TikTok and YouTube and ChatGPT, Oh My: The Changing Tides of Content Consumption
Our current era is often referred to as the information age, a period defined by the rise of the internet and its subsequent impacts on society. Humans have access to more information than ever and this has dramatically changed the ways in which we acquire knowledge. Consider this: How many times in the past year have you Googled a fact to end a debate, gotten a new recipe from TikTok or asked ChatGPT to summarize an article? How we consume content today is different from how we consumed it in the past and this has serious implications not only for our daily lives but also for our classrooms.
Today’s students are accessing information from wherever they are, whenever they want it. Common Sense Media found in its 2021 report on media use that tweens (8-12 years old) spend an average of 5.5 hours per day consuming or creating digital media and teenagers spend an average of 8.3 hours. Students are more and more used to engaging with content that is specific, contextual, highly visual or gamified, and requires very short periods of attention.
As educators, this presents an interesting challenge: To engage this generation of students, we need to evolve how we present information and build content. However, to achieve this, we’re asking our average educator to not only be a teaching expert, but also have the skills of a coder, game designer and social media influencer. Schools grappling with a solution are exploring whether technology can help take the burden off teachers. Early research into one specific software—D2L’s new Creator+, a content authoring tool native to its Brightspace LMS —looks promising.
Creative Content and Its Impacts on Student Success
Maine Virtual Academy (MEVA) supports statewide virtual learning for K-12 students who need to learn on their own schedules through highly personalized learning pathways. This poses an interesting challenge for their teachers, who must offer individualized support for students while ensuring that learning can be experienced totally asynchronously.
To meet this challenge, MEVA invested in Creator+ to help teachers produce content that was broken down into smaller chunks, engaging and incorporated two key elements:
- diverse, embedded sources and materials from around the web
- built-in features like assessments, hotspots, timelines and flip cards
The early results were impressive. “Eighty percent of my students complete the courses I’ve built with Creator+, while the average completion rate for other courses is around 35%,” says Christine O’Grady, curriculum coordinator. “I put a lot of time into building my courses, and Creator+ probably makes it 25% faster. So, I’m saving 5-10 hours per course.”
As they continue this new program, MEVA plans to continue to collect data to analyze how content design can impact student success, and how tools like Creator+ can positively impact both teacher and student satisfaction.
Rethinking Language Development and Content
Last semester, Elixa Neumann of Burnaby School District—located near Vancouver, Canada—was also grappling with the idea of innovative content creation. Elixa teaches an online French course and her students need to develop language skills and be assessed 100% remotely. Elixa not only wanted to adapt face-to-face language teaching models to online, but she also wanted to improve upon them.
One of the biggest challenges facing Elixa was pronunciation and language proficiency: How could she ensure her students had ample time to practice speaking their second language when all their learning was online? Elixa’s solution was to use Creator+ to redesign and rethink her content. She built in audio clips, formative assessment opportunities and practice conversations. Using virtual reality tools, Elixa recorded herself as an avatar having conversations with her students, building in natural pauses to allow her students to respond (and record themselves for her feedback). Not only were students more engaged by this new way of learning, but they also began requesting more and more of these opportunities.
“It was really impressive to see how much this has influenced motivation to participate in the course. It’s allowed me to be more student-centered and focused on mastery,” Elixa explained. She plans to continue her experiment by rebuilding more of her courses to think about content delivery in this new way, while hoping to inspire her colleagues.
Are We Over Relying on Software?
As we rethink our content delivery for the modern classroom, a common concern is that leaning too much into technology can become a replacement for the expertise teachers bring to content design.
Lambton Kent District School Board, which serves 20,000 students in Ontario, Canada, would disagree. They’ve adopted Creator+ as a method to encourage teachers to think differently about how they create and assess learning in online and blended classrooms. For Lambton Kent, Creator+ is the vehicle that empowers teachers to build more engaging and diverse learning experiences, while encouraging them to expand their teaching and trust their professional judgement.
Kassia Gandhi (née Kukurudza) is currently the academic affairs director at D2L. She has worked in education for over a decade, beginning as an elementary teacher. Specializing in technology-enabled learning and teaching, Gandhi helps education organizations around the globe create effective learning ecosystems that put teachers and students at the center. Gandhi has a Master of Education with a research focus in Haitian school systems and the role of education in fragile contexts. In her free time, she acts as a mentor for Faculties of Education and volunteers with Family and Child Services, working with foster children.
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