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Posts Tagged ‘creation

As well intentioned as this tweet is, its brevity does not allow for caveats or elaborations.

When wisdoms are distilled into 140, or now, 280 characters, they hide the thought processes that generate them. They also create potential misconceptions. I address just two of the latter.

While it is true that the issue is not consumption vs creation, far too many learners still spend far too much time at the consumption end of the continuum.

This creates more problems in teaching, e.g., teachers trying to engage their students by getting them to consume what they present instead of empowering students to create.

Emphasising curation is not wrong, but this is nowhere near as important as content creation. Curation is mostly collating the work of other; creation is making your own.

If no one creates, what is there to curate? We should not just depend on the goodwill and effort of others. We should make and share openly and responsibly.

This is the fifth part of my week-long focused reflection on flipping.

I shared my three dimensions of flipped learning (flipping) in a video and during various presentations (most notably, Righting the Wrongs of Flipping).

I have previously shared my rationales on the merits of getting learners to create content and to teach as part of the process of flipping.

Today I revisit why it is important for learners to create content.

Teachers are not mind-readers. If they were, they could make a more profitable living elsewhere! A teacher does not know what a student knows (or does not know) until the student tells or shows the teacher.

An educational psychologist might say that these performances are externalized manifestations that provide evidence of internal processes. They are representations of mental schema (Ausubel).

The more tangible and manipulable these representations are from a student, the easier it is for teachers and other learners to compare that student’s schema with their own.

As serendipity would have it, here is a very good example from a teacher, @enoch_ng, who is experimenting with learner-generated content.

It should become obvious that the students who created the video got the eventual answer right, but their explanation for simplifying the fraction was wrong.

I reiterate: Until a teacher gets a student to speak, sing, dance, or otherwise perform and create some content in the process, that teacher is unlikely to know for sure what that student understands or misunderstands.

I cite this example to counter common teacher thinking about the rigour and amount of time for content creation.

Creating content is typically the concern and likely a source of pride for the teacher. This is because an informed teacher will tend to create content that is aligned to learning objectives and curricular requirements.

When I tweeted the thought above, I was referring to content creation not from a teacher’s perspective, but from a learner’s one.

A teacher might be thinking about lesson units. I am referring to content nuggets that students can create to show what they (mis)understand. The content does not have to be a long, complex video. (BTW, the same principle applies in conventional flipping: Teacher-created or curated video is not mandatory or a given.)

When I model this idea in workshops, I get teachers to create quick, simple, and powerful content. For example, they contribute data points via a Google Form which we visualize with graphs; we use online stickies to collect reflections, issues, and opinions; we use Google Slides to co-create quizzes.

Now this does not mean that students should not be given slightly more ambitious content to create. This is the domain of reusable learning objects or micro-content. Combine these with getting learners to teach and we have the third dimension of flipping. More on that tomorrow.

This article, Why Content Is Still King, cites Bills Gates in 1996 declaring that content is still king.

I disagree.

The content as defined in 1996 was oriented towards what television broadcasters, traditional news and magazine companies, and other publishers produced.

Gates did refer to user-generated content, but not in the sense that we have today.

One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create. In a sense, the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier. It allows material to be duplicated at low cost, no matter the size of the audience.

This is duplication or replication, not creation or curation.

The type of content described in 1996 was the type that gets thoroughly edited, vetted, and polished before it goes on display. It takes a long time to create. It is typically not openly shared, or if it is, only for a princely sum.

It is the type of content that makes traditional publishers of books and journals salivate. It is the type of content that make publishers who have moved to electronic platforms want to regulate or control, e.g., prevent Google from indexing and caching their content.

I am not saying that content is not important. After all, if there is no content, what is there to consume? If there is nothing to consume, then there will be no consumers.

I am saying that our understanding and acceptance of what content is has started to change. That change is due to the fact that our consumers are now also curators and creators of content.

Our traditional view of content monarchy is being dethroned in a democracy represented by citizens like YouTube and Wikipedia.

There are very few monarchies left in the world. We have moved on to other forms of government. To describe content as KING in that sense is irrelevant. There are other rulers or governors that work together.

To also describe the 20th century type of CONTENT as king is also losing relevance. There already is entertaining, enriching, and educational content produced by the people and for the people without the traditional vetting process. Quality and acceptance also bypasses the so-called expert layer in favour of the popular vote.

Traditionally created or curated content is no longer king. Connecting with openly and socially generated content and their curators/creators is.

That is the shift that we must leverage on in education if we are to stay relevant. To not do so is to serve a king that is aging and losing his grip on reality.

A few weeks ago, my son decided that he would like to share his thoughts on games by posting videos on YouTube.

