Students want to have their own place on the Net. A place that is theirs. Every time I bring these digital natives into a place where they can create a full-blown page of their own making I'm overwhelmed by their desire to own and create things. They don't just want networks of friends - certain kids like that and others don't really get into it. They want to create.
You won't know you're a good swimmer until you get in the water
Students don't just "know" the Net and how to use it. They don't just automatically "get" collaboration. Yes, their certainly take to it quickly but a person may just "know" how to swim but will never know he knows until he comes in contact with water.
There is a whole world of experience out there that students will not get just on Facebook and in email. (And students without access at home aren't even getting this.) They need exposure to professional collaboration (in academic spaces,) wikis, blogs, and should graduate with a personal website in hand ready to meet the world.
Can they get around the wall and keep their digital creations?
You just can't do that behind a walled garden unless someone teaches you or allows you to take that digital "property" with you. I see lots of schools deleting and starting over every year. We use dropbox now in my classroom so they can take anything with them.
This page is mine. This photo is mine. This project is mine. This app is mine.
It is my goal as an effective 21st century technology teacher to have them graduate from my class with meaningful projects indelibly stamped with their name as a collaborator or creator. That is my mission. You can't do this if you delete your student work every year, don't allow them to bring jump drives or access personal email to send it to themselves. Think about their learning legacy and let them build and keep it.
I used to have a stool that I loved and didn't get rid of until I was a teenager. It said:
"This little stool is mine,
I use it all the time,
to reach the things I couldn't
and lots of things I shouldn't."
It was mine. It had my name on it. I loved that little stool.
So, this generation loves their digital creations. I want to help them think twice, do better, understand privacy, and be excellent right out of the starting gate.
Do you let your students own their own digital creations? Do you encourage them to take these items "with" them? Is it even possible?