A Vital Skill? Look For, Find and Learn from Online Guides & Tutorials

I am borrowing the notion of the Leitmotif, a recurring theme, and applying it to learning in the 21st century. For me it always seems to come back to a red thread of self-motivated and self-directed learning that connects all.

Anyone with an internet connection has the capability of accessing courses and lectures from Ivy League universities. Times Magazine published an article titled, Logging on to the Ivy League already in 2009.

Diamond is an esteemed neuroanatomist and one of the most admired professors at the University of California, Berkeley. It would be a privilege for anyone to sit in on her lectures. And, in fact, anyone can. Videos of her popular course are available free online, part of a growing movement by academic institutions worldwide to open their once exclusive halls to all who want to peek inside. Whether you’d like to learn algebra from a mathematician at MIT, watch how to make crawfish étouffée from an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America or study blues guitar with a professor at Berklee College of Music, you can do it all in front of your computer, courtesy of other people’s money.

Simply google Yale iTunes University or Harvard iTunes University and you are in business to potentially LEARN from the same professors that teach the students who are attending these “very expensive”higher education institutions.

Will you earn a degree from this universities?.No…
Will you receive one on one attention from the professors if you have questions about their lecture?… No…
Will you meet the right people or be roommates with the children of the right people?…. No….
Do you have access to listening and learning from some brilliant minds?.. on your choice of topics?… without having to spend a dime?… Yes!
Can you become part of an online learning community, with members watching the same lectures, discussing and learning with and from each other?…Yes
The “education” is there… there for the taking… only the self-directed and self-motivated… will and can take advantage of the offerings and LEARN from it.

I recently published a blog post inspired by Will Richardson’s article “Three starting points to think differently about “Learning. I believe we have hit on another point, illustrating how we NEED to think about learning in a different light:

Being able to look for, find, watch, “re-wind” and learn from online lectures, guides and tutorials?

How do we transfer this skill and break it down into different benchmarks for the younger students not ready for Yale or Harvard yet? Thinking of :

the highest level of thinking skills (Bloom’s Taxonomy) of creating
the disputed Learning Pyramid, which claims that learners retain about 90% of what we teach others (Take a look at Darren Kurpatwa’s Academe’s Dirty Little Secret)
Alan November’s Digital Learning Farm with Tutorial Designers as one of the roles to empower learners. Give students authentic job responsibility to empower them and become part of a learning community

I am taking the route of having our students learn to create quality tutorials for each other or for their younger schoolmates. There is something about kids and wanting to teach what they know to others. Our kids are not only flocking as their first choice for learning to online tutorials, they are also becoming the creators of many (without adult intervention!)

Just ask a teenage daughter what she does in order to get make-up instructions if she has a “challenged mother” in that department? What about detailed directions for a complicated French braid?
How do you learn to pick a lock, after your niece locks the basement door from the wrong side?
What about help in order to upgrade your laptop’s memory or install a new hard drive?
Online tutorials to the rescue! Take a look at the thousands of tutorials on youTube, websites, or snapguide, with “instructors” half or more the age of “traditional teachers”.

I have written many tutorial posts. They come in forms of  info-flyers to help guide teachers step by step in implementing a process or a tool, screenshots (image of my screen), screencasts (video recordings of my screen), infographics, podcasts (audio file), plain texts in blog posts, Word documents or shared with Google Docs.

The above mentioned book Who owns the Learning by Alan November was one of the Summer Reading choices for our faculty. Our  4th and 5th grade teachers have been taken on the task to expose students to the importance of digital tutorials and encourage the to produce their own tutorials.

Students worked  on  “how to” posts for their blogfolios.  They were encouraged to add hyperlinks, video, and/or images to their post to enhance their writing.


5th-grade students had a first go at storyboarding and filming a tutorial of “How to create a QR code?”. As a class, each video clip /tutorial was critiqued. Students came up with a list of suggestions to make tutorials better. Everyone went back to the drawing board to edit and make the tutorials better according to their list.