Learning Content

Based on original image by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

“The students of the future will demand the learning support that is appropriate for their situation or context. Nothing more, nothing less. And they want it at the moment the need arises. Not sooner, not later.“

Dr. Marcus Specht, Open University of the Netherlands.

Education has always involved the passing on of knowledge in some way or another. That knowledge has been represented in various forms, including textbooks and teachers who impart what they know in lectures etc. Such knowledge was regarded as authoritative and carefully curated.

Today, however, what was once scarce is abundant. We’re drowning in information. There are more books to read, blogs to follow, and videos to watch than anyone could consume in countless lifetimes. We have the incredible opportunity to learn nearly anything with a few taps or clicks.

The COVID lockdown research revealed a wide range of responses made by educators in this regard, from those whose primary concern was on ‘delivering’ content to learners/ākonga  for them to read and respond to through to those who based their lessons/units on more open inquiries, encouraging learners/ākonga  to locate their own sources of information and draw meaning from that.

Today’s learners/ākonga  must be information literate to enable them to navigate the content they have access to and draw meaning from it. This includes things such as:

  • A set of abilities for the discovery of information
  • The understanding of how information is produced and valued
  • The use of information in creating new knowledge
  • Participating ethically in communities of learning[1]

Similarly, today’s educators must think differently about curriculum, about learning content and about the process of learning itself. It is no longer sufficient to provide just a single resource and insist students trust in that based on the recommendation of the teacher.

When selecting content to support learning in a hybrid world it is important that you consider…

  • Supporting the learner with an explanation of the purpose of the content and how you want them to engage with it.
  • Selecting content that is authentic and relevant to the learner and her/his context and experience.
  • Providing multiple ways of engaging with the content (ref. UDL principles), including different forms of media.
  • Promoting critical literacy by providing content with more than one perspective.
  • Allowing learners/ākonga  to select and justify the use of their own content.

Ultimately, the hybrid environment will require content to be accessible online. This may present challenges for those who are used to using print-based resources for instance. Sharing content in the online environment brings an extra set of challenges, including:

  • Intellectual property rights – what permissions are given for sharing and/or re-purposing?
  • Validity/reliability – is the content from a reliable source? Does it have any inherent bias?
  • Third party links – is advertising used that leads to undesirable 3rd party content?

Questions you could use to help identify the practices in your context that ensure the appropriate selection and use of learning content include:

  • How do you currently select and use content/resources to support the learning experiences you design for learners/ākonga ? Inclusivity?
  • Do you encourage learners/ākonga  to find their own content? If so, what guidance do you provide? What supervision?
  • Are you intentional about modelling and teaching digital literacy skills in your dealing with content – particularly online content?
  • In making content available to learners/ākonga  what do you do to introduce it? What guidance do you provide so that learners/ākonga  gain what they need to from it? How do you address issues of intellectual property and copyright in the way content is used to support learning in your context?

[1] https://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/research/library/about-us/information-literacy/information-literacy_home.cfm

This post is one of a series of ten being published on this blog that are taken from the document “Codifying Teacher Practice”. This document has been written to provide educators with some guidance on how to approach the challenge of shifting their pedagogical approach as they embrace hybrid learning and includes templates and activity to help educators and leaders explore this in their own context. This paper follows two previous thought pieces relating to hybrid learning, both of which can be found on the FutureMakers website. If you’d like to receive an advance copy of this paper please email derek@futuremakers to have one emailed to you.

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