In recent weeks a conversation has been started about the effects of the digital media usage on people, in particular young people. It is well know that young people spend hours staring at social media on a device which can increase anxiety, depression and much more. Although students in this day and age are called "digital natives", many are completely unaware of how a smart-phone can empower young people to effect positive change. With this in mind, one avenue to go down that can leverage the attention-based economy is to engage students in thinking beyond the content while teaching digital citizenship at the same time. This is Flip Grid which is essentially a video blogging platform that can be used to help students develop better verbal communication skills and, if the grid is public, to create a positive digital footprint for the students.
I was the recipient of grant from Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy STEM outreach program called FUSE. The grant is for STEAM-based challenges that are student-centered and interest-driven. In essence, my students get to choose between over 25 challenges ranging from 3D printing to robotics to coding to gaming and work through the levels (gamification) to level up. I serve as a facilitator help students work through the problems that arise on any given challenge. Assessing students in this kind of educational setting is the tough part. I think it is essential to try to grade the process and not necessarily the product because I want my student to be okay with failing by understanding what prototyping is. With that in mind I have developed an assessment strategy that does just that by using Flip Grid and meta-cognitive questions.
At the end of each week, students must record a video of themselves addressing a number of questions that center on their learning and making connections. I used a rubric to design the questions around the FUSE Studio ecosystem. This ecosystem consist of a dashboard of the challenge, each of which has its own "trailer" to describe the challenge. Once a challenge has been selected, each level has an objective with written instruction and instructional videos to aid students as they complete each level. I have seen tremendous growth in my students' capacity to communicate what and how they are learning.
By creating an opportunity for students to engage in this type of thinking and reflection on a digital platform that resembles something in their comfort zone, students learn the importance of a positive digital footprint and become familiar with ways to use platforms for engaging in effecting positive change.