Do you distort the grades of the students in your courses? I recall many times as a child losing interest in learning because I did not want to (and sometimes couldn’t!) jump through the hoops that my teachers required. I am a smart person (not bragging), but was not always a good student. The sad fact is that too many times teachers focus on their personal desires and requirements instead of on learning. As a teacher I have tried to learn ways to not construe my desires for student work for authentic learning by students. I am not perfect at this, but it has become something that I believe strongly.
Often I see the these “hoops” written into rubrics by teachers. Deductions in points for late work, deduction in points for behavior (talking in class or being out ones seat), and deductions for formatting or style. The problem that I have with these is that when points are deducted for such things a students grade is distorted and does not accurately reflect their learning or achievement of the learning goals for the course. Sadly, it has a dramatic effect on student motivation. My understanding and beliefs concerning the separation of academic achievement and behavior comes primarily from my reading of Stiggins and McTighe/Wiggins.
Recently I experienced this in my first graduate course with Purdue University. Here’s a brief summary of the story:
I am an avid Apple user and fanatic. It’s no secret. And, I completely expect all university professors in 2013 to allow for freedom of platform and tools in order that students can learn with their own flair and style. I once had a professor require that I use Microsoft Powerpoint for a presentation when I felt that Prezi was a much better tool for expressing the ideas and content of my presentation. I turned in the Microsoft Powerpoint with a single slide that had a link to the Prezi. I am quickly finding that the flexibility and freedom students need to learn is not common practice at Purdue. On one of the first assignments in my first course the rubric required the numbering of lines as well as numbering of pages. Yes, you read correctly, the numbering of lines. Something I haven’t asked students to do ever and haven’t seen in at least the past 7 years due to collaborative comments in Google Docs. Further, it was clarified in the task requirements that Microsoft Word was needed to in order to number the lines. Honestly, I failed to see the line numbering and Microsoft Word requirement when first looking at the task. I then, completed the task in Google Docs, the most appropriate tool for collaborative commenting, from my perspective. I completed the assignment , feeling as if I had learned through the process and produced a solid case study as the task required, but failed to number the pages or the lines. In the end, the professor gave positive feedback on the overall work (the academic work) but reduced the score on the assignment by 15% due to the formatting. Though, according to the rubric, he could have reduced the score up to 25%, you can imagine how frustrating that it is to receive a reduced score for not numbering lines.
More importantly, the issue that I take with this practice more than any other, is that now my overall grade, which is supposed to reflect my achievement of the learning goals, is skewed because there are no learning goals in the course related to formatting or line numbering. Actually, in reading the course goals, I absolutely learned and achieved, and it was reflected in the work I submitted. Instead of accurately reflecting my learning of the course goals, this grade reflects my inability to number lines on an assignment in addition to my achievement of the learning goals. This is what happens when behavior and other elements are combined into a rubric for a task that do not reflect the learning goals of the course.
It happens all over the world, every day. Especially in university courses. Even in colleges of education who may teach the opposite. And it kills the motivation and learning of students. Some hoops are inevitable, but I hope teachers around the world will leave the hoops at home, focusing on learning instead.
***Caveat*** Now, I want to conclude by saying that the professor is not a ‘bad” educator or person. Actually, I am learning a lot through the class in spite of struggling with the new online format. This story is just to express one experience in a wide range of experience that I will have with the professor during the course. Additionally, it allows me to reflect over time on my experiences with Purdue University.
The start of my second graduate degree has commenced and I am cautiously trying to decide when it is appropriate to regret my choice. Let me explain. There is no potential regret for choosing to start another graduate program, but there is potential for regretting which university and program I chose. After much research, I originally narrowed my options to three programs: Pepperdine University’s
Master of Arts in Learning Technologies, Michigan State University’s Educational Technology Master of Arts, and Purdue University’s Master of Science in Learning Design and Technology. All of these allowed me the option of studying via distance and, on paper, seemed to match my educational goals. Pepperdine’s program was too expensive and required me to be on-site in California for two summers, which I was unable to commit because of prior commitments to summer volunteering and service. After choosing Purdue’s Master of Science in Learning Design and Technology, I am wondering if it was the correct choice.
In choosing to study further about educational technology, I was hoping that program would utilize the newest of tools and professors who modeled both global learning and cutting-edge instructional practices.
Though much too early to make a decision, here are my first observations after several weeks of classes:
1. I cannot find professors from the program using social media
I haven’t been able to find even one of them active on Twitter. Actually, I have yet to find any professors from Purdue active on Twitter. I certainly expected that professors from the Learning Design and Technology program actively sharing and engaged with others around the world through Twitter or other social media platforms.
2. Digital Services
The learning (course) management system that is used by Purdue is Blackboard. Had I known just how antiquated and inefficient this learning management system is, it would have influenced my decision to choose another program. Currently I am spending way too much time fumbling through terribly organized discussions on Blackboard. There is almost no social aspect to it and I really do not want to spend the next two years of my life trying to communicate with people via poorly designed discussion boards.
Further, Purdue’s Mymail system feels like, as did Blackboard, stepping back in time. Truly, I do not understand why schools do not get on board with Gmail. Even Yahoo, Hotmail, and others have figured out that they have to improve their email services.
