Archive for October, 2007

Formative vs Summative

October 31st, 2007

For most eduators these two terms are second nature, but do you really know what they mean and how to use them?

phaedrus » Blog Archive » Formative vs Summative
Formative evaluation is what you do while you’re building the thing — evaluating it as it’s being formed. Summative is what you do after it’s built and you’ve used it — a summary of how well it worked.

Go read the whole thing and see if there’s anything new there.

How to Grow a Blog

October 30th, 2007

Konrad Glogowski’s one of those teacher/bloggers you should be subscribed to. He raises this point:

How to Grow a Blog
In education, however, the product – the grade, the final draft, the test mark – still often takes precedence over the process of learning – the sense of personal journey without which the final destination is meaningless. What is even worse is that many of our students are very comfortable with that idea. To them, school is often about “playing the game.” They follow along, raise hands, submit assignments, study for tests. Of course, there is nothing wrong with these activities as long as they do not impede their progress as independent thinkers, researchers, and writers. Unfortunately, most of the time, “playing the game” means following the rules that we’ve set up for the students. We bring in the hoops, and the students jump through them. It’s an easy process for everyone involved.

He also suggests something that we didn’t really talk about when we set this whole thing up — growing the blog.

Personally, I hadn’t really thought about it before. Mostly because I don’t give any consideration to it. The whole idea of having a goal for my writing implies something that I don’t associate with my blogging and maybe I should. When I blog, it’s to find out what I think about a subject and not for some outward, longterm goal. I’m into the immediate gratification. If it aggregates to something larger — gravy.

But that made me think about why I have my class blog. It would be NICE if you continued beyond the class. Not because of any notion of the course, but because blogging is what I consider to be the heart of personal learning environment. It’s the reflective component that helps me organize my own learning and give me the “excuse” to continue reading and learning.

Assessment at a Distance

October 24th, 2007

Keeping with the assessment theme, what about assessment at a distance?

Assessment at a Distance
So much of what has been written about assessment at a distance is unfortunate. The emphasis seems largely to be on cheating — as in, how do I know my student didn’t pay somebody to take the exam? — and plagarism — how do I keep them from just turning in somebody else’s work.

Granted the supposition that all education is at distance, there are those instances where the teacher doesn’t watch a student actually doing the work which is then submitted for assessment. That’s not just online, but every time you get a written paper back or a worksheet turned in. It’s important to ask the question, “Why aren’t we asking this about classes that meet in the room?”

On Assessment

October 24th, 2007

This echoes a question from the comments on Lexie’s blog:

On Assessment
One of the problems we face it how to asses whether our students learned what we intended them to learn. In a classroom setting, we give tests and quizzes. We give homework that has to be passed in. We assign projects and grade them. But we also look to see who’s keeping up with classroom discussion and who’s actually making cogent commentary. We tend to think that, for the most part, the student in our class did the work if we can see them doing it. We tend to evaluate homework with an eye toward, “Does this sound like Johnny?”

When we’re thinking about assessment, how *do* we know … ?

Education as Art

October 21st, 2007

From Education as Art

The discussion this week has centered on the theory and science of Education. As we make the transition into our final teaching unit before the final project, I’d like to submit to you the idea that what we mean by Education in its purest, noblest form is not Science but Art.


"Some Kind of Summary"

October 20th, 2007

I found this comment on one of Joe’s posts:

» What is Supposed to Happen Joe McConda’s Distance Learning 685
I hope at the end of the semester we get some kind of summary from Lowell telling us what we should have learned. I know that will never happen, but I feel like I need a reflection that someone else wrote.

You’re right, Tippi. It’ll never happen.

To begin with, I don’t wanna depress you by giving you the list of all the stuff that you could have learned but just didn’t have time for, the preparation to accept, or the background to understand. That’s neither fair nor appropriate for me to do.

In the second place, you won’t know what you’ve really learned in this class for at least a year or more after the class is over. Unlike the classes where you learn enough to pass the test and then forget it when the class is over, this class is geared to engage you on another level entirely. I just met one of my students from five years ago recently and he told me that he’s still discovering things that he learned in my class.

In the third place, you are reading some one else’s reflections. Actually, you’re reading everybody else’s reflections. From a cognitive perspective, I believe it’s much more effective for you to particpate in the meaning-making with those who are at the same level of engagement and relatively congruent ZPDs.

That’s not to say I won’t discuss goals, techniques, objectives, and the like as the class winds down — and I’m always willing to answer a question.

Of course, usually my answer is another question, so that’s sometimes problematic.

Truth in Advertising

October 18th, 2007

Just in time for our discussions on theory comes this little blurb from Stephen.

Truth in Advertising
an argument of the form “the theory that X may be wrong but it’s still useful.” That’s like saying “this map may have the roads all wrong but we can still follow it” or “this restaurant is dangerously unsanitary but we can still eat at it.” People should stop arguing like this.

The problem isn’t just in your classrooms. It’s everywhere. As we struggle to make meaning about what goes on around us, we get bound up in a really old philosophical issue. How do we know what we know?

One way is to gather evidence about a particular phenomenon, create an explanation for it, and then test the explanation. That’s called the scientific method.

Another way is ask somebody and believe what they say out of hand. That’s education.

The core problem is that what is supposed to happen in Education is that the people doing the teaching are supposed to be organizing the theories and evidence, sorting and winnowing the content, and arranging what’s left so that the student can see the evidence and can learn from the method.

How often does it work like that?

Backwards into the Future:

October 17th, 2007

Some interesting ideas here that echo some of what we’ve been talking about:

Innovate: Backwards into the Future: Seven Principles for Educating the Ne(x)t Generation
Using examples drawn from an upper-level English course at the University of Auckland, Helen Sword and Michele Leggott outline seven key strategies for developing in today’s students the skills, aptitudes, and abilities needed to meet the challenges of the future without losing sight of the past. By relinquishing intellectual authority, recasting students as active producers of knowledge, promoting collaborative relationships, cultivating multiple intelligences, fostering critical creativity, encouraging resilience, and constructing assignments that look both forward to the future and back to the past, teachers in higher education can help their students equip themselves to carry the past with them into a complex, constantly evolving future.

What’s a Theory?

October 16th, 2007

As we grind into “Theory Week” it’s important to understand what a theory is:

phaedrus » Blog Archive » What’s a Theory?
we can establish a baseline for differentiating predictive, explanatory theory — ’scientific theory’ — from common usage of the term as speculative conjecture. This is important because Education theories are expected to fall in the former (scientific) category and not in the latter (conjecture) category. The way a theory works is that somebody gets an idea — the hypothesis — and proceeds to test it using various tools and techniques.

We need to keep this in mind as we’re talking about the difference between myth and theory.

The Learner

October 11th, 2007

Last week we talked about the role of teacher. This week we need to talk about the role of learner. A year ago today, I wrote:

The Learner
[A]ny discussion of environment, time management, or communications technology goes into the Learner-Skill pile, but what does that leave us?

The idea here is that we need to tease apart the strands of learner-as-skill and learner-as-role. As we transition from delivery mode to delivery mode — classroom to broadcast to online to compressed video to computer based instruction — the skills needed change. The roles do not. Earlier we talked a bit about equivalency theory from the perspective of operationalizing a different format, but we also need to look at it from the perspective of the roles of the learner.

Rephrased: Learner-role is “What does a learner do?” Learner-skill is “How does a learner do it?” The skills may change out as the underlying platform varies, but the role should be relatively constant.