Why does ownership matter? It changes the motivation behind the action and the creation and ultimately the finished product. Is it one of compliance or one of curious and prideful passion? I recently assigned an online creation for my group of Honors students, to gather what they have learned about verb conjugations (I know, fascinating) and organize it into a web page that would not only be useful to them in years to come but to others as well. They have each been putting their own personal touch on it and they truly enjoy the freedom to do it their own way. I tried my best to keep the requirements very minimal so that they would be able to truly have fun and make it theirs. Ownership matters. They will put much more effort into a site that is truly their own than into an assignment I am simply making them do. If they know that their site will be live and public and will be seen by other French students and maybe even help them – they suddenly feel the weight a bit more than if the only person seeing their work is their teacher.
So ownership changes the whole game. It adds a dimension without which it is very hard to get the type of engagement that will produce true growth. I liked Gardner Campbell’s article A personal cyberinfrastructure where he says that “students must be effective architects, narrators, curators, and inhabitants of their own digital lives.” If they are to be the architect, they need to have ownership. I can’t keep butting in and saying – no put this here, move that there, add more of this… If I do that, then I’m making it mine. I must resist the urge to put my fingerprints all over their work. This is about them and their growth.
Campbell also states that “To provide students the guidance they need to reach these goals, faculty and staff must be willing to lead by example—to demonstrate and discuss, as fellow learners, how they have created and connected their own personal cyberinfrastructures.” I believe this is what I am doing in the DLL program. In the past two weeks I have created sites on four different platforms in order to see what they are like and in order to be able to help guide my own students through the process. I am also painstakingly hammering away at my own personal site for my Master’s program, and I feel the same nervous energy they feel when I consider that my colleagues and maybe even my boss will be looking at what I creating – this online reflection of my innermost beliefs about education. I have to open the window a little bit into my very private self, and invite some discussion… and engage in some discussion. I think that owning my portfolio ultimately makes me invest more in it and thus I get more out of it. It grows my confidence because it’s mine and no one else can say they did it. Whether people like it or not is not even what matters to me. Rather, the question is: do I like it? It’s for me. After all, I own it.
Campbell, G. (2009, Sept. & oct.). A personal cyberinfrastructure. Educause Review, 58-59.