Creative Commons and Tagging

“Thing 4″ for the MSc module Theory and evaluation of eLearning:

Creative Commons People

Who are the Creative Commons people?

Summarised from the Creative Commons (cc) web-site:

Whenever a literary, artistic, academic or educational item is created a person or group will own the rights to who can use that item, how it is used, and in what context it is used. These rights are known as the copyright and the person or group who owns these rights may be the creator, their employer, or another person or group who has acquired these rights from the original owner. Creative Commons is a way to release these intrinsic rights in a controlled manner. By assigning a Creative Commons licence to an item the copyright owner(s) give controlled permission for other parties to use the material within limits determined by the owner(s).

Creative Commons is an effective way to allow distribution and use of material for the benefit of individuals and communities without the need to seek permission. As attribution of the material is required this also builds the reputation of the owner. Types of use and the geographic areas in which the material may be used can be restricted in the licence, as can the use by third parties for commercial gain.

Why use Creative Commons?

As an educator, provided that you rather than your institution own the copyright for your material, assigning the appropriate Creative Commons licence could allow colleagues and learners to legally reuse your materials, re-purpose them, or even use them as the basis of their own creativity without obtaining specific consent. While some may consider this as giving away intellectual property, others consider that “this fits well with the general ethical and philosophical stance of the academic community” (JISC 2009 p3-4).

Can Tagging help build a community?

Tagging is an informal way of cataloguing posts on blogs, entries in forums. Assigning key words in a “tags field” provides a way for readers to search for items of interest.

My initial assumption was that tags should be a very flexible and useful attribute to search on, however as Smith (2008 p24) notes, tags “can be messy and may not conform to any standard”. This seemed to be confirmed when searching for items tagged with “Creative Commons” as research for this blog entry. This tag had been used by people to signify their entry, or something to which their entry referred, had a Creative Commons licence. If I had been searching for information about Creative Commons licensing as a subject I would have been disappointed as only 2 of the first 19 search results provided this. Searching for “Copyright” produced similar results finding many examples of copyright material but only a few entries about copyright itself.

The above search examples have used tags with a very broad scope for application. Smith (2008 p27) considers how tags might be used to facilitate collaborating and sharing: In summary; the use of tags to foster and build a community is most effective when there is an accepted and consistently used system of tagging. McKean (2010 para 9-10) suggests how this could be applied to support learning using Twitter through a range of agreed tags that allow accurate location of items on particular subject areas. Tags with limited “general” applications can also be generated by using language specific to a “specialist” field. As an example of this, searching for the tag “eLearning” produces a list of items virtually exclusively related directly to this particular field.


Creative Commons (cc) About [Accessed 01-Feb-11]

JISC (2009) Briefing Paper: Creative Commons Licence [Accessed 01-Feb-11]

McKean, P. (2010) Moodlemckean’s Blog: The world of twitter [Accessed 01-Feb-11]

Smith, G. (2008) Tagging: people-powered metadata for the social web ISBN 0321529170 [Accessed 01-Feb-11]


About mark8n

Facilitator of Learning Technology adoption and integration. Dad, Granddad and Motorcyclist.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Creative Commons and Tagging

  1. I think this is a useful, pragmatic response to CC and tagging, Mark. I found the same kind of irrelevance when exploring tags as you outline above. I wonder if a tagging convention using some fairly unique signifiers, agreed at the start of an online programme would help learners to aggregate relevant responses from their peers by theme?

    • mark8n says:

      Using an agreed tagging convention was something put forward by Paul McKean in a blog entry last August. I really liked that idea. The entry also explores “kick starting” communities in Twitter that might then take on some level of autonomy. It’s well worth a read if you haven’t already…

      • Yes, I think it definitely works in Twitter. I’ve found it really useful to follow conference hash tags during the event.

        I was wondering if it could also work in WordPress in a similar way. If for example the MSc group agreed to use the tag hud-Sabry that could pull together blog posts from the group that commented on a particular paper…

  2. Dennis says:

    Hi Mark, thanks for the information on tagging. As this is not my preferred medium I am happy to accept any information on the subject. It was also nice to see you quoting from a Paul McKean article. I guess I should get his autograph the next time I see him.


  3. Paul McKean says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the comments, hopefully I am on the right track when it comes to tagging. It is something I have been aware of since the early days of web design, when using the right tags meant your website was listed high on the Google ranking system. This soon changed, to involve an algorithm related to links, however, systems still recognised the value of human input. Amazon and YouTube, using their rating and hits algorithms respectively, are prime examples how the use of human information is still valued.
    Metatagging, when done correctly, adds significant value to a reference system and with so many systems available these days users will only stick with a system they trust. So it could be the difference between a system succeeding or failing. Would Twitter be successful without the hash tags?

    In response to Cheryl, tags should work in any system, it’s just a matter of how the user can find the information using the tag i.e. whether there is a in built search facility.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s