Be a ‘Content Creator’ – No keyboards required!

Yesterday I began to prep some of my classes for next week’s Digital Learning Day, by getting them to think about content.

Where does all the content we read and watch come from?

As I ramp up my 5th grade class from finding and reproducing knowledge, to putting together their own ideas, I want them to explore some things that seldom get talked about:

  • What does publishing mean today? How many tools could they find right now, albeit hidden under the hood of their computers?
  • Why is important to share their ideas using these tools?
  • How could their ideas be assembled in a way that makes them valuable to someone else?

I stress this last point because of two recent occurrences.

The first with a 4th grade class l taught on Patents and Copyright to 4th graders in 2013 –in relation to how there are more important places to do ‘research’ at, than on Google. Given an opportunity for them to research patents on the USPTO website, they could see how some of the most gee-wiz tools out there all began with (and still look like) a doodle on the back of a napkin. I’ve seen students come up with some amazing ideas and wondered why we don’t channel these!

The second was when I stumbled on a story in Fast Company magazine, on a weird pair of shoes fitted with GPS technology. It struck a chord because of an idea my robotics team came up with 16 months earlier. Working on their project for the FLL competition, (the challenge was called ‘Senior Solutions’) they thought of solving the problem for a visually impaired elderly person, using a pair of shoes embedded with sensors. The shoes detect obstacles, and communicate with the person via the soles of the feet.

We seem to never have platforms for kids to develop these ideas and publish them, do we? After all, the unspoken message is that they have to get to college first, to be worthy of having their ideas published in some journal.

Back to my plans for Digital Learning Day. I’m giving 1st graders a chance to see what it means to pick up a microphone and record their thoughts. Microphones have become less complicated to use now, and becoming a content creator can be as simple as telling your story, or weighing in on a topic at the click of a button.

I’m using Audacity, and headsets with microphones for this. It’s a work in progress, so…stay tuned!

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