Friday, 23 April 2010

Is it OK to Publish Unfinished Ideas?

My experiences in traditional education suggest this is NOT okay!

The traditional publishing process involves edits, rewrite, re-edits, more rewriting and even more re-edits and rewrites before the publication of the “final product”.

… and often this “final product” is not really final. The author may be struggling to meet deadlines (like handing in an assessment task) or their ideas later change.

This concept of writing suggests that writing (and indeed the development of ideas) is a linear process.

Clearly, in my opinion, this is NOT the case. It is very much cyclical in nature with ideas constantly being challenged and reviewed. As a teacher, one of our roles is to challenge students ideas.

But why should this role be exclusively the teacher’s domain. Getting peers to review can be just as – if not more – powerful. Like it or not students listen to their peers – something they don’t always do with their teachers.

When I recently suggested my Year 10 students publish their unfinished work and seek others’ opinions – they immediately baulked at the idea. They were concerned that others would simply steal their hard work rather than comment and suggest improvements.

I then posted a Blog entry asking the question:

      “Is the best way to protect your work, to publish it for all to see?”

and asked the boys to comment.

The boys raised a number of interesting points:

  • by sharing your work during the production process, all can see the origins of your work
  • you are able to draw on others’ ideas through their feedback
  • they are able to self evaluate their own work by comparing their own work to others’
  • all are able to input into the originality of the work.

This last point triggered a class discussion where the boys were raising the point that they know some students “always” (not sure its always but that’s their words) simply copy and paste work from the “net” and achieve good marks consistently. By publishing work openly the boys were challenging each other to the origins of the work. One boy even posted a comment that said…

     “Hey. That piece of work came from http://www.nameofsite….”

I believe that for too long too many good ideas never saw the light of day because we were afraid of putting our thoughts our there because they were incomplete, partially formed or we didn’t have all the answers.

Today through the power of the “Net” and Web 2.0 we can get our ideas out there easily, whether they be text based, audio or video and get feedback from others so that we can continues to evaluate, change or perhaps reinforce our own thoughts and ideas and maybe even help someone else.