We do things differently here, evaluation and assessment in NZ

Deborah Nusche reviews a recent OECD report on evaluation and assessment in New Zealand schools, where there is not an emphasis on traditional assessment methods in primary schools.

What struck the review team most about New Zealand’s approach was the great amount of trust in the ability of students, teachers and schools to evaluate their own performance and engage in self-improvement. While international developments are closely followed, the global trend towards high-stakes accountability is not seen as a good option for New Zealand. Especially in primary education, there is a general consensus against national testing and the use of test results for school rankings.

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Reclaiming the Past: Using Memory and Education to Fight Intolerance and Radicalism among the Youth of the Middle East

Eric Davis looks at the the role of young people in the Arab Spring of the past 18 months. He suggests that in order for young people to have a better understanding of their past they need an  education – learning about the history and culture of their nations in a non-politicised way and the need for a different infrastructure.

As Iraq’s recent decision to connect the country to a major Internet hub demonstrates, the possibility of disseminating information is not the issue (as it was under Saddam’s Ba’thist regime when owning a typewriter without a government license was a capital offense). The problem is the lack of an educational infrastructure that will provide youth with a new way of understanding the past and, by extension, the present and future of the nation-states in which they live.

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Why Be Literate?

Korea Maria has posted a copy of her paper in L500 Issues in Literacy, Culture and Language, Spring 2012, April 24, 2012

She reviews why literacy is important and suggests that traditional literacies are not less important with the wider usage of digital media, but they are also required for navigating digital media literacy.

Are we to acquire digital literacy like a first language? Or do we need to identify the various knowledge that a learner has before coming to school to become traditionally literate, a funds of knowledge approach, and extend this explicit incorporation of home language, literacies, and culture into both literacy development in schools as well as digital media literacy. Or is it time to relinquish our dependence on schools as arbiters of literacy altogether?

She reflects on Korean cultures and those of immigrants in Korea with the influence from Western nations and how that has affected people and changed their perspectives and identity. She questions whether the change brought about through digital media is leaving people who may never have developed literacies traditionally either,  even further behind and suggest that other literacies including critical thinking, questioning of ethics are needed in order to weather the change.

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Addressing the Alliance for Childhood at the European Parliament

Lisa Jordan, Executive Director at the Bernard van Leer Foundation has posted her speech on her blog, describing the potential of digital games and apps with children under eight years old partly due to the ability to scale the learning opportunities.

In the Netherlands and elsewhere children do not enter a structured learning or play environment before the age of 4. And when they do, play is relegated to recess

More screen time is clocked by children of low social and economic status than of those in middle or higher social classes. Video games are played by more than 90% of school age children. What we want is to make learning fun through quality game design. Fortunately there are many game designers out there who want the same.  This is not to disguise learning within video games but to infuse learning throughout video game design.

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How can blogging help you learn?

Richard Gresswell reflects on how blogs help him and describes his understanding of how digital technologies can help people communicate after watching someone who was hard of hearing use video on Skype. He left a comment on another blogger’s post and she replied back, inspiring more questions.

it fuses together those everyday encounters and connects me with others and their knowledge and experiences. Learning through blogging takes place at this nexus of our online and offline lives, the two are inseparable, they are connected.

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The Problem with TED Ed

Shelly Blake-Plock reflects on how she finds TED Ed inspiring but notes that people listen and consume but wonders what they do as a result.

TED — in the form it is presented online to the masses — is not about doing. It is about watching. Listening. Consuming. Maybe leaving a comment or sharing a link to improve your TEDCred score. Yes, there is a wealth of interesting information and lots to think about. Personally, I find many of the lectures to be inspired. But we shouldn’t confuse an inspiring lecture and provocative ideas with “learning”.

And much of what we have called “lessons” over the decades really aren’t lessons at all — they are consumables

She mentions that we learn by doing and how she  would like to see platforms that encourage this.

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Losing the glue of scholarship

Martin Weller, author of The Digital Scholar, looks at the reality of completing scholarly tasks in a changing higher education environment and the practicality of achieving these in addition to current work for his employer. He wonders whether these tasks which have often been done for free should have costs attached and wonders on the impact of overall scholarly practice across institutions

Are these kinds of tasks the unseen glue that binds scholarly activity together? So, if we lose, or at least drastically reduce, them does it fundamentally undermine the whole practice, or will we just find other ways of achieving them (for instance giving a talk remotely is a lot more efficient than travelling to the venue)

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MITx and the (Automated) Future of Higher Education

Justin Marquis looks at whether MOOCs are bringing forwards a teacherless classroom by looking at the current MITx initiative. Whilst the course plans seem fairly standard, the analysis is fully automated.

He provides a detailed look at the benefits of large scale implementations of these model but notes that this does not provide universal access:

Simply put, if an individual lacks a computer or compatible portable device, Internet connectivity, or even electricity, they cannot use free online educational resources, regardless of how groundbreaking  and well-designed those assets are. In order to take advantage of innovative educational opportunities such as MITx, people must be able to access and use them. This is still a significant obstacle both globally and in the U.S.



At Yale, Online Lectures Become Lively Books

Jennifer Howard looks at how Yale has decided to released materials from its online course programs in paperbook and ebook formats.

“It may seem counterintuitive for a digital project to move into books and e-books, because these are a much more conventional way of publishing,” she says. But the Open Yale Courses are about “reaching out in every way that we could.” That includes posting audio and video versions online (via Yale’s Web site, YouTube, and iTunes), and providing transcripts and now book versions of the lectures.

Having transcripts of their lectures to work with gives faculty authors a jump-start. “It was incomparably the easiest book I have ever written,” says Shelly Kagan, a Yale professor of philosophy whose lecture course on death has become one of the Open Yale program’s most popular offerings.

The lecturers involved noted how the publishing timescales moved from several years to a few months, noting how interesting it has been to interact with learners around the world through the online courses.

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Lost professors: we won’t need academics in 60 years

Chris Lloyd predicts that the number of academics across Australian universities will return to 1950s levels in 60 years time, noting his own challenges in digital environments today

These days, I design new courses by trawling the web for the latest content, topical examples and exercises. I feel more and more like a dispensable middle man between freely available content and captured students. More worrying, I strongly suspect I am not the world’s best translator of free content into course materials.I deliver the course to the students in a big hall. Here is another insight. Try as I might to inspire and engage, I am not the world’s best lecturer either.

He speculates on how students will access free content, selecting the best content for their needs, also noting that the need for increasing cost-effective delivery may have similar impacts on research

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