Digital media asks all instructors, in all disciplines, what the core goals are for their instruction. If we’re deploying technology well, it’s in the service of those goals. I would argue that’s why we can use Twitter for character development, and as my friend Zac Chase mentioned, Zeega for elaboration.
So what’s the goal of writing instruction? This is a critical question for those of us in educational technology, and heck, everyone who is a writer for a digital audience. I was talking to a friend of mine who publishes textbooks in writing instruction, and she said there’s a distinct tension in the pedagogy at the moment:
Old way: writing to craft a 5-paragraph essay
New way: writing to craft an original idea
Got it. OK then.
But I’ll actually take it a step further. In thinking about a new Challenge for P2PU: Writing for the Web, and I’d say the goal of web writing is to craft a relevant idea (an idea naturally being an original thing)–an idea that cuts to the heart of an issue.
This new challenge has been influenced by the thinking of Mitch Resnick at the Lifelong Kindergarten Lab at MIT. I took his class on Technologies for Creative Play last semester, and the following takeaways from his course really stuck (loosely paraphrased):
- learning needs to be personally meaningful to the learner
- make learning experiences to accommodate lots of learning styles
- pedagogy should prompt learners construct instincts to guide them in the future across technologies and across formats
Resnick outlines his theory of learning as a spiral–learners imagine what they might make through brainstorming, tinker with the idea, and then reflect and imagine what else they might make or do.
I’d been thinking about the learning spiral as I worked with rockstar blogger Audrey Watters on this challenge. Instead of focusing on the consumption of content, or individual skills, this experience prompts learners to reflect upon what style of writing on the web works for them.
Each task prompts an authentic web writing experience–posting blog posts, engaging other writers, revising ideas in a digital environment. Then learners reflect on why they made the decisions they did–so reflection is the tether that encourages the imagination and curiosity to move to the next task.
Check it out: the new Peer 2 Peer University Challenge: Writing for the Web is open for sign up now.