Some Cautions

Using media requires attention to the learning objectives of the course you are teaching. Please carefully note these concerns in your preparations to use media in your courses.

  • One question that inevitably arises is concern over the copyright issues that accompany using this medium in teaching.
    The use of film scenes, music, and content found on the Internet during class falls under the fair use exemption in the Federal Copyright Act (Section 110.1, in the Federal Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17). The display of copyrighted materials during face-to-face teaching permits the instructor to show entire feature length films under most circumstances. The crucial distinction to understand is that the public showing of any media is narrowly defined for educational purposes and the instructor must take steps to ensure that the copyright holder's interests are protected. Placing copyright material on the Internet must comply with the fair use exemption. Recently the Register of Copyrights ruled that short portions of motion pictures may be incorporated into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment. Here is an interesting article from Inside Higher Education on the latest round of rules changes.
  • Using media oftentimes requires additional work (e.g. prepositioning a DVD it at the start of a scene before class, digitizing media for playback on a computer and making sure that the audio-visual equipment is functioning properly beforehand).
  • Media scenes (e.g. humor, drama, terror, and language) may distract some students from the theories and concepts the scenes portray. Some students may become offended by media with objectionable content.
  • Utilizing media takes time away from other classroom activities. Instructors need to decide whether the media makes its point efficiently and with enough effect to warrant the use of class time. Media that are short (generally 10 minutes or less) minimize the class time spent on content unrelated to the learning objectives.