For More Than a Grade

This post is cross-posted at the Smart Blog on Education.

My thoughts around this post started with this retweet:

Consumption vs. Contribution RT @baldy7: Digital Immigrants Unite! lovely piece by @plugusin. #edchat

— Kyle Pace (@kylepace) January 20, 2013

While that entire post from Bill was great (all of Bill’s posts are and if you don’t follow his blog you should), it was probably this bit towards the end that led me to add my two cents at the beginning of that retweet:

It’s OUR job to help kids to realize how to leverage technology for something more than keeping themselves entertained.

Yes of course I want students (including my own two children) to realize technology’s potential for their lives beyond the entertainment value. For some time now I have said that students are much better at consuming via technology than creating via technology. We want the output to equal or exceed the input yes? But is it enough to have our students creating with technology just for a grade? Is that where we want their creativity to stop? A “one and done” style project that they never give a second glance to again?

Our students have the affordances to not only create, but also to contribute. Is it enough for students to create a presentation or to post to a blog or produce a video? What about having students make things (technology related or not) that contribute to the betterment of another human being? To their fellow students, or their community, or even the world? It’s happened before. Not that it’s always purposeful, but just think how things might not have changed had Martha not published her writing for a global audience. Or if a filmmaker named Nirvan hadn’t decided to introduce the world to Caine.

Not only does this make for a more challenging learning experience for our students, but also makes for a more challenging teaching experience for us teachers too. It means we have to look beyond having students make something for a grade. We have to look beyond the test. We have to change how we teach. Helping students become positive contributors, through whatever the medium, can give our students (and teachers) a much richer learning experience and much richer life experiences (in my opinion). Lifelong experiences that will carry into future grade levels, schools, communities, relationships, workplaces, etc.

While the following quote has been used many times in education circles, I feel it an appropriate reminder to all of us:

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ~Mahatma Ghandi

There are so many places in our world we want to see change. Educators have the power to properly equip those that can. Shouldn’t we start with the people who will be taking us into the future?

2 thoughts on “For More Than a Grade”

  1. Why just tech? Aren’t you implying that Tech somehow can (maybe) function outside the system, while just making stuff in other areas of study can’t? Why are we grading any of it? Why aren’t we making education self directing for all students in all areas?

  2. Kyle. Thank you so much for writing this. I had my students blog for the first time this year. They blogged on an open platform “WordPress” for the entire world. One blog post in particular really blew me away. This young lady wrote about losing her friend to cancer it was amazing, but even more so what a comment she received from a woman online she didn’t even know and what a difference my student’s post made in HER life- you can read it here for yourself:

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