Two of the most powerful shifts in the 21st century are the ability for students to communicate to authentic audiences and to be creators of knowledge. The concept of learning has transformed to go beyond learning what other experts learned. Learning is about using tools to access relevant information, interpret, process, personalize and then create and communicate your new personalized knowledge.
The Read/Write Web has empowered millions of students to move beyond consuming information. Everyone is an expert; No one is an expert; together we learn, explore, inquire, think and make sense.
In addition to the web, the tools for communicating now allow learners whose best method of communication is not text based to also be able to share their learning in ways that make sense to them.
Too many students struggle with written output in text form. We differentiate our classrooms and empower students when we include learning tools and processes of:
oral recording of learning. It never needs to become printed word.
digitally drawing. Students can imagine more than their hands can produce. Technology enables students to create professional images that are closer to their imaginings.
digital music integration. Students can create or repurpose music to enhance understanding of their work
Human Networking Students can connect with fellow students and experts around the world to find like minded thinkers.
Mashing up multi media. The media becomes less important when you can critically choose the best media to tell the story.
Story Telling is the tipping point for many teachers. When the paradigm shifts to telling a story, content regurigation loses value. With such a wealth of information available, we really want to know the ‘ungooglable’ questions. What do you think about X is far more important than what did X say. Everyone can google what X said, the learning begins when we are asked to think. Story Telling goes beyond factual recall; Story Telling leads to higher order thinking.
Images as storytelling – A simple exercise to do with students is to use a tools such as powerpoint to create a slide with a digital photo inserted with voice.
Having a class communication tool such as a blog or conference or wiki is a way to go paperless in the classroom and model communication opportunities. You can start with the classroom as the scope but increase exposure to the outside world in time. Teachers have effectively used class conferences to do collaborative projects, peer editing and supplementary work or home study.
Blogging as writing – We use journaling all the time with students, this creates a larger audience. (and community) Blogging is just a concept, not a specific tool. The concept is to write without it having to be a ‘final draft.’ It publishes an idea, not a finished product. Teachers have used blogs for class discussions and as an extension of classroom. Blogging can give every student the opportunity to have their voice heard. It allows for discussion to continue outside the classroom and enables every student to contribute. When well moderated, this forum can enhance the classroom learning. It also gives students the ability to show leadership and initiative by self moderating the blog. Teachers can monitor the activity of their students and it provides a way to demonstrate learning.
Another communication tool is using shared spaces such as a Wikispaces or Google Documents .
In this environment, you can share the abilty to write and read a document. They are shared space that allows many contributors and can be used to peer edit, formulate a project, or maintain a portfolio.