I was asked tonight to further define what I mean by “authentic knowledge products” in my podcasts and writings. Here is my answer:

By authentic knowledge products, I am referring to the creation of different products by students for class assignments that have an authentic audience and a clearly defined, worthwhile purpose. These could be essays, but if they are digital knowledge products they might be short digital movies, slideshows set to music and narration, reflections posted in a blog, or even podcasts. Authentic knowledge products reflect both the processes and outcomes of a learning task, requiring students to engage with content at higher levels in Bloom’s taxonomy than merely the low level comprehension knowledge/understanding stage. Students seek different sources of information, validate those sources, compare and synthesize the information, and then create a new knowledge product reflecting that process of learning, growth, and understanding.

A concrete example of students creating a knowledge product is the third and fourth grade students in Wells, Maine, who create the Room208 blog and podcast. Each week for the podcast and the blog, students collect writing pieces and other items they deem “worthy” for of publication to a large audience living outside the traditional walls of their classroom. Students share what they are learning and reflecting about in the classroom, and because they have an authentic audience with which to communicate, a specific purpose, and an engaging medium, their levels of learning in this activity appear to be much higher than they would for a “traditional” classroom assignment.

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