Our Queens E-Learning AQ class was recently challenged to comment on a blog posting about the importance of documenting learning. The mind-map / infographic above does an excellent job on selling the concept to any educator.
My response and thoughts on this article is that — yes — documenting student learning has so many benefits that its hard to do anything other than agree with it. Beyond agreeing with it, we should think about how we can implement it into our activities, units, courses etc.
Just like blogging – documenting student work is a meta-cognitive activity that benefits students. They get to see their work, not just on their desk, but on their smartphone. They can think about their work and reflect on what they did well or what could have been done a little better. If shared online, students get to think about their work when others comment on it – perhaps complimenting them, asking how they did something or perhaps giving constructive criticism.
Documenting student work benefits teachers as well. It lets teachers see their students work – which is (in many cases) a reflection of their own teaching and expectations.
Another benefit of documenting student work that it demands this question: How can this work be improved upon? A teacher might look at a particular work and ask – if I teach this next semester, how could I challenge my students to create an even better version of this? A teacher might create a peer-editing checklist, or add more requirements to challenge students to refine their work even further.
Many of the units that I teach have at least one major task or culminating activity. I like to occasionally take one example a student’s good work — and occasionally ask a student if I can use their work as an “exemplar” for future students. Future students will look at this work and some of the more motivated students might say to themselves – “I can do better than this!”… and the bar can continually be raised. One such exemplar was this “Multi-Page Report” [view] that one of my students completed in my BTT Class. Of course, she gave me permission to use it as an exemplar, and I annonymized to respect her anonymity.
STUDENT PORTFOLIOS: Basically, in my business computer classes – I have students create a portfolio using Google Sites. Its a simple website technology that has a very quick learning curve and it (much like blogger or wordpress) does not require HTML coding as it provides a simple wysiwyg editor.
Much like the “multi-page report” exemplar I mentioned in the previous paragraph, a teacher has many benefits from keeping student work. It is evidence of learning, it can be an exemplar, it can be looked at and questioned — is it worth even doing? How can it be improved? How can it be more engaging? Can differentiated instruction be applied? Can technology be integrated more/less? Could the assessment (for, as , of) be improved? What feedback would my peers give me? Parents?
This article challenged me to appreciate the pedagogical benefits as well as the heutagogical (self directed learning) opportunities documenting provides to both the student and the teacher. Its an easy way to increase the learning that takes place in both our physical and online classrooms. I had been using it already to a limited extent — but why not try to add more documentation to all my activities/units /courses?