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Basic lessons for teachers to use during online learning

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by Lori Keekley, MJE

Several members of the Scholastic Press Rights Committee developed some lessons for advisers to use with their journalism students. The lessons are intended to be asynchronous basic introductions. The goal is to introduce students to the content and provide resources they then can examine further. 

The lessons include information on the First Amendment, copyright, libel, staff manual creation, how to choose a forum concept, prior review and some situational legal and ethical considerations. 

First Amendment — Freedom of Speech rights, especially when it comes to students in any sort of student publication, can be very complex, but there are some overall principles that can lead to a solid understanding of the basics. This lesson provides details and background on what rights student journalists generally possess, gives resources for understanding how any local policies affect those rights and supplies scenarios and links to promote further discussion and involvement.

Copyright — This online lesson helps students independently learn the basics of copyright law and the exceptions to it. After a brief tutorial, students will then either draw or create an online infographic explaining what they have learned. 

Libel — This online lesson guides students through the basics of libel law and the specifics of how it applies to real-world situations. It includes a brief instructional video, a quiz for understanding, and a discussion/writing prompt.

Manual — Staff manuals provide student journalists with resources and guidance during times of need. Now is the perfect time to reevaluate (and review) your current guidelines — and maybe even policies. These virtual conversations will not only help students understand what to do, but also what they may want to examine for future. 

Forum status –– This online lesson guides students through the basics of forum status for student media and the specifics of how it applies to student media. A statement of forum status is an essential part of a staff manual.

Prior review and restraint –– This online lesson guides students through the basics of prior review and prior restraint and the specifics of how it applies to student media. Almost every national journalism education group and professional journalism organization opposes prior review and restraint as having little to no educational value. A position on prior review is an essential part of a staff manual.

Legal and ethical scenarios — Teachers could do this as one scenario per day unit or sprinkle them throughout many weeks while addressing other areas as well. Topics covered include both legal and ethical concerns such as copyright, photo ethics, basic reporting, takedown requests, etc.

If you have any questions, please contact Lori Keekley

Other contributing committee members:

John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)

Lori Keekley, MJE, St. Louis Park High School (MN)

Matthew Smith, CJE, Fond du Lac High School (WI)

Kristin Taylor, CJE, The Archer School for Girls (CA)

One Comment

  1. Thank you—I have been teaching journalism, (including using Snosites) for years —but had a principal this year that CENSORED EVERYTHING (in spite of ‘Voices Law’ that passed our state legislature nearly 3 years ago)—needless to say I am in search of a transfer to a high school where I can again teach & allow my j & VP students to publish…..enjoyed meeting you at JEA last time the conference was in Las Vegas—thank you—I have already applied for a transfer — I will probably be asked for do an online or phone interview next week!!

    Thanks for all your support & posts at JEA!

    I am a CTE teacher & am already planning for next year….holding classes online this year for those who have WiFi & computer (not many)….trying to set up podcast for students —remotely—at least I will have it up & running this fall—wherever I land!

    Stay safe!

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