Intellectual property and the internet

I’ve been reading a very interesting article describing some experimental work in Australia by teachers improving the literacy of their pupils through the new technology of computers. *

No doubt, since 1998 many other teachers everywhere in the world have embraced the new technology, especially younger teachers who themselves grew up with computers. Because I recognise that the future must lie with these amazing new tools, I took advantage of the success of the book form of The Language of Ideas to rewrite it as an interactive computer course (

My decision to make the Breakthrough to Learning courses available online has already borne fruit: this week a secondary school has contacted me for ways of implementing it throughout their school.

At this point I realise that I must refrain from blabbing all the details to the world, as the information about what goes on any school or other institution belongs to them and not to me. Anything on the internet is in the public domain, including this blog.

For the same reason I cannot share with the world details of an inspirational language course that I was privileged to witness recently. However, both of these developments suggest that at last things are moving in the field of explicit language teaching.

The question of ownership was highlighted in Wendy Morgan’s article. She tells of an experience of working with an isolated aboriginal community in Queensland. A white Australian invited some tribal leaders to recount to him some of their aboriginal stories. He wrote these up in English, published them and presumably cleared a profit. The people that the stories belonged to got nothing. The teachers working with aboriginal pupils and their families took this as a warning and were very clear that any work derived from the  culture of the local people remains the property of the community.

* Morgan, Wendy (1998): Old letteracy or new literacy: reading and writing the wor(l)d online in ed. Christie,Frances and Misson, Roy: Literacy and Schooling, Routledge 1998

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