The following blog is a reflection on: The Value of an Authentic Audience: Providing students with an audience helps them understand why their coursework is worthwhile. By Monica Burns (November 15, 2016)
Isn’t it easier to create when you have purpose fueling your creative juices? Sometimes our students feel lost when asked to create an assignment. They flounder to understand “why” they are working and “who” they are making the assignment for. Are they just making this poster to decorate the walls of the classroom or are they creating a visualization of the content that will educate an uneducated audience that will come to value and grow from their presentation of the material? Hopefully you can read my point from the overly dramatic and hypothetical question above. Unless we give them an “Authentic Audience,” as introduced by Monica Burns in her article linked above, an audience that truly exists and is invested in real-world issues which the students’ classwork (project, assignment, etc) can engage with.
Certainly, it’s much easier to make something when you know these two things,The Why and The Who; having students ask themselves the questions, “Why are we making this?” and “Who is going to see this?” leads to a deeper understanding of their project, ownership of its creation, and motivation to create.
One of the reasons we want to establish authentic audiences for students is so real people can view and interact with the projects students create. We want to take student work out of a pile of papers (or a hidden digital folder) and place it in the real world. Because when we establish authentic audiences for students, they can see the purpose for their work.
In my own classroom, I’d like to use this concept of creating an “Authentic Audience” for my students to help motivate them to learn more about a topic while they also engage in real world issues. This will especially be important and viable when it comes to my World Geography class next semester, when we will be talking about more modern and current world issues. I could have my students create plans regarding the issue of “urban sprawl,” then ask myself “who would want to see their creations and who would be encouraged by the fact that these students are thinking about these things?” We could then end up talking with a city planner about what they do and how they address the issue of “urban sprawl.