The Power of an Authentic Audience
The modern web - namely web2.0 or the read/write web allows any user to create and share content with the world. Harnessing the power of this audience is certainly not limited to the secondary classroom - infact there are a huge number of highly successful primary school blogs, wikis and podcasts that attract audiences from around the world.
The fact that students can undertake a project and present their findings or final product to a relevant audience for the purpose of informing or gaining feedback is incredibly powerful. I just wanted to share one specific example with you from a secondary context.
As a Media Studies teacher, students complete production units of work. In my classroom this involved creating a music video. Students spend hours and hours on this and at the end the video is seen by me, their parents and the rest of the class - maybe one or two of the best ones might be shown at assembly. In 2007 two of my students decided to put their finished product on YouTube - it was not a requirement of the course and they sought permission from all involved.
Today I checked the video on YouTube. It has been viewed by nearly 300,000 people and received over 250 comments. Two YouTube users have even made videos in response to this. The student who created this has been on within the last month to respond to a question about the video - she is still engaging with her project two years after she created it.
There are potential pitfalls here in that the students were opening themselves up to unmoderated criticism. But is it worth the risk? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? Surely if a student is still engaging with work she did two years ago this is powerful for learning?