Media Maker

The premise of the course is simple: Teach yourself something, and by extension, me and your peers as well.

There’s an ulterior teaching going on as well. The course, called “Media Maker,” will have students studying writing created for the web, and then turning that study into their own written content: blogs, web pages, podcasts, wikis, video podcasts.

Early in the course, students establish a “jumping off point” based on personal interest. They’ll use social bookmarking sites, such as Diigo or Delicious (I’m also, from quick first impressions, becoming a fan of Docentedu), to create lists of web-based content, share those with a learning community, and then use it as a reading list for their semesters.

The weekly schedule is simple. There are five things we’ll do each week. I’m going to tell the students what each of the five days are, and then through some open discussion, we’ll decide what will happen on each day.

One day will be a reading workshop from a shared reading list of web-based content that I provide. This will allow me to ensure that everyone accesses reading that is appropriate to the standards and grade-level, give us a share point for discussion, examine a piece of writing that hits on particular writing skills. These discussion will either happen in class either verbally or in our LMS as synchronous and asynchronous discussion. I’m working on a list that will include text-based readings, as well as non-text based readings such as, for example, audio podcasts, Serial season 1 will be required listening.

Another two days will allow students to read from their own lists, and compose weekly blog posts on their reading.  

Another day will be for students to read each other’s blogs, comment on content and writing.

Another day will be a whole group sharing of blogs, podcasts, and technology tools. I’d like this day to be the last in the cycle, providing a class meeting before we start a new cycle of readings, writings and sharing.

Through all of this, students need to meet regularly with me to review work, set goals, and returning to what I said above, showing me what they’re learning about their topics.  

I see three or four major assessment pieces in the semester long class. An audio podcast, something modeled on This I Believe, a web page designed to convey information, a video podcast of a debate or argument, and then some multimedia project using text, audio and video to convey something about the passion and learning students engaged in during the semester.

Much of this course owes credit to David Carr, former teacher and journalist for the New York Times and the course he taught before his death, “Press Play,” and the writing of Troy Hicks, digital writing guru. There are many others who have been shaping my thinking on this course over the past several years.

I’m coming to this class with complete freedom: No test to teach to. I’m coming with the idea that the technology isn’t an end–we’re not learning to word process–instead, the technology is part of the process for sharing thinking.  It’s not a unit on blogging, or a unit where we’re going to blog for accountability. Instead, the technology goes hand-in-hand with learning.

A quick survey of the web suggests that there are few others engaging in similar work at the high school level. If you’re out there doing it, please feel free to get in touch.