Wanted: High expectations for content creation 

in-school citations not enoughIt’s hard not to notice that the ‘project’ season has been kicking in over the past few weeks. I am all for alternative assessments and authentic challenges, it is just that I’ve started wondering about the timing, and if the kinds of things we ask kids to do is really on track yet. Here are a few questions I’ve been pondering:

How many teachers actually do a test run before setting project challenges/tasks for kids? Do we understand the technical skills required? I’m not sure it is fair to ask kids to do something that we can’t do ourselves. And, are we allowing sufficient time for skill building and to produce quality work?

As teachers, we aspire to make learning engaging and authentic. Which is why many projects rightly have aspects of content creation. It’s the age of the iMovie and ePub research paper! But, are the guidelines and expectations regarding the use of digital content really clear– and high enough? By this I mean, are we teaching kids to strive to create their own original content or are we assuming they can find on the web whatever they need and just cite it–because it’s for school. (How about exploring Fair Use? e.g. Fair Use and video projects.)

“Inside-school” citations are not enough

The school walls are thinner and more permeable than ever. The line between closed and open has become much easier to cross thanks to the digital tools and avalanche of content pouring into open virtual spaces. (David Price’s book, Open: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future, poses some compelling arguments about this.) It’s exciting to be a teacher and a student in this age. While new opportunities abound, it is up to us to set high expectations for our students about what and how they create. This means ensuring that our students learn the digital and media literacy skills needed to be truly fluent in an ‘open’ world.