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.