seeing myself through images

Here is where I started:

  • I wanted to create something that would be useful 
  • I wanted to try something I had never done before 
  • I wanted to be able to teach a new tool/skill to my students 
  • I wanted to showcase my new understandings regarding the power of images 

Here is what I thought about as I was creating: 

  • “I have to show data in a way that people will enjoy and understand.”                                         – Hans Rosling’s Gapminder
  • “Your message is only as good as your ability to share it.”                                                               – The value of Visualization
  • “The most powerful producer of visual imagery is the individual, its you.”                                   – David Jakes
  • “Expand(ing) our capacity for uncertainty, that’s a wonderful preparation for creativity.”         – How to be Creative
  •  “If you are going to use visuals, then for crying out loud, make them insanely great visuals” and “Visuals that surprise people, touch them, delight them, and support your story are best because they affect people in an emotional way. People are more likely to remember your content in the form of  stories and examples, and they are also more likely to remember your content if your visuals are unique, powerful and of the highest quality.” – Presentation Zen
  • “It’s a thankless job, only rarely will anyone comment on (or even notice) the quality of design — but they will notice, and act on, the message. And that’s what’s important, isn’t it?”  – Design Better with CRAP 

Once I knew I wanted to create a visual resume for my final project, I chose to: 

  •  seek out colleagues who had created one and asked about their best practices 
  • search for exemplars online to collect some general ideas 
  • evaluate my traditional resume and identify which sections I wanted to represent visually and why 
  • use Piktochart because of all the choices it offered 
  • select a color scheme using guidance from this website
  • research some common tips with articles such as this
  • spend hours playing around with all sorts of ideas on a blank template 
  • send my first draft to a few colleagues for feedback 
  • make adjustments to my layout, font, visual balance, etc based on that feedback 
  • leave it alone for a few days to see what I thought when I came back to it 
  • make some final tweaks
  • and be done with it for now with the understanding that I can change/adapt it as needed 

Here is my current visual resume using Piktochart:

Rebecca Allen Resume 2015 (full screen preview)

Rebecca Allen Resume 2015

Here is how I plan to use it: 

  • to show my students a model of how infographics can be used 
  • to gather feedback from my current administration about where they see my largest potentional areas of growth 
  • as a recruiting tool at some point 

Here is what I am still wondering: 

  • how should I select a photgraph of myself? Does the one I currently have accurately represent the message I want to send?
  • how can I create more space for professional workshops I have attended?
  • is the type of graph that I selected the best way to display my teaching experience?
  • have I accurately represented my inquiry training?
  • should I include more photos somehow, possibly with students? 
  • is the font that I have chosen the best fit? 

and here is what floats to the surface for me at the close of Course 3: 

I will become a better facilitator of learning by intentionally using the power of images:

  • to deepen my students’ understandings
  • to increase their engagement
  • to clarify my own messages
  • to nurture their personal connections
  • to reinforce their memory
  • and to celebrate their voices.

 

 

 

 

visualizing magnitude

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/upload/iblock/65f/5296-16a-holocaust2.jpg
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/upload/iblock/65f/5296-16a-holocaust2.jpg

This assignment couldn’t have been more timely! My class is currently deep in a historical fiction unit paralleling our unit on conflict and perspective. The kids are literally soaking up all things World War II. Every day their minds are abuzz with tons of questions ranging from: “Why wasn’t hitler stopped sooner?”‘ to “How can we prevent World War II?” and “Were the SS guards afraid for their lives too?” There are so many answers that we are searching for together throughout the day, it has really made their thinking come alive.

I have been struggling with communicating the magnitude of the numbers to them. How do I get across the death toll numbers, how can I provide an appropriate learning experience for them to truly grasp the depth and breadth of the destruction of human lives?

One possible answer is infographics. Using visuals to illustrate incomprehensible numbers and loss might help them wrap their minds around such figures. Here is what I plan on using: 

  • The circular gauge on this WWII overview infographic from Jawagar Samidurai
  • The bar graph of deaths by camp in this infographic from mmperttu on infogr.am
  • This infographic illustrating who was killed by mst123 on infogr.am
  • and finally this infographic on the magnitude of deaths by Tim Urban

So what floats to the surface for me this week is how learning and thinking can be immediately and easily clarified, deepened, and crystalized by using infographics. 

