Horizon Report 2017 – Upcoming Trends

The Horizon Report is a useful marking of near and long term trends in educational technology. The Preview version is available for K12 and highlights some interesting things. Of particular note is the mid-term trend related to the growing focus on measuring learning. “Mid-term” is estimated to be adopted widely in 3-5 years. As an early leader in this area, we’re glad to see such growing attention and interest:

The passage on Measuring Learning states:

The proliferation of data mining software and developments in online education, mobile learning, and learning management systems are coalescing toward learning environments that leverage analytics and visualization software to portray learning data in a multidimensional and portable manner.

We believe that when teachers have access to clever and easy learning analytics, it empowers them to either act on or challenge their instincts. We like to call what we do “AI,” but instead of “artificial intelligence” we try to make it more real and less scary: how about “Awesome Insights” or even “Actual Information”?

We’d love to hear from you about what you’re looking for as data-informed support.

Fantastic Resource Page on Assessment of PBL

Andrew Miller’s gathered a great resource list of links to help teachers interested strategies for assessing students engaged in Problem-based Learning.

What strategies have you found useful? How often do you use PBL?

Data Helps Students Dodge a Hurricane

Eighth grade US teacher Sarah Beachkofsky tells the story of how she was able to help students to progress their learning even after suffering the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. As an educator committed to using data to learn about her students as well as motivate them, she shares an insightful and compelling story. When you lose precious classtime (due to a natural disaster or a school-wide sport carnival 🙂 how can data help make up for lost time?

How do you use data to support your goals for students?

Please share your ideas!
image thanks to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Twofold Importance of Evidence

Every school has a vision for student success – sometimes this is clearly defined and supported with learning principles and at others it’s less defined but clearly part of the school’s “ethos” or values that inspire teachers every day.  This shared sense of purpose is essential so that everyone’s working toward the same goal.

Once a rich vision for student achievement is shared by all staff, students and parents, I see “evidence” as the next important step. This is two main reasons.  First, in the spirit of “backward design,” we should develop measures that capture evidence of what we’re after before we consider teaching to strategies to achieve it.  This way, what we do in the classroom won’t just be “good strategies,” but good strategies chosen to produce the desired results.  In other words, if the measures for evidence are well-designed, their fulfilment provides validation that the vision has been achieved.

Another reason for setting “evidence” as the second step is that “testing” communicates what “really matters.”  Within the last month, approximately one million students in Australia sat the NAPLAN tests for Literacy and Numeracy. I use NAPLAN now, however, to illustrate a fundamental truth: the very act of assessing defines what’s important.  Literacy and Numeracy are two of the seven General Capabilities meant to underpin the Australian Curriculum, but how often do we target success in the other five.  How many parents or students could name even one? Yet few would deny the importance of the other five: ICT capability, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social capability, Ethical understanding and Intercultural understanding.  Thus, even though all seven apparently warranted inclusion in the Australian Curriculum, it’s clear which two “matter.”

My point is not to downgrade the importance of being literate or developing mathematical capabilities, but to illustrate that the very act of testing something makes it import.  And important not only to teachers, but then, clearly to students, parents and ultimately the wider community.

For this reason I suggest that schools consider developing a few richer assessments and build these into the curriculum. Consider setting such performances across the year levels so students can demonstrate their achievements with increasing sophistication as they mature and develop their abilities.  Many schools use such an approach to encourage student wellness and “21st Century” skills.

What are you doing at your school?  Please share your experiences and insights.

gavel graphic from www.ccPixs.com