Gee's Strategies & Information Literacy: Production

This concept falls in line with Gee’s Insider Principle, where “the learner is and insider, teacher, and producer (not just a `consumer`)” but goes beyond that. It is not simply being able to produce an end product, but to reshape and build the world itself. The example on the sides is of the upcoming PS3 game “Little Big Planet” where the player is given the tools to create a world or stage of their own design, populating it with whatever environments, obstacles, and physics they desire. The game provides an open canvas for the player to create, experiment, and adjust the game to individual taste. These worlds can be saved and shared with other players, creating a unique game experiences from every creation. Creating game content is nothing new, Real-time-strategy and First-person shooters have used map editors and modders have created whole new game experiences based on the original game’s engine, which create more investment and motivation from the player.

I used the example of “Little Big Planet” because the initial game itself is player created, not modified from it’s original intent. Production in our classrooms can and should be similar. Student created content, questions, or topics is not a distraction or diversion from the lesson’s original intent but essential to the comprehension and retention of the lesson’s objectives. On a surface level this includes using student questions and topics to shape the direction and focus of a lesson. If a concept not clear or students are struggling we spend more time to clarify. But peel that standard interaction back and how much content do students produce that shapes our information literacy sessions?

Now the easy answer is, of course they produce content they are finding sources, writing papers, giving presentations and many other projects based on the materials they find from an information literacy session. Is that really producing content that shapes their experience? They produce an end product required by their course, but do they have influence over it? Does that production happen in our library instruction or as a result of it?

Following the Production and “Insider” principles means letting the students create and shape the direction of the lesson within the bounds of the objectives. They could be the ones creating and sharing the examples for the class. They could be demonstrating how they located a specific resource of the quality or source required in the assignment. They become “teacher” as well as “student.” An example for this current semester was taught by a colleague of mine. We created a lesson where the students worked in groups to create incorrect APA citations in an attempt to stump not only the other groups, but the professor, librarian, and writing center – the “experts.” The students were empowered and motivated to create content and implicitly needed to not only understand APA basics, but the more obscure details in order to be able to explain their citation errors. It worked. There was laughter coming out of the classroom and the students wanted to stay longer to go through more citations.

Now how often can we say that?


Anonymous said...

That games sounds lame.

Anonymous said...

Not at all! I taught the lesson, thanks to Paul's creative idea, and it really did engage every student and turned them into the teachers. They had so much fun that after an 75 min., the students wanted more time to "stump" the instructors, writing center director, & I.

The activity helped the students dig into what can be an incredibly detailed concept and made it more accessible for them. The instructors have requested the same session again next fall, and the students thanked me for class!

Paul said...

Thank you for the comments Anne Marie. Great to hear it from inside the classroom. Rather than just the laughter I heard outside of it.