Show What You Say

It is clear from our readings and examples this week that images and voice overs can hold much emotional power. Here is a fine example of that, especially if you are a hopeless romantic.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvxHPtEsmFc[/youtube]

I had originally read the script for this video as text and it didn’t do much for me but now after seeing the video and reading David Jakes’ “The Strength of Weak Ties”, I can see how his statement “Emotion, depicted through visual means, sells the message” rings true. The combination of tone and pacing in the narrator’s voice combined with the speed, timing, and details of each image evoke emotion in a way words on a page didn’t for me.

I think kids get the power of images at a basic level, but I do think it is important to expand upon that understanding by sharing some of David Jakes’ advice:

  • “There is a biological basis for visual communication. Teach kids to take advantage of the connectivity, and the raw capacity of the brain to process visually.”
  • “The most powerful producer of visual imagery is the individual, its you.”
  • “You have to share it.”

Educause Learning Initiaitve’s article, 7 Things you Should Know about Digital Storytelling, furthers this idea by personalizing it to the individual student. “Digital stories let students express themselves not only with their own words but also in their own voices, fostering a sense of individuality and of “owning” their creations.” This is a central goal for so many of our units  – we want students to show their learning in a way that is not only meaningful to them but also represents who they are. So I figured despite my lack of experience, I could follow the advice  from PBS Offbook’s How To Be Creative “Expand(ing) our capacity for uncertainty, that’s a wonderful preparation for creativity.”

We used IMovie and kept them very simple, minial customizations at this stage. Our golas were:

  1. Select images that are powerful and tell a story
  2. Time your images with your narration
  3. Create emotion in your audience
  4. Use your voice to represent you

Here is one student’s example on the topic of poverty and what can be done to break the cycle.

So what floats to the surface this week is actually the voice of one of my students coming to life through images. I can still hear the inflection in her voice as she introduces me to her new term of “geographic unluckiness.” 

Method in the Making

https://dobrincho.tumblr.com/post/4901062877/powerful-black-and-white-portraits-by-lee-jeffries
https://dobrincho.tumblr.com/post/4901062877/powerful-black-and-white-portraits-by-lee-jeffries

 

I continue to be taken with the power of images. The range of emotion and thought that they can evoke for each person seems exponential. A great entrance point into a dialogue, a learning opportunity. I would like to intentionally harness that visual stimulation, audience engagement, and spark of curiosity in my presentations going forwward.

While I appreciated the various presentation styles from this week’s readings, no singular approach felt like the right fit for me. I was drawn to different parts of each approach. I connected with:

So when I found myself with the opportunity to create a presentation this week, I thought maybe I could try to create my own style. One that matched my audience of assisstant teachers (who will be learning about inquiry for the first time) and one that matched me as a presenter.

Here is what I discovered in the process:

  1. It was important to me to select connected, powerful pictures that would engage my audience.
  2. I wanted my font to be balanced. I wanted it to have a presence but not too much of a presence.
  3. I felt like one image and/or one line of text on each slide was enough.
  4. I felt more organized when I kept my slide count to a minimum. Less is more.
  5. I wanted to keep the black and white theme consistent. Adding colors seeemed to detract from my message at this stage.
  6. I liked the tension created when my text interacted with/overlapped onto the image.
  7. The larger I could make the photograph the better.
  8. I didn’t actually need much text to remember my presentation talking points.

And here is the presentation that floated to the surface for me . . . my own method in the making.

“I didn’t think . . . until I saw”

https://wisdomftf.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/perspectives3.jpg
https://wisdomftf.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/perspectives3.jpg

Our Grade 5s are about to embark on an inquiry unit entitled, “Perspective and Conflict.” The enduring understanding is: Our persepctive influences our choices when dealing with conflict. After our readings this week, I heard the message loud and clear that if you want students to connect, to remember, and to be impacted then use images. This is certainly a unit where I want their understandings to be memorable and I found myself returning to these lines from our readings to guide my thinking:

  • From Presentation Zen: The Power of thr Visual  “If you are going to use visuals, then for crying out loud, make them insanely great visuals” and “Visuals that surprise people, touch them, delight them, and support your story are best because they affect people in an emotional way. People are more likely to remember your content in the form of  stories and examples, and they are also more likely to remember your content if your visuals are unique, powerful and of the highest quality.”
  • From Teaching Media Literacy: Yo! Are you Hip to This? “Individuals create meaning in media messages through interpretation.”
  • From Visual Literacy Using Digital Still Images “I didn’t think . . . until I saw.”

