AASL Restricts (Eliminates?) Use of StandardsJuly 10th, 2009 by infomancy
This past Wednesday, I led a professional development workshop for librarians in the School Library System where I work. We had a professional book discussion around the two new AASL publications; Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action and Empowering Learners. Overall, the response to these two books was very positive. Kudos (and many thanks) to everyone who worked on the committees and the books!
One area of concern was identified, however. In the Standards in Action book, there is a great 2-page spread on the self-assessment strand that speaks directly to the student. One librarian asked if she could make copies of the pages to share with students. That led me, as an ethical user of information, to check on the copyright and permissions for the book.
What I found was quite chilling. Though these two pages present a letter to students, there is no permission given in the book to allow copying of those pages to share with students. I thought maybe there would be something online, so I checked the standards website to see if there was a PDF or other permissions statements there. Indeed there is a new Permissions for Use page for the standards, but what I found there actually made things even worse.
Under the new permissions for use, I actually had to tell librarians that they can no longer quote the standards that they are using within their lesson plan documents! Given the push to spread the standards and the whole Learning4Life initiative, this is surely in unintended outcome of AASL’s attempts to secure the standards. And yet, an over zealous locking down of the standards is unfortunately preventing most use.
As stated on the permissions page: “Permission must be requested for publishing or posting a portion of the text or the original document in a print or online publication or on a Web site as well as linking to the PDF.” [AASL] A lesson plan is a print or electronic document, therefore permission must be requested for quoting the standards as is usually done in a standard lesson plan format. Additionally, a lesson plan could be considered a derivative work under the current wording: “The learning standards document is considered the core content if the publication cannot be written without the use of the content of the learning standards document. Such usage requires a license agreement and may include a fee.”[AASL]
A fee for including the standards in each lesson plan?
Most librarians in the workshop assumed that the permission for educational use granted in the standards document covered use in lesson plans. I did as well…until I read the new permissions page. The permissions page limits educational use to only the pdf document itself. “The PDF versions available on the AASL Web site are intended for personal and educational use. Printing or forwarding copies for your own private use or to share with others for purely informational or educational purposes is acceptable.”[AASL] Any quoting of the document (i.e. listing standards on a lesson plan) would fall under the “Publishing or Posting Excerpts” section and would therefore require permission (and maybe a fee) for each lesson plan.
I love the new standards. I think they represent a great new way of looking at how we need to change learning and teaching for the 21st century. And yet, as much as I love the standards, the current permissions for use make it nearly impossible for me to share them or use them.
AASL, won’t you please consider freeing the standards for a bit more use? Perhaps a Creative Commons non-commerical license? Or maybe members can be granted additional license to use the standards as part of their member benefits?
Twitter hash tag #FreeTheStandards
[UPDATE 11:46am] Allison Cline, Deputy Executive Director of AASL, noted in an e-mail response that this is indeed an unintended wording and that AASL does not wish to fetter non-commercial use in any way. While this is great news, the fact remains that the current permission page does restrict use…even non-commercial use. There is no educational exception made for quoting standards, creating derivative works using the standards, or even linking to the standards.