Monday, September 19, 2011

To Creative Infinity... and Beyond!

“You won’t know you’re a good swimmer unless you get in the water.” Vicki Davis uses this analogy to describe students interacting with tools on the Net. As she mentions in her latest post Kids don’t just automatically “know” how to use the web and everything it offers because they are in the generation of digital natives. Sure, they have a great advantage because they live in a world where technology is in more households in America than it ever has been before. But “there is a whole world of experience out there that students will not get just on Facebook and in email,” Davis says. Some don’t even have these things at home, and are only about to use technology’s tools in school. Because of this, students need access to collaborative technology so that they can have the chance to interact with peers, with the public, to share their ideas through blogs, wikis, and websites so that they are ready to get out and interact with the world around

them! Sharing can be such a great way for students to learn, and become more confident about the knowledge they have gained.

Davis talks about schools extending the technology use for students beyond just being in the classroom. Some schools delete students’ progress and “wipe” the digital slates every year, barring the chances for students to keep their digital creations. Davis uses dropbox in her classes so that students can take anything they create, whether it is a blog, wiki, video, webpage, or some other form of digital media, with them. Davis wants her students to extend their learning beyond the classroom, and take their creations with them as they graduate from her class. What is the good of creating something a student can only use and share in school?

For students who are just starting to form identities, understand themselves and those around them, and find their places in the world, the opportunities to create without fear, and to understand the rules of creative technology in today’s world, is extremely important. I know that lots of students today use programs and websites online to create and express their ideas, opinions, and to experiment with different forms of media that they would not normally be exposed to. And that is just amazing. Helping students to understand that they can have a “place” on the Net, to be entirely their own, created and controlled by themselves alone, is a pretty powerful feeling. I’d like to do what Davis is doing, encouraging her students to create, yet understand privacy, editing, and performing at their very best. How can someone learn if they aren’t given the chance to do so in their own, original way? What kinds of tools could be introduced to students to really help them start making something “their own” and sharing it with others?

One great way for anyone to share creative content, while still maintaining authorship and credit, is with a sharing website such as Creative Commons. Here, creators (from individual creators to large companies) can submit their work and select different licenses to keep copyrights, but also allow certain uses of their creations, depending on what they choose. They can also donate work to be included in the public domain. There are a lot of different institutions that use Creative Commons, including Google, Flickr, MIT's OpenCourseWare, Public Library of Science, and Wikipedia. What do you think about students looking to Creative Commons licensed work in their projects in school? How could knowing about this type of licensing motivate students to pursue their digital creations into the future?

Really, I think students should be able to feel like they are always moving toward creative the classroom and beyond!

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