Stopping Online ID Theft by Glen Westbroek

Recently I read two blog posts that were almost identical. The earlier dated post included links and references. The second post, dated shortly afterwards, was missing links and references. This second post was basically a copy and paste of the first post. There was no reference to the first post or its author. I know the author of the first post and contacted him via Twitter. I mentioned that it seemed his work was plagiarized. Our twitter conversation grew to include multiple people. I learned the second poster copied and pasted multiple blogs from other people without permission or credit. I consider this an example of Online ID Theft. This led me to consider how teachers should teach students to properly cite sources.



I try to help students understand how and why they should cite sources. I model this when I use images in class. I make sure students know the difference between photos I have taken and those I obtain from the Internet. When searching for a photo from the Internet, I change the Google “Search Tools” to “Labeled for Reuse.” This image comes from Pixabay, who has the policy “Free high quality images you can use anywhere.” When I use an image with permission like this, I also cite the URL where the image was obtained from.


I am pleased when material is given a CC license. Creative Commons allows someone to use and often modify the content. An example of this is the Open Education Resource textbooks under development by USOE for science. When I modify activities created by other teachers. I want my source citations to exceed Creative Commons requirements. I create a footer that includes “modified from: and the URL” in my student handout.


Meeting copyright law has been a challenge for many years. Online access increases the challenges in complying with copyright laws. I am certain there are ways I can improve. My goal is to reduce any possible online ID theft I can.

Glen Westbroek is a science teacher at Orem Junior High. He has presented at UCET, ISTE, USTA, and the Utah Rural School’s Conferences. He is a Senior Trainer for the Intel(R) Teach program. Contact Glen on Twitter as @gardenglen.

Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith is Director of Technology for the College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University. In that role, he also directs The Adele & Dale Young Education Technology Center (The YETC) located in room 170 of the Education Building on Utah State University's Logan campus. The YETC is a combination student open­access computer facility, a K­12 curriculum materials library, a NASA Educator Resource Center for Utah, and a technology training center. Nathan served eight years (2004­2012) on the Board of Directors for the Utah Coalition for Education Technology (UCET) He was re­elected in 2014 to serve another two year term on the board. A former elementary school teacher, Nathan has taught students every age from young children to senior citizens. He has had the opportunity beginning in 2011 to train international high school teachers from all over the world about technology in education, through the U.S. State

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