Gone are the days of lecturing from the podium.


Traditional teaching models create a false dichotomy of the student as the passive recipient of knowledge and the instructor as the all-knowing giver of knowledge. My classroom philosophy breaks this stereotype by using technology in creative ways.

Many classrooms in today’s universities have changed the organization of the classroom itself. A desk can move around on wheels and in all directions. Multiple screens are oriented around the room. Circular architectural models facilitate conversation among all the participants in a room. Top-down instruction is almost impossible when you have five circular groups all looking at different screens around the room.

Top-down instruction is on its way out.

Side-to-side, all-around instructive participation is in!

S o how do you harness the power of co-creation and technology? There are lots of ways to do it, but here are a few things that have worked for me.

Online Homework submission before the period class starts

Assigning quick, targeted assignments before a class period starts encourages students to study at home and use class time to practice skills and engage with others. Once in class, students have already seen the materials and practiced it on their own. In this way, each student brings to the table a level of expertise. Empowering students to put their newfound knowledge into practice is integral to laying the foundation for the next technique.

Online platforms level the playing field

My favorite question is open-ended, “What did you learn?” It could be anything. A principle from the lesson. A meta-cognitive reflection.

All learning is encouraged — even if it falls outside the box.

Programs like MindMeister can help students to verbalize what they have learned and systematize their knowledge for everyone to see. You can bring this program up on the screen(s) and watch students collaborate to contribute to a semantic learning map in real-time. It’s visual, creative, and interactive.

The projector screen — more than“PowerPoint”

For one of my Spanish II courses, the target skill was narrative in both past tense of Spanish, preterit and imperfect. I had already scaffolded my lesson by asking the students to get into groups and plot out their favorite movies in English. Each group presented the major plot-points of the movies, like Black Panther and La-La Land, as I typed the plot points into a schema: “exposition, development, and closing action.” As the groups shared, the students watched me categorize and label each verb spoken. I translated what they said in English into Spanish. “Mia went to the party because she was hoping to get famous.” would turn into “Mia fue a la fiesta porque quería ser famosa.”

Technology can help facilitate co-creation in the classroom.

The content and flow of the class was created entirely by the students’ input but directed within the framework that I designed to help them learn the concept of narration in the past tense. As we continued, the students began to notice the verb patterns of using past progressive during the exposition, preterit in the development, and both during the final stage of closing action.

Visual, intercalated, and inter-active: Using Google docs

You can use Google docs to engage all of your students in real-time. In another activity based on the last one, I showed my students thematic images on a slide:

I do love PowerPoint….

Then, I asked them to all get on the class’s Google doc. It was time for the class to co-create their own narrative. I divided the students into four groups: Exposition, Development, Closing Action, and Editors. Each team had a goal. Soon — a story was being written in real-time. Not only did the students employ the correct verb tenses, they were also having fun!

When each team read their part of the story aloud, I asked the rest of the class to make the proper sound effects. I dare say everyone learned something that day — thanks to co-creation and technology.


Do you use technology and co-creation techniques in the classroom? If so, I want to hear about your ideas. We can all learn from each other. Let’s keep questioning traditional models by teaching the future now.

Judith Lang Hilgartner, PhD is an educator, writer, and world traveler. Follower her adventures on Medium and Twitter.
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Judith Lang Hilgartner, PhD is an educator, writer, and world traveler. Follower her adventures on Medium and Twitter.
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