I believe the power and significance of the student as a Global Communicator and Collaborator is summed up in the following quote;
“Everyday I have to decide if I will write for my teachers or publish to the world” Eighth grader talking about whether she will do her homework, or continue her work as a writer on www.fanfiction.net – from pg 71, Alan November “Who Owns the Learning”
This week I discovered such a student in my own class, though he is not at all at the scale that above eighth grader has achieved. My fifth grader created a 20 page Google presentation about the properties of Minecraft blocks. I discovered his work purely by accident when I noticed a friend of his looking at the presentation during our time in the computer lab. I asked the friend about the work and discovered that this student had created the presentation on his own initiative out of the love of the game. I asked his friend how useful such information was since I am not really familiar with Minecraft. His friend replied that a new user of Minecraft would find the information invaluable. I asked who it had been shared with. The reply was just this friend.
The Minecraft block presentation is definitely an example of a student creating their own tutorial, and it also connects into the Daniel Pink’s motivators of quality work, autonomy, mastery and purpose. (This student, much like the eighth grader quoted above, didn’t always hand in the most high quality work for me). When I praised him about his initiative, and the quality of his work I could see he was thrilled.
As I was having making this discovery, my fifth graders and I were in the computer lab working on our Photo Stories (the project I initiated for this course). Coincidentally I had a group at that moment who were finished. We uploaded their presentation to YouTube, and then embedded it in their blog. A few minutes later I heard an excited exclamation, “We had six views!”. They found it incredible that someone had looked at their work. At that moment I realized the potential of global communication/collaboration, and most importantly feedback through the internet, and the possible pool of motivation available if students tapped into it . So I sat down at a work station and tweeted their work and asked for comments.
A few minutes later a friend of mine in Canada, Jean-Paul, commented and re-tweeted. Right away their was an email that said they had a comment. They were over the moon!
I have done a lot of experimenting using technology in my class, but I’ve never actively tried to create an audience for my students work. I find the idea of trying to get my students noticed overwhelming. However, I have now seen first hand how motivated students become when they receive one comment and a fist full of views. The potential is unfathomable.
So, going back to the student who created the Minecraft Block presentation, the next step for him is to get his presentation out into the cyber world and reap the potential benefits. I have already casually suggested a few things, and plan to follow up with him. His initiative to create the resource could potentially be rewarded exponentially.
For me the challenge now is too design global collaboration into my regular instruction, and to actively promote, and teach my students to promote, their work online.
So please click on one of the links below and leave a comment. Make a fifth graders day!