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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Lesson on Copyright

For two years I have taught year 12 the importance of copyright law when creating graphical images for their coursework. I decided that this can be quite a boring subject and the criteria asks for students to think about how copyright laws will affect their own work. How would they feel if someone used their work.

I find copyright and plagiarism a difficult topic to tackle with this generation of young people. For them the internet has always existed. Using images from google images, or copying and pasting from wikipedia are the norm. Many of my KS4 and 5 students regularly record themselves singing a version of a pop song and upload it to you tube. This is a grey area at best, but a great topic for discussion.

Anyway back to my lesson...

I put the students into small groups of two or three, and explained that each group was their own toy company, designing the next big thing for children. They were to draw their design and write brief description of what it is and what it does. I've never seen 16 and 17 year olds so excited over kids toys. After approximately 5 minutes students were asked to finish their ideas and turn their papers over so no one else could see it. I then told the students that during the night their designs had been stolen, and each group had to pass their drawings to the group next to them. They then had 1 minute to steal as many ideas as they could. After a minute they passed them onto the next group and so on until they got their papers back. They then had a few minutes to add the stolen ideas to their own toy to improve it. We then all feed back by explaining what their original idea was and how they had improved it by stealing ideas from others.

This activity, as bizarre as it sounds, actually led to some fantastic discussions about what would happen if one group went to market before another, and really brought out their feelings towards having their work stolen. We were also able to cover the idea of intellectual property, and how its covered by copyright in the UK.

The end result was a written report on copyright and graphical images. All students passed this criteria first time with minimal corrections at the end of the double period. Creative, engaging tasks can lead to the right outcome, however barmy they seem at first.

Todays toys included:

  • A doll based on Dappy from NDubz called "Dappy in a nappy" (it had its own theme tune)
  • A dog toy that at first looked like a normal dog which transformed into a bodybuilder dog with a six pack that flies
  • A helicopter that had a camera on it so you could film whilst flying, and...
  • A pet rock (Yes I did tell them this has been done before, but they wouldnt have it!) They gave it a Pirate and a Ninja costume pack.

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