5+ Reasons to Publish Student Work
I often receive questions from teachers and administrators about all facets of Project Based Learning process, but especially about my insistence they allow (encourage) students to publish their work online. Just a couple days ago, I received another:
“Ginger, why would I want to have my kids’ work published online? What if people see it? People who aren’t parents or other teachers? What’s the benefit? It just seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Isn’t posting it in the hallway enough?”
Thank you, friend! Thank you for asking the question that so many are hesitant to ask. I have pulled together a few beginning thoughts about why we want to publish below, as well as where we might start.
Publishing for immediate and varied feedback
A limited classroom audience limits feedback and, ultimately, learning. When we have an entire world full of experts in all things and we have technology to connect with them, why limit our learning to a room, a desk, or a textbook? Students of all ages can publish their work on a classroom or personal blog, an online portfolio, posting in an appropriate forum, or anywhere an authentic and meaningful audience may be gathered.
Publishing student work provides higher stakes for the work; students know others beyond just their teacher will see the work. Also, publishing the work to a broader audience helps the learning to be bigger than just the four walls of our classrooms. Suddenly, students are receiving feedback from across the world and realize their work has farther-reaching impact than what they might first believe.
When students publish online, they begin to realize what makes a presentation more effective. As they learn to build effective presentations, educators support the ability of students to be good readers, writers, speakers, and listeners. Students learn that successful presentations include strong design elements that are based on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards of technology (http://www.iste.org/standards). These ISTE standards help students and teachers learn to incorporate effective visual and audio components, as well as learning how and why to share presentations online within a selected learning network both synchronously and asynchronously.
Content creators, not simply content consumers
Students are learning that they can be creators of content, of art, of meaningful things that live online. They are learning that using the internet can be more meaningful than simply posting party pictures, funny cats, and mean comments about others.
Positive digital citizenship
When a well-designed project has become personal to students, they learn how important positive comments are and are less likely to engage in sniper-commenting on others’ work. In becoming creators of online content, students are developing a positive online resume and good digital citizenship habits.
Finally, the PBL work that is shared online is a great public relations opportunity for the community to engage with schools and see what great things are happening with, by, and for kids. The savvy school district will partner with the classroom teachers to learn to balance privacy and publicity, which in turn, role models smart marketing and communication with students and families.
In a modern learning environment, publishing student work is not only allowed, but supported and promoted.
Are you ready to get publishing, but aren’t sure where to post?
If there are others in your school who are currently blogging, it’s a great idea to start with them. They’ll usually be happy to help you navigate your school district policy. If no one is blogging yet, your tech support people will usually jump for joy and dig in to really help you too.
But maybe you’re a lone wolf in your district and need to go it alone. Here are some ideas for where to start, but be sure to review your district policies and inform your admin what you’re doing and why. No administrator likes to be surprised by parent questions about things happening in their schools they were unaware of!
If you’re not yet a Google Apps for Ed (GAFE) school, some other great choices are:
There are others that are great too, but these seem to be well-used in many schools with kids of all ages. Yes, even Kinders can blog.
Nervous about letting your kids blog? Have you thought about walking them into the blogging process with paper blogs first? (this is my favorite beginner-blogging link to share from my friend Karen McMillan).
Maybe you can create a Facebook page or group where parents are invited and you publish kids’ work there. Maybe it’s a Twitter account?
Maybe it’s a classroom website or wiki that gets shared to your school/district webpage to at least get you started.
There are many ways to leverage the great learning that goes along with publishing student work. Let me know if you have questions or if you have a great idea or resource to help others get started! Either way, let’s just get going!