Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Collaboration: Assessment for Learning and Business Take Aways

One area of learning that the concept of effective collaboration has great potential for is in the area of assessment for learning. In the past, assessment for learning and assessment of learning were focused on the individual. Any attempt at collaboration would have been considered "cheating". However, if the daily learning experiences we expose the learner to involves a renewed emphasis on collaboration, should not assessment of learning and for learning also reflect this emphasis. This is not to imply that there would be no assessment of learning and for learning for the individual learner. What is being suggested is that we can create a more balanced assessment that includes a measure of the collaborative thinking, decision making and use of each others talents and gifts in solving complex real world problems.This fits with the understandings behind what we term as "Open Pedagogy" which the education community is moving towards.

The obvious question is:

 "How can we design such assessment tools so that we obtain measures of what we are looking for?"

Some Suggestions: Consider, with an open mind, these possibilities:

  1. Use of Share Applications As Assessment Tools: One of the great advancements brought to us by Google is what we call its cloud storage in the form of the Google Drive and the suite of apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Presentations. The singular common characteristic is that all of these apps can be set up according to defined sharing protocols. Imagine that a teacher creates a shareable document, which he or she stores on his or her Google Drive. Students are then paired (not sitting with each other) and the document is shared out to them alone with certain features turned off(can't change the directions or wording of task) but can add their thoughts, proposals or solutions to a tasked problem. No one else can be invited to the group unless permitted by the instructor. with the shared capability, students can collaborate without speaking because they can see what each other is adding to the tasked problem. Students would have access to the web which again reinforces the needed skillsets of the learner being able to analyze the problem collaboratively, search and authenticate useful information on the web collaboratively and use synthesis to prioritize and reduce information pertinent to the tasked problem using collaboration. The development of innovative solutions to the proposed problem could allow students access to a shared drawing and presentation tool to illustrate their ideas.
  2. Going Beyond Assessment By the Instructor: If we agree that in order to solve complex real world problems, we need cross disciplinary approaches then it is logical that the instructor alone may not have all the appropriate skillsets and experience to look at the solutions provided by students from the multiple of perspectives required. This is where specialists from professional learning communities can play a role in assessment of learning but also make important comments to students for assessment for learning. Tying the learner to real world feedback ensures that the student is engaged by what he or she is doing and realizes that their learning is very much part of the real world.

Nurturing critical thinking AND divergent thinking skillsets in a collaborative format is more in line with the type of future problem solvers that our societies need even now.

Business Take -Aways
Question: "What is business to learn from these shifts involving Moore's Law, Learning Culture and change management?"

Credit: Tom Hood 

It would be a gross understatement to suggest that Moore's Law will have an impact on business organizations because we are already caught in the wave. What distinguishes one business organization from another is whether you are in a state of reacting to the changes or are aggressively being proactive in planning change in an incremental fashion. Too much change creates disruption that can seriously harm a business and lead to a lack of trust on the part of stakeholders. Too little change paralyzes a business so that it appears as a "deer in the headlights" in a globally connected economy.
Looking at the learning culture of a business organization needs to go beyond just a needs assessment and committee report that quickly gathers dust on a back shelf. The forces that are holding a business back need to be identified and an honest risk assessment needs to go from the discussion stage to an action stage. Transformation will not take place without it.

Employee engagement and empowerment as collaborative agents of change, tasked by the vision of the company, needs to be nurtured. This might mean a bold move such as taking compliance training out of the hands of training and aligning it with another department so that the instructional designer, learning principles experts and instructors can concentrate on the transformation of the business organization's learning culture. Building collaborative networks both within the organization and outside the organization needs to be taken to a whole new level based on the new currency, information and knowledge.

Next....... E-Learning--A Light At the End of the Tunnel?

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