Product Review of The Current
Formerly Digital Is, The Current is an open publishing media literacy website created and curated by a community of educators. Created under the direction of the National Writing Project (NWP) as a source for grassroots professional development, the site shares the NWP’s ethos of encouraging educators to help others in their field. The site is closely linked to its parent site, Educator Innovator, a hub for connected learning in education.
Using Creative Commons 4.0 licensing as a basic tenet, content on the site is organized under three tabs: Blog, Resources, and Collections. The succinct blog entries link to articles, activities, and definitions (when needed). Much of the Resources section is made up of educators‘ documentation of their inquiries into their own practice, focusing on connected learning projects, social justice units that are tied to current events, or activities using innovative apps. The Collections are exactly that: resources grouped by theme; as such, they serve as a user-friendly way to get at the site’s content. Some missing images, outdated content, and lags in page loading time indicate that the developers may no longer be supporting this tool, but there’s still an abundance of useful resources.
Teachers who have a desire to share their ideas — or who need ideas for the classroom or insight into others’ experiences — can look at The Current as both a virtual media specialist and a space to find your writing voice. Plan ahead to make the most of the site’s offerings — there’s a lot to take in, and you’ll want to take the time to read through and digest everything the site offers. It’s a resource that will probably be most useful when planning, either at the start of the school year or between semesters.
Once you’re familiar with the site, you can return to find or share ways to incorporate technology into writing lessons — or just to find inspiration about teaching in general. Take advantage of others’ expertise in the community, where you can get support and guidance from other members. Users can offer help with a specific unit or media tool, or you could even share a unit you’ve designed to solicit feedback. Be forewarned that while there’s plenty of content, there are some problems with the site that may prevent new users from contributing, and you might get better responses from the parent site, Educator Innovator.
Part current practice, part reflection, and part digital archive, The Current’s content serves as professional development by educators, for educators. Whether you’re tech-savvy or a reluctant neophyte, the site’s blog and other resources provide direction, guidance, and inspiration for the many effective ways to incorporate technology and media into your teaching. The resources don’t just guide the teaching of writing and media literacy, but also extend into general teaching practices. Additionally, The Current aims to foster a sense of community with the option to comment on any article and engage with the educator who posted it.
In a world of ever-changing media, it might be tempting to think of The Current as a quick place to pick up resources on the fly, but the site demands a bit more of an investment. For educators looking for new ideas, new takes on old ideas, or a space to share their knowledge, there’s a lot here to inspire. In the current media landscape, technological agility is a crucial need for educators and learners alike, but sometimes it’s nice to go back to your roots and see how far you’ve come.
Overall User Consensus About the App
The comment sections don’t seem to have much traction, but with the focus on supporting connected learning and enhancing media literacy, educators will find ways to implement high-interest, technology-centered lessons.
Curriculum and Instruction
The site offers many resources, but laborious navigation and the lack of strategies for meeting the specific learning needs of special needs learners may leave some users feeling simultaneously over- and underwhelmed.