3. Lack of Response
Throughout the admissions process I had a great experience with my admissions counselor. Truly, I felt like he helped walk me through the process and actually cared about my application. Then, once an enrolled student, I received the “mass” email from the Director of Recruitment welcoming me to the program. There main thrust of the email was a specific request to respond to him answering five questions. I answered them, thoroughly and thoughtfully, providing positives and negatives concerning my experience. I never heard back from him. That was three weeks ago.
I am trying my best to wait and choose whether to regret my decision at a later time. I realize it is far too early to tell, but so far the signs have me worried.
I have a lot of boxes of books in storage. It is definitely past time to get rid of them as I have not opened the boxes or looked at the books in years. At one time I had a couple of thousand books. Readings is still a very important part of my life, but most of it is done digitally. Over the past 2 years I have gradually moved away from buying any physical books unless required by a graduate course and have moved to reading only digital versions. Though I have tried many different devices and platforms, I am currently most settled on Amazon’s Kindle app and iBooks. Kindle has a definite edge with me because there is a greater selection in the Amazon store and it works across all my devices, including in a browser on my computers.
I have owned a Kindle reader and liked it, but find that in the past year the majority of my reading has been on my Apple iPad and iPad 2. I also find myself reading a lot on my iPhone 4, though the screen is much smaller. Reading on the iPhone is strangely comfortable to me as I swipe through pages quickly and can read anytime and anywhere.
Additionally, I find myself reading on my laptops quite often. Whereas Kindle has offered the Kindle for Mac application for a while, it wasn’t until their newest Kindle Cloud Reader was released that I used my computers for reading. Having access to all of my Kindle library in any browser is very convenient and I am growing more and more accustom to reading textbooks this way.
In the past several weeks I now have another, new favorite way to read. Since Google TV (I use the frustrating Logitech Revue) includes a Google Chrome browser, the books you purchase from Amazon.com can easily be accessed through the Kindle Cloud Reader. This means that you can display books on a large television in your living room, adjusting the text so that you can see it from your recliner or sofa. With a keyboard in hand, when you reach the end of the displayed text, simply tap the next (right arrow) key and you move to the next part of text for reading.
In the evenings, I used to find myself with my iPad 2 in hand reading for a while, instead now I find myself just laying on the sofa or sitting in the recliner reading on my television. I have included some photos below so that you can see a couple of different text sizes and the distance from my recliner and sofas to the television.
Do you remember the first time you heard the words “Life-long learner”? I remember hearing it as a child, but cannot recall the first time. People in my life have encouraged me to be a life-longer learner as long as I can remember. Typically people are referring to the “love of learning” or they are trying to encourage others to be avid readers and try new experiences.
The concept of life-long learning can be used to refer to informal learning experiences or more formal experiences such as adult education. In either case, it has changed drastically over recent years as more educational institutions have moved content to open, online spaces. Many universities are moving their courses to an open format and this makes life-long learning much more accessible! We can now learn from any location and at any time.
Do you use any open courseware content for secondary school teaching?
Here are are some great places to go for free online, open courses:
The Evolution of Thought and Practice (ETap), sometimes used by Apple to describe the stages of technology adoption in educational institutions has always resonated with me. Giving some process or structure to the journey that most teachers take when engaging in educational technology is helpful in order to identify yourself and skill. I have, however, often wondered where this model originated. I first learned about it from Kathleen Ferenz and Apple education employees. Recently I found an article in Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education where a number of different adoption models were compared. The article, “A Five-Stage Model of Computer Technology Integration Into Teacher Education Curriculum” by Cheri Toledo at Illinois State University attributes the ETaP stages to Marsha Gladhart and states that she “developed a Levels of Adoptio n model by adapting the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) study by Dwyer, Ringstaff, and Sandholtz (1992).”
The next step… contacting Marsha Gladhart and finding out how she came about creating these ETaP stages.
In the mean time, I found it very helpful and interesting to compare the other models listed in Cheri Toledo’s work. A graphic:
I have been watching the Youtube Teacher’s Channel since it launched recently and am thrilled at the content and resources available to teachers. Whether or not you are in support of students viewing content on Youtube, every teacher can use this new channel as a resource for their own discovery process.
On October 31st I will be presenting on 21st Century Learning Environments with Mr. Darren Price. This is the second year the symposium has been held and is sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in conjunction with Hanyang University. It is always interesting to walk into a presentation situation not knowing how many participants will be there and the background of the target audience. In any case, I am looking forward to it. More details are in the brochure, here.
Yesterday I gave a presentation to about 40 educational leaders in Korea representing all the various provinces and other organizations. The topic focused on English education and mobile devices. One thing that I pointed out was that responsive artificial intelligence has finally arrived in a form that can be used by anyone and that the impact could be helpful for English language learners. Dragon Dictation has been well-received and very helpful on Apple’s iOS platform (and others), but it doesn’t respond to you intelligently. It only dictates what you speak. Now, with Siri… there’s a response.
I can imagine that in the future that artificial intelligence will be applied in many different ways. Imagine reading a digital book where you can have a conversation with the main characters and even give input to what actions they take.
A friend of mine recently posted this video of a classroom of 29 students that use 15 Apple iPads. This is a very interesting examples what can be done when you mix devices and a very talented teacher. The video is featured on a ning for ipad educators, http://ipadeducators.ning.com/