I selected the following images to use for the tuning in of their initial thoughts and wonderings:

protest_riot_palestine_israel_west_bank_ni'ilin_arab_jewish_conflict_war_zoriah_08_15_08_G6Y9689
protest_riot_palestine_israel_west_bank_ni’ilin_arab_jewish_conflict_war_zoriah_08_15_08_G6Y9689

Manila, Philippines - Child in Conflict

https://flic.kr/p/6BjEu

0001_zoriah_cambodia_train_track_slums_20131116_8171

0001_zoriah_cambodia_train_track_slums_20131116_8171

zoriah_kenya_famine_kakuma_refugee_camp_irc_international_rescue_committee_aid_hunger_starvation_shortage_20090130_0286

zoriah_kenya_famine_kakuma_refugee_camp_irc_international_rescue_committee_aid_hunger_starvation_shortage_20090130_0286

I plan to use one of the visible thinking routines: See, Think, Wonder and then hopefully extend it as we progress through the unit to include “I used to think  . . .  until I saw”.

As I search through all these images on conflict, what surfaces for me is . . . the power that images hold, how they can stay with you, how they immediately evoke emotion and can create a physical response. This is important for me to remember when my natural inclination is words on a page for my students. We know that learning is deeeper and more relevant when students can create meaning so when I am planning my lessons I want to ask myself, “Could I be saying this more clearly or with more meaning by using an image?”

Let the journey begin . . .

Journey

https://flic.kr/p/6hCjaZ

 

Redesign with the Message in Mind

optical-illusions-slide-show-1-728What a great question to begin the new year asking, “How do we understand and practice the elements of good design as part of our communication and interactive practices?” Having not opened up my blog over the winter holidays, I am feeling thankful that I get to begin course three with fresh eyes, especially since we will be evaluating not only what we see but how we see it and what that means for how we communicate and interpret messages. I find myself already floating around the following ideas: does my blog represent me? how can I figure out if it does? and what can I do to make it visually align with my message?

In search on these answers I found a place to start with a closing thought from Dustin Wax’s “Design Better with CRAP”. It states, “Ultimately, the goal is for the work you put in to designing a document to disappear, to become invisible, leaving your reader or viewer with unfettered access to the points you are trying to convey — both directly in your text and, ever-so-subtly, in your choice of design elements. In this respect, it’s a thankless job, because only rarely will anyone comment on (or even notice) the quality of design — but they will notice, and act on, the message. And that’s what’s important, isn’t it?” Various parts of this message stuck with me. The central reasons why I have established my COETAIL blog are to communicate my ideas, ask questions that I am wondering, process my own learning, and collaborate with peers who are thinking around the same topics. I felt like my intentions were clear and yet I wondered if visually, structurally my blog was actually set up to represent its purpose. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 1.50.35 PM

Next, I came across Brandon Jones’ “exercise to test visual hierarchy” in “Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design” and decided I would try the exercise with my own blog.

Here is what I found out:

 

1. List the key information points that visitors are likely seeking and assign values (1-10) according to their importance to the average visitor.

  • Who is the author?    4 points
  • What does the author think and why does he/she think that?     9 points
  • What do others think about the author’s opinions?   6 points

2. Now, look at the actual design again and assign values (1-10) according to the actual visual importance as you see it in the live design.

  • Who is the author? 2 points 
  • What does the author think and why does he/she think that?     10 points
  • What do others think about the author’s opinions?   4 points

3. Consider: Does the expected importance match up with the actual designed importance?

By doing this exercise I realized the following strengths:

  • My central message is communicating my ideas and the structure of my blog highlights just that as the majority of the space on the pages is dedicated to my posts which represent my thoughts on a specific topic. 
  • The evidence I used to support my ideas (hyperlinks, images, videos, etc) were easy to see and stood out visually as support.
  • The linear organization of my archives, recent posts, recent comments, COETAIL courses, and specific categories were all easily accessible. 

I also was struck by the following changes that I wanted to make: 

  • My background was a somewhat dull color and while it may have relaxed my reader, it may also have lulled them to sleep. There were no colors or images that activated thinking. 
  • I had my widgets set so that it listed too many of previous posts or comments. The right hand of my toolbar appeared full of text in long lists that really weren’t that important. 
  • The header image that I had chosen was related to my blog title but again it was not active. It gave you the feeling of passive lapping up of information by a lake side. This was not the impression I wanted to give as I want my blog to feel like a dynamic space of active learning, movement, and change. 
  • All of my text was also so uniform. Visually it looked like everything was equally important. Upon some further exploring, I realized that my theme is somewhat limited in fonts and text features but I can change the color and font size at least.  

