For my final make, I followed the outline I laid out here. The final product is this new site:
There are 3 key principles of connected learning at work with the site: The site is academically oriented, production centered, and openly networked. The primary motivation of my final make was to provide a place where students from different schools and learning environments could work together to improve their collective and individual performance on standardized tests. I thought that standardized tests were in the dark ages in the context of connected learning, and felt they were the perfect place to apply what we’ve learned this semester. Through my investigation, I found a dearth of online resources that students could use to prepare for the test. The materials that I did see in schools and online had to be purchased, which created an inequity based on school funding. Text book and resource inequality is a real problem, and I wanted to find a way to work around current shortcomings and inequities by creating a cheap alternative to constantly changing and pricey test prep materials to help student across the state improve their academic performance.
In order to do this, I wanted to make the site production centered, so that students could get out of the drill and repeat mode that test preparation can become. The site is intended to be full of student created math problems and videos that will aid in their own learning as well as their peers’ learning. By creating math problems that resemble those on the Keystone exam, students may better understand how and why certain problems have tripped them up in the past. They will also be able to think about creating math problems rather than just solving them. By creating videos, students will hopefully engage with their content in a more engaged way, think as a teacher, and incorporate their interests in order to teach others how they were able to solve a given problem. I think the end result of this production centered approach will be a growing resource of student generated content that will help students across the state.
In order for the results of this student work to reach beyond my classroom, I have set up my site to be as openly-networked as possible. While it takes time to create a network, I tried to find a number of ways to connect to others with as few barriers as possible. I set up the site itself, which is public and shareable. I set up a Youtube channel and a Twitter feed, both of which are very easy to share and connect to other schools, students and teachers, and can be accessed using nearly any connected device. I set up an email account, so that people could reach me directly in an additional format. While the site is a work in progress, I have designed it to scale as I get additional followers and student submitted work. Currently, the work on the site is created by me (technically a student) but that work just serves as a model/sample for future student work.
In reflecting on this final make, the biggest takeaway was how, as I built my site, every new idea led to more possibilities, like ripples on a pond. There are so many ways to connect (should I have an Instagram account? or Facebook?), that it is hard to stop once you decide to build up a network of learners. I’m looking forward to populating the site with more student work once I start my student teaching this fall, and I’m sure once the site is in use, a new set of ideas and conflicts will emerge, expanding the ripples even further.