Text: Participating as a Producer and Collaborator

Think Like a Metaliterate Producer and Collaborator:

Participate conscientiously and ethically in collaborative environments. (B)

As you prepare for the production of your own digital story, consider some of the following ethical considerations as well:

  • What is your ethical responsibility as a consumer and producer of information?
  • Do digital images always tell the truth? How easy is it to alter digital images and other media formats such as digital video?
  • How does an altered digital image or video impact the meaning and interpretation of the information presented?
  • Have you ever shared something that wasn’t true? Did you realize the information was false when you shared it or did you share it without verifying the accuracy of the information? How did you respond once you realized you shared false or inaccurate information?
  • Has your personal data ever been shared without your permission or stolen? Has anything false or inaccurate about you ever been shared by others? How did you respond?
  • Do you routinely read the terms of service before signing up for something online? Why or why not? How has your approach to online security devolved or changed during the time you have been online?
  • Overall, how do you develop your own strategies to effectively contribute to online environments as an informed consumer and creative producer of information?

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

As you plan for the creation of your own digital story, you also need to consider the sources you will refer to or piece together as part of your digital project.

  • Will you use images, text, or video that you created on your own, or use materials that someone else created or published?
  • Are these resources original objects that you can access firsthand through a library or archive, or virtually through an online library or digital archive?
  • Have these materials been discussed or interpreted by someone else already?

These are the kinds of questions we ask when considering primary and/or secondary sources. Let’s explore these terms a bit more so that you are clear about the kinds of information to use and then how to attribute or give credit to those materials.

When considering the types of information sources to incorporate into your own digital story, it is helpful to think about whether the source is primary or secondary. You can determine whether a source is primary or secondary based on the degrees of separation in connection to the source of the information. Primary sources are those where there is no degree of separation. The work originates with the personal experience of the creator or author. Examples of primary resources include:

  • an autobiography or diary (think of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank)
  • a research article reporting on the results of a study written by the researcher herself
  • photographs taken by a photographer.

You may be able to access these materials by visiting your local library, a historical archive or by going online and exploring the resources available at a digital archive. You may have found images or video via the Creative Commons, or you may want to use an image or video that you created yourself.

Secondary sources have a degree of separation from the primary source, and often comment on the primary source. Did you ever write a book report on The Diary of a Young Girl? That would be a secondary source. Consider the following examples:

  • an original painting (primary) versus a critic’s review of that painting (secondary)
  • a newspaper from September 1, 1939 (primary) versus a book published years later about the start of World War II.
  • a piece of artwork found online (primary) that has been analyzed by an art critic who offered new insights about what the image means (secondary).

This research-based analysis may inspire you to think in new ways about that image and how to respond with your own creation. As part of this research process, you are in conversation with the artist and art critic who provided you with a new way of looking at the world. You consider what they contributed to the conversation and then bring your own unique perspective to the table as well.

By incorporating both primary and secondary sources into your own research and digital story, you have the chance to examine an issue from multiple perspectives. Both kinds of sources and conversations with artists or writers who inspired you, will impact the narratives you plan and produce on your own. To explore primary and secondary sources further, take a look at  Primary and Secondary Sources.


What are your responsibilities as an information producer and collaborator? Jot some ideas down, or discuss with a classmate how you can ensure you:

  • Analyze all sources with a critical eye, looking for reliable and accurate information and make sure that the content you produce and share is truthful as well.
  • Evaluate all sources of information to identify bias while also checking to see if your own personal viewpoints influence how the information is created before sharing with a wider audience.
  • Differentiate between opinion and fact in all forms of information. Opinions are fine if they are clearly identified as such, and as long as there is an understanding that objective research may arrive at a different conclusion than someone’s opinion. We have to be careful about blurring the lines between opinion and fact when conducting research on a topic since we need to develop an argument based on facts and evidence, not an opinion.