Empowering students voice is key to meaningful and lasting learning experiences both within and outside the classroom. Pedagogical empowerment, as I like to refer to it, is a student-centered approach that seeks to highlight students agency and transform learners from passive consumers to active producers of knowledge.
Empowering students voice starts with accountability, allowing them to take ownership of their learning. According to John Spencer, when students own their learning they fall in love with it, they start developing a maker mindset and they become critical thinkers and problem solvers.
There are various ways to empower students voice. Below are some examples of educational activities where you can leverage the power of technology to amplify students voice:
An effective way to empower students voice is through engaging them in writing projects where they are the main authors of their own learning experiences. There are a number of educational web tools and applications to use in this regard:
Book Creator provides students with an arsenal of powerful tools to create and self-publish their books. Students can incorporate different multimedia materials into their books such as text, video, audio, shapes, visuals, drawings and many more. The app also embeds collaborative features making it easy for students to collaborate with their teachers or peers in real-time.
Docs is an excellent free word editor students can use to channel their voice through engaging in creative writing projects. It also comes equipped with sophisticated collaborative features that include chat and audio feedback. Documents created through Docs can be shared live on the net using a unique generated link.
Another practical way to empower students voice is through digital storytelling projects. For instance, students can use apps such as StoryboardThat, Boomwriter, Storybird, among others, to write, record, and share stories with others. Digital storytelling can also take place through comic strips using tools such as Toontastic, Make Beliefs Comix, and Pixton Comic. Students can work individually or in groups to design their stories and share them with the world.
Students feel empowered when they know their voice is heard and their opinions are welcomed. One way this can happen is through enabling students to share their feedback. Students can use whiteboarding tools or annotating tools to share feedback within documents, PDFs, or even on web pages. Popular word editors such as Word, Google Docs include commenting features allowing students to share feedback and interact in engaging ways. There is also the possibility of sharing feedback using tools such as Mote and Kaizena.
Providing students with avenues to showcase their learning is another empowering strategy to enhance students sense of accountability, motivation and self-directed learning. There are several ways students can showcase their learning including through creating digital portfolios using tools such as Seesaw and Google Sites, creating personal blogs using tools such as Blogger or WordPress, through visual illustrations such as the creation of posters and infographics using tools like Canva, Google Drawing, and PiktoChart.
Empowering students voice is a process and not an end. It is only through allowing students the space to freely engage in expressive forms of interaction and perspective sharing that we, teachers and educators, ensure the creation of inclusive learning environments where students are empowered and where their voice and agency are valued.