A storified archive of tweets with #EWECE.
A storified archive of tweets with #EWECE.
There was an excellent piece in The Conversation a week or so ago written by Beverley Oliver (@DVCEdDeakin) entitled, Proving knowledge by degrees: MOOCs and the challenge of assessment. The reference to MOOCs in the title is a useful device for attracting attention, but the content of the article focuses on the quality of assessment design, and has broader applicability beyond the context of MOOCs.
The design of assessment tasks is critical to the creation of authentic learning environments. Student engagement and the deep learning that ensues, is far more likely if students can see the point of what they doing (see, for example, Lizzio & Wilson, 2013). As Professor Oliver notes:
Perhaps instead of focusing on how we test students, a more purposeful question might be: presuming we know what outcomes we need students to achieve, and at what standard, what evidence will enable us to judge that this student is ready to graduate? In other words, assessment tasks are opportunities for students to create evidence of learning achievements in an array of formats.
In other words, if we look upon assessment as learning, rather than of learning, the approach taken by the learner (and faculty) takes on a completely different complexion, as Dr Adele Flood describes in this video clip.
Ken Robinson outlines three important principles to be adhered to if learning is to flourish in educational institutions — cater for diversity, nurture curiosity, and encourage creativity. Unfortunately, many education systems are characterised by conformity, standardisation, and compliance.
Testing has a lot do with this, or rather the design of tests. A focus on assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning, with greater attention to the authenticity of the assessment task will engage the learner because there is more scope to explore their curiosity and demonstrate their creative prowess.
Robinson contends that while standardised tests have a place, they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic.
Unfortunately, in many instances it’s about teaching to the test, and deep learning — if it happens — is incidental.
As always, Ken Robinson puts in an inspiring and entertaining performance. My favourite quote during this presentation (borrowed from Benjamin Franklin) is:
There are three sorts of people in the world: Those who are immovable, people who don’t get, they don’t want to get it, they’re not going to do anything about it. There are people who are movable, people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it. And there are people who move, people who make things happen. And if we can encourage more people, that will be a movement.
After almost a decade away in the corporate world, I don’t think I could have picked a better time to return to mainstream academia. Universities are changing — largely because of external pressures it must be said — and I can sense an openness to new thinking about pedagogy that wasn’t in evidence before. A key driver, I think, is the ubiquity of technology.
Whether we are talking about desktops, laptops, tablets or hand-helds, access to ICTs is no longer strictly the realm of the geek. Walk into any classroom in a university these days and its like a technology park. The big question, of course, is the extent to which all this hardware is actually serving to enhance learning.
I have blogged about Singapore’s FutureSchools projects in the past, and this latest clip from Edutopia would seem to indicate that serious progress is being made. The true success of this initiative, of course, will be the extent to which these practices will be rolled out to all schools in Singapore, and in this respect, professional development will be critical.
An interesting point to emerge from this video is that the approach taken to professional development in the FutureSchools project is to embrace the same participatory learning culture they are nurturing in their classrooms. Using technology, there is group peer observation of class sessions with the dual objective of learning from one another and providing constructive feedback.
More formal education and training in the use of ICTs in the classroom (in K-12 or higher education) is not that widely available. The Asian International College in Singapore is aiming to fix this with the launch if its Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Digital Pedagogies) this year.
It was S.T. Coleridge who made the observation that ‘the willing suspension of disbelief’ is required for the enjoyment of poetry, novels and the dramatic arts — I also believe this is a requirement in education where role play takes centre stage. Role play is the bridge between theory and reality and, done properly, constitutes an effective means for securing deep learning outcomes. The reason, simply, is that the arts stimulate our imaginations which, in turn, stimulate creativity. I might add that the ICTs are effective tools for the creation of authentic role-plays.
Ken Robinson makes this case very eruditely in this presentation entitled: ‘Out of our Minds’, in which he calls for the abandonment of standardisation and conformity in education, thus allowing individuals to explore their talents through a personalised curriculum.
Michael Wesch of A Vision of Students Today fame gave a TEDx talk last year that I revisited the other day when I found myself (frustratingly) having to justify the case for authentic assessment. “But they’ll cheat won’t they?” is the classic response I get when I present the case for an open-book, open-web summative assessment. Some research I did with Amy Wong back in 2009 suggests the contrary but a much more important question is why someone would want to cheat in the first place.
If the test of a person’s ‘knowledge’ is the ability to dredge information from the brain and use this to piece together something resembling a coherent argument in the unnatural setting of an examination hall, then resorting to unethical means for the dredging process will never be beyond temptation.
If, on the other hand, the knowledge to be tested is a person’s ability to think on one’s feet to solve unstructured, real-world problems, generating unique, meaningful and useful responses, how is it possible to cheat?
Wesch uses the term knowledge-able to describe this attribute, which amounts to a little more than being ‘knowledgeable’. The difference between the two is that the latter does not necessarily require you to practice your knowledge, where you go beyond critical thinking to actually create meaning.
Acquiring knowledge-ability effectively ‘future-proofs’ your learning … it is learning that lasts way beyond the ‘test’.
On the day the world learned that Steve Jobs had logged out for the final time, it is fitting to comment on one of his many legacies. It has been estimated that by 2015, more people will be accessing the Internet via mobile devices than through PCs. The video clip above estimates it will be slightly earlier in 2014 but, frankly, I’d be amazed if it takes this long.
In the education industry, the possibilities are boundless. The launch of the $35 tablet this week is as big piece of news on disruptive innovation as there is likely to be for a while, with there now being a real chance of doing something positive about the education of the rural poor in India. Just as Indians leap-frogged landlines and went straight to mobile telephony, I expect the same to happen in terms of mass mobile connectivity to the Web, with huge consequences for economic development.
Without doubt, the iPhone and the iPad have revolutionised they way we access the Internet, and I think without the Jobs ‘Apple-coolness’ factor, this may not have happened, or at least not proceeded as quickly as it might.
iThankyou Mr Jobs.
Having mucked around with computers in education for almost two decades, from something we used to call computer based teaching (CBT) to what commonly became known as ‘e-learning’, I am confident that, today, the use of ICTs in education is sufficiently ubiquitous, that it’s okay now to simply refer to it as ‘learning’. My rationale for this statement is very simple: this is what people do in spite of the formal education system. The data for the US in the infographic below is fairly compelling. One point it makes that is worth emphasising relates to the current crisis in education where students are so disaffected they are dropping out in record numbers. This is why — as the infographic states — it is Education’s Internet moment! If paradigm shift does not occur now, it never will.