Excerpt:

CONCLUSION
This paper has outlined the plethora of new credential types, uses, and modes of delivery. It also has highlighted advancements in assessment. In terms of assessment content, the progression of mastery-based assessments is a distinct departure from the traditional knowledge-based assessment approaches. New assessments are likely to enter the market, as companies see the tremendous growth of competency-based assessments that will be critical and necessary in the future ecosystem described.

Assessments are no longer just a source of grades for gradebooks. They have forged two meaningful bypass routes to seat time in higher education. In the first, competency-based education assessments gate the pace of student progress through the curriculum. In the second, certification by an exam delivers not a grade, but a degree-like credential in a relevant occupation, indicating skill and expertise. For some occupations, this exam-as-credential has already been market validated by employers’ willingness to require it, hire by it, and pay a salary premium for it.

All of these innovations are driving towards a common end. The future learning-to employment ecosystem will be heavily reliant on credentials and assessments. We see:

  • A future in which credentials will no longer be limited to degrees, but will come in varying shapes and sizes, offered by many organizations, training providers, and employers;
  • A future in which credentials will, however, be able to articulate a set of underlying “know” knowledge and “do” performance skill competencies;
  • A future in which a credential’s scope will be described by the set of competencies it covers, and measured via assessment;
  • A future in which a credential’s quality will be indicated by evidence of mastery within each competency before it is awarded;
  • A future in which quality metrics, such as consumer reviews or employer use of credentials will come into play, bringing the best and most usable credentials and assessments to the forefront.

And, finally, the future ecosystem will depend heavily on online and technology-enabled strategies and solutions. The working learner will turn away from those stringent solutions that require seat time and offer little flexibility. They will drive the market hard for innovations that will lead to consumer-facing marketplaces that allow them a “one-stop shop” approach for working, learning, and living.

The massive market of the working learner/the learning worker is here to stay. The future is that learner. Credentials and assessment will find their own strong footing to help successfully meet both the learners’ needs and the employers’ needs. We applaud this SHIFT. For, it will be an ecosystem that services many more learners than today’s education to employment system serves.

 

 

Most coherent report I have read on the erosion of degrees and the rise of assessing-for-work and amassing certifications as the competencies for the modern workplace. Jamai Blivin, of www.innovate-educate.org, and Merrilea Mayo, of Mayo Enterprises, have put in one report the history, current trends and the illogic for many people of paying for a retail bachelor’s degree when abundant certifications are beginning to prove themselves. Workforce and community colleges, this is a must-read. Kudos! 

Per Gordon Freedman on LinkedIn

 

 

From DSC:
For anyone out there who thinks that teaching and learning is easy and who agrees with the uninformed saying that goes “Those who can’t do…teach”…might I recommend a few potential to-do’s for you to try out…?

  1. Try teaching 30-35 students yourself for at least 4-6 weeks about a topic that you just found out that you’ll be teaching and one that you don’t know much about. (And see if you enjoy the process that some teachers sometimes have to go through…putting down the tracks right in front of the trains that are rapidly moving down the tracks right behind them.) Also, you must have at least one student in your class who requires an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as well as 4-5 students who constantly cause trouble and who don’t want to be in school at all.
    .
  2. Identify each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences — and their Zone of Proximal Development — then customize the learning that each of your 30-35 learners receives (with the goal of keeping each student moving forward at their most appropriate pace, while staying encouraged and yet appropriately challenged).
    .
  3. Attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings and work with other IEP team members to significantly contribute to the appropriate student’s (or students’) teaching and learning environment(s). For a real challenge, at least one of those students will be someone who is struggling, but is very much hanging in there — someone who is “right in the middle of the pack,” so to speak. (My guess is that if you did this, you would never think of teaching, nor teachers, nor other specialists in quite the same way again. My guess is that you would develop a whole new appreciation for how complex teaching and learning really is.)

