Posted on May 21, 2013 by jeremy
Ken Robinson outlines three important principles to be adhered to if learning is to flourish in educational institutions — cater for diversity, nurture curiosity, and encourage creativity. Unfortunately, many education systems are characterised by conformity, standardisation, and compliance.
Testing has a lot do with this, or rather the design of tests. A focus on assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning, with greater attention to the authenticity of the assessment task will engage the learner because there is more scope to explore their curiosity and demonstrate their creative prowess.
Robinson contends that while standardised tests have a place, they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic.
Unfortunately, in many instances it’s about teaching to the test, and deep learning — if it happens — is incidental.
As always, Ken Robinson puts in an inspiring and entertaining performance. My favourite quote during this presentation (borrowed from Benjamin Franklin) is:
There are three sorts of people in the world: Those who are immovable, people who don’t get, they don’t want to get it, they’re not going to do anything about it. There are people who are movable, people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it. And there are people who move, people who make things happen. And if we can encourage more people, that will be a movement.
Filed under: Creativity, Exemplary practice | Tagged: Ken Robinson, learner centric, participatory pedagogy, personalised curriculum, standardised testing, student engagement | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 11, 2012 by jeremy
This classic clip from a Father Guido Sarducci stand up routine was shown a couple of times as a conference I attended recently. Unfortunately, this caricature of the extent and depth of learning at university is not too far from the truth. Ideally, learning experience should translate into competence, but so long as assessments focus on testing memories rather than skills, the probability of this happening remains low.
This problem has become particularly acute in recent times as the gap between university curricula and the knowledge and skills required in a digital age has widened. It has been a hot topic in India for a while now, but as a quick Google search demonstrates, it is a global problem.
The solution? Well, Father Sarducci may have the right formula. Start by asking what a graduate should be able to do once they finish.
Hopefully, this should take longer than five minutes.
Filed under: Authentic assessment, Practical advice | Tagged: 21st century skills, examinations, Father Guido Sarducci, knowledge retention, standardised testing, student engagement, universities | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 21, 2010 by jeremy
Image source: sidedish.dmagazine.com
There was an interesting piece in the The Chronicle of Higher Education earlier this month entitled India’s Company Classrooms Challenge ‘Chalk and Talk’ Colleges. The reason it is interesting, is that I’m not entirely sure the corporate universities are challenging the didactic pedagogy so commonplace in Indian institutions of higher education. In the Infosys case cited, the key difference, it would seem, is that PowerPoint is preferred to the chalkboard. The fact the wifi is turned off during class time would seem to indicate that Web 2.0 approaches to learning are yet to be readily accepted.
The Indian corporate sector has been complaining loudly about the inability of the higher education system to produce ‘job ready’ graduates for some time, some estimating that only one in four graduates possess the requisites skills. As a consequence, a new market player has emerged that is rather quaintly referred to as ‘finishing school’. This is not somewhere in Switzerland where the British aristocracy send their daughters to learn deportment, it’s a modest looking facility in the outskirts of an India metro where recent graduates learn the soft skills to enable them to participate as fully fledged members of the global workforce.
There is every chance that this segment of the Indian education industry will continue to expand for some time yet because success in education and success in the business world is chalk and cheese [pun intended]. Indian students will continue to ‘mug up for exams’ — a phrase in common parlance in the UK in the 1950s — because very little has changed within the Indian university sector since the 1950s. The focus is on teaching not learning, and testing memories not problem-solving skills. Industry, meanwhile, requires life-long learners and problem solvers.
Apologists for the system will no doubt point out that at every top university and leading corporate in the world you will find well-educated Indians. This, of course, is a product of the law of large numbers. These people have succeeded in spite of the system. Imagine what could be achieved if there were widespread acceptance of a learner-centric, technology-enhanced, participatory pedagogy with authentic assessment. To date, there has been very little incentive for institutions of higher education to change. With the opening up of the Indian education system to foreign competition, domestic institutions may be forced to reflect on their outdated practices.
Filed under: Authentic assessment, Creativity, Practical advice | Tagged: constructivism, India, new literacy, participatory pedagogy, standardised testing, student engagement, teaching, technology, universities, web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 4, 2010 by jeremy
A very persuasive presentation from Charles Leadbeater
on how social entrepreneurs are setting up schools in slum areas around the world that have pulling
power because there is some extrinsic motivation to attend, namely an immediate pay-off in terms of productive outcomes. There is no national curriculum or standardised testing, but one theme that is common is that these schools reach the people they most need to serve in a personalised manner. The impersonal mass education systems that students are pushed
into in many wealthier communities around the world might take heed. These systems are failing because learners are starved of opportunities for creativity. How perverse would it be if, with economic and social progress, these poor communities ‘developed’ to the point where children start enrolling for GCSEs, to become part of the ‘sausage factory’ education systems characteristic of ‘advanced’ countries.
Filed under: Creativity, Exemplary practice, Online learning, Practical advice | Tagged: Charles Leadbeater, disruptive innovation, online education, project-based learning, slums, standardised testing, student engagement, technology | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 24, 2008 by jeremy
This video clip from Edutopia.org runs for about 8 1/2 minutes. It puts forward the case that students are ‘over-tested and under-examined’. It includes commentary from Grant Wiggins and Howard Gardner (among others).
Filed under: Authentic assessment | Tagged: Gardner, K-12, project-based learning, standardised testing, Wiggins | Leave a Comment »