Student media project an example of learning through digital contexts

Students in the Faculty of Education’s EDUC 3051 – Teaching English in the Intermediate/Senior Division course have created an online literary journal as a way of enacting a ‘production pedagogy’ to understand what and how students can learn through creative making in digital contexts.

416lit1The digital literary journal, 416Lit, is the culmination of all of their hard work and is populated with student-created pieces across a variety of literary genres and digital media forms. It is a perfect example of engaging students in learning through authentic making and doing.

The behind-the-scenes work, as well as many of the designs, were also student produced, and the back-end of the website was administrated by teacher candidate, Benjamin Wilson, who created the site architecture, integrated a Twitter feed, and managed content. Teacher candidates Hannah Burkhardt, Kelsie Dos Santos and Ameera Mohammed created original artworks and logo designs.

The project was developed around the idea of production pedagogies, where students focus on the creation of a piece, learning through their creation rather than through stand-alone assignments or decontextualized, teacher-centred instruction. Production pedagogies seek to situate students in the role of “author” rather than “student” and, in so doing, more deeply engage students within more meaningful multi-literacy practices.

Through participation in projects like 416lit, students are able to see themselves as writers, poets, researchers and media designers. It is also closely tied to the idea of participatory culture and the way in which students learn best when they are working with something that is of interest to them, and in an authentic group setting. Common interests arise among classmates and real-world creative production happens as a result.

416lit2-1“Working with different media is paramount for teaching and learning,” said teacher candidate Natasha Zseder, who participated in the project. “Having students work within different media not only fosters creative thinking but allows for an exploration of their own skills and interests. As teacher candidates we are encouraged to use a variety of digital media in the classroom because this is what our students are engaged with outside of school, and many of them possess a proficiency in demonstrating their learning that way – be it through music, video, etc. We know that each student learns differently and while curriculum expectations may be the same, the way each student achieves those expectations does not have to be.”

Zseder says that helping to develop the site was an invaluable experience and gave her an opportunity to explore her own identity as an author and creator, while being a part of a group task in which common goals led her and her classmates to a multitude of productions.

“Personally, I feel as though I was more involved in my own learning and the learning of my peers through 416Lit than I would have been if we were tasked with creating short writing pieces for the teacher’s eyes only,” she said. “This is definitely something I’d like to implement in my future classroom with the hopes of creating a more engaging learning environment.”