Encouraging Pre-Service Educators to Share Work Publicly Online

In her recent review of my eBook, “Playing with Media, simple ideas for powerful sharing,” Barbara Brown wrote the following paragraph which inspired me to literally jump for joy. Barbara wrote:

After reading the book and paying close attention to the ideas about media creation and media sharing, I decided to move some of the course assignments for the graduate students to public spaces instead of keeping everything contained and password protected in the course learning management environment as I have previously done for courses.  Students will post public blogs during the course and will share media creations through Posterous, one of the new (to me) technology tools discussed in the book.  I’m also considering using Posterous for a 12 week photo build with students.  Each week two students will add a photo with caption to the Posterous site depicting one or two ideas they would like to share with classmates regarding the weekly assigned readings.  For example, the ideas can include key concepts, new questions that arose from the readings, connections to professional practice and research or memorable quotes. This will help build a synthesis of the major themes and concepts highlighted in the course.    One of the benefits in using Posterous is that students can directly contribute to the blog by sending an email message with the attached media.  Posterous automatically embeds and formats the media on the site using the accompanying text provided in the body of the email message.

I am  SO THRILLED to learn Barbara is making this change in some of her course assignments for her graduate students! The tendency today in most college and university courses is to “lock up” all student work behind a password-protected learning management system like Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, or other system. Certainly there are good reasons to password protect confidential information in a course and course activities like quizzes and tests, but EVERYTHING we create and share in our courses today should NOT be “locked up” in a LMS. As I’ve heard others comment during educational conference sessions, “If Facebook was like learning management systems we’d have to delete all our ‘friends’ every fifteen weeks!” That’s no way to build a digital footprint online, and certainly not a “best practice” for pre-service and in-service teacher educators designing digital learning experiences which will have lasting value for students. Way to go Barbara for embracing public, online idea and media sharing for some of your student assignments!

Dr. Cyndi Danner-Kuhn at Kansas State University is another pre-service educator who is regularly encouraging her students to share their ideas and work publicly online. All of Cyndi’s pre-service teachers register a personal domain and setup a WordPress blog instead of purchasing a textbook for her class. A large number of her mandatory class assignments require students to post reflections to their blogs. This is similar to the reflection assignments I’ve used in my “Technology 4 Teachers” courses I’ve taught in the past at the University of Central Oklahoma. For a bit more and a story about how  students publicly sharing their reflections can lead to transformative digital learning interactions (those not possible without the technology tools) see my August 2012 post for iThemes Education, “Why WordPress: The Power of Trackbacks & Pingbacks.”

What are you doing to encourage students in your courses to personally experience the positive potentials of public, online idea sharing? I’m an advocate for giving students lots of CHOICES, and this also extends to online publishing. I’ve had several students in the past balk at this idea and state “There’s no way I’m going to post anything online for others to see.” In those cases, I give students an option to privately submit their assignments on our LMS, but I also explain they can use an alias and post anonymously rather than using their real name. My hope is that students are going to see so many examples of the POSITIVE power of public professional sharing by educators as well students, during the course of the semester, that they’ll change their minds about the value of open sharing and “taking credit” for work as well as websites they’ve created.

I’d love to start or participate in an Internet meme in which educators share stories about the positive power of open sharing. Does anyone know of a hashtag already in use for this? I’m thinking of something more specific than #eduwin. Alan Levine‘s 2009 “Amazing Stories of Openness” and 2010 “Amazing Stories of Sharing” are the best projects with this spirit that I’ve seen to date. I am sure “Connected Educators Month” last month led to some good discussions about how to further encourage more teachers to both understand and embrace open sharing and collaboration. If you know of a related project or initiative encouraging educators to share personal, positive stories about online sharing please let me know via Twitter or in a comment. 🙂

Sharing birthday cake.

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