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Digital scratchbook

Some fragments, thoughts and ideas. My digital scratchbook.

Times change, learning theories too?

There was a time people learned to write with a fountain pen. By using blotting paper they have to prevent the paper becoming smeared with spots of ink. At that time it was useful to learn to write with a fountain pen, because ball pens didn’t exist. I practically don’t write anymore. By the presence of an iPhone, laptop and iPad I always have the opportunity to make digital notes, mails and  course materials. Were all these years of learning to write useless? I don’t think so. I learned many many things at school. I learned all the capitals of the countries of the world, math terminology and the list of chemical elements. Okay, I learned many tricks how to remember stuff. But I have some questions. First of all, the list of capitals has changed. Second, I don’t remember the chemical elements anymore (I’m mostly confronted by this during quizzes). Third, I don’t even need to now math terminology anymore. And fourth, couldn’t we have spend all that time in secondary school more useful? When I teach my class, I can repeat how to design a template for Drupal for 10 times, without results. My students repeat but don’t remember the steps to be taken, a week later. So when I ask them to try it themselves, they remember the steps better. Continue Reading

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Is assessment needed?

assessmentDuring our last session, we had an interesting discussion: is assessment needed and in which form? How to make sure we don’t over-assess?

Assessment in education, defined as the process of determining whether students have attained curricular goals (Choppin, 1990), is something what seems to be mandatory. Since we are using a Learning Management System (Moodle) and teaching using Video Conferencing (Webex), my colleagues and I need to assess more. Ten years ago our students needed to sit one exam. Nowadays our students are assessed each lesson, are being evaluated (SAM) on their skills ànd have to sit one exam. Smells like over-assessment. But why? My opinion is that the main reason of these assessments is having proof for inspection. There seems to be a need for alternative assessment. Reeves and Okey (1996) claim that alternative assessment is absolutely required by constructivist learning environments, whether these environments are established in real world, classroom or virtual contexts. Their outcome is the Portfolio assessment.

In colleges more and more students run to courts to contents their grades. School boards require assessment and proof. Two years ago a student who didn’t pass (actually he failed on 12 of the 14 courses) wrote objection to the mayor (head of the school authority). Something school boards don’t know to appreciate.

But still… Every time one class graduates, they emphasize they want assessment. Meri mentioned it during the third session and she seems to be right. Students are better skilled when the had more assessment. The truth seems to lie midway.