Which of the following two assignments is more likely to engage high school students and inspire them to learn something?
1. Write a paper about contemporary US war veterans.
2. Create a multimedia resource of news feeds, archival video, student interviews with veterans, document how you accomplished it, and share your findings with the world.
Buffy J. Hamilton, “The Unquiet Librarian,” teamed with classroom teacher Susan Lester at Creekside High in Canton, Georgia, and betting on the second alternative, they created “the veteran’s issues research project.” Each student started by using the free Netvibes feed aggregator to create a personal learning environment.
Scaffolded by video tutorials, students created online research dashboards, found, critically examined, and installed widgets that feed continuing streams of material. Students who became interested in the side issue of bionic limb replacement branched out their own dashboard. Instead of a paper, students created a Veterans’ Issues Project Portal. Soon, the students made their own videos, demonstrating exactly how they were using online tools to search, sift, and reframe information streams relevant to their subject. They not only demonstrated how to use the real-time web as a tool for inquiry, they showed others how to do the same.
Try it yourself! Here are resources to support a collaborative inquiry project like the one Hamilton and Lester facilitated with Creekside students. Here are Hamilton’s blog posts and “research pathfinders” for their Media 21 project.
I recently made a ten minute video interview with Hamilton and asked her to share her insights.
I found her in the first place by looking for people who seemed to know what they were tweeting about in regard to educational technology, then looking at who they paid attention to.
I added Hamilton to my personal learning network and The Unquiet Librarian began contributing to my knowledge and my Diigo bookmarks of real-life, on-the-front-lines educators who use digital media and networks as part of effective learning. When I saw that her students were creating dashboards instead of just writing papers, I made contact. Here is what she has to say:
Image Credit: theunquietlibrary http://www.flickr.com/photos/theunquietlibrary/4015625673/in/set-72157622595747978/