Building Assessment for the Digital Future

Recent conversations with colleagues at AdelaideX have us wondering what assessment will look like in the future. When I think about that, the questions that come to mind are:

  • What isn’t working now about how we assess learners? and
  • What might assessment that leverages the potential of technology to more efficiently and effectively assess at scale look like?
h-heyerlein-199082
Part technology, part alien, but human underneath…?

The latter is the more intriguing and attractive question, isn’t it? The first few ideas that came to my mind were:

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Learning that’s just-in-time to frustrate me

Last night some new strings arrived for my ukulele. I’ve only ever restrung a ukulele once (despite owning a zillion) so although I knew I was a complete n00b, I figured I ought to be able to work it out.

Last night someone in my house may have thrown a violent tantrum of frustration.

Don't tell me to be calm!!
That person may have been trying to change ukulele strings.

That person may have been me.

When faced with the task in which I am incredibly lacking in any knowledge or experience, i would turn either to someone knowledgeable nearby (in person or through PLN) or youtube. In this case, it was youtube. This was just a short manual activity, surely a video is going to be the best way to learn it. The situation, and my experience, made me think of the iterations of flipped classrooms and recorded lectures that I have experienced up until now – and why I’m still skeptical of the “down with lectures!” push that seems to be gaining traction.

In light of the recent conversations of the value of lectures (from many viewpoints), I wondered – what would have been the optimal way for me to learn this valuable, yet infrequently applied, knowledge?Read More »

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should 

Or “The difference between being a Subject Matter Expert and being a teacher”

When I was in high school, I was Vice-Captain of the girl’s First XI cricket team. Not because I was especially good, in fact I was average-poor most days, but mostly because only 12 people turned up to tryouts. I was, however, pretty good at keeping spirits up on the field and also pretty good at translating and articulating coach’s instructions on how to execute a particular skill better, even if I couldn’t actually demonstrate it myself. I knew that when bowling you want your body to be almost side-on and the arm with the ball to make a wide arc with your upper arm grazing your ear as you step through.

When my friends struggled with algebra or calculus concepts, or how to interpret the wordy physics exercises or couldn’t wrap their heads around how to conjugate ‘venir’ v ‘ir’ in French, they didn’t often ask the teacher, they asked me. Whereas our teachers might simply repeat the formula or answer or just move on, I could come up with ways to explain or other examples that made more sense or different interpretations of the formula.

When I worked at a linen and haberdashery store during university, my colleagues who had worked there for years and knew the processes and products in and out struggled to work out how to impart that knowledge on me – preferring to make me stand and watch or rattling off step after step with no context.

All of which is to say, just because you know your shit, doesn’t mean you’re shit hot at how teach it to others.*Read More »

On winging it…

Unless you’ve worked with me, you may not know this, but I am the self-proclaimed Queen of “Winging It”. It’s the curse of procrastinators everywhere that what must eventually be done is done under duress extreme time pressure. Sooner or later, if you’re a bad learner not unlike me, that means throwing caution to the wind and just doing it.

The years I have spent honing this craft have resulted in an innate belief that I can do almost anything with enough pressure and confidence.

This weekend I was a headline performer at the Mandorah Ukulele and Folk Festival.

A few days out from the performance, I get the run sheet that says I’m to be onstage for up to 70 minutes (including setup – which takes all of 3 mins- and breakdown – which takes even less). This would present no problem, if I wasn’t used to and expecting a 40-45 minute set. Those extra 15-20 minutes means 4-5 songs plus preamble and potentially rearranging the order to maintain or recreate the flow. At the same time, I need to plan for contingencies such as playing faster than usual and getting through my songs quicker than expected, or the timing on the day running over and having to cut songs out with the call of “15 minutes to go”. Read More »

A stuttering spluttering start

The rambling story of my first few weeks…

165H

I don’t know about you, but the memories of ‘health and safety’, ‘accepted conduct’ or other general induction and compliance courses don’t fill me with excitement. So, I’m rather excited about the the challenge of trying to deliver compliance training in a way that’s effective and not completely mind-numbing.

