“Students need an authentic audience.” You’ve heard this statement before. Given the vast array of opportunities, you would think that this is easy. But any number of bells are ringing in your head and you recognize it’s not that simple. Consider questions like “who will be the target audience – parents, peers, people across the country or around the world? What are the goals that you are trying to address? Are there questions of security that need to be considered? How are you going to ensure that you can manage it?
There is great educational value in using online platforms in school – wider authentic audiences, engagement and personalization, and a chance to practice digital citizenship are among them. More importantly, the literacy development is within a coordinated, adult supervised environment (another plus). A student reflected on the difference, “when I hand in work to a teacher, it’s ok work; when I share with the world, it’s great work”. Interesting to hear the viewpoint. Students get it – they’re used to ‘mashups’ and sharing and openness. They’ve figured out that writing for audience forces them to clarify thinking (you know it’s easier to win an argument in your head, not so simple with people). They’re not afraid to write and rewrite because the web allows for quick edits. They’ve also figured out that they can think in public to use the feedback to change the way they think or build on their thinking. It sounds very much like spiral deep learning doesn’t it? Perhaps this poster by Krissie Venosdale says it all.
Our sd41 blogs (other platforms work as well) were developed for the expressed purposes of all of the above. They offer opportunity for students and teachers and administrators to be in collaborative environments sharing their ideas and deepening conversation. They can easily bring people together from different places, different walks of life. They engage almost all of the senses (ok…I haven’t figured a way to offer the sense of smell yet). The availability of multi-way dialogue gives you many ways to approach the ‘teachable moment’. Some of our teachers have used it for extending literature circles, current events debates, extending story writing (gathering comments and revising plot), creating positive digital footprint, changing school processes, communicating with scientists and engineers, inviting parents to the community of learning. The list goes on and on and only serves to remind us that teachers are creative in their endeavours to invite the world into their classrooms.
How are you providing an authentic audience for your students or staff? Would love to hear your journey or questions.