Designing projects that include ‘public’ formative assessment using Ning continues to ‘out’ some real issues that students face. I maintain that the design of many ICT based ‘group’ projects is too linear. The task is issued, then at some point 2/3 weeks later it is collected. The summative ‘end product’.
What I’ve had a lot of success in doing – is re-inventing methods of formative assessment with technology, which justifies and supports (or not) the summative end product. Here is a recent ‘post’ from a student surrounding this idea.
Students are usually silent about the ‘freeloaders’ in group work during linear ICT based project.
The freeloader knows they have to do almost nothing in a group task. They are betting that the can lean on someone for the answers, or ideally be paired with people who do actually work. They know that someone else will do it, as they want to get the marks despite the freeloaders lack of effort.
The code of student silence surrounding this issue prevents effective action to prevent it all too often.
The next category of offenders are the last minute Googlers – skimming off information and placing in into the paper as their own work. I don’t believe too many teachers have the time to re-type printed papers into Google to track down the plagiarism – even though they suspect it.
Digital formative and summative assessment can be different.
You can easily ‘reverse Google’ any post and show them where it came from. They soon stop doing it.
Students often in a classroom will not ‘expose’ the freeloaders due to peer pressure – or worse. Online however, I’m seeing that students will talk about the issues. They don’t name names – but they do talk about work ethic and the irritation they have with students who are un-motivated in doing anything more than the minimum.
In designing projects for seniors, technology provides leverage to change this dilemma. Consistent effort can be seen though ‘reflective writing’ and talking about content, context and their understanding.
Formative assessment online is far more lasting and permanent than traditional methods such as observation, completing worksheets, text book questions.
It can give the teacher far more understanding of group dynamics than a ‘test’ – which is ultimately a solo summative activity. It can be a strategic and effective intervention in to a massive problem in many schools.
If a student feels they are falling foul of freeloaders, then they can talk about it in an open forum – or they can message the teacher with their concern. The teacher can ‘see’ the potential issues, and offer some mediation and reconciliation between in the group.
Project Based Learning has group responsibility in built, so it’s much harder to freeload and indeed students in a short period of time develop some effective mechanisms to deter it. Most of our 9th graders reject ‘Googled’ information outright, as they know that if it is posted, then it will get detected far more easily than ever before.
Designing projects to be ‘Google Proof’ or rather to ensure that Google is used effectively to build knowledge is something that I am seeing and hearing that students want. Working online in this way is far less about ‘being a blogger’ than it is about being able to demonstrate that they are ‘learners’. I get the impression that re-inventing ICT based projects in this way is critical to any classroom cultural change. But when it is introduced, the change happens very quickly.
They question I hear most from principals is ‘How do you implement better ICT use – sustainably to improve outcomes for students’.
That’s they key learning I think most attendees really want to walk away with at conferences right now. All the more critical given the Rudd Government’s 8 rounds of ‘laptop’ handouts, with schools getting hundreds of laptops for 9th-12th graders.
Are they going to do with these things what they did with the beige boxes – or do they want to develop effective, workable solutions to never before seen problems.
It’s a massive challenge for many schools – but there are solutions that can be adopted and modeled via Professional Development. The focus however is not on how many IWBs you have or how much Web2.0 you can add to your Delicious. Its about making teachers ‘want’ the changes that ICT can now offer.
It works. Teachers like it, kids like it – freeloaders and Google Jockeys hate it.