Creating visibility around student learning can redefine a learner’s understanding of the world.
When facilitating in classes, I often open with the question, ‘Do you know how many people in the world have access to the Internet?’ There are a myriad of guesses from the students. Very few get anywhere near the 3.1 billion internet users suggested by websites such as Internet Livestats. By the time this blog post is published, I’ve no doubt that number will be closer to 3.2 billion and still climbing. Of course, these are estimates, but the realisation that the potential audience for a student’s learning could number in the billions is a very exciting place to start with a classroom full of learners. Be under no illusion, I’m very careful when I use the term ‘potential audience’, because, without driving traffic to any online space where learning is shared, it is as redundant as the marked work in an exercise book from years ago that currently resides in the bottom of a box in the attic.
But, it begs the question, why isn’t everyone sharing his or her work online? For some, it’s simply a lack of knowledge. If you cannot identify a vehicle within which to share, then you cannot begin sharing. For others, it’s fear. Students and teachers alike are often afraid of criticism or being judged by others. This is something we develop as we get older; my two-year-old son certainly isn’t fussed by what others think of his finger painting! It would be easy to say to those, ‘Get over it’, but it’s not that simple.
It’s a mindset shift. It’s an understanding that sharing learning online needn’t be in the form of a portfolio or record of achievement. It could echo the journey that millions of students take every day, the visual growth of knowledge and progress in an online forum. And lastly, for many, it’s time! Teachers in New Zealand are no different from many others around the world: overworked, exhausted, and constantly being bashed by the media.