My brother shared this out yesterday:
— Dr. Alec Couros (@courosa) April 5, 2017
It is so good. So brilliant. So articulate.
My first thought was, “Do we ask our students to do this type of work in our schools?” Not only tackling ideas but sharing them through a medium that reaches so many people.
Think of this…Have you ever heard of Sir Ken Robinson? If you are reading this blog, you probably have. But what did you encounter first; his book(s) or his video? As I always share, if you think a picture is worth a thousand words, what do you think a video is worth?
Recently, an educator who identified himself as a “shop teacher” challenged me that there was no place for phones in his classroom. Immediately, I told him that I did not want students using heavy equipment while taking selfies, and if that is what he garnered from my work, he was missing a larger message. I challenged him to think about simply investing as a school in some tripods for mobile devices so students could create tutorials on how to create something within his class. Not only does this allow the student to provide evidence of their learning, it also creates a possible tutorial for the next group of students (as someone who has tried to put Ikea furniture together using their paper instructions, video would be of a tremendous help!), while also understanding that there are opportunities out there for students to create content in their areas of interest.
Do we ever talk about the idea of “YouTuber” being a possible job opportunity? This is an area where you most likely would work for yourself, but your salary is determined by what you create (quality), and how you build an audience. This would take a tremendous amount of work and time, but if you are passionate and resilient, you could make this happen. Other people have, why not you (or your students)?
I always ask this question:
There are lots of videos coming from school now (this is fantastic by the way), that are from a communication standpoint. Years ago, I watched as Tony Sinanis and his students started sharing video newsletters weekly. This was powerful because you watched the principal learning alongside his students, but the students were highly involved. As this progressed, you could see Tony gave more ownership to the students and they did much of the creation. Many schools are creating this with (or students are doing it themselves) from a communication standpoint.
Yet in classrooms, are students sharing their knowledge and ideas about science, languages, math, physical education, and every subject, in this type of medium in a compelling way? Are we doing this enough or giving students the option? I guarantee many schools are doing this right now, but I would also contend that not enough are.
The challenge thrown at me will be, “How do you mark this?” In reality, are you looking at what the gentleman in the video is creating, or are you assessing his knowledge? Not only does he show a deep understanding of the science he is sharing, he is also developing many other skills along the way that are extremely valuable.
Often, we share the idea of “how do we prepare students for jobs that don’t exist”, but are we truly doing a good job of preparing them for the new jobs that exist in our world today?
Another question…Do you see what the gentleman in the video is doing as literacy? If you were to google the definition of literacy, you will find it simply states the “ability to read and write” in many forms. Looking at what is shared on Wikipedia in regards to literacy, the definition of literacy, for many, is expanding:
Literacy is traditionally understood as the ability to read, write, and use arithmetic. The modern term’s meaning has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images, computers, and other basic means to understand, communicate, gain useful knowledge and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture. The concept of literacy is expanding in OECD countries to include skills to access knowledge through technology and ability to assess complex contexts. A person who travels and resides in a foreign country but is unable to read or write in the language of the host country would also be regarded by the locals as being illiterate.
What if many are still focused on the idea that “literacy” is only about reading and writing? It is essential to understand that I, as many others, believe that these traditional “basic” skills are crucial and fundamental to learning. Yet, as Yong Zhao succinctly stated, “Reading and writing should be the floor, not the ceiling.”
One of my favourite parts of the video (emotional teacher alert), is when the student at 3:53 thanked their chemistry teacher. It was just a great moment.
Let’s continue to recognize that within the constraints of school (innovating inside of the box), we have so many opportunities to provide learning that is not only meaningful to help students create something amazing in the future, but also in our present time.