Thursday, April 7, 2011
Raising the bar
One thing has been apparent both semesters – it’s time to raise the bar. Our technology requirement is seriously out of date; we require students to be able to demonstrate that they can keyboard at a reasonable speed (25 wpm with no errors), and can competently use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
Here’s the thing: students come into class already capable users of Word and PowerPoint, and usually able to pass the typing test without practice. Only Excel gives them problems.
But there are so many other critical skills my students need, including:
· evaluating websites and internet information for validity (a gaping skill deficit here)
· evaluating their digital footprints and online safety
· finding and figuring out how to use free internet tools
· avoiding plagiarism online
· collaborating with others using technology.
If we require that students have technology skills to graduate, shouldn't these skills be included? I teach all these skills, usually in a cross-disciplinary framework. But how should I assess them? Since these aren't part of the formal requirement, my assessments here have been formative - lots of practice and feedback.
It’s easy to do a summative assessment of whether a student knows how to use Word or Excel; I give them a task and see how well they accomplish it. Either they’ve shown me they know how to bold text or use a header, or they haven’t.
But these newer skills are based on judgment, so inevitably the assessments I use are about judgment. So how do I assess these skills?
Rubrics, here I come.