As we think about technology and digital practices in our lives and classrooms, it can often get confusing. We have many theories and practices that intersect and try to map out a landscape that is constantly changing.
To try and make this a bit simpler, I think about a continuum of three stages that move learners from consumers to producers of digital content. More to the point, we need to move learners from content consumers to content curators to content creators.
Content in this piece is defined as the text, document, or publication that is digital or online.
Consume. This involves learners primarily reading online content and materials. This may take the form of reading blogs, wikis, and social networks for personal and academic pursuits. Learners should read across multiple modes of information that include text, images, video, audio, and other graphical representations. These graphical representations may include charts, graphs, infographics, and maps. The important thing to remember is that learners need to be able to synthesize across these varied modes and formats.
In some of my earlier research and writing, I identified this as online reading comprehension.
Curate. This involves learners curating online content as they search and sift through online texts. Curation is defined as pulling together, sifting through, and selecting specific content for presentation to others. This may take the form of learners reading and archiving web pages before sharing or commenting on this content. In this process, learners are deciding whether these materials are credible or relevant to the purpose of their inquiry. This process occurs on two levels as learners are gradually learning more about a topic as they read more content; they are also modifying their evaluations of new content as they learn more. Over time, they become more of an expert on the topic and the process involved as they build their own credibility on a subject.
In some of my earlier research and writing, I saw part of this as existing in online reading comprehension and online collaborative inquiry. This would focus on the skills of critical evaluation and synthesis. But, I think it is a practice that is important and needs to be highlighted a bit more.
Create. This involves having learners construct or create digital content. There are many parallels between online content construction and the writing process as learners plan, generate, organize, compose, and revise digital work products. This may take the form of learners editing a wiki, building a website, or producing a stop-motion video for the class YouTube channel. In this process, learners are encoding and decoding meaning by constructing, redesigning, and reinventing texts. learners write, compose, and create through play and expression with digital texts and tools.
In some of my earlier research and writing, I identified this as online content construction.
Make it happen
These stages do not have to operate in a sequence, nor should they be mutually exclusive.
The instructional model is guided by aspects of Cognitive Apprenticeship and suggests that we need to start this process with educators first and learn along with our students. Students could and should move across each of these stages depending on the purpose of their work.