The #edublogsclub prompt this week is to reflect on a challenge in education.
In a recent post on personal identity, George Couros made the following comment:
We can no longer say we are preparing students for “the real world”, when what mean is ”the real world” that we grew up in, not recognizing current needs of today.
For Couros students should leave high school with:
- A PLN
- A digital portfolio
- An About.me page
This left me thinking about the challenge of digital identify in school. For many this debate quickly deteriorates into a battle between supposed traditional literacy and the more modern digital literacies. In this context, students having a blog and a member of a Facebook group is seen as a win. This problem is not discussed enough, especially what we mean by ‘real world’ and what we even mean by digital literacies? This includes where students set up their presence and the templated identities that are permitted in such spaces as Twitter and Facebook. Here then is my thinking on Couros’ leaving list.
I wonder what it means to leave school with a PLN? Is it being in a Facebook group with hundreds of other people? Is it being on Twitter? Or is a PLN an attitude? A way of being? A verb? Surely, there is no point having a network if you do not maintain it. Maybe schools should provide a safe space in which students can develop these skills? Personally, I was lucky enough to be invited into a private forum by my friends when I was younger and was able to learn so much in this environment. Although I have read a lot about the potential Mastadon, I am unsure about the reality of managing such a space in school. Maybe the answer is developing a school school wide hashtag. My solution is to use a social media styled theme within WordPress. This then provides the possibility for students to have a level of ownership, control and support.
Is it enough to leave school with a portfolio that has very little portability? A portfolio dependent on someone else’s space and upkeep? Although applications like Google Sites, Adobe Spark Page, Wix, Kidsblogs etc make it easy to create a site, this does not always mean that they are the best option. Students are often committed to platforms with limited means of moving. Audrey Watters talks about having a domain of one’s own, a space which you have some sort of control and influence. While Ian O’Byrne wonders about the prospect of this in schools. Whatever the specifics, we need to look past just giving students a space and think more ethically about the consequences of that space. It is for this reason that I think Edublogs is a positive platform in that it provides the balance between control and portability. Although something less complex like Jekyl maybe the ideal as the content can be easily adapted for any platform, WordPress is at least a start.
I find it interesting when people list a product over the process. Join Twitter vs. becoming a connected educator. Create an About.Me page vs have a splash page, that space that links to all your other presences on the web. I created an About.me page years ago, feeling that was what I needed, but I have come to feel that I would prefer people start at my blog and go from there. I particularly like the way that Robert Schuetz maps out his identity on his blog. This then leaves me wondering why students cannot have aE page attached to their portfolio that acts as a ‘about.me’ page? If not, create a space somewhere else, just do it somewhere that you have control over. If students have their own domains, maybe they could create an ‘about’ sub-domain and install a one-page HTML site there?
So those are my thoughts and I haven’t even touched on the IndieWeb or the potential of Tom Woodward’s API driven portfolio or the possibility that not everyone can share themselves online. I think that students should leave school with a sense of ownership over their (online) learning, the skills needed to connect and engage within networks, as well as an appreciation of the way the web works. What about you? What should students leave with? What real world are you creating? As always, comments welcome.
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