with artists, use some of their work, and also be exposed to a curated collection of high-quality images. You don’t get a curated collection searching through the vast CC-licensed content in Flickr.


My original question, “What tools can professors use to model appropriate and ethical use of media used in their presentations and other classroom resources?” focused on the tools educators can use to model the best ethical way to include media into their class materials. As a library employee, we often talk about our role in saving the time of others and how we can come alongside our peers with tools, research, and resources to support their work. Using tools, such as Haiku Deck, can save time and support educators as they present their material. However, it is still crucial to understand what is going on behind the scenes with copyright and proper attribution of content. Therefore, other tools such as the Subject Guide and Creative Commons attribution wiki page also support educators by saving them time. Finally, It would be great to see these databases collated into a central search. For example, if other tools, such as PowerPoint, Word, Google Slides, Keynotes, integrated a search of Creative Commons-licensed media, such as Unsplash, and included easy ways to integrate the media into the digital file either as background or placed images. I could imagine educators searching one indexed database where attribution is automatically integrated into a citation managers like Zotero, for example. Not only do we decrease the use of horrible clip art, but we increase the ability for everyone–students and educators–to learn copyright and properly attribute CC-license content. In addition, we expand the audience who sees the work of artists who share their content openly.


Haiku Deck

Creative Commons Search

Kleinman, M. (2008). The beauty of “Some Rights Reserved”: Introducing Creative Commons to librarians, faculty, and students. College & Research Libraries News, 69(10), 594–597.

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital Citizenship Means Character Education for the Digital Age. Education Digest, 77(8), 14.

Seattle Pacific University. (2015, April 8). Using Images. Copyright Subject Guides @ SPU. Retrieved from:

Todd, B. (2015, May 23). ISTE 4 Resources. [online course Google Group discussion].


Venosdale, K. (2014, July 28). Ten commandments of copyright. Retrieved from

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