Regarding that last item about at least one of your students requiring an IEP, here are some questions that might come up:

  • What specialized services are needed this year?
  • What do the teachers need to know about this student’s cognitive processing/executive functioning?
  • How has the student been doing with the specialized services and teaching and learning strategies that have been attempted since the last IEP meeting? 
  • If their scores are going down, how are you going to address that issue (especially given limited resources)?
  • How is the student’s motivation level doing? Is attending school still a positive experience? Or are things starting to become negative and/or downright painful for the student? Are they starting to get bummed out about having to come to school?
  • How are they relating with and collaborating with other students? If poorly, how are you going to address that issue? How are you going to handle group-related projects (especially after reading all of those articles that assert which skills the workplace values these days)?
  • What do you do with grades and assessments? Do you treat the student differently and give them higher grades to keep them encouraged? But if you do that, will your school system back you up on that or will someone come down hard on you for doing that? Or, perhaps you will find yourself struggling internally — trying to figure out what grades are really for and wondering if they are helpful in the first place. In fact, you might find yourself wondering if grades aren’t really just a mechanism for ranking and comparing individuals, schools, and even entire school systems (which, as we know, impacts property values)? 
  • What do grades really produce — game players or (lifelong) learners? It won’t surprise you to know that I would argue that the former is what gets “produced.”  Grades don’t really produce as many learners as they do game-players (i.e., students who know the minimum amount of work that they need to do and still get that all important A).

So, as you can hopefully see here, learning is messy. It’s rarely black and white…there’s a lot of gray out there and a lot of things to consider. It’s not a one-size fits all. And teaching others well is certainly NOT easy to do! 

RELEVANT IDEAS:

While I’m thinking about related ideas here…wouldn’t it be great if EVERY. SINGLE. STUDENT. could have their own IEP and their own TEAM of specialists — people who care about their learning?

What if each student could have their own cloud-based learner profile — a portion of which would be a series of VoiceThreads per student, per period of time (or per mastering a particular topic or area)?  Such VoiceThreads could include multimedia-based comments, insights, and recommendations for how the student is doing and how they best learn. Through the years, those teams of people — people who care about that student’s learning — could help that student identify their:

  • strengths
  • weaknesses
  • passions/interests
  • their optimal learning strategies and preferences
  • potential careers

The students could periodically review such feedback.

 

 

For every single student, we could build a history of feedback, helpful suggestions, 
and recommendations via audio, video, text, graphics, etc.

 

 

6 key trends to 21st century teaching — from edsurge.com

Excerpt:

It’s popular these days to complain that college teaching hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. And sure, it’s possible to find some professors on any campus holding yellowed lecture notes, or clinging to dusty chalk. But the reality is that the internet and digital technologies have already brought profound changes to instructional styles and tools in higher education.

So what are the new teaching approaches catching on at today’s campuses? And what are the broader cultural changes around college teaching?

We set out to answer those questions over the past year, with a series of articles and interviews exploring what teaching in the 21st century looks like. Some show the nuances of the challenges of teaching with technology by telling stories of innovative professors, including how a water agency official who teaches an online community college course got started in creating open educational resources when her class was incorporated into a zero-cost textbook degree program. Others dive into research on the culture of teaching, like a talk with an anthropologist studying how professors react to (and sometimes resist) research on teaching practices.

 

 

 

The Lesson You Never Got Taught in School: How to Learn! — from bigthink.com by Simon Oxenham (from 2/15/13)
Psychological Science in the Public Interest evaluated ten techniques for improving learning, ranging from mnemonics to highlighting and came to some surprising conclusions.

 

Excerpts:

Practice Testing (Rating = High)
This is where things get interesting; testing is often seen as a necessary evil of education. Traditionally, testing consists of rare but massively important ‘high stakes’ assessments. There is however, an extensive literature demonstrating the benefits of testing for learning – but importantly, it does not seem necessary that testing is in the format of ‘high stakes’ assessments. All testing including ‘low stakes’ practice testing seems to result in benefits. Unlike many of the other techniques mentioned, the benefits of practice testing are not modest – studies have found that a practice test can double free recall!

Distributed Practice (Rating = High)
Have you ever wondered whether it is best to do your studying in large chunks or divide your studying over a period of time? Research has found that the optimal level of distribution of sessions for learning is 10-20% of the length of time that something needs to be remembered. So if you want to remember something for a year you should study at least every month, if you want to remember something for five years you should space your learning every six to twelve months. If you want to remember something for a week you should space your learning 12-24 hours apart. It does seem however that the distributed-practice effect may work best when processing information deeply – so for best results you might want to try a distributed practice and self-testing combo.

 

Also see:

 

 

 

 

Per Willingham (emphasis DSC):

  • Rereading is a terribly ineffective strategy. The best strategy–by far — is to self-test — which is the 9th most popular strategy out of 11 in this study.  Self-testing leads to better memory even compared to concept mapping (Karpicke & Blunt, 2011).

