Category Archives: connectedcourses

Why Digital Assessment will kill the percentage grade

A number of academics are not particularly happy with grading – I don’t mean that they don’t like marking essays (although there are some who don’t) but that they are unhappy about the effects of assigning grades to students.


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This is not a new thing, for a detailed look at the problem try Alfie Khon or for a shorter discussion this from the Huffington post

Now for grades to have become so central to our education they must have some value to people both to schools and to students.  Internally it allows Teachers to know roughly what someone was capable of (oh they are an A grade student I will set them some harder problems etc).  Externally I would assume this has to do with employment, the employer wants some evidence that the person has the skills for the job and the students want evidence to enable them to get the job.

This is because in the past it wasn’t possible to see what students were good or bad at, you couldnt look over their essays and projects, in the digital age we can do better!

Portfolio of evidence

Now when I was at school they made us keep a “Record of Achievement” in a black folder, a paragraph a term on how we had done in various subjects, signed and commented by our teachers.  I took mine to my first job interview, but they didn’t look at it because they didn’t have time and I was sat right in front of them.  I needed some way to get the portfolio to them at the application stage – but I only had a single paper copy.

Recently I had a job interview and when I was writing the application and evidencing how I met all their criteria, I found that for a number of them I had already written blog posts that related to it – so I started including links to those posts in the document.  I certainly hadn’t intended my blog to be used in job applications, it was just a place for me to think in public, but after a couple of years of writing it contains some useful (to me at least) stuff.

So if I can start to create a portfolio of evidence almost by accident when posting in my spare time to my blog, how much easier would it be for students to assemble this if it was part of their studies?  A good example of this would be if you were doing a writing class with Laura Gibbs, at the end of the class you will have a collection of your writing publicly available on the web, which is used as evidence of your learning.

This is also good for involving others with your work for example Joe Blower “told parents that if they wanted to know..how they are doing, then they should visit their child’s blog.

And to give you an idea of what this can look like try this from one of Laura Gibbs students on her writing class https://sites.google.com/site/planetofthecatssh/home  what percentage did she get? I dont know or really care – what I do know is I thought the writing was good.

There is international work in this area this brief review of a conference/workshop will provide you with some idea of what is happening http://halfanhour.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/eportfolios-and-badges-workshop-oeb14.html

When someone wants to know what you can do they look at your work, when you want to prove you can do something you would provide examples of that work – tagging will probably become quite important.

Badges

Badges work really well with portfolios, they are a simple way of proving that you can do something. Doug Belshaw provides some useful analogies and an overview of how they work.  In essence they are a quick way of indicating what you can do, linked to examples of work that you did in this areas and showing who awarded you the badge.

Just like with the portfolios these will be used to match what you can do with what people want you to be able to do and you can also use it to fill in gaps in your skills. Example – the job says time management is important, what courses are available online that give a time management badge.

Social/Reputational metrics (Whuffie)

When applying for a job you give a couple of people who can provide a reference, recently people have started posting references on each others linked in profiles and endorse their skills.  On social networks we +1 follow and share things people have posted.

What if all the work we did had comment boxes, and people who commented it linked back to who they were (example – most of my commenting comes from my google+ account so people can if they wish see how much weight they would like to give to my opinion)

Evidence from your teacher (and this is a brilliant example of how teachers can gather that evidence using tech) – without grades, just saying what you did well and what they like about your work.

Evidence from other students, your co-workers your boss, your neighbourhood gardening scheme.

Each time you do something it ends up in your portfolio and the people that you (worked with/did it for/trained with) can comment and endorse it raising your reputation.

Closing thoughts

Now a lot of people get hung up on what you should use to host this portfolio and what happens to it in the future.  Now the thing you are using to evidence your experience may stop being hosted, and you may lose some work/evidence but if you don’t evidence your learning somewhere then you are effectively losing everything as soon as you have done it.  So I would suggest just choose something and start! (I like wordpress).

The only thing that is important is that students should own their portfolios/badges/reputation!  Dont lock their work inside an institutional system that they cant access once they have finished studying at your organisation.

In conclusion which would you say is best

“Here is a link to all the work I have done that is relevant for this post, grouped by qualification and badges around the areas you specified as important complete with comments from my teachers, colleagues and other experts I have worked with in these areas”

“I got 87% in a subject with a title that sounds like it fits your job”

Oh and finally this video – because it fits

Why I teach

For #connectedcourses we were asked to consider #whyITeach

So I had a think about it and …

Of course when looking at the details we were asked to make our video about 5 seconds long so

It is very hard to summarise but I think that I do teach because I enjoy seeing people learn

Why should people study Learning Technology?

Well not just because its shiny!

I believe that technology is such a force multiplier that its not just that we can scale a bit bigger what we were already doing, not just that we can make existing teaching a bit better and more engaging.

Technology makes possible the ideas of learning that before were impractical.  It is an opportunity to co-construct learning as what we would dream it to be.

It will be an iterative process, it will never be finished, never be perfect (and in a way that’s its beautiful strength)

For teachers and lecturers to start on this transformative path they need to be aware of what technology can do, they need to be comfortable to play around with technology, to experiment and know that its ok to (constructively) fail and to know there are people who will help when it goes wrong.

I hope that those who participate in my course, will reach that state sooner than they would alone, because after all that is what a teacher is for – to help us reach faster, further and higher

creative commons licensed ( BY-ND ) flickr photo shared by blinkingidiot

Otherwise as Cathy Davidson said http://connectedcourses.net/thecourse/why-we-need-a-why/ (13.28 minutes in till 14.15) “If what we do can be replaced by a computer screen then maybe we should be”

Edit – it has been pointed out to me that the above statement could appear a little harsh if used by someone from a central department in a University rather than a teacher.  I do work in a central department teaching and supporting academics/teachers (I have taught students in the past and I fully intend to teach again in the future).  That wasn’t the way I intended it – it was a call to “be as good as we can be” not a “lets replace our staff with cheap videos”.

Cathy Davidson is a teacher and in her blog post on this subject discusses in intelligent detail what this challenge means – (I would recommend you read it – she says it better than I could)

Connected Courses Mooc

So I fell into doing another mooc – its a really interesting one.  Details here http://connectedcourses.net/ (if you are reading this why not sign up as well?)

and a nice introductory post by Jim Groom here http://bavatuesdays.com/connected-courses-its-time-to-reclaim-your-domain/

This is a very brief post so that I can link my blog into the course, I hope that the rest of my posts for this course are a bit longer and more erudite.


creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by Cast a Line