Sunday, May 5, 2013

What are you an expert in?

Note: This is a blog post about education.  I promise!  Read through to the end.

I have a secret that most people don't know about me.  I love couponing.  Yes, there I said it.  I love doing it, I love watching those couponing shows, and I love scouring the blogosphere for the best deals out there. Am I an actual couponer?  Not...even...close.

While I love couponing, I have to admit trying it on my own, clipping the coupons, scanning over the deals within the latest newspaper insert from stores, and trying to match the store deals or rewards with the manufacturer coupons didn't work for me.  I still ended up paying a lot more for items that regular couponers paid a few cents for or even got free.  So, what did I do?  I gave it up for awhile, but then a few months later decided to give it another try.

What I did was change my game plan.  I clearly wasn't an expert in couponing, yet clearly there are others who are.  And interestingly, these experts were posting their strategies and finds on their blogs daily.  I remember once my mentor and former boss told me "Don't try to reinvent the wheel."  In other words, there are other people who have probably done in the past what you are trying to do now, so why not use their resources or advice to complete your task rather than trying to do it on your own?

So, instead, at least for my goal of successfully couponing, I went to the experts.  I started scanning the blogs of couponers in my area and mimicked what they did with their coupons.  I looked for items they mentioned on their blog that I needed, printed out or clipped the coupons they shared on their blog, went the store they mentioned, and then bought the item either for free or for a few cents.  And... bingo!  I became a successful couponer.  Well, not an expert couponer, but one that used the experts to help me with my goal of couponing.

And this where the education part comes in.  We aren't experts in everything.  Yet, with the Internet, we have access to all kinds of experts in every topic imaginable, so we can get advice on practically anything.  However, did you know we are experts as well?  Maybe not in couponing per se, but we all have hobbies, interests, and other topics we have studied and honed over the years.

Instead of being consumers of information, why don't we become creators of information?  Why not teach our students to be the creators and how to share their creations?  Students may not be "experts" in the traditional subjects we introduce them to in their early years.  Yet, they will eventually be the new "experts" within the next few years.  Why not empower them?  Why not show them how to responsibly share their expertise?  Why not show them they are not just consumers, but innovators, creators, and leaders within their own interests and fields?

Activities that instructors can assign is have students create their own blogs or do group blogs, have them create their own websites, or even have them write their own book and have it published via hard copy or digital?   Their publication doesn't have to be about the particular subject area you are teaching.  Have them choose a topic of their own, one that they most know about. There are so many ways to empower students.  Provide them with the knowledge that they can create and then perhaps they can help someone else who is a "beginner" in their field.  Have them be the "expert couponer" within their own lives and education.

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