The topics covered included Google Apps for Education, Adapting a classroom for BYOT, Flipping your classroom, and Assessment strategies. Any of these topics are worth a few blogs, but, as is normal, the best part of the conference occurred when teachers began to discuss and share, in this case, on the subject of assessments.
Assessing Technology skills is difficult on a number of levels. This is highlighted in an age where many schools are doing away with “tech” classes in favor of an integration strategy. Even schools that have a technology focused class have raised the expectations that all teachers will integrate technology and, presumably, evaluate it. Some of the difficulties:
- Students are more comfortable with technology so they are able to “dazzle” the teacher with effects that are not really all that difficult or representative of actual skills.
- Students are able to (as one teacher put it on our ever-present chalktalk poster boards) “pull one over” on the teacher by blaming technology for procrastination or failure to implement.
- Teachers feel unqualified to grade “tech” but obligated to because of the ever-present specter of expectation
- Students replace learning material through repetition or practice with technological shortcuts so that the "shiny pretty" obscures the assessment of learning objectives
In our experience, they often use terms like “creativity” or “use of technology” or “overall”.
Not sure if something is a blind-spot? ask yourself these questions:
- Does the category come at the end of the rubric?
- What is the link between this category and the content/skills being evaluated overall?
- Do i feel qualified to evaluate this category?
- Am i willing to drop someone a letter grade because of this category? Two letter grades?
- On a five-point scale, can i visualize what a “1” would look like? a “5”?
- Have i ever assessed someone “below average” in this category? is it just free points?
- If i ignored this category, could i still assess the primary learning objectives?
You might find that the blind-spot is a misnamed category for something else. “Use of Technology” might be a place holder for “ability to communicate a message” or “aesthetic design”. Those are more exacting terms that might be easier to expertly evaluate. after all, that awful “keyboard type” transition in a PowerPoint is a “use” of technology, but three slides of it and the only thing that is being communicated is death wish. tat-tat-tat-tat-tat.
Is a blind spot the end of the evaluative world? probably not. few students ever complained about easy points. but if our ultimate goal in assessment is to give feedback on accomplishing specific learning objectives, demonstrating skills, showing acquired knowledge, then we owe it to ourselves and our students to measure that.