Microsoft To Pilot 'Intellectual Property Rights Education' Curriculum
Following on the heels of its newly released survey on illegal downloading
among students, Microsoft this week announced that it will launch a new curriculum
for middle school and high school students focusing on intellectual property.
According to Microsoft's survey (available here
in PDF form), released Wednesday, students are less likely to engage in illegal
downloading if they're aware of the laws governing downloading and sharing copyrighted
materials. However, nearly half of the students surveyed were not aware of these
laws, and only 11 percent claimed to have a clear understanding of them.
For those who said they had a clear understanding of the laws, parents were
the primary source of their information for half of the students. Schools played
only a small role in conveying information about illegal downloading to students,
beaten out by stories on television, on the Web, and in magazines and newspapers.
Only 9 percent reported teachers as their primary source of information about
downloading and sharing content.
The survey involved 501 teens in grades 7 through 10. It was conducted in January
by KRC Research on behalf of Microsoft and has a margin of error of ±4.4
percent with a 95 percent confidence level.
"Widespread access to the Internet has amplified the issue of intellectual
property rights among children and teens," said Sherri Erickson, global
manager of Microsoft's Genuine Software Initiative, in a release Wednesday.
"This survey provides more insight into the disparity between IP awareness
and young people today and highlights the opportunity for schools to help prepare
their students to be good online citizens."
In answer to these findings, Microsoft said it will pilot a new
curriculum for middle school and high school students called "Intellectual
Property Rights Education." The company has commissioned custom curriculum
developer Topics Education to help launch the new curriculum. It will focus
on "preparing students for the digital age, helping them understand in
a meaningful way how intellectual property rights affect their lives and sparking
discussion to clarify the 'gray areas' in protected and shared content,"
according to the company.
The curriculum is being field tested in classrooms through March. Those interested
in providing feedback or participating in the tests can do so by clicking here.
Microsoft has also launched a new beta site called MyBytes,
which allows students to post their own content and set permissions for users
and groups. The site also provides space for sharing opinions and learning about
intellectual property rights.
Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters.