The P21 framework suggests students need to be communicating to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade, and that they should this using oral, written and non-verbal mediums. So what does that look like in the age of technology that we live in? Here are some ideas for the kinds of mediums you could explore. It’s not an exhaustive list, but I think it includes some of the more popular communication channels that students are engaging in today. They include:
- Email or texting
- Blogging, journalling, and online writing
- Video production, video conferencing, or vlogging
- Social Media
- Graphic design
- Multiplayer games
This inevitably raises the question, how can we help model and give students a safe environment to explore these kinds of experiences? Step one could be to practice with peers. When you are introducing one of these mediums to students, let them practice on each other before you go public on the web. Have a conversation about what is appropriate to be shared privately, versus what should be shared publicly, and if you need ideas for what that looks like, check out some of the modules from Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum because if you haven't considered this before, communication has strong ties to digital citizenship.
There are lots of great edtech tools to support communication in these kinds of mediums. In fact, many of the best communication tools are actually creative tools, because when we create something, more often than not, it is to communicate a message, tell our story, or share our thinking in a new way. Blogging, podcasting, video production, and graphic design are all creative endeavours, but they are also almost exclusively about communicating an idea or a message.
So, if you find a great creative communication platform to use with students, (e.g. Flipgrid, Twitter, Anchor, Canva, YouTube, Adobe Spark, etc.), then by all means use it, but don’t get too attached. Anyone who has been a teacher for any length of time is well aware that tools come and go. In fact, the way we communicate with each other today has changed over the years precisely because tools have come and gone.
Instead, teach the skill of communication. Teach students the value of communicating effectively, clearly, concisely, accurately, and politely. Teach them how to be empathetic, to be culturally aware, and to communicate with a purpose. If you teach communication in this way, the tool you use is just the vehicle that helps students share their story. If you teach communication, and not the tools, your students will become esteemed global citizens who are better prepared to succeed in a technology infused global workplace.