Is It Worth It? Student Created Tutorials

You are reading another post in the series “The Digital Learning Farm” based on Alan November’s work of “The Digital Learning Farm“, which he also outlines in his chapter of Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ book “Curriculum 21“.

Adapted from Alan November (pp.188-193), Curriculum 21 (ASCD, 2010) by Heidi Hayes Jacobs.

I am looking today specifically at the role of “Tutorial Designer”.

You can read previous posts of mine about Tutorial Designers below:

They say

If you can teach it…you know it!

We put 4th grade Math students to the “test”… well not really… No traditional test was required to show their understanding of multiplication. We asked our students to create a tutorial explaining multiplication to peers, future fourth graders of our school, etc. We started out with a lesson on Becoming good Tutorial Designers to show them examples of tutorial design techniques as well as to give them an understanding of the importance of clear and precise step by step directions.

In groups, students set out to write the scripts of their tutorials. Each group decided to use different tools to create a video visualizing the math problem and the step by step solution. We had one group creating a PowerPoint document, another one used sticky notes and the third group used various apps on the iPad to film and record.

The process of creating a simple tutorial was elaborate. From breaking the multiplication process up into individual steps, to being able to express these steps verbally and visually to creating a storyline around the math problem/solution to make it flow. We definitely spent most of the time fine tuning the step by step guide and rehearsing the script.

Recording of tutorial video

Now my question is:

Is it Worth it?

Do I have evidence that student created tutorials are worth the effort. An effort that takes (especially in the beginning) considerably more time than filling out a worksheet?

  • I think about the service that student created tutorials provide to fellow classmates (or global peers)? Some students learn (listen?) better (different?) when the concept is explained by someone their age.
  • I think about the skills that go into the development of  tutorials:
    • communication/verbal/language skills
    • critical thinking skills
    • creation skills
    • media skills
    • presentation skills
    • design skills
    • problem solving skills
    • empathy (How can I explain best, so SOMEONE ELSE will understand better?… How can I put myself into their shoes?)
  • I think about the motivation to do your best, that comes with the knowledge that it will not only be your teacher or your parents who will see your work, but by sharing it online, you have a global audience.
  • I think about the reward when you find out (verbal, via comments, tweets, embeds, etc.) that your tutorial helped someone else learn.
  • I think about the collaborative construction of resources– the curation of information (watch for an upcoming blog post on that topic), when work from one year is added to the work from previous and future years?
  • I think about the metacognition of the learning process, the documentation of the process and breaking it apart.

What is some evidence you see of “being worth our time” when students create tutorials to teach and learn?

Take a look at the final product of each 4th grade group.

4th Grade Multiplication Tutorial from langwitches on Vimeo.

4th Grade Math Tutorial from langwitches on Vimeo.

4th Grade- Math Tutorial- Multiplication from langwitches on Vimeo.