I would like to think that I have had an influence by getting him involved in the production of CeL-Ed Monday videos. He has even had starring roles in my video series on learning with Minecraft.

But I think that he has been influenced much more by gaming channels like the Kwings, CaptainSparklez, Yogscastetc.

The people behind these channels are entertaining and informative. The opinions, tips, and walkthoughs that they provide help their viewers make informed choices about what games to buy and which strategies to use or avoid.

YouTube is not just a wonderful place for learning because you can find and consume content. It is an open platform where you can create and publish content. After all, if no one produces, what is there to consume?

Video source

I think that an overlooked aspect of flipped learning is getting learners to create content. This is what I call the third dimension of flipping. This not only allows them to teach content (the second dimension), it also gets learners to think about the needs and perspectives of audience. When they do this (or when they are taught to do this), they evaluate what they wish to create and how they deliver it.

These are high order skills that I would argue are even more important than the content. The content is a means to various ends. Ends like organization, discipline, perspective-taking, persistence, critical thinking, creative expression, and more.

If we are honest about it, educators realize that their learners will not remember much content. They will remember the type of person you are, what you stood for, and what you modelled. They will learn values and thinking skills.

If they are to apply values and skills, our learners should be teaching each other and creating content. They should be experiencing the second and third dimensions of the flipped classroom.

Video source

This is a video made from 852 Instagram photos.

But I wonder whether to call this curation or creation.

One reason I make the time to meet with folks outside of NIE is the opportunity to learn.

These opportunities rise from the request of the outside party for me to share or to teach. But I end up testing my own thinking or consolidating separate thoughts.

I had started to question the traditional wisdom that “content is king”. Folks in publishing, broadcasting, training, and schooling rely on this basic tenet.

But it is not the only foundation to build on especially in this day and age. This is particularly true if the content is only created by experts. A good example is Wikipedia which has challenged traditional encyclopedia businesses and put a few out of business.

There are other Cs that challenge the throne:

  • Creation
  • Curation
  • Consolidation
  • Contextualization

Content creation, particularly by learners, is an underutilized activity in many courses. How many of us can say that at least 50% of course content was learner-generated for example?

Sometimes there is no need to create content because it is already available. TED and YouTube already have educational tools that allow teachers and students to curate content by pulling different videos together into learning units.

Often these same tools leverage on other tools. Videos alone are consumptive. To allow critical expression or collaboration, the video platforms often provide space for online discussion. Alternatively, one can embed a video in a wiki or blog and create opportunities for consolidating learning in one spot.

Finally, the videos might come from different sources and might not seem coherent. But the learner of today is more forgiving. The instructor of today must create context in the use of these videos.

Content creation is no longer king. He is aging and the dictatorship is ending in the face of more modern, democratic learning.

I had some other thoughts after reading Ito’s interview, What Exactly Can You Learn on a Mobile Phone? Part II.

Ito mentioned three opportunities for learning:

  • information access
  • social connection and peer learning
  • expression and creative production

Ito noted that mobile phones were quite capable of facilitating the first two processes. I agree. She also said that they were not quite so capable for content creation, at least not the type we were used to in daily PC use. On this I have a mixed bag of thoughts.

I still prefer to blog with my laptop instead of my iPad or iPhone. But if I am so inspired while on a bus or as I am about to sleep, I reach for a small, instant-on device.

But my bias lies in the fact I have experienced computer versions of the apps first. That coloured my views and shaped my experiences. If I only had the app experiences, I’d not know better or worse. Just look at how many kids try to tap non-touchscreen LCDs! For some slightly older users, Facebook and Twitter are entirely mobile.

These devices and their apps are getting more powerful. I recall a reviewer claiming that GarageBand on the iPad was a better experience than on a proper Mac. I have found the Posterous and WordPress iOS apps to be fairly capable alternatives to the full web tools.

Smartphone apps are powerful in their own right. With Vimeo you can shoot, edit and upload videos. With foursquare you can indicate where you are, snap and share photos and comment about a place. You might brainstorm or manage a project with online stickies from Lino. You can share and curate with Twitter.

Let’s not forget the assortment of photo editing, enhancing and sharing apps. I have 12 on my device and these include Genius Scan, iTimeLapse, Labelbox, Photogram, Photosynth and PS Express.

Move to a larger screen and you have various drawing and mapping apps like DukePen, Jot! Free, Popplet, and shared whiteboard tools like ShowMe.

So, yes, co-editing even the simplest Google Doc or a wiki page is not convenient or possible now. But mobile apps open paths for adventurous educators to explore and for learners of all ages to create.


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