These shifts in how I thought of my blog space vs. how it might appear to others led me to a few wandering hours on the internet searching images, fumbling through themes, reorganizing widgets and for the present moment ending up with where you are now. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 3.37.14 PM

 So . . . give me some feedback visitors:

  1. What do you think when you are in this space?
  2. How do the current visual elements make you feel?
  3. What do you think my message is? How can I make it clearer? 
  4. What floats to the surface for you?

 

 

Course 2 Final Project: The Power of Online Communication

Photo Credit: MarcelaPalma via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: MarcelaPalma via Compfight cc

Our school is currently on the journey of integrating the inquiry approach as our teaching model so I have been reading Harvey and Daniels’ text Comprehension and Collaboration. In the first chapter Susan Heathfield is quoted as saying, “Fostering teamwork is creating a work culture that values collaboration. In a teamwork environment, people understand and believe that thinking, planning, decisions, and actions are better when done cooperatively. People recognize, and even assimilate, the belief that ‘none of us is as good as all of us.'” When I read this statement, I wondered if I would truly feel this way in regards to our Course 2 COETAIL final project. I was thankful for the timing in that I was both reading about collaboration and being asked to carry it out professionally. What better way to learn than actually trying it out!

I began with some emails to a few grade level teachers in the upper elementary range thinking that we would share the common thread of students with similar needs. Our group shaped up to be a grade 6 teacher in Canada (Erika), a grade 4 teacher in Korea (Colleen), and two grade 5 teachers, one in Dubai (Kara) and one in Jakarta (me). Being the practical classroom teachers that we are :), we gravitated to the second option of using the UbD planner to create a lesson that we could use to “teach students about 21st Century Literacy Ideas, Questions, and Issues.” And here is what we created . . .


Process: By using Google Docs we could contribute to the UbD planner when we each had time. Since we are located all over the world, the document would frequently change/improve/adapt while some of us were sleeping and there was always something new to edit, add to, reword, ask a question about, etc. We truly did use it as a live document. We each had a different colored font to represent our thoughts and wonderings and then once we were all in agreement we would change the font to black. Bit by bit sections became solidified and we collectively built our unit. I found the process of collaborating across the globe by using a google doc to be clear, organized, and convenient.

Content: Our group agreed to focus on the following Enduring Understanding: “The communication tools that exist today are powerful mediums to help spread positive change and global awareness.” By selecting this EU, we narrowed our focus in using an online communication tool to “spread change and awareness” but left it open-ended enough to meet the needs of each of our classrooms. I did not have the opportunity to implement this unit as we created it but now that it is complete, I can better visualize how it would be a natural fit with many of our units in grade 5. For instance, it could fit with our persuasive writing unit or our Perspective and Conflict inquiry unit or even our final Investigation and Reflection Grade 5 project.

Reflection: Having learned about collaboration for my students and having now experienced it on a broader and more global scale through COETAIL, I am more of a believer than ever. I now have a better understanding of how powerful a tool collaboration can be to deepen, expand, and fine tune learning for students and adults alike. Stephanie Harvey argues that “we cannot provide robust, engaged, and differentiated learning unless kids can break into a variety of groups and work together. . . we simply must train kids to team, give them plenty of structured practice, and then trust them to work as partners.” I can now see for myself how through collaboration we can create new and improved learning together.

https://www.clipartbest.com/hands-holding-world
https://www.clipartbest.com/hands-holding-world

The Power of Positive Connection

Photo Credit: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via Compfight cc

I think the Kid President may say it best in this video about how we can each make the world better . . . “the internet can be an awesome place!” While I am not denying that the issues of access, the criminality of the deep web, and the ease of cyberbullying exist, I have really enjoyed focusing on all that the internet makes possible this week.

As David Weinberger writes in Small Pieces Loosely Joined, “The Web gives us an opportunity to re-think many of our presuppositions about our nature and our world’s nature. Only by so doing can we begin to discern why the Web has excited us far beyond reasonable expectation . . . The conversation I believe we need to have is about what the Web is showing us about ourselves. What is true to our nature and what only looked that way because it was a response to a world that was, until now, the only one we had?” I find this to be an interesting question in regards to my students. I wonder are they going to develop and explore new dimensions of themselves because of the Web? My immediate answer is yes, of course, but then I go on to wonder then how can educators use the Web as a reflection pool tool of sorts? What I mean by that is how can we provide opportunities for our students to use the Web in such a way that it becomes a personal tool for reflection, positive identity formation, and self-growth?

