Week 4 Reflection

This has been as interesting reading about different assessment models, methods and history.  I’ve been thinking a little more concretely about authentic assessments and performance-based assessments this week, particularly as I have worked on my assessment evaluation on Edublogs.  I began looking at Digital Storytelling this week as an alternative to blogging, or  a different kind of e-portfolio (“Digital Storytelling and Authentic Assessments,” Edutopia, Monica Burns, Dec 8, 2014). I know it has been around for years, but I have always been drawn to it, to the multimedia, creative aspect as well as the format a “story” might give.   I like the metaphor of storytelling as connected to e-portfolios.  Perhaps I’ll consider an activities/assessment toolbox in in a digital storytelling format for the faculty I’ve be working with.  I wonder if it would help them to put skills and tools into service for teaching and learning, and change the focus to the the student.  They will be expanding their skills in using Moodle, but I want to really get them to think about expanding beyond the walls of Moodle too and thinking about teaching differently.  They’ll have to teach differently since they can’t bring a traditional classroom into Moodle.  I know a few will bring up videotaped lectures at the start, so I’d like to put that off.

This week has been easier for me, perhaps because I see a real goal, the midterm project, and I can focus on a couple technologies rather than swim in a ocean of dozens.  Technologies, teaching, learning differences, new skills, and put it all together into something meaningful, understandable and doable for students — that is not easy.

Sometimes I think higher education is behind K-12 in using new teaching models, assessments, and technology, and it is true for many colleges, especially smaller less well-funded schools, like mine.  We certainly are conservative in higher education and slow to change.  Some faculty are not just reluctant, they are resistant, and many are convinced that the lecture-and-listen method is still the best.  Faculty members have also been reluctant to take advice in almost any form from non-faculty, in the past particularly.  K-12 has a more established practice of in-service experts and focus on teaching that we do in higher education.

However, I see changes in attitudes, certainly in younger faculty, but in many older ones too.  As the culture has slowly changed and loosened up a bit, faculty are more open to administrators and other professional staff and are willing to try new technologies and methods.  The youngest faculty come in with digital skills and a many have a toolbox of technology they are comfortable using.  That makes them more open at the outset.  Working with new technologies can be humbling; you never know if it will work or fail.  I have gotten used to failures, or problem-solving and troubleshooting, and I try to encourage experimenting and adjusting and trying again in faculty and students.  How else will we get through this period of technology transition we are in.

If tenure and promotion committees in traditional liberal arts / research schools allow for more teaching in portfolios and more trials in using emerging technologies – as it has begun to – more faculty will embrace it along with new methods and technology.  I’m sure that many K-12  schools have the problem too, but it is so hard to reform university teaching and old assessment habits. I have been at this uphill battle since the 80s, but always see progress.  I envision Sisyphus making it to the top, dancing his victory dance and everyone is happy.  We just move to the next problem to solve.

teachers-dance

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Articles and Websites of Interest

Assessing Learning in Online Education: The Role of Technology in Improving Student Outcomes, Matthew Prineas and Marie Cini, NILOA, Oct 2011.   “. . . online education and assessment in higher education developed in parallel, these two ‘movements’ intersected little during that time. Now they are poised to do so, Prineas and Cini emphasize, and both will benefit.”  The authors look at 3 areas to support their claim: 1) the ability to gather data in an online course on what students are learning and their learning behaviors (data analytics), 2) learning assessment is seen as an integral part of the design approach of mastery learning, and 3) best practices in online learning mirror Chickering’s 7 Principles of Good Practice for Undergraduate Education (Oliver Dreon, “Applying the 7 Principles…” Faculty Focus, Feb 25, 2013).

7 Things to Know about Blogs, EDUCAUSE Learning Institute, ELI.  The focus isn’t just on what blogs are but why are they significant in leaning, what are the implications for teaching and learning, how are they evolving.  ELI has a wonderful site with a lot of resources and ways to connect with other educators through conferences, meetings, research.

E-Learning Examples.  This is a fantastic site for examples of E-learning in hundreds of areas and subjects.  David Anderson has curated the best multimedia learning examples form a wide number of sources. He has lots of examples of games and simulations, interactive graphics and infographics, online museums, slideshows, videos portraits, interactive audio and video, interactive maps and panaramas, multimedia storytelling, graphic novels, ipad apps, and on and on.  Subjects: everything.

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything.  The ubiquitous Kathy Schrock just can’t be overlooked for great material.  In particular, I found Assessment and Rubrics to be a whole site on its own.