 

Three Takeaways from Becoming An Effective Learner:

  • Boser says that the idea that people have different learning styles, such as visual learning or verbal learning, has little scientific evidence to support it.
  • According to Boser, teachers and parents should praise their kids’ ability and effort, instead of telling them they’re smart. “When we tell people they are smart, we give them… a ‘fixed mindset,’” says Boser.
  • If you are learning piano – or anything, really – the best way to learn is to practice different composers’ work. “Mixing up your practices is far more effective,” says Boser.

 

Cumulative exams aren’t the same as spacing and interleaving. Here’s why. — from  retrievalpractice.org

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Our recommendations to make cumulative exams more powerful with small tweaks for you and your students:

  • Cumulative exams are good, but encourage even more spacing and discourage cramming with cumulative mini-quizzes throughout the semester, not just as an end-of-semester exam.
  • Be sure that cumulative mini-quizzes, activities, and exams include similar concepts that require careful discrimination from students, not simply related topics.
  • Make sure you are using spacing and interleaving as learning strategies and instructional strategies throughout the semester, not simply as part of assessments and cumulative exams.

Bottom line: Just because an exam is cumulative does not mean it automatically involves spacing or interleaving. Be mindful of relationships across exam content, as well as whether students are spacing their study throughout the semester or simply cramming before an exam – cumulative or otherwise.

 


From DSC:
We, like The Learning Scientists encourages us to do and even provides their own posters, should have posters with these tips on them throughout every single school and library in the country. The posters each have a different practice such as:

  • Spaced practice
  • Retrieval practice
  • Elaboration
  • Interleaving
  • Concrete examples
  • Dual coding

That said, I could see how all of that information could/would be overwhelming to some students and/or the more technical terms could bore them or fly over their heads. So perhaps we could boil down the information to feature excerpts from the top sections only that put the concepts into easier to digest words such as:

  • Practice bringing information to mind
  • Switch between ideas while you study
  • Combine words and visuals
  • Etc. 

 

Learn how to study using these practices

 

 

Cut the curriculum — from willrichardson.com by Will Richardson

Excerpt:

Here’s an idea: A Minimal Viable Curriculum (MVC). That’s what Christian Talbot over at Basecamp is proposing, and I have to say, I love the idea.

He writes: “What if we were to design MVCs: Minimum Viable Curricula centered on just enough content to empower learners to examine questions or pursue challenges with rigor? Then, as learners go deeper into a question or challenge, they update their MVC…which is pretty much how learning happens in the real world.”

The key there to me is that THEY update their MVC. That resonates so deeply; it feels like that’s what I’m doing with my learning each day as I read about and work with school leaders who are thinking deeply about change.

 

When we pursue questions that matter to us, rigor is baked in.

 

From DSC:
I love the idea of giving students — as they can handle it — more choice, more control. So anytime around 8th-12th grade, I say we turn much more control over to the students, and let them make more choices on what they want to learn about. We should at least try some experiments along these lines.

 

 

As everyone in the workforce is now required to be a lifelong learner, our quality of life goes much higher if we actually enjoy learning. As I think about it, I have often heard an adult (especially middle age and older) say something like, “I hated school, but now, I love to learn.”

Plus, I can easily imagine greater engagement with the materials that students choose for themselves, as well as increased attention spans and higher motivation levels.

Also, here’s a major shout out to Will Richardson, Bruce Dixon, Missy Emler and Lyn Hilt for the work they are doing at ModernLearners.com.

 

Check out the work over at Modern Learners dot com

 

 

From DSC:
Not too long ago, I really enjoyed watching a program on PBS regarding America’s 100 most-loved books, entitled, “The Great American Read.”

 

Watch “The Grand Finale”

 

While that’s not the show I’m talking about, it got me to thinking of one similar to it — something educational, yet entertaining. But also, something more.

The program that came to my mind would be a program that’s focused on significant topics and issues within American society — offered up in a debate/presentation style format. 

For example, you could have different individuals, groups, or organizations discuss the pros and cons of an issue or topic. The show would provide contact information for helpful resources, groups, organizations, legislators, etc.  These contacts would be for learning more about a subject or getting involved with finding a solution for that problem.

