Assessment and Accreditation

After writing about David Wiley’s presentation (Oct 13) in which he said that assessment is the one area related to open access where not much work has been done, I have been inundated with people speaking and writing on the issue of assessment. In the Online Teaching and Learning Conference last week (Sponsored by Fielding Graduate University, Jossey-Bass, and LearningTimes, I participated (heard) a webinar on accreditation of online learning (not exactly emergent, open, but related). Another webinar by Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt on assessment included information about authentic assessment which asks students to perform in real life situations about which they are learning and usually includes rubrics. And I came across several articles as well, which I didn’t track, since it isn’t a subject I am overly interested in. But when Rory McGreal presented this week on Assessment and Accreditaton, I couldn’t help but notice how much attention is being paid to this topic in general, contrary to what David Wiley had noted (although Wiley was particularly speaking about open education, so maybe it is more true in that context.

I have to say that the content of the presentation this week in #Change11 by Rory McGreal was pretty scary. McGreal, with Diane Conrad and Wayne MacIntosh, is working to get credentials for students in OER courses. They have ten universities that they are working with at present. The idea is that students would take their courses in OER courses and then the University would accredit them, according to whatever agreement they have worked out with that university.  The reason that I say that it is so scary is that the focus is entirely on testing (computerized testing at that) to assess whether people have accomplished learning goals through testing. There is no perspective on emergent learning at all. He (and the moderator) defended this by saying these would be beginning undergraduate courses and seem to be entirely about preparing people for certain jobs. This is not where one would hope that learning would be headed. Some people were objecting to the emphasis on testing and asked about e-portfolios, but there didn’t seem to be much place for this discussion! (Abort! Abort! Get me out of here!!)



David Wiley

Just listened to both the webinar on #Change11 and the keynote that someone else posted that he gave at Penn State. He summarizes many interesting points, most of which aren’t new, but I like the way that he puts them together. I didn’t know about him before, so I am glad to hear from him. The webinar left me feeling like this was a conversation for insiders, so I was happier with the keynote, where he spoke to the general public.

As an aside  to the comment about the webinar being for insiders, perhaps it makes sense that he would speak to an audience of insiders, but it is really annoying to be part of a conversation where people speak about “Jeff” and “Bill” as if you knew everyone in the world that they knew. Like, I am so important, of course you track who my friends are. And, when I thought about that, I thought about how most of the insiders in this world are white males of privilege. It is just so tiresome! I wish that Lisa and Doris and I could get a conversation going in a node and sort some of this out.

Otherwise, I liked how Wiley divided the open access issues into:

  • content (as MIT provides here)
  • someone to provide support and guidance(google scholar, ChaCha)
  • assessment (he says, this is a desert area, and not much is being done here)
  • certification (Open University and Western Governors University)

Then, when speaking in the keynote, he itemized the six changes that needed to happen as

  1. analog to digital
  2. tethered to mobile
  3. isolated to connected
  4. generic to personal
  5. consuming to creating
  6. closed to open

and specified that e-learning had only addressed the first two of these. I think our learning (Fielding and GSCC) also addresses most of the rest. Maybe not closed to open. In both, learners communicate in online forums and both are personalized to the immediate context. The content is not specified ahead of time, which makes both learning experiences creative rather than consuming. This echoes Engestrom’s expansive learning.

So, I guess Wiley is speaking to more traditional e-learning situations and in that sense does not address issues of immediate concern to my situations – things I am thinking about such as to what extent can the first two of the four itemized issues be addressed through peer situations. Is this a lonely trip through learning? Does learning like company? I think I need to go back and read/  listen to last week’s conversation which seemed to be on collective learning.



Webinar Day

Spent a good part of my day watching webinars. Watched the Martin Weller one and then Sherry Turkle. I wish I had gotten the information in other ways. There is no way to tell before the event whether something is going to be worth the time I give to it, and that is annoying.

I really liked Weller’s book. I spent some time before the webinar reading parts of it and want to go back and read more. I sent recommendations to my faculty mentor and the technology person at Fielding to read it. But the webinar, well, I could have done something more fruitful. The webinar was organized by the #change2011 MOOC people and they didn’t have their act together. First, it didn’t start until about 20 minutes after it was supposed to. Weller hadn’t even uploaded his slides ahead of time!!!!  Come on  – I understand technical difficulties and am generally forgiving about them, but this one seemed like it could have been prevented if the organizers had spent a few minutes trying things out ahead of time. I will think twice before I listen in real time again.

