Archive for the ‘learning’ Tag

New research to bring assessment into digital age

However, the challenge of designing quality assessment in a digital age can result in uncertainty around processes, practices, quality assurance, and initial and ongoing training for assessors and auditors….

…The research is based on the premise that quality online assessment requires practical information and guidelines around:

  • creating better methods to ensure e-assessment yields evidence that is relevant, valid and authentic
  • expanding learning and assessment options to include self assessment, peer assessment and group/collaborative assessment
  • monitoring and measuring online interactions and contributions between learners and between learners and teachers
  • supporting learners in gathering evidence that demonstrates authentic learner performance on tasks.
New research to bring assessment into digital age | Australian Flexible Learning Framework

 

It’s great that research like this at a national level is being undertaken. It will not only promote quality assured assessment methods, but will also acknowledge the great work already undertaken by teachers and institutes.

To me, the biggest growth areas in online assessment is Skills Recognition, workplace assessment and assessment supported by handheld and ‘bodily’ devices. The research premise outlined in the dot points above seem common sense. Authentic assessment may best be determined by the record of the learner ‘being present’ – one scenario would be that of wearable recording devices to demonstrate the skill being assessed and the learner performing a task in situ.

Extending this scenario whereby such recordings are uploaded or streamed to an e-portfolio make validation and evidence-building a more fluid process. In addition, such recording become reusable resources, adding media elements to online courses, for example.

The second dot point is perhaps the real crux; it is in the approach and design of the assessment that best validates the learning and ensures a transformation has occurred (if you follow Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning (1998), for example). Learning occurs when there is a fundamental change in the learner’s thinking, theoretical standpoint, value-judgement or commitment to a way of acting, living, or working. What is central to Mezirow’s theory is experience, critical reflection and rational discourse [1998, online, para 3].

At a practical level, Mezirow’s theory might look like this:

Learners, first off, aren’t sure what they need to do, so they look at what others do and then practice. They get things wrong, get frustrated (Mezirow’s “disorienting dilemma”), find out a bit, then practice again. As their confidence grows along with their understanding, they become more skilled in their practice, enough then to confidently demonstrate their skills to one who is seen as an ‘expert’ in that field. They validate the learner’s skill by observing, asking questions to enable the learner to voice their understanding, and finally (all gone well) give the learner a positive review.

Framework logo and e-learning innovations ACT logo

CIT, through its 2009 Innovation Projects has done some work on online assessment for Recognition. The plan is to extend these into mainstream CIT as well as build the processes further in the Events Management and Sports Management and volunteering areas.

Stay tuned as these projects are rolled out in 2010!

Reference:
Imel, S. 1998, Transformative Learning in Adulthood. ERIC Digest No. 200.

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The Educational Point of View: The teachable moment

It is an educational practitioner’s role (I argue) to engage with social media, to look beyond the surface layers of services like Youtube and get beneath it, to create accounts and subscribe to new content feeds, to favorite and comment and connect, and to realise the deeper layers of what is available in social media collections, and to help identify quality information and resources and help it to emerge and rise above other content. Further, if by chance that teacher notices something missing, or something in need of correction, to see that need as an opportunity for them to create the additional or corrective media and add it back into the social media so that it can play its role in that wider collective context. Its “teachable moment”.

The Educational Point of View « Learn Online

I reckon Leigh’s hit the nail on the head here. And the contested role of the teacher as facilitator is all the more apparent. If I look to bell hooks’s work with popular culture artifacts, this is another demonstration of using social media to generate ‘teachable moments’. Mitra’s work is also a good example – a social experiment contesting the role/need of the classroom as a ‘prerequisite’ for learning.

Our learning, as with our teaching is iterative, messy, frustrating, serendipitous and we often fight to control it so as to make it neat and tidy (as we’ve been expected to do), especially in conventional educational contexts. This is why I like the notion of ‘hot action’ that David Beckett (1995, 2001) writes about – it acknowledges the work done ‘on the fly’ with a confidence and a grasp of knowledge that enables someone to push forward to pick up a new skill, strategy or process, whatever it might be. It validates what people develop, understand and learn ‘in action’, whilst working, living, playing – whatever it is that makes up our day (although Beckett talks about the workplace as the context for ‘hot action’).

