Student produced content is a win-win-win for everyone.
(This blog is based on my experiences, data gathered from my students, and research I have done that is summarized more completely with multiple links and media examples here bit.ly/STUDENTCREATION)
When a teacher approaches flipping a class there are far more questions than answers. May I suggest a somewhat different answer to at least a few of the flip questions? Make student created content a component of your flipped classroom.
How do I get all the videos made to flip a class?
Should I use my videos or someone else’s?
How do I engage students in foundational concepts?
Creating videos is a BIG and time consuming job. I am a big believer in the teacher creating the bulk of the videos in a flipped class (assuming you use videos to flip). My belief is based on both theory, and my own experience, that teaching is about relationships and although you are not physically present in your videos, your voice and/or your face reinforces that the message is designed specifically for them by you, their teacher.
However, that does not mean that you have to do every single video. There are times when it is more beneficial for everyone if students create content. Content that students should have already mastered is ideal for student creation. Remember, in flipping, videos and digital content are best used for basic Bloom’s, foundational concepts, and introductory material. Algebra II students should have mastery of Algebra I topics. Junior Composition students should have mastery in creating thesis sentences and basic structuring. Civics students should have basic historical background for various points in american history. The idea of reactivating previous learning through student creation is the basis of my Week 1 project in my math classes that I described in a previous blog entry “Ed-tech Lets Students Show What They Know“. It is also a way to quickly create a library of supplemental learning materials for students that need the extra help. It is also a resource that can be used sparingly in other classes to introduce topics.
How do I train my students to watch videos for learning?
How do I highlight the long term importance of a concept?
There is far more to student created content than expedited content creation. As the old saying goes “walk a mile in another person’s shoes”, I have found that students have a greater appreciation for the instructional videos I do once they have completed just one of their own. To be clear, this is not an “I’ll show them” mentality but an opportunity for students to learn by experience. I give myself time limits on video or demonstration lengths; 6 min. is normal, 8 min. is maximum, and 12 min. for “I warned you this was a long one”. Likewise I want students to experience the process of prioritizing what is necessary, chunking large subjects into digestible portions, plan an effective approach, and create an effective demonstration of knowledge. Everything in that list is a key skill in acquiring, categorizing, and synthesizing knowledge.
The result of students creating content is practice in good learning methods
How do I get started on student created content?
The first and hardest answer is “Let go!” As teachers we take pride in the fact that we can effectively evaluate what students need to know, develop a plan to provide instruction, devise means of assessment, and work all of this out with style and aplomb. Teachers correctly assume that students cannot do this with the same level of excellence that we can do it ourselves. Teachers correctly assume students can’t do it as well…initially.
As students are given opportunity and feedback on their created content they can indeed do it just as well, it will just be different, and different is good. As long as teachers are working with students to ensure accuracy and providing feedback about how to learn and teach students have the opportunity to communicate with their peers in ways us older adults cannot (ME: “Hey I’m ONLY 40!”, MYSELF: “Yes…which is 72 to a 16 year old.” and I: “Booger!”).
Practically, students have cell phones in their pockets at earlier and earlier ages. Students may have 1:1 devices. Most schools have rolling labs of laptops, ipads, chromebooks, and the like. All of these devices can be used to access word processing or graphic presentation software. Most of these devices can record audio or video content. the best thing to realize when you get started with student created content is that, for the most part, you will not have to tell students what they can use because they have more ways of communicating with other digitally than us “older” adults can imagine. Beyond the technology there are still presentation and demonstration methods that require no technology on the part of the students at all, but are easy enough to record with an ipad or webcam (with permissions) for curation on a class website or digital library.
What are you waiting for?
The real question is, with all of this technology at our students’ fingertips, why are we not already allowing student to differentiate, create, engage, and learn for themselves by collaborating and persuading others? For that question I have no answers.