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Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Value of Becoming Information Creators

For all we have learned about Bloom and Marzano, we are reluctant to employ higher level thinking skills in lesson design.

Call it assimilation or application of knowledge, or content creation, students show true understanding of content when allowed to create a product of their own design as a formative assessment.  Yet it is a rare thing for teachers on a regular basis to let students design their own assessments.

There are many reasons for this - time being a main issue.  To groom students to be able to work independently or in groups to produce content requires great patience and persistance.  Many might feel they cannot spend precious time of activities that are unorganized.  But organization takes time and practice.  I assert by a third attempt using a consistent approach, students would be well on their way to managing themselves appropriately.

I think another key reason teachers might refrain from this method of assessment is personal lack of understanding of all content creation might entail.  Technology advances quickly, and while most teachers are trained in integration, few practicing teachers have experimented in tools to create unique content for their students. Teachers expect to be the experts and know the how-tos of tasks required of their students.  Teacher professional development is falling behind.

Ironically, in the early days of web integration (ca. 1996-2000), web design for teachers was an important piece of professional development.  But technology moved faster and before teachers were comfortable in designing their own platforms, content providers with premade platforms came along, and the teacher training changed from creation to integration.  Now we must change back.

I firmly believe that teacher-made materials are better for students understanding, because the teacher is the expert in her content area and knows how to deliver that content to her students.  Just as I dislike the end of the textbook test, I feel most commercially produced content only grazes the surface of content a teacher hopes to cover.  By creating their own teaching products and assessments, students are bound to know more.

I am thinking about this because I am in a unique situation: I teach Office 365 classes for teacher professional development and also for corporate staff development.  The demands expected of the corporate clients are much higher than for school personnel.  The reason?  School personnel rely on reusing the works of others within the bounds of fair use (a terribly misunderstood concept), while the corporate world takes no chances and requires original work.  Would it not ultimately be to teachers' benefit to insist that they only use orginal content in their Sways and Mixes?  

In a world that is awash in multimedia, we should ensure that teachers have the skills to best model their expertise.


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