The first hurdle that sprang itself up at me was the content. One of my team’s objectives is to raise awareness of legal obligation imposed on all public officers in South Australia, an obligation that is outlined in deep legalese which, unless you have experience reading and interpreting the law you’re likely to struggle to comprehend it. And the stakes are high – they are obliged to know, and failure to comply can mean pretty hefty consequences. And so, we have a responsibility to ensure information is available that helps people understand their obligations and how to prevent corruption, misconduct and maladministration.Read More »

An open ramble on the openness of “open”

Embed from Getty Images

I’ll admit. I’ve never understood the hype about MOOCs (MOOC = Massive Open Online Course).

Maybe I’ve worked too close to edtech to see it as a “revolutioniser” of education for the masses. I’ve had online components of my F2F courses at university and did a wholly-online course as well. I’ve tried out a few MOOCs from Coursera, Open2Study, UNEOpen to see what the fuss was all about and mostly left with a resounding “meh”. I’ve watched article after article be posted in sites like Inside Higher Ed about the MOOC wave and various iterations thereof and left more confused and less inspired each time.

Many people far more eloquent, accredited and intelligent than I have harped on about what a MOOC is, what it should be, what it’s not, what it’s going to change in education and how much money will be spent on this trend.

Me? I noticed this today: “Top #MOOC provider edX no longer free for all” which got me thinking about the “open” in a MOOC. Is it referring to free or freely available? Open entry, i.e. no prerequisites/all entry level, or openly (publicly) advertised? Openly shared as a resource or leveraging openly shared resources?Read More »

Measuring the competencies of Outcomes

Recently, I’ve been working more closely with Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and their online learning needs. We’ve been bringing on more and more clients to the Moodlerooms platform (link) because of a number of exciting enhancements on top of core Moodle. One of those that I’m really excited about is a new version of Outcomes – tracking, aligning and reporting on learning outcomes or competencies at a course level.

Currently in core Moodle (on which Moodlerooms is based), outcomes don’t quite match what educators are looking in terms of managing learning outcomes:

You can choose a list of outcomes for the site, and you can choose a subset of those for the course, and you can assign outcomes to various activities, and even set grades (via scale) for them in assignments.  This helps somewhat for course design and some grading, but there is no transference into competencies, and there is no concept of progress tracking for students based on these. (Martin Dougiamas, ‘Outcomes, Stage 2’)

The Moodle outcomes system as it exists today does not accomplish what customers demand and require, due to some key missing functions, including the ability to easily import hierarchical standards and the ability to map and track outcomes on quiz questions and rubric rows. This limits Moodle adoption in K12, corporate, for-profit, and, to a lesser extent, higher education, specifically community colleges. (Outcomes Specification, Moodle Docs)

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Badges – ringeth the eportfolio death knell?

Last night, Steve Wheeler pondered “Do open badges signal the death of the e-portfolio? #learningpoollive“. The sentiment of that conversation is that, yes, Steve and others believe they do.

I disagree.

The key reason I don’t believe that badges signal the death of the eportfolio is the purpose for their respective initial creation, ongoing development and real-life application.Read More »

Badge(r)s! What about the snake?

Badges. Open badges even. [cue music: Badger, badger, badger, badger…] They’re, like, totes popular right now, you know?

This is not a post about open badges, per se. Nor their application in a learning situation. This is not a discussion of their validity. All sorts of other people are talking about the “why” and the technical aspect of “how”. I want talk about the snake in the grass – the policy implications that need to be considered for any organisation looking to implement (or allow individual teaching facilitators to individually implement) them.

The topic came up recently in discussions with my colleagues and our clients who are keen to use badges in their Higher Education academic courses. As an example, a student is awarded open badges for completing assessments in a paid tertiary-level course. They are awarded extra badges for reaching certain grades, that may not necessarily reflect their achievement across the whole course. These badges are added to their LinkedIn profile, resume and similar. Potential employers can then see that they “achieved” a level of competency in a certain part of that course – is that accurate, fair, appropriate, scalable?Read More »

how come for why?

Every day I see tens, hundreds of links of interesting articles, usually on twitter. Some I retweet, others I just favourite. Very few I actually get time to properly read and analyse.

I feel like I’m consuming information, but only superficially. I feel like I can regurgitate what others think, quote, reflect, but there’s no space for my opinion. There’s no time for me to formulate my own thoughts or process my own questions.

I want to give myself a platform to process all the interesting tidbits I come across on the Internet, give myself a reason to go deeper, give myself permission to search and wander, give myself a way to ask questions and wonder.

So, I decided to blog.Read More »