Commentary on Assessment
This is a comment on Tony Bates’ post:
e-Learning and 21st century skills and competences, Tony Bates.
Tony wrote: “…assessment is still being ‘content’ rather than ‘process’ driven – or at least, this is how assessment is being perceived by our students.”
I absolutely agree. There is a need to shift the thinking of learners so that they become intrinsicly motivated to learn, rather than be animated to learn entirely by the carrots and sticks of testing.
Assessment is so dependent on context – who the learners are, where they are, their anticipated roles, and the degree to which technology plays a role in their lives.
E-learning should start with an assessment of what motivates the learners to begin blogging in the first place, and what keeps them motivated to continue sustained activity well past the duration of a course or program.
For any sustained learning activity to work, it needs to involve a combination of learner self-assesment and expert assessment. In future, however, learners will not have to settle for the one assessor/teacher – when what really matters to them is gaining validation from peers or others considered trusted experts.
How can institutions control the outflow, the overflowing of student and faculty learning and teaching activity beyond the walls of the classroom/LMS/learning community? This is the wrong question to be asking.
The questions should instead be: how do we assess these outlying learning activities for entry into programs?
How do we define our roles as educators to maintain firmly established boundaries, protecting the learners with a safe space, while also providing them with the required skills to venture out confidently as future netizens?
Requiring learners to use blogs within a conventional assessment model will not work. It does not address the future skills/values/knowledge these learners will require to fulfill their roles. I strongly disagree that learning activities should be set entirely in terms of vocational objectives – technology is used for much more than just work. First Nations learners, for example, might not choose to be academics, so why expect to only test them based on essay writing? This is not just about First Nations learners, but for all learner, struggling to learn to write and put ideas down. Why not expand the assessment to include , storytelling, journaling, and creative projects, as well as a PLE, in which these projects are stored as digitized content? I think that testing and evaluating the individual posts is far to simplistic-it is the connections, the processes, the development over time, which needs to be captured, not the individual posts or “units of analysis” . If learners were offered choice, allowed to own their learning content and own the process of learning, and be offered choices about how they want to blog and how they want to meet the required learning outcomes, the learning event would be a celebration of life-changing learning that will stay with them for a lifetime, instead of just being a rite of passage, somthing to be endured or survived. Imagine how otherwise reluctant student bloggers might be if given choices over how they want to communicate as learners: as a private blogger, working on private thoughts, or as an autonomous blogger, using blog posts as a linklog and sandbox to draft ideas, in full view of others, or as a social, or embedded blogger, working with others to discuss and debate and share ideas, or as an anonymous blogger, one whose personal identity needs to be shielded, so that they feel protected while engaging in heated discussions and debates with others in an arena of ideas. Imagine what might occur to these learners if they were given support and encouragement to move into types of blogging, and expand their skills to become more proficient communicators.
I think that before learners tackle higher-level content creation skills, they require an apprenticeship, and this is where the teachers play a vital role. They require safety, privacy, and yet also an oppprtunity to choose the means of assessment and the validators.