I do a great deal of reading…online. The “screen” on a laptop, tablet or smartphone, is the new location our students must become proficient reading on. Paper-based testing is on the way out and computer based testing is stumbling in. If for nothing more than supporting this new testing platform, students must become comfortable reading on a screen. However, there is more involved…

Having just came across this interesting post from Campus Technology titled, Why Blogging Is Key to the Future of Higher Ed, it struck me that having students involved in an educational blogging community (sharing, positing and reading) is a great way to boost screen reading, writing and typing.

A community of students sharing and reading work from their peers sounds amazing and is attainable. Per the article above, a blogging system is taking shape at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), albeit at the college level, but wouldn’t it be amazing if this type of system was available in a school district? At the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, we are creating a digital portfolio system (portfolio.gdrsd.org) giving students access to a system like VCU’s.

In reaction to this article, a user wrote:

Suppose students don’t want to do most of their work on a public platform? Would you want most of your freshman “work” following you around for life? What about FERPA?

It is interesting to break this all down and I will share my response to her below, but first lets walk through what took place that many of us do every day. Are our students fully trained in or working in this online/social/education infused realm?

My professional learning network (PLN) shares articles of note (social media), I read the Campus Technology article on my computer (screen reading), analyzed my thoughts, feelings on both the article itself and commentary on the article, potentially from around the world mind you. I could have just left a comment and been done with it, but there is something profound in the simple process that we should take credit for and we should gift to our students. There is a great deal of effort, writing, reading, close reading and more taking place each day and deeper connections can be made with the technology available. Sharing feedback on a thought provoking blog post is authentic to me. Lets tap into this area with our students.

My response:

Specifically on your second question, I would answer…a resounding YES! I want my freshman efforts to follow me around for my entire life. (Added: And if students are given crummy and boring assignments, not worthy of residing in the digital realm, following a student around, stop assigning them!) Curation is a skill we need to teach our students!

Being able to share the 10-page paper beyond the class and receive authentic feedback from peers, other professors and not just from “my” professor, sounds exciting to me. Makes my efforts legit and brings my work up a notch. The quality I would submit, knowing a single pair of eyes are reading my work would be at a certain level. Knowing the same piece could be read my many others, become a part of a digital portfolio that a future employer may see , would receive far greater efforts. This is human nature.

If students would share silly things and frat parties on their professional social media accounts, they are mis-guided. Students, young and old, need to be trained and guided in the social media/sharing realm. They need to be “google-able”, with quality results on top. We need to run towards, not away from this new way of communicating. Our students need the guidance and ability to learn in the 21st century, there future job likely depends on it!

With students coming out with 6-figure loans for their college education, I’m not sure there is time for status-quo. Status-quo is failing our students.