One potential way to do this is connected to why we teach: to give students the opportunity, the skills, the confidence, etc to find and share their own voice. Some of the more powerful blogs and videos out there are moving because of the strength, the passion, the conviction of the person’s voice. Like this one:

I think of Martha Payne and how much she was able to accomplish through her blog and yet in the video of her and her father she is too shy to say a single word on stage. The Web allowed her to demonstrate her courage, passion, and intellect from the safety of her own home and to then share it with the world to create change. The tool of the Web made that possible on a global scale. Kid President’s got it right, “The internet can be an awesome place!”

There is no doubt, as stated in the chapter on Six Degrees of Separation, that “The global village we’ve grown used to inhabiting is a new reality for humans.” And what seems to logically follow as a result of humans developing in this new reality, is the realization that what humans are capable of, who we can become, is also a new reality.

So, how do we, as educators, empower students to use technology to make a positive impact in our world?

We listen to and inspire their voices.

Photo Credit: Ben Piven via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Ben Piven via Compfight cc

We provide the tools they need.

Photo Credit: Jhong Dizon | Photography via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Jhong Dizon | Photography via Compfight cc

We encourage them to share.

https://www.uwsuper.edu/cipt/shareyourvoice/index.cfm
https://www.uwsuper.edu/cipt/shareyourvoice/index.cfm

and then we “get out of the way” and

admire a new reality unfolding . . .

It Takes a Village

This week we were asked (in regards to digital citizenship): Whose job is it to teach these skills? When and where should we be having these conversations with students? Are we taking this seriously?

The answers to these questions seemed simple: it’s everyone’s job; these conversations should be ongoing, not restricted by time or place; some of us are taking it seriously and if we aren’t we need to.

It’s everyone’s job.

Photo Credit: freeparking :-| via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: freeparking 😐 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: cybrarian77 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: cybrarian77 via Compfight cc

The resource The Truth about Teen Sexting states, “It is the parent’s job to make sure to keep their child safe and the only way to do that is to monitor their phone calls, text messages, and social media sites.” While Dave Saltman comments, “teachers are helping students investigate the weighty issue of intellectual property rights in order to keep them within legal and ethical bounds” in Turning Digital Natives into Digital Citizens. Teachers, parents, peers, colleagues, anyone engaged in the digital world has a responsibility to model, teach, and share the skills needed to become healthy digital citizens.

Conversations should be ongoing.

Photo Credit: tonyhall via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: tonyhall via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Jose Maria Barrera via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Jose Maria Barrera via Compfight cc

In Passport

In Passport to Digital Citizenship Mike Ribble advocates for the nine elements of digital citizenship in order to build a common language. He comments, “The way we provide a common understanding among all groups will allow all of us to be included in the conversation about how we should be looking at technology within this rapidly changing society.” Janell Burley Hofmann provides a very thorough example of a written conversation, of sorts, with her son in Gregory’s Iphone Contract. She supports this idea that conversations should be ongoing when she writes, “You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning.” Our world, including our digital world, is constantly changing and as Janell reminds us we are therefore constantly learning. For these reasons, these conversations need to be ongoing.

Some of us are, if we’re not we need to.

Photo Credit: kid-josh via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: kid-josh via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: kid-josh via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: kid-josh via Compfight cc

It is immediately clear from What Teens are Doing Online that almost 3/4 of teenagers are mobile internet users giving them access whenever and wherever they want. This is different from when we were teens as Danah Boyd comments, “the kinds of trouble that we may have had when we were running around with our friends is now taking place in a very traceable very persistent environment. So we have to recognize that that changes the dynamics.” Michael Allen provides an example of just this in Teaching Respect and Responsibility – even to Digital Natives. He says he “has seen a couple of kids ‘crash and burn’ trying to manage their use of tech at home and school — one incident involved a girl who had sent 8,000 texts in one month’s time. When it came to his attention, Allen recounts what he said to the student: ‘If you take all these texts – 8,000 – that’s 30 seconds per text, 2.5 hours per day with a phone in front of your eyes. Think of what you are missing in the world, not to mention what it could mean for your learning experience.’” There is no doubt that we need to take this behavior seriously in children, teenagers, and even adults.

Photo Credit: Oberazzi via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Oberazzi via Compfight cc

So what floats to the top for me now is how do we go about this? How do we get everyone on board, create a common understanding and language (perhaps the nine elements are a start), and take it seriously enough that people aren’t taking advantage of their digital native status?

