One of the themes that’s been running through my brain a lot of late is the idea that with blogs and podcasts and screencasts and others we really have an opportunity to ask our students to become more than just receivers of knowledge. They can become transmitters of that knowledge, teachers of it in easy, meaningful ways. It’s an idea that I added into my MACUL presentations at literally the last minute, but it was one that I think really resonated with many who sat in.
If you’ve ever taught, you know that the best way to learn something is to not only do it but to teach it to others. (Many heads in the audience nodded in agreement.) In the “old days” of the traditional, non-connected classroom, we really didn’t have too many opportunities for students to teach back what they learned on a regular basis. And that’s because, obviously, it required a lot of planning to set up the communicaiton between the student teachers and a group of learners down the hall or down the street or, in some cases, around the world. And to be honest, those connections were somewhat contrived, based on the desires of the adult teachers in the classrooms. I’m not saying that some of these were not effective. But what I am saying is that they really weren’t a viable option for many teachers.
Not so today, assuming of course, you have a regular connection. Not only can we ask our students to teach back what they know to a potentially large audience, it’s not a contived audience, because the people who learn from it are motivated to do so. They will self-select it. And in doing so, there is the potential for connection and community building that can extend the learning that occurs in the classroom.
Ironically, this is especially true, I think, with the more multimedia technologies that we talk about. Podcasts, vidcasts, screencasts all give students the opportunity to take what they have learned and turn it into teachable content. That’s what I hear when I listen to Bob Sprankle’s or Tony Vincent’s kids. That’s what I sense with the Wheaton Academy vidcasts. And that’s why I am so intruiged with screencasting as a new medium for students to use to teach.
That’s an interesting shift I think. Instead of being focused on how well our students can test on the material, what if we focused on how well they can teach it?