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A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials

October 31, 2012 Digital Learning Farm, Featured Carousel, Tutorials 23 Comments

I am borrowing the notion of the Leitmotif, a recurring theme, and applying it to learning in the 21st century. For me it always seems to come back to a red thread of self-motivated and self-directed learning that connects all.

 

Anyone with an internet connection has the capability  of accessing courses and lectures from Ivy League universities. Times Magazine published an article titled, Logging on to the Ivy League already in 2009.

Diamond is an esteemed neuroanatomist and one of the most admired professors at the University of California, Berkeley. It would be a privilege for anyone to sit in on her lectures. And, in fact, anyone can. Videos of her popular course are available free online, part of a growing movement by academic institutions worldwide to open their once exclusive halls to all who want to peek inside. Whether you’d like to learn algebra from a mathematician at MIT, watch how to make crawfish étouffée from an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America or study blues guitar with a professor at Berklee College of Music, you can do it all in front of your computer, courtesy of other people’s money. Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1891740,00.html#ixzz2Avj9XAHx

Simply google Yale iTunes University or Harvard iTunes University and you are in business to potentially LEARN from the same professors that teach the students who are attending these “very expensive”higher education institutions.

  • Will you earn a degree from these universities?…No…
  • Will you receive one on one attention from the professors if you have questions about their lecture?… No…
  • Will you meet the right people or be roommates with the children of the right people?…. No….
  • Do  you have access to listening and learning from some brilliant minds?.. on your choice of topics?… without having to spend a dime?… Yes!
  • Can you become part of an online learning community, with members watching the same lectures, discussing and learning with  and from each other?…Yes

The “education” is there… there for the taking… only the self-directed and self-motivated… will and can take advantage of the offerings and LEARN from it.

I recently published a blog post inspired by Will Richardson’s article “Three starting points to think differently about “Learning. I believe we have hit on another point,  illustrating how we NEED to think about learning in a different light:

Being able to look for, find, watch, “re-wind” and learn from online lectures, guides and tutorials?

How do we transfer this skill and break it down into different benchmarks for the younger students not ready for Yale or Harvard yet?  Thinking of :

  • the highest level of thinking skills (Bloom’s Taxonomy) of creating
  • the disputed Learning Pyramid, which claims that learners retain about 90% of what we teach others (Take a look at Darren Kurpatwa’s Academe’s Dirty Little Secret)
  • Alan November’s Digital Learning Farm with Tutorial Designers as one of the roles to empower learners.  Give students authentic job responsibility to empower them and become part of a learning community (see Langwitches Posts about The Digital Learning Farm). Alan November recently published a book called “Who owns the Learning“,  where he goes further into the concept of students leaving a legacy, including creating tutorials for a global audience.

I am taking the route of having our students learn to create quality tutorials for each other or for their younger schoolmates.  There is something about kids and wanting to teach what they know to others. Our kids are not only flocking as their first choice for learning to online tutorials, they are also becoming the creators of many (without adult intervention!)

  • Just ask a teenage daughter what she does in order to get make-up instructions if she has a “challenged mother” in that department? What about detailed directions for a complicated French braid?
  • How do you learn to pick a lock, after your niece locks the basement door from the wrong side?
  • What about help in order to upgrade your laptop’s memory or install a new hard drive?

Online tutorials to the rescue! Take a look at the thousands of tutorials on youTube, websites, or snapguide, with “instructors” half or more the age of “traditional teachers”.

I have written many tutorial posts on Langwitches. They come in forms of  info-flyers to help guide teachers step by step in implementing a process or a tool, screenshots (image of my screen), screencasts (video recordings of my screen), infographics, podcasts (audio file), plain texts in blog posts, Word documents or shared with Google Docs.

The above mentioned book Who owns the Learning by Alan November was one of the Summer Reading choices for our faculty. Our  4th and 5th grade teachers have been taken on the task to expose students to the importance of digital tutorials and encourage the to produce their own tutorials.

In Language Arts, students worked  on  “how to” posts for their blogfolios.  They were encouraged to add hyperlinks, video, and/or images to their post to enhance their writing.

Making a Hyperlink! (by Evie M.)

Hyperlinking With Thinking (by Itamar)

Adding an Image to a Blog Post (by Benjamin)

How To Draw A Dragon Head (video) by Julia

5th grade students had a first go at storyboarding and filming a tutorial of “How to create a QR code?”. As a class, each video clip /tutorial was critiqued. Students came up with a list of suggestions to make tutorials better. Everyone went back to the drawing board to edit and make the tutorials better according to their list.

See a few video samples  from students of “How to Create a QR Code”:

What are your thoughts on the skill of learning with and from online tutorials? Important for the present and future of learning? Do you have your students create tutorials? How do you break the process down for them?

Currently there are "23 comments" on this Article:

  1. New blog post: A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials- http://t.co/zri5R49e

  2. A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials: I am borrowing the notion of the Leitmot… http://t.co/NA5oKCoQ

  3. @skipz says:

    A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials http://t.co/19fkfFgE

  4. @milesmac says:

    A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials http://t.co/HuqOljqj #education

  5. [...] A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials | Langwitches Blog [...]

