Students, grades, and creativity–A Thought from Student Academy

I’m at UMW’s Student Academy, an annual presentation of information technologies created by students in and out of their courses, and I wanted to comment on a statement a student presenter just made:*

“I don’t want to experiment too much if it’s for a grade….”

What are the implications of this statement for teaching and learning? The student was referring to the differences between his approach to class digital projects, versus his own digital projects that he’s done outside of the classroom. Is this a problem for us as teachers? Is the need for grading something inherently squelching of creativity? I don’t think so, but I’ll be more conscious of the need to create at least some assignments that balance requirements with the flexibility to exercise creativity.

*[I hope to blog on some of the specific presentations later. Check out Ben’s Astounding Essays, or Amanda’s great blog about Sylvia Plath, for places to start.]

One More Stab at Digital Fluencies

In a previous post I responded to failingbetter’s query about my definitions of “digital fluencies” as it related to students. I was rereading the first of his/her questions and it occurs to me that the query has another layer I missed at first glance.

I would like to hear a little more about what fluency means and what it entails that is different from skills. Is it just the combination of one’s writing skills with one’s technical knowledge of how to construct/write a blog? Or does it also entail knowledge of the norms of blogging? Is there another category of things that differentiate skills from fluency?

I’ve been articulating a notion of digital fluency that incorporates technical skills and the ability to deploy those skills as part of a skillful consumption and production of information that I think is critical to students and faculty alike. But failingbetter suggests that there are also rules to online social tools (and the societies they create) that students might need to know. Might digital fluency also include an awareness of the norms of online culture(s)? I’m going to have to think about this some. Any thoughts?