This post was originally published HERE
The culture of sharing in education has been supported by the connected educator movement for the past ten or so years. Ideas have spread more quickly and beyond more borders than ever before because of blogs, Twitter chats, and various of other resources that allowed for sharing to become a habit for many.
Despite connected learning and a web of connected educators spreading across the globe, 60-70% of teachers in our classrooms haven't embraced this fundamental mode of peer collaboration. This group of teachers continues to grow and work hard for students each day, but aren’t amplified and supported by the professional learning networks that technology allows. This reality showcases the limitations of building a true culture of sharing across the globe between most teachers in most schools. This limitation calls for new solution making about sharing, collaborating, and growing as a learning ecosystem.
Companies like Participate Learning are making inroads on how to bolster this culture of sharing in teachers and leaders by building ways to archive Twitter chats and allowing ways for educators to create collaborative collections that multiple teachers can contribute to, comment on, and rate simultaneously. This type of platform provides fuel to the system that truly wants to collaborate, but is often impeded by the systems of compliance surrounding schools. Deep collaboration is also inhibited by the pull of the urgent versus the significant. Even with these barriers, the website at Participate.com can truly unlock the current stranglehold on resources that keep them locked behind classroom doors and schoolhouse walls. Participate Learning’s work can grow the number of collected classrooms and release trapped wisdom into the system to a greater level, but what if there was a different way to look at building a culture of sharing in learning space.
Boosting student voice in education
The echoes of the importance of student voice can be heard at every education conference in the country. Speakers call upon fellow educators to lean into using student voice to guide their classroom decisions, and presenters call for students to be in the center of the learning and for students to dictate how they use their time to learn. These calls for an end to the industrial model of learning also fill the literature of education. Ironically, this push for student voice ends when we begin to discuss the right way to gather and curate resources for learning. In this part of the learning process, student voice is often muted. It takes a back seat as the teachers and leaders in the learning space gather the “right” resources to impart on the students.
What if this could change? What if students were in the center of this culture of sharing? What if we asked students to gather the best resources on a topic based on what worked for them? What if students dug through collections of resources to rate, comment, and cull? This effort to democratize the access to quality resources would further shift the locus of control to the learner. What if we called upon each student in the country to share the five resources that allowed them to shine on each of their summative assessments and grasp the essential questions of the unit at a deeper level. This collection of resources (student-generated, student curated) would balloon the available quality resources in our classrooms.
At a time when our standards across the country are closer than ever, can you imagine the volume of quality, useable resources that our kids could make accessible to their peers around the world? Participate Learning and others are ready for this type of democratic information revolution led by our students. Just as we are asking our professionals to take control of their own professional learning. Maybe it is time for us to call upon all students to not only support their own learning, but to support the learning of others through the voracious sharing of the resources that truly made a difference to their achievement.
Sharing is a habit. Actually, it may be the premier habit of a democratic society, and a habit that needs to be deeply woven into the learning spaces that we promote. I remain hopeful that the culture of sharing among educators will grow, but I’m even more excited about the potential that unleashing a culture of sharing in students could have on learning as it would allow all students to have access to the best resources, tools, and ideas and promote deeper learning in all classrooms. .