There’s also the acknowledgment of the body and bodily understanding in Beckett’s notion (not a new thing if you look at work by Merleau-Ponty for example). This isn’t about ‘muscle memory’, repetitive actions refining practical skills, it is more about how our bodies carry and dispense social cues and facets of power (see Foucault’s Power/Knowledge and work by McLaren (1986) and Turner (1982) on the body and ritual for example). This is how we BE, our Self within a social context loaded with power, social politics – the body politic, ‘regimes of truth’ (again, see Foucault). We don’t just teach, we are the embodiment of teaching, likewise a student, a mother, a singer, a carpenter. We don’t simply take on the role – we BE, through our veins, our eyes, our voice, our skeleton.

And so to Leigh’s final paragraph:

I am beginning to let go of the idea that the education sector will ever make an impact on the development of social media for education and that either something else will fill that opportunity, or that darker elements such marketing and shallow entertainment will take advantage of the illiteracy and ignorance that the education sector permitted to exist. This is no reflection on the people at Orange by the way. Its just that after 5 years of doing this, I can’t see anywhere near the level of change in the educational mindset, and the wider society to that measure, that I thought should have taken place by now. Others more senior and more experienced than I assure me that a significant change is happening, but that the education sector can only respond when those changes are prevalent throughout society, rather than be the one to make the change or prepare a society for the change. And that is a fact that I am beginning to see the fairness of.

I don’t for a second believe that “the education sector” should be waiting until the “greater society” shows prevalent change – we ARE the greater society aren’t we? How can we dissect society in this way? Is change about taking turns? What makes education sit outside the greater society? Since when do we need some sort of permission to “respond when those changes are prevalent”? Who will tell us when that happens?

Stick to your guns Leigh – the proof is in the practice. Surely a critical mass of ‘teachable moments’ must at some point amount to a revolution?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. –Margaret Mead

Refs:
Beckett, D. (2001) ‘Hot Action’ At Work: Understanding ‘Understanding’ Differently, in T. Fenwick (ed.) Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Learning Through Work. New Directions for Adult and Community Education Series. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Beckett, D. (1995) Adult Education as Professional Practice. PhD thesis. http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/dspace/handle/2100/337

McLaren, P. (1986) Schooling as a Ritual Performance. Taylor & Francis.
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=mYcOAAAAQAAJ

Turner, V. (1982) From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. PAJ Publications.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Turner

bell hooks: politics of difference through popular culture

bells hooks: cultural criticism and transformation

6-minute talk by hooks on the accessibility of popular culture items such as films, to engage people in critical thinking about society and difference.

I’ve been reading a bit of hooks’s work, particularly ‘Teaching to Transgress‘ (1994), as part of my MEd studies this semester, as we undertake an exercise in defining, describing, critiquing and writing about our own educational philosophical stance.

hooks didn’t see herself as a teacher, more a writer – but ended up a teacher writing about her teaching experiences and the (dis)engagement with learning along the way. She refers to Freire as an influence as well as feminist theorists, as well as her own learning experiences, as driving the development of her educational philosophy.

Paulo Freire

Image: Freire on Infed

She writes so that her thoughts are accessible to a continuum of readers or audiences. And, she sees learning as an expression of excitement and engagement for its sheer pleasure! A refreshing view these days. It draws suspicion when one shows an eagerness to learn – I’d add that it also exposes the teacher/facilitator to also rise to the challenge in (enthusiastically) supporting that eager learning (–you expect me to develop curricula on a shrinking resource base and low salary AND you want me to enjoy it too?)! “To enter classroom settings in colleges and universities with the will to share the desire to encourage excitement, was to transgress” (hooks 1994: 7, my emphasis).

hooks also notes the learning ‘struggle’ as a real and necessary part of learning, yet in the context of minority groups, means a highly stressful learning setting – and yet can still be exciting, if the will to learn is strong. As with Freire, hooks sees education as the practice of freedom.

To ask the ‘why’ questions can be confronting and at times show-stopping. How do you encourage your students to ask why?

Lifelong learning as calm learning?