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Concept Map

The course I am developing is “Teaching Online: Creating an Effective Moodle Course” and this is my concept map of a three objectives in three modules.  The link below will take you to a larger version of the map.  I am a neophyte with concept mapping software and there was enough of a learning curve that my ideas didn’t flow as they probably should have if I were really brainstorming, but I can see that I could find the flow with more practice.

Concept Map – Using Moodle

moodle-map-lg

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Week 3 Reflection

A whirlwind of a week!  We had quite a lot of readings, videos, websites to explore.  And we are beginning to make substantial applications to our courses in addition to focusing on the midterm group project and our blogs.  I spent a lot of time thinking about the concept map we are developing which will explore our course objectives, activities and assessments.  An interesting project, part about the course and part about manipulating software.

The style of the learning objectives we are working with is a little different from the style of objectives I used in an earlier course and in education courses, instructional systems design and my work. The parts are all essentially the same, but these objectives are very tight, precise and packed.  Then using the objectives to create a concept map – another leap for me.  I seemed to want to be wordy in the objectives and the activities and assessments.  I really thought about the activities.  My course is an online course to teach faculty at my college use Moodle while giving them the experience of being online and watching someone else teach.  As they go they will build their own course.

I always like the production assignments particularly when I am asked to be through and clear in my thinking and expression.  Love it.  I found the software cumbersome – I tried Inspiration and X-Mind.  If I could use it strictly for brainstorming and not worry about the precision of the layout, I’d be happier.  And that is how my map looked in the end.  I decided to not try to create something as neat as a chart or outline.  I wanted to see if I could work with the software to reflect my thinking and the content I’m trying to express.  Fun stuff.  I tend to make clusters of information on my desktop, which drives other people crazy, but that’s how I organize.

Massive Cluster of Galaxies, “El Gordo,” nasa.gov

cluster4

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Class Wiki, assess2elearn

During the term, we are contributing and editing our class wiki assess2elearn.  We have created a list of recommendations for discussion forum Netiquette, links to our blogs and continue to contribute and stay in touch throughout the course.  Feel free to look at some of our collaborative efforts.

Wiki_Wordle

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Week 2 Reflection

If I am working with a class of students who are not bloggers or haven’t written yet, I might consider a group blog even though it’s a bit difficult to manage.  Particularly if a course has a lot of activities, I think maintaining an individual blog and encouraging interaction doesn’t always work out the way I’d like.  When people are very busy, blogs seem to drop in priority.  They should be given a lot of thought and with discussion forums or other ways to interact, it could be redundant.  Blogs can become static fast if you don’t post often and push it out and look for subscribers. This applies more to blogs on issues and current topics than reflective blogs.

In a course a blog might have a short life and the interactions might be only between students in a course.  If I taught a couple courses that were the same or in the same field, it might be a good idea to cross-pollinate between the classes so students share their thoughts in different, but related areas of a subject.  I guess I am really seeing more of a discussion forum online for students in a cohort or same year, but with some different classes, a place where they can share ideas and seed ideas.  Maybe this would work if there is a TA who runs a blog and gets students in a cohort engaged and talking.

At this point in the course I am feeling a little unsure where we are going, but I felt that way in the previous course and in creating a project, it seems to come together.  I think I have the midterm pretty well understood – and that alone makes me a bit nervous too!  I do feel that I barely have time to really digest everything.

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Week 1 Reflection

Nothing warms me up to assessment like alternative forms of assessment.  I think I have a lot of company.  In “The Alternative Assessment Paradigm Shift, M. A. Buhagiar,” I see hope for students and teachers everywhere who will find new assessment that is a learning activity rather than a static and punitive evaluation.  Here is the heart-warming text I’m referring to:

“This theoretical shift away from ‘measuring’ learning and towards assessment that is explicitly designed to promote learning came primarily in response to our growing understanding of learning as a meaning-making process in which, contrary to our prior understanding that knowledge can be passed directly from one head to another, much depends on the learner’s constructions of his or her own experiences (40).”

ignitesm

This is part of a change in attitude, a paradigm shift, that is about more than assessment.  It is more student-centered, but even more, it is real, authentic, useable, and alive, and may make it easier to reach students who “just never got math,” or thought that science was too hard.  I have often heard people say, “I learn by doing, I can’t read a manual.”  I am one of those people and though I love to read, I’m not as strongly a visual learner.  There were not many options for kinesthetic learners in the distant 1960s when I was in elementary school and I might have been more excited about science if we experimented more, handled and created models.

So how does authentic assessment translate into a virtual world?  Isn’t learning on the Internet even more removed from real life?  This is an interesting problem to solve for me – how to make online learning and assessment authentic.

 

 

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