Danah Boyd may offer a place to start as she believes that these issues have deeper roots than simply the internet, “We need to create environments where young people don’t get validated for negative attention and where they don’t see relationship drama as part of normal adult life. The issues here are systemic. And it’s great that the Internet is forcing us to think about them, but the Internet is not the problem here. It’s just one tool in an ongoing battle for attention, validation, and status.”

This seems to have so many layers . . .

Ask the Remix Natives

 

Photo Credit: cali.org via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: cali.org via Compfight cc

I have to confess that I began this week’s content under the bias of the first myth (listed in Code of Best Practices in Fair use for Media Literacy Education): “FAIR USE IS TOO UNCLEAR AND COMPLICATED FOR ME; IT’S BETTER LEFT TO LAWYERS AND ADMINISTRATORS.” This didn’t mean that I didn’t value fair use nor that I wasn’t interested in educating myself more about the dos and dont’s, rather that it seemed too much to take on as an educator with a long to do list. However, through this course I found the following resources to be most helpful: Copyright Flowchart, Creative Commons Overview, and Copyright 101 for Educators. Each of these documents gave me enough bite-sized, applicable information to not only broaden my own understanding but to approach this topic with my students. My students, who I now know, are natives in the remix culture . . .

I found so much to agree with in our readings and videos. It reminded me right away of a brilliant clip I saw of Adam Levine recently on The Tonight Show. Enjoy!

I can’t imagine anyone denying the creativity shown here. What Adam and Jimmy are doing is exactly the remix. They are taking an established artist and combining that signature voice with a published song in their own way to create new art. Maybe I have a blind spot here, but why wouldn’t we want to encourage our students to do this?

The Code of Best Practices in Fair use for Media Literacy Education advocates the remix culture for our students. It states, “Students strengthen media literacy skills by creating messages and using such symbolic forms as language, images, sound, music, and digital media to express and share meaning. In learning to use video editing software and in creating remix videos, students learn how juxtaposition reshapes meaning. Students include excerpts from copyrighted material in their own creative work for many purposes, including for comment and criticism, for illustration, to stimulate public discussion, or in incidental or accidental ways (for example, when they make a video capturing a scene from everyday life where copyrighted music is playing).” Larry Lessing sums it up quite directly, “It is how your kids speak. It is how your kids think. It is what your kids are as they increasingly understand digital technologies and their relationships to themselves.” It seems pretty established that our students/kids today are remixers by nature. So the question that rises to the surface for me now is: as immigrants to the remix culture, what is our role when asking our remix native students to create?

1. We involve students in the conversation.

Photo Credit: Foxtongue via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Foxtongue via Compfight cc

The article entitled Dr. Mashup poses some excellent questions that could easily guide a discussion with students. “What, exactly, constitutes a valid, original work? What are the implications for how we assess and reward creativity? Can a college or university tap the same sources of innovative talent and energy as Goole or Flickr? What are the risks of permitting or opening up this activity?” These concepts need to be a dialogue in our classrooms.

2. We continue to teach students to think critically.

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

Sarah Jackson comments in PLAYBACK: The Freedom to Read, Research and Explore, “Students must develop skills to evaluate information from all types of sources in multiple formats, including the Internet. Relying solely on filters does not teach young citizens how to be savvy searchers or how to evaluate the accuracy of information.” Greg Toppo further supports this argument when he writes in Digital library aims to expand kids’ media literacy, “Just as schools have always pushed teens to read critically and pick apart authors’ arguments, she says, educators must now teach kids how to consume media critically and, ideally, to produce it.” The higher level thinking skills, like evaluation and creation, that we already incorporate into our lessons directly applies here as well.

3. We look to the kids as the experts in order to reshape our own concept of creativity.  

Photo Credit: schaaflicht via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: schaaflicht via Compfight cc

We, as educators, must not only acknowledge the remix culture of our students but encourage it and learn from it! Seth Godin speaks to this point so eloquently: “We are going to see more people do art in more ways than ever before . . . We’re broadening the definition of art . . . what makes it art is that it’s a gift . . . that’s it’s new, original to you, that it’s real . . . and it has to make a change in the person you are presenting your work to . . . and that means that just about anyone has the opportunity, if they want to, to stand up and do art.”

These three steps are by no means the end all be all. They are simply words from thinkers on this topic reconfigured, by me, into a new product. My first official step in joining the remix.