I really liked Fred’s comment to my post yesterday about Schools and Content Production. Here’s a quote:
I wonder sometimes if the whole concept of getting kids to “publish” their work on the web isn’t a sort of giant ponzi scheme. The folks who get in early with these technologies have an audience that isn’t yet saturated.
I definitely agree with Fred on this. Last year, I sat through two “blogs for teachers” sessions at two different conference, and both left me cringing. The first was a major success story of a teacher and a classroom that did a fully public blog, and then got life-changing feedback and involvement from the very author of the book they were discussing, etc. I thought, “Yeah, this will work for every classroom in the country.” The second session was how to use the Blogger website to enable all of your students to create their own blogs and blog like crazy everyweek. Yeah, you might want to password-protect them, I guess.
My thinking has been twisted a bit by our current implementation of Edline. We have 100% of US faculty and students using the system now, and in about a week we send out hundreds of account activation codes to US parents. Our primary use of the system now is for content management (see my Film and Video class as an example), but really the depth of information on just about every US course is pretty amazing. This level of detail is being rolled out to the entire US community.
Faculty use their own content every day. When students produce plays and do music performances, we share that with the community. The same with the student newspaper and arts journal. The same with the sports teams. We don’t need “the whole world” to give students performance experiences in our school community.
At the same time, though, our students have received national recogniton for their science projects at the Intel Science Talent Search. The same occurs with arts students in local competitions. There’s a desire for our student newspaper and even student video work to compete.
So, I agree with Fred about “flash in the pan” examples, but I also see years of evidence of student content being highly regarded by the community and outside evaluators. Technology can play a role in making it easier for the community to have access to content that students would like to share, and there have been solid benefits from this occuring.
So, no magic bullets and super simple miracles for all. As I work on unified systems for the school, though, there are the types of contents connections I’d like to see grow, building on past successes. The work students do here isn’t for the ages, and we shouldn’t aim for that, but it great to hear from alumni how much they remember their projects here and how they felt those achievements played a role in their individual futures.
Fred, thanks for the comment!