For example, how about this for a potential topic: Grades or no grades?
  • What are the pros and cons of using an A-F grading system?
  • What are the benefits and issues/drawbacks with using grades? 
  • How are we truly using grades Do we use them to rank and compare individuals, schools, school systems, communities? Do we use them to “weed people out” of a program?
  • With our current systems, what “product” do we get? Do we produce game-players or people who enjoy learning? (Apologies for some of my bias showing up here! But my son has become a major game-player and, likely, so did I at his age.)
  • How do grades jibe with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)? On one hand…how do you keep someone moving forward, staying positive, and trying to keep learning/school enjoyable yet on the other hand, how do you have those grades mean something to those who obtain data to rank school systems, communities, colleges, programs, etc.?
  • How do grades impact one’s desire to learn throughout one’s lifetime?

Such debates could be watched by students and then they could have their own debates on subjects that they propose.

Or the show could have journalists debate college or high school teams. The format could sometimes involve professors and deans debating against researchers. Or practitioners/teachers debating against researchers/cognitive psychologists. 

Such a show could be entertaining, yet highly applicable and educational. We would probably all learn something. And perhaps have our eyes opened up to a new perspective on an issue.

Or better yet, we might actually resolve some more issues and then move on to address other ones!

 

 

Assessment for Learning: It Just Makes Sense — from facultyfocus.com by Cathy Box

Excerpt:

Assessment for Learning (AfL), sometimes referred to as “formative assessment” has become part of the educational landscape in the U.S. and is heralded to significantly raise student achievement, yet we are often uncertain what it is and what it looks like in practice in higher education. To clarify, AfL includes the formal and informal processes that faculty and students use during instruction to gather evidence for the purpose of improving learning. The aim of AfL is to improve students’ mastery of the content and to equip and empower them as self-regulated, life-long learners.

There are many strategies that serve the purposes of AfL, commonly centered around three questions: 1) Where am I going? 2) Where am I now? and 3) How can I close the gap? (Chappuis, 2015; Sadler, 1989; Wiliam, 2011). This process represents a natural progression from the beginning of a lesson to closing the learning gaps at the end and provides a recursive loop when necessary. The following narrative describes two AfL strategies that I have found work extremely well in my courses, resulting in higher quality work, leaving me time to provide feedback on the more challenging aspects of the assignment. These strategies fall under the question “Where am I going?” and are true to the tenets of AfL, having a significant impact on learning and putting students squarely in the driver’s seat.

 

“Indeed as one of the most prolific writers on the topic, Alfie Kohn suggested, ‘assessment should be an unobtrusive servant of teaching and learning.’ (source)

 

 

Modern Learners 2018 Provocation of the Year — from modernlearners.com by Bruce Dixon

Excerpt:

In this context, provocation is therefore about deconstructing meanings and hidden agendas, challenging assumptions and seeking new ways of thinking not just about what we do, or how we do it, but most importantly, why we do what we do.

It is in this context that the choice for our 2018 Provocation of the Year came down to a single word… assessment.

 

 

“Indeed as one of the most prolific writers on the topic, Alfie Kohn suggested, ‘assessment should be an unobtrusive servant of teaching and learning.’ Now there’s a provocation to really start a vibrant conversation.“

 

How faculty can ‘click’ their way to a more inclusive classroom — from edsurge.com by Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy

Excerpt:

What do you think is important for an instructor to do when using classroom response systems (polling software or clickers)? Select all that apply.

A) Choose questions that most students will be able to answer correctly.

B) Vary the types of poll questions beyond multiple choice.

C) Ask students “Please discuss your answer with a neighbor.”

D) Stress that students answer questions independent of their peers.

Classroom response systems (CRS) have a mixed reputation. Studies have suggested that these tools, which allow students to respond in real time to questions provided by an instructor, can improve student learning. But other reports show that is not always the case.

Like many education tools, it depends. And in the case of clickers and other classroom polling software, it largely depends on how instructors are using them. If used thoughtfully, we’ve seen that CRSs can help facilitate active learning in a classroom. What’s more, these tools can be used to also facilitate an inclusive classroom.

What do we mean by an inclusive classroom? Faculty risk excluding certain students and impeding their ability to succeed when they aren’t intentional about design and facilitation. Inclusive course design involves more than choosing content; it also requires considering the number of assessments, opportunities for practice, the chances for students to assess their understanding of material, among other attributes.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
This is where the quizzing features/tools within a Learning Management System such as Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard Learn, etc. are so valuable. They provide students with opportunities for low-stakes (or no-stakes) practice in retrieving information and to see if they are understanding things or not. Doing such formative assessments along the way can point out areas where they need further practice, as well as areas where the students are understanding things well (and only need an occasional question or two on that item in order to reduce the effects of the forgetting curve).

 

 

 

 

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