Sunday, March 30, 2008

Assessment AS Learning

Student-Directed Inquiry emphasizes assessment AS learning rather than the more traditional assessment OF learning where testing of what you know is often carried out at the end of units, topics or the year...

Essentially assessment AS learning supports student management of their own assessment - incorporating assessment FOR learning and even some assessment OF learning as required. It is about SELF assessment.

This course has FOUR criteria or ‘dimensions’ of learning. For each criterion we are looking for documented evidence of a range of ‘elements’. See presentation.

Learning and research tools can provide ways to capture, edit, organise and share work.

Regular use of these tools can help to improve the efficiency and quality of the documentation process required by the qualifications authority. These same tools also enable students to:
  • participate in learning communities
  • engage in accountable communication
  • manage learning and assessment
  • organise, authenticate and reference research
This level of self assessment will be new for many students - and may be challenging for some. Hopefully however it will become a natural part of the learning process and be fairer, more transparent and more useful than traditional assessment methods such as a three hour written exam.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Knowing What You Don't Know

Australian universities are calling for a new kind of learning, and a new kind of student - for 21st century success in work and life - personally, nationally and globally .

The new learning is about somebody who
  • knows what they don’t know
  • knows how to learn what they need to know
  • knows how to create knowledge through problem solving
  • knows how to create knowledge by drawing on information and human resources
  • knows how to make knowledge collaboratively
  • knows how to nurture, mentor, and teach others
  • knows how to document and pass on personal knowledge
In many ways the TQA subject Student-Directed Inquiry on which this course is based is a response to this call.

The document New Learning: A Charter for Australian Education goes on to say that good learners are able to
  • take the many different kinds of raw material in the world (culturally and location-specific information)
  • work out the different interpretative frameworks within which that information sits (different worldviews, theories, belief systems— professional, cultural, technical)
  • use these understandings to do something that works in the world (transfer of understandings, transformation of their immediate world, being a change agent, crossing a cultural boundary)
This week's 30 minute presentation introduced students to some of the beliefs, assumptions and worldviews that underpin contemporary western culture. It began with a quick online survey of the personal beliefs and assumptions of the class. The survey contained the following statements among others:
  1. Thought is due to brain activity
  2. Reasoning is the highest human skill
  3. The best way to understand something is to take it apart
  4. Love is mostly a chemical/ hormonal reaction
  5. Ultimately there is little purpose to human life
The majority of the 30 students who completed the survey appear to hold beliefs and assumptions arising from positivism, reductionism and materialism. Have they questioned these assumptions? How will these assumptions affect their project and research methods? How do they affect their views of the future of the world?

While more than half believe that the planet does not have a positive future 87% believe that learning is a natural human activity and 94% believe that there is still much to discover - maybe the future will be more positive than they believe :-)

The presentation this week looked at the nature of a 'worldview' and then went on to propose that having a conceptual framework such as Four Quadrant Integral Theory allows one to look for what we may not be seeing...

While there was applause for an entertaining presentation some are not convinced that this discussion has anything to do with their project or research... I look forward to some interesting conversations...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mimio Handles Complex Game Plan

The Glassbiscuit team moved their planning to the whiteboard today - recording their ideas to a laptop using Dirk's favourite device - the Mimio :-) This team of six certainly needed the space - not just because they are a large production team but because their project is large and complex.

For documentation, collaboration and file sharing they have chosen to customise the free hosted Wikidot. It's well organised and has RSS feeds for easy feeds - once they adjust the security setting so we can access it :-)

A critical issue with such a large project team is the ability of each team member to be able to document both their individual and collaborative work. This is required for assessment at the highest level of the Student-Directed Inquiry course.

The level of organisation and documentation that the team has put in place should address this very well.

Another aspect of the group's planning involves P.H.A.S.E.

According to their FAQ:

"P.H.A.S.E. (Project HAndling System Environment), is a scheduling system designed (soon) to set deadlines for the completion of all aspects of the project. Once a "phase" is complete a new playable version of the game will also be completed, meaning that we will not be left with a bunch of incoherent stuff at the end of the year, but a finished project and a graphic representation of the path we took to create it."

Sounds like a great idea!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Students Get a Life

Eight students have chosen to get a 'second life' in Skoolaborate - a collaborative Web 3.D project involving a number of Australian and international schools. They are going 'in-world' for a number of reasons... to do architectural design, to make machinima, to organise a game, to design clothes...

But before any of that begins the avatars have serious plastic surgery and wardrobe schedules... then makeup and deportment... then they learn to walk and fly! Above is some early body work by Aletia, Joshua and Ira.

Check out these avatars...

And this fashion... (which has made some people a lot of $$$)

Skoolaborate began as one island in 2007 but has now grown to six - and it's getting easy to get lost.

Click graphic for larger view

Most locations are still in the construction phase but there is an impressive range of landscaping and architecture with several sites nearing completion. 2008 promises to be an exciting year in Skoolaborate with more students joining each week.