  6. A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials | Langwitches Blog http://t.co/qs1jSLXv #mlearning #tiged #edchat

  7. anne says:

    I think this is a great idea if you can actually get students to create something useful. I’m still hesitant about any source of social media because it can be such a distraction. If these resources were first introduced as learning tools and then expanded upon it may be one thing. However, it has happened in quite the opposite manner and I just don’t know if students can see the educational power in such online tools.

  8. Andrew W. says:

    It’s all about student motivation. Some students have it, and other students don’t (or are at least are not there yet). That should be one of our primary goals as teachers. We need to stress to students however not to rely solely on one video or lesson online, but rather multiple sources that they can verify for themselves.

  9. Caitlin H says:

    It is more important than ever to teach students in this way, I believe. These are skills students will need to develop to be successful in the 21st century and it can really motivate and and excite learners if done in the correct way. I think that as long as you can assure the students are on task and the other temptations of the internet are not taking over then learning through online tutorials can be a really great educational tool.

  10. @plan3t_t3ch says:

    Tutorial Designers…awesome! A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials http://t.co/2ddqZSjG via @langwitches

  11. A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials | @Langwitches Blog http://t.co/IIyaXTYn #elearning

  12. A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials: I am borrowing the notion of the Leitmot… http://t.co/wuH5BtO4

  13. Alison D says:

    Similar to online journalism, the accountability for accuracy in these tutorials is not as strong as traditional text book learning. While I get most of my news online, I trust it more when it comes from a reputable newspaper’s website. However, sometimes it is the lone blogger or twitter account that makes the breaking story. Likewise, anyone can put out an “educational” video, how do we decide to trust the source? How much can we rely on tutorials without accountability from the source?

  14. ” only the self-directed and self-motivated… will and can take advantage of the offerings and LEARN from it.”

    Unfortunately, this is the case of both a physical (in school) sense of learning as well as an electronic sense. Only those who want to learn will learn.

  15. Mike M says:

    Alison made a really good point when comparing these educational tools to journalism. Like journalism, educational resources are ALL about credibility. This format of learning can only be effective if the all of the information and its sources can be verified. Otherwise, kids can simply call any information correct after taking it from the first hobbyist blog that pops up on Google search.

  16. Britni says:

    I think this could be a really useful tool if it is incorporated into the classroom effectively. Many students have used online learning tools in the past, both inside and outside their school work. This would provide them with the opportunity to see first-hand what skills go in to creating the tools and I’m sure that many would find it to be an engaging activity. However, not all of the students that I work with have reliable access to technology. How do we ensure that all students find the educational purpose of creating an online tutorial? I do see the importance for all students to become life-long learners. In order to do this they need to develop the self motivation to want to access all of the resources that are available and it is important that they learn how to determine their credibility.

  17. Mary P says:

    I’ve noticed that a lot of the middle school students I teach struggle to learn without direct teacher instruction – they don’t seem to be as independent in their learning as you might expect. Maybe it’s because, coming from the elementary school, they are so used to being given explicit instructions on what to do. Whatever the reason, I think they would need to be shown how to look for and find good online tutorials. There are some bad ones out there; I’ve seen my share and I wouldn’t want students to watch those and take them as truth.

    I do want to make sure that my students understand that they can learn anytime, anywhere, from anyone who is willing and able to share their knowledge, but I want them evaluating where the information is coming from, too. I want them to have the skills not only to be able to find out the answer, but also to share what they know. I’m glad to see other teachers trying to get to the creating/sharing stage.

  18. kuleszad says:

    While i agree with the current trends towards utilizing media in this way, i would point out something that you yourself mentioned. Despite the obvious good this kind of learning, video lectures available to all, there is a sever interpersonal downside. This then begs the question as to the future nature of formal schooling… If we promote a system where the students want to, and will, learn what they want to when they want to, what does the school really have to do with it aside from basic guidance. My assumption is that as we alter the course of formal education to support self-directed learning, it will become more focused on social interaction to compensate. I could very well be wrong, but what hypothesis is ever truly right. Time will tell.

  19. Tina E says:

    I have used video tutorials as a way to differentiate instruction in the classroom, but do not believe that many of my student would have the motivation to learn the curriculum through video’s unless they get to choose the curriculum. It’s wonderful that all of these courses are offered free online, so that people can take advantage of them if they want, and not just use the internet for entertainment.

  20. Tim S. says:

    I too agree with what Alison D and Mike M said about accountability. The tutorials we can view on youtube suffice for what we might need to learn in a pinch, but there isn’t anything wrong with that if we just need to learn how to tie a french braid. If it works, the accountability is there. However, if I am interested in learning about something a little more complicated and newsworthy, the facts NEED to be there. I do not think I would trust a blogpost/video if a non credible source posted it.

  21. Conor M says:

    I think this has some great ideas about using you tube. I love finding creative things on youtube to supplement my own instruction. That being said, for my purposes, I would not use anything on you tube as a be all and end all. I would want my students to use this info to work their way up blooms taxonomy.

  22. Michael_Castano says:

    It is not about degrees or grades; it is about knowledge and awareness.

  23. [...] reasons are plentiful, from the train of thought “if you can teach it, you know it”, being a vital skill in the 21st century, Alan November’s work “Who owns the Learning?”/ “Digital Learning [...]

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