Saturday, December 27, 2014

E-Learning Assessment- The Search For the Emerald Key-Part I- Underlying Ideas

In the last post I posed some questions at the beginning and one of the questions was:

"Suppose that the learner actually found the assessment to be exciting and looked forward to it?"

Assessment as it presently stands has two specific dimensions to it, assessment of learning and assessment for learning. Assessment of learning provides vital feedback to the learner but also leads to the more diagnostic dimension of assessment for learning. The data collected from a variety of assessment tools gives direction for assessment for learning. It provides a personal blueprint for the learner.

So, if our present system of assessment acknowledges these dimensions to be important, why are we not seeing the results that we would expect from such an enterprise? If anything, we are seeing learners falling further and further behind as reported from the assessments we administer.

In a way this is more of a rhetorical question because I had already suggested to you that it is not that the idea of assessment is wrong but instead that the present system of assessment is founded on the wrong vision and model of education. Let me ask you a provocative question:

"What would assessment look like if Peter Jackson, writer and producer of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, was an instructional designer on a team of designers for E-Learning?"

Perhaps the idea of "online trolls" would take on a whole new meaning. My point is that if we truly want a change that matches our aspirations for our 21st century societies, we need to subscribe to a vision that sees educators, trainers and learners as agents of change. It needs to start in the education systems and the nature of assessment must be designed in such a way that it flows smoothly from this vision. Some things would still remain the same. Objectives could still be written using a revised version of Bloom's Taxonomy.

What would change is the nature of the assessment items themselves and how the assessments would be conducted and how the results would be used. What I am about to describe relates to an online environment only. It is possible that educators in brick and mortar schools could modify it but it might be difficult to contain enthusiasm and maintain the traditional testing environment.

Some of the changes in these types of assessments would be the following:
  1. The designers of these assessments would be made up teams from a cross section of the sciences, maths, engineering, history, geography. Educators who know and understand the dynamics of learning would be part of these teams. One difference between SME's and the teams is that the people who are a part of these teams would be people who are on the leading edge of their disciplines and would know what qualities that are required for excellence in their area. Other people who would be involved would be game designers and virtual environment designers. Someone very important to the team would be someone who is gifted at story telling, such as someone like Peter Jackson.
  2. The assessment items would incorporate the principles of PBL and the use of real world scenarios. Badges earned during play representing skill sets would give feedback to the learners as to how they are doing.
  3. Instead of the learners working through the assessment event individually, they would form triad, collaborative teams in an online environment.
  4. In-event assessment would be ongoing with those who are part of the assessment team able to view the event in the same fashion as an audience. They should be able to hear the collaborative discussions.
  5. Unlike traditional assessment situations, these assessments would make available to the teams access to the tools of the world wide web throughout the assessment because the nature of the assessment items is not to regurgitate information found but to search, assess and use information to solve problems during the assessment. They would also have access to utilities that would allow them to build virtual objects to use in solving problems that they encounter. Thus the creative level of the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy comes into play.
More changes will become apparent in my next post where I will get right into describing what a sample assessment scenario I call :"The Search for the Emerald Key" might look like.

No comments: