From Knowledge Consumers to Knowledge Makers

Students using the traditional print textbook turn page after page, cover chapter after chapter, and take the quiz at the end of the chapter. Students are made into knowledge consumers. The main measure of their learning is long-term memory (or at least medium term, until the test).




Then the e-book came along. Students using the e-book still turn page after page, cover chapter after chapter, and take the quiz at the end of the chapter. Despite the dazzle, the e-book is the same old knowledge technology, and the same old pedagogy.

Scholar’s Learning Module is different. In fact, it is a completely new kind of learning design. The Learning Module:

  • Positions students as knowledge producers, instead of (mainly) knowledge consumers. They research, critically evaluate alternative sources, synthesize and draw conclusions for themselves.
  • Changes the focus of student learning changes from memory work to knowledge work. In a world where so much knowledge is available to us all the time, the skills of the information era are knowledge navigation and discernment. And what we measure is not what we can remember, but the knowledge we can find and present (knowledge representations, knowledge artifacts).

Among the things that can happen in a Learning Module are the following knowledge making activities:

  • An update of curated web content that goes into every student’s activity stream and prompts them all to respond and interact with each other’s response. This is a digital version of the class discussion, except that instead of one person answering at a time, everyone can—or must—speak at the same time. We discuss this idea further here.
  • A creator project, involving the phases of drafting, feedback (peer, self, and/or teacher), revision, and publication to a web portfolio. Don’t just read the chapter of the textbook—write it!
  • A knowledge survey that has right or wrong answers (with immediate feedback) or an “information survey” that is open-ended.

If a traditional print book and an e-book are both read-only knowledge, the Learning Module prompts read-write knowledge.