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Skills or knowledge? You don't need to ask the question!

Published on 07/07/15

Engagement and content are frequently pitted against each other in the educational media – the battle between content-heavy learning which focusses on the detail of knowledge and the skills-led approach that focusses on the application.

Fortunately, it has long been realised that this is a false dichotomy. In this case, I am pleased to say that one can have one’s cake and eat it!

The knowledge

In the example given here, my Year 9 Geography class (8th grade) studied the migration flows from Central America. We covered the basic theories of migration (Lee’s Migration Model), investigated some of the statistics that are associated with the movements (socio-economic data about Mexico and USA) and then attempted to unearth a little of the human stories involved by watching some extracts from documentaries such as the excellent How The Wild West Was Won by Ray Mears and a BBC News broadcast.

The application

Issued and details had been explored in class. Importantly this knowledge is left open and accessible to the students in the iTunes U course. The task was now given to communicate the story of the migration flow (a better idea, in my opinion at least, to 'write it up'). Students chose how to produce their communication report. Most opted for Adobe Voice (a voice and image app) or Adobe Slate (a website creation app).

So, is 'skills or knowledge' the question?

Here are some of the results. I will leave you to judge whether the students produced high quality, engaging and memorable work that allowed them to develop their knowledge as well as their skills. If you would like to find out more about the Year 9 USA course, take a look at iTunes U – it's all free. Help yourself – download and edit the resources if you wish.

Website 1 created using Adobe Slate

Website 2 created using Adobe Slate

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