I had a fabulous weekend in Bowral back in the last weekend of May, attending a Calmbirth workshop with my husband. Consequently, our first bub is now due in a couple of – ahem – days! 🙂

a labour of love

This is one reason I haven’t posted in a long while – too much going on and my brain has become more cottony than I had first anticipated! 🙂

Anyway, I’m moved to write following this amazing weekend experience as I see some links to lifelong learning, a phrase that seems to have dropped out of circulation of late (for whatever reason). Let’s first revisit the phrase and then I’ll draw some connections from the Calmbirth workshop itself. In essence, this is an ‘appreciative exploration’ of some thoughts really!

Lifelong learning, particularly as espoused by the OECD, champions the idea of learning for holistic personal, professional and workforce development, which occurs in various learning settings, informal and formal. Closer to home, DEST (now DEEWR) exercises a policy they claim is based on the OECD assumptions:

The lifelong learning policy agenda is built on assumptions about the importance of skills in the new economy. Almost all industrial sectors are increasingly ‘knowledge-based’ and economic returns are obtained from a range of ‘intangible’ inputs, one of which is workers’ skills. Participation in education and training is increasing and economic rewards are flowing to people with high skills…

…which in fact draws a parallel between productivity and further education, and extends further to lifelong learning and the ‘whole person’, especially where the VET sector is concerned. However, in today’s economic rationalist world we are not seeing this in its entirety. We are contending with the worker-learner and have yet to move to the whole person, in reality.

So how does this thinking link to what I experienced as ‘calm birth’ then? Well, from my view it means starting with the person, rather than the system in which the person likely operates. in essence it’s redefining what we have assumed to be learner centred approaches to teaching and learning. Still, we seem to take this as meaning providing options TO the learner to support and enhance their learning; rather, we should take the learner-at-the-centre approach and start there with their networks, their predispositions, their experiences, and so on. We require more discussion around the apparent preoccupation on separating ‘the system’ from the users/producers/agents (see for example, Mejias 2005).

person vs system

Thus, the science behind Calmbirth (as laid out in the workshop booklet and the various parents’ stories, where mums especially are co-teachers), contends with the human design, participatory methods, holistic therapies and healing work, beliefs and attitudes (e.g. Errington, 2004), cultural values and awareness, as well as the health sciences of midwifery and obstetrics.

So what is out there in terms of calm learning practices? How can we progress this to lifelong learning status? For example, Calm Kids, Smart Kids uses

…a mixture of:

  • Physical exercises proven to reduce hyperactivity & increase brain functioning and integration
  • Emotional stress release to help reduce anger and frustration, improve communication and increase self esteem
  • Unique Nutrition Plan identifies allergies and deficiencies specifically for your child.

What is of some interest here is the links made to factors that influence children’s ability to learning and grow, as discussed also in the Calmbirth workshop and booklet, particularly a stressful pregnancy, a traumatic birth, and medications and operations, as well as accidents, family trauma, and allergic reactions. As Peter Jackson stated in the Calmbirth workshop, ‘it all begins in the womb’. Check out Lyn Schaverien’s work on developmental learning (biological aspects of learning) too.

We may also draw links to appreciative inquiry (see also Cooperrider, et al, 2008) and inquiry-based learning which champions the inherent (and essentially positive) motivations of the learner from within. For me this also conjures links with schooling approaches such as the Montessori movement. We could effectively read open learning into this too. These approaches tend to focus on the learner’s self-guided interests, reminding me of a quote by Freire that champions the learner as teacher (as ‘learning by teaching’):

The teacher… is taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught, also teach.

I understand that I’m touching on a lot of potentially disparate areas of education here, but I think it’s worth noting that whilst we delve into supposedly ‘new’ thinking around learning and teaching, much has been developed in earlier times that remain credible and applicable today – in fact, possibly more so than they did in the past. The time for elements of schooling and education is ripe for change but not always to new and original ideas, but back to ideas that are now seen as befitting our current contexts.

Where can learning go from here? How do we continue to facilitate learning in ways that are relevant to our times? These are some loose connections which I hope to think more deeply about in coming months. I also see connections to networked learning here too, a draft essay of which I will post shortly (this essay picks up on action learning, ‘hot action’, and other action research frameworks that I’ve related to an investigation into VET pedagogy and practice).

References

Errington, E. (2004) The impact of teacher beliefs on flexible learning innovation: some practices and possibilities for academic developers, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 41(1), 39-47.

Cooperrider, D, Whitney, D & Stavros, J (2008), Apreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leaders of Change (2nd Ed), Crown Custom Publishing Inc: Brunswick OH.