The Turkle one was OK, but I found a youtube video in which she said basically the same thing only more succinctly. Also, I don’t really agree with her. Well, I agree that time is needed for reflection and that we are learning to communicate at a more superficial level, but I wanted a more balanced view. Well, I guess some people have to take an extreme stance for people to get the point. But she doesn’t tell the whole story about how digital technologies are changing the way we communicate and think, she just tells the down side.

Jeremy (my faculty mentor) sent me info on a webinar that is happening on October 11. I may register and see if I can check it out after the fact, in light of today’s experience. Here is the info:

Many institutions of higher learning are confronted with the challenge of understanding the role of evolving social web paradigms to expand informal learning models, enable academic collaboration and enhance academic engagement. Those institutions will benefit greatly from this webinar moderated by Mark Walston and featuring a discussion between Eli Lesser, Director of Summer Sessions at the College of Liberal and Professional Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Jon Corshen, CEO of GoingOn Networks. Mr. Lesser and Mr. Corshen will discuss the benefits, challenges and lessons learned over the last two years and also share their vision for tomorrow’s virtual campus and the development of an Academic Engagement Network.

Moving Beyond the Course to the Virtual Campus:
Perspectives on the Evolution of Social Web Modalities in Education

Tuesday, October 11th at 2:00pm Eastern

Information that will be covered:

  • University of Pennsylvania’s social classroom environment and experience
  • New models of social collaboration and online community building
  • Strategies for building a “virtual commons”
  • Models for applying social technologies to distance learning and continuing education
  • Best practices for building an institution-wide network of online communities
  • Evolving trends in the uses of social modalities to enrich the academic life experience

This free Webinar is presented by GoingOn Networks and hosted by The Chronicle of Higher Education. All content presented during the event is provided by GoingOn Networks.
You are receiving this e-mail message because The Chronicle of Higher Education believes that you,



Taking Off

It seems that now that I have found this landing space, I am ready to take off. I have often said in other contexts how important it is to have a landing page, which I used to “quaintly” call a home space. When several students at Fielding Graduate University, where I am a doctoral student, started a project to explore various technologies in the context of learning spaces, we were having trouble remembering where all the places were that we had created groups and started conversations and agreed early on to have one place where we at least kept all the links to the various tools we were trying out. In a sense those could have been called landing pages as well, since we landed on them. Now that I think about it, I like my term “home space” better because the connotation is that one stays there more permanently and “lands” in other places. I suppose in this new world, there is so little sense of permanency that a landing is as good as it gets. No roots.

I am glad that Doris set up a spot for Lisa and she and I to connect.Although I have been thinking of this blog as my PLE, I sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t make myself a google page as Doris has done. Again, I will see.

The number of people who are asking to join the facebook group (Change 11)  is growing pretty fast. There were 55 people asking to join when I signed into fb this morning. I guess I will go and post an introduction there. I haven’t figured out yet how to decide which groups to join. I think the norm must be that one joins whatever looks like an option and then later sorts out which ones one wants to stay with. At least that will be my strategy.

George Siemens suggested identifying which tools I will use. I made a page and kept a list of what I have joined already: twitter feed, fb, Doris’ Diigo group, and I think I joined another diigo group as well. Oh dear, losing track already, before I have even begun.

I am going on the road today (literally) and will take my notebook with me so that I can track. Interesting. Why am I still writing things in my paper and pencil notebook? After a week without power and the Internet, I guess one reason is that one can’t always depend on technology.

Off I go.

Landing Somewhere

Boy, I wish I could figure this wordpress thing out. I want to use it for the Change MOOC I am enrolled in. This could be my blog page, if I could just figure it out. I have no patience for reading directions, so that doesn’t help. I have to try things out. Not that they give directions for anything in this MOOC #change11 ; they assume that you know how to blog and tweet and have landing pages.

I think the value of this might be that I could find a way to manage and organize my learning, which would be great. Right now, my stuff is in so many places, I lose track. I think everyone should have a home page, but home pages don’t seem to be in fashion. Maybe that is what a landing page is. I see that George Siemens has a landing page and when I googled it, after countless pages of restaurants named THE LANDING, I see that the landing page is connected to this word press program. Now if I could just find it.


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