“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
– Albert Einstein
This week I had the privilege of working alongside Christina, Laurie and Ramona to present on assessment technologies. In preparation for our presentation we had several discussions around what this looks like in each of our schools, as well as personally. I was shocked to see the results of the first Poll Everywhere that showed that 87% of the class had used assessment technologies authentically prior to remote learning. Sure, I have used Kahoot! or Blooket for fun, but had never used it to inform instruction as Laura Thomas suggests in her article “7 Smart, Fast Ways to Do Formative Assessment.” Some of the more popular responses to the Mentimeter outlining what tools have been used included Seesaw or Google Classroom. I’m curious to know more about the grade levels and subject areas that colleagues have used assessment technologies in.
In my previous post I spoke to the evolution of Web 1.0 – Web 3.0 and how education has not kept in alignment. To me, assessment is much the same. Assessment 1.0 (behaviourist approach) would include all the non-digital forms of summative assessment that were used (report cards, exit slips, oral reports, written exams, standardized tests, etc.). While these seem archaic, they all still exist. The teacher is seen as the holder of the knowledge and learning is demonstrated when a student produces an answer that is correct. Assessment 2.0 moves into assessments for, as, and of learning. No longer is the teacher solely making judgments on student learning at the end of a learning process, the teacher is involved in formative assessment to guide teaching practices through gathering data prior to learning to support and improve student learning. Within Assessment 2.0 (cognitive approach) there would be some student reflection, however there would still be a strong teacher guidance. Assessment 3.0 (constructivist approach) would require a paradigm shift; the learner would be the driver with the teacher along for the ride as the facilitator. There would be a strong emphasis on student self-assessment and reflection. I have seen the constructivist approach in action for parts of student learning (genius hour), but not embedded throughout all subject areas.
Although I am not currently a classroom teacher, I have experience in which I have used all forms of assessment as described above. As a new teacher, many years ago, assessment of learning was still the practice that was used in education. The emphasis was on student grades that were determined by traditional assessments. This form of assessment was simply a snapshot of a students learning on a given day, usually at the end of a unit. Through experience and professional development, I grew as a teacher.
Using formative assessment (for and as learning) became the priority. Assessment for learning, understanding students’ current level of understanding, informs both the teacher and student about his or her progress in achieving learning outcomes. Assessment for learning goes beyond monitoring one’s learning. Students become a part of the learning process in turn improving his or her learning. Assessment for/as learning is a partnership between student and teacher where the teacher provides timely feedback; together, decisions can be made to improve the students’ learning. “Edtech has the ability to automate and innovate the way feedback is delivered – helping to not only ensure it’s received in real-time but also helping to guarantee it’s delivered in a way that best suits the student’s needs” (Chohan, 2021). Throughout remote learning, I was able to use the comment feature in Google Classroom to share timely, formative feedback with my students.
When reflecting on past choices of assessment technologies, I am guilty of using Class Dojo during 2011 when it first became available. The tool was used as a behaviour tool, however, students could never lose points they had earned. Point totals were never shared with the class, but at the end of each month, students with the highest points were rewarded.
During class we had a quick discussion as to the importance of researching the tools that you choose to use in the classroom. Who are the serving? Does the technology add some demonstrable pedagogical value? Why are you choosing to use this particular tool? Will teachers use the technology to aid students in the acquisition of knowledge, not just information? Are there privacy concerns? Does the technology appeal to different learning styles, allowing students to produce (not just consume) knowledge and information? Some of these questions and more are discussed in David Staley’s article, “Adopting Digital Technologies in the Classroom: 10 Assessment Questions.”
Using technology to enhance the student learning experience is here to stay. The shift to digital assessment technologies is upon us. There are a plethora of assessment technologies out there to choose from. Knowing how and why you are using the technology is paramount. If access to appropriate devices and WiFi is not a barrier, I can see great use in using technology to increase feedback, opportunity, flexibility and opportunity.