Outcomes: LVAIC 2007

We spoke at the Lehigh Valley Technology in the Classroom Symposium today.

Higher education institutions from the Lehigh Valley (in and around Allentown, PA – about an hour north of Philadelphia) gathered to share approaches to common challenges, immerse themselves in some of the latest and greatest things going on in ed tech, and relax their way through a very hot PA summer day.

It was a calm and pleasant way to spend some time getting to know some new schools, talk to the Tablet PC wizzes from Gateway, and talk about everybody’s favorite subject, outcomes.

We got the coveted just-before-lunch time slot, just after a very compelling Beth Ritter-Guth described her amazing uses of Second Life to immerse students in the literary worlds of Beowulf, Edgar Allen Poe, and Dante. Tough act to follow. Now if some foundation would just throw a couple of million bucks into making a totally immersing, photo-realistic Yoknapatawpha County.

Here’s my list of resources, which several people asked for:

High level outcomes mapping tools

Tools for developing actual data (!) on student achievement

TK20, TaskStream, Chalk&Wire, LiveText are standalone eportfolio solutions with an assessment engine built in. They were developed, primarily, for teacher education programs (accrediting purposes) and have a unique business model – the student pays. So for $89 for 5 years, or similar, a student purchases their own space on the company’s servers to host their portfolio, ostensibly so that the student can have easy access to their portfolio after they graduate (which is particularly important to recently graduated teachers).

Dr. Helen Barrett, seemingly the worlds most prolific and expert commentator on all things eportfolio, writes about this family of tools with Dr. Judy Wilkerson, and expresses concern that assessment and evidence don’t necessarily play well together – that trying to pack both into the same tool is a “conflicting paradigm.” I’m in agreement on this one. Plus, from a basic workflow perspective, having assessment tied to the portfolio makes it awkward to just trot out a rubric to respond to a simple in-class writing assignment or similar. Read more here.

We’ve had a crazy month – between NECC 2007 in Atlanta (end of June) and Bb World 2007 in Boston (mid-July), I’ve been doing a lot more traveling than normal. I’ve got a couple of blog entries drafted, so stay tuned. One entry is on student-centered rubric design and the other compares a brilliant recent article by James Surowiecki, writing in The New Yorker about fuel economy and ice hockey, to the use of elearning tools and outcomes assessment in higher ed.

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