Digital literacy 6: Content creation

One of the most important digital literacies students require today is the ability to create appropriate, subject specific content. Content creation is an important feature in many personal learning environment (PLE) models, and together with organising and sharing, makes up the cardinal triumvirate of skills that provides learners with a clear advantage. If you subscribe to constructivist theories of learning, you will understand why the creation of content is important in any context. We learn by doing, and we more actively engage with learning when we create artefacts that can be shared within social contexts such as communities of practice. Artefacts are a material outworking of knowledge creation, and according to Vygotsky, they can be aids to solving problems that could not be solved as effectively in their absence. In turn, such artefacts can also influence the individuals who use them to draw attention to previously unknown activities and ways of conceptualising the world around us. When I write a blog post for example, I am creating new content as I write, and then in turn, that content may reveal to me something I may have missed if I had not written the post. The blog content allows me perhaps to view a problem from a different perspective. In essence, writing a blog enables me to know what I am thinking, in a concrete, persistent and searchable form.

There are many other ways to create content besides the blog of course. The use of wikis in group learning to promote collaboration and make a record of what has been learnt is becoming more popular in all sectors of education. Podcasts, normally in the form of the audio recording of an event, are also a means of projecting and sharing content to others so that they can listen at a time and in a place (usually on the move) of their choosing. Sharing of other forms of content such as images and videos can be easily achieved with the use of photo and video sharing services such as Flickr and Youtube. I often share my slideshows through this channel, and receive feedback and other data on their subsequent uses. However, for any of the above formats of user generated content to be fully usable, it first needs to be located. Without organisation and tagging (the use of key descriptive words) such content is not searchable. In my next blog post in this series on digital literacies, I will explore this facet of the social web in more detail. Tomorrow: Organising and sharing content.

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Content creation by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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