What kind of thinking is involved when you Make? #teachtheweb

What kind of thinking is involved when you Make? #teachtheweb

TL;DR version: While "making" online content, I engaged in the following activities: Planning, Generating, Organizing, Composing, and Revising.

For the first week of “class” in the Mozilla Teach the Web MOOC we were asked to first of all introduce ourselves by creating a “webby” intro using Popcorn, Thimble, or X-Ray Goggles. I chose Popcorn since I’ve never had the opportunity to play with it before. My Popcorn-constructed intro for Week One is available below.


In reflecting on this process, I was also asked to respond to the following prompt: What kind of thinking is involved when you Make?

I’ve written about this process several times here on this blog, and in book chapters, and for conference presentations. Usually I refer to this as Online Content Construction as I see it as being intertwined with other literacy skills and the CCSS.  Much of this understanding is framed by writing research, and (for me) has a connection to the “real-world” classroom. In this reflective piece I’ll discuss my thinking process while Making online content. I believe these knowledge, skills, and dispositions also should be exhibited by students as they construct online content.

When I create, construct, or make content, I see many elements coming into play. Initially I considered the overall purpose, and intended audience of the ultimate work product. The purpose of the piece was to introduce myself to the learning community…and the audience is a collection of global educators that (I believe) are all into working & playing with digital tools and content. As a result I chose to make mine a little more personal and really express myself.

After identifying the initial purpose and audience of the work product, I engaged in each of the following five skills as I constructed, reviewed, and revised my work product. I included many elements from my own work and research in this description in an attempt to provide a research-tested, thoughtful examination of the work involved as students construct online content. This is motivated by my early years teaching and having administrators think that the kids were just “playing” on the computer.

  • Planning – Defined as a student creating internal and external representations of the content they intend to build and ensuring that it is logically appropriate for the task (Flower & Hayes, 1981). This initial work was relatively easy as I was provided a template of a Popcorn movie that I could remix and make my own. I did pull various photos, videos, and music from online spaces and saved them on my desktop as I prepared to Make.
  • Generating – Defined as the process in which a student creates or translates initial elements of the digital product based on their memory and organizers (Hayes & Flower, 1986; Collins & Gentner, 1980). Once I understood how to work with the Popcorn maker, I started adding, deleting, and remixing the content in the template. This took some time as I initially tried to figure out exactly what I wanted to “say” with the work product.
  • Organizing – Defined as the process in which a student creates or manipulates the hierarchical or relational structure of their work product (Flower & Hayes, 1981). During this stage I reordered, added, removed, and (re)positioned content in the piece until it matched the plan I my head that I had for what I wanted to “say” in my piece. I also attended to aesthetic decisions about the presentation and ordering of elements of the content (Flower, Schriver, Carey, Haas, & Hayes, 1989).
  • Composing – Defined as the process in which a student constructs the online content while weaving elements from the previous three phases into a cohesive composition that is representative of the goals of the inquiry process. Once I organized my content and placed it all in the timeline I reordered the various elements of multimodal content in order to tell a “story.” I did not intend for the work product to basically tell a story about the last couple years of my life…but in the end that is exactly what came out. I thought briefly about adding in a last line indicating that this was “me”…”up until now…” This last part was not included.
  • Revising – Defined as the process in which a student dedicates time to systematically review and examine with the intent of improving the overall work product (Hayes & Flower, 1980). Once the initial first draft was completed I left it alone for a couple of hours and then came back to it for a final review process. I changed some elements around, and tightened up some of the transitions. I still could revisit the “final” work product and make some changes…but I’m happy for now.

 

Image attributed to http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/

7 Comments What kind of thinking is involved when you Make? #teachtheweb

  1. Kevin Hodgson

    Thanks, Ian, for this thoughtful analysis of the digital compositional process. You articulated a lot of what is in my head as I consider what my students need to know.
    Kevin

    Reply
    1. wiobyrne

      Thanks Kevin. I’ve been trying to articulate the process involved as students construct online content for a long time. My hope is to utilize the Writing Process as much as possible to help scaffold students…and teachers. I can send along the submitted draft of the chapter on it if you’re interested.

      Reply
  2. MIchelle

    Great post, Ian! I found your reflections on the processes quite insightful. Hadn’t thought about each of those steps so clearly before. Do you feel like any of those steps came up too short, or that a key process was missing when doing this Make?

    Reply
    1. wiobyrne

      Hi Michelle, thanks for the comment. I do have to admit that I did review the work with my Wife before posting it. I usually had students peer-review their writing, and what they Make in class. I didn’t include it in the write-up…but that would be a key component.

      Reply
  3. Walt P.

    Would ‘revising’ come about as a result of comparing the product with the initial plan? In software terms this would be the ‘testing’ phase – deemed as an essential part of the software ‘making’ process

    Reply
    1. wiobyrne

      Hi Walt, thanks for the comment. I had ‘revising’ as a final component…but I like your thinking about having it mostly be a review of how effectively I accomplished what I set out to do. I also envisioned a ‘reflective process’ while constructing…but didn’t include that as well. I’ll be thinking about your comment often today. Thanks again.

      Reply
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