Thursday, September 30, 2010

European Association Of Test Publishers Conference

Halfway through this conference and pleased to hear that we in Scotland are actually doing pretty well in the domain of innovative on-line assessment and in who we have chosen to work with as technical partners. Many of our testing and development partners are here.

I am writing this for those who don't know the commercial side of the computer based assessment industry. This is big multi-national business spanning the organisations that provide pychometric and selection tests to industry , those who provide specialist regulatory tests for different industries ( SQA is included here) to those who work in mainstream education providing the testing systems that support national awarding in the school, college or vocational learning space. ( we feature here too)

It is all here for a price - from the vast aircraft simulation assessments for pilots and ground crew, to the professional tests for global professional associations, to those who offer selection tests for lots of different kinds of employment or for national driving tests and for .. the list goes on...

Tests can be built , beta tested for valididty and realibility and delivered through the medium of the customer's choice to a testing centre for high stakes tests or even out to mobile devices as authentication and on-line proctoring systems develop.

The main changes in the market globally
  • Main move is towards more immersive assessments using virtual worlds or augmented reality - but they are very expensive to develop but allows increasingly authentic assessment this stretches out to serious gaming.
  • Greater regulation CPD and mandated testing in growing number of occupational areas around world.
  • Moves to mobile and Wi-Fi based testing you can now have mobile test centres using i-pads and other devices. 
  • Video Proctoring - allowing candidates to take assessments where ever they wish to tackle these.
  • Costs of hardware going down for equipping test centres from about £6oo to £300.
  • Massive opportunities in places like India and China where the delivery device of choice will be mobile phones.
The good news is that we have thought about most of this. The challenges as ever are not the technology or the ability to change the system but the willingness of those in the training and education systems to embrace change. When assessment on demand is a reality will your institution be ready ?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scottish Learning Festival

Gathering my thoughts on another successful Scottish Learning Festival. For me the opportunity to network around the event is its main attraction. Here are some of my personal  favourite bits from rushing in and out of the conference over the two days.

Still awaiting some really cool SLF t-shirts playing on the Stiff Little Fingers Logo of the 1980's.

  • Sugata Mitra  - Should challenge everyones thinking catch his keynote on conference website.
  • Teachmeet - made 15 minutes of this before I had to scramble off to Scottish Training Federation Awards and Dinner. Check out wiki and flashmeet
  • Ollie Bray and Derek Robertson's infectious enthusiasm - catch the dance..
  • David Cameron's ( @realdcameron on Twitter) perceptive sessions on what Curriculum for Excellence is really all about
  • Finally good to see NQ Games Sessions , Katie Farrell's work on using the new awards  , and the SQA Computing team getting around the event and blogging about it
  • Ewan McIntosh  trying to stay in the debate while flying over to the west coast of America to deliver a keynote
  • Stephen Heppell and his friendly supportive ways
I'm sure a simple Google #SLF10 or #SLF2010 will throw up much more - I had a sense there was more blogging and tweeting going on at this event than any of the past ones and great to see keynotes up on LTScotland Website.  Particularly liked  John Johnston's perceptive post on teachmeet -Looking forward to next year already.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scottish Training Federation Awards

On Wednesday night I was humbled as ever by the work that training providers across Scotland do. The organisation I work for uses SVQ Awards and national occupational standards as an important part of our staff development processes as do many organisations across the UK. 
However, the work of Scotland's training providers in supporting training in the workplace is  largely unreported. We need to shine a light more often on the hard graft that is involved in achieving a modern apprenticeship and the challenges that are involved in supporting candidates in the workplace.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

E-Cert Programme

Interesting project that creates an e-certificate and controls management and verification systems - can operate across different institutions and awarding authorities . Some really useful example uses from across UK  Allows educational organisation to issue these , learners to access these and  employers and institutions to use these - can be used to verify exam results, project work , e-portfolios . Candidate can submit their certification and the work that they have completed - can see lots of applications for this.
Potentially useful links to Bologna process and E-Certification E-pass work.

Donald Clark Plan B at ALTC2010

Donald Clark opens ALTC 2010 Conference in Nottingham.

Founder of Epic an early on-line educational publisher which he sold on for a modest fortune now has an excellent blog at always controversial.

Don’t Lecture Me ! - Why we need to move away from the lecture theatre - a rabble rousing opening address.

I’ve heard some of this many times over the years and have experienced lots of awful teachers, lectures and conference presentations over the years. Donald does an entertaining spin through the challenges of getting individuals and institutions to move away from the lecture theatre. I agree with many of the challenges he identifies – but think we still have to find a way to move pedagogy on – and not least the  the pedagogues who like giving lectures when they can .. even in schools.  So not an easy challenge.

Hardly anyone who teaches in a University believes in any scientific methodology of teaching and learning or even tries to apply any of it. Collection of anecdotes rather than a data driven empirical approach and if any theories are used then they are half-baked. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs gets a doing it only survives because it is easy to put on a power point. Teachers always focus on what they are going to teach they hardly stop and think about how they are going to teach it.

Great use of teaching clip from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The Crazy English Movement fills stadiums with 25,000 in China

Recommends  "The Media Equation " – book some good ideas on applying new technologies to learning.

Teachers ask pseudo rhetorical questions and don’t really challenge learners. Lecturing grew from preaching in the middle ages and it has never really moved on. Was associated with reading and then instruction – but still a meaningless monologue.

Isaac Newton – was brilliant but no-one turned up to his lectures as no-one could understand them and his delivery was very poor – he often delivered them to empty rooms . Why put brilliant research scientists who can’t teach in front of undergraduates? Problem is not just people it is about methodology Richard Feynman teaching physics through lectures is almost an impossible task has to be through active learning.

Even the new recordings of lectures in YouTube are mostly rubbish – but it is still better to see a first class lecture on video than a mediocre one in the flesh. Russell Group Universities attendance drops to just around 50% among first years over a year.

Institutions should be looking at learning success rates and looking at how they can use technology to time shift look at Lewins Lectures , i-tunes u , MIT , Open Learn OU Don’t pad out cognitive overload - hardly anyone knows how to use text, images, sound etc in learning - there is lots more we could be doing to improve learning.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve – keep coming back to this

Carol Twigg – Pew Research – move to active learning approach and redesign your courses around learning  actually a lot of potential in this work for curriculum for excellence in schools.

People need to be able to study at a distance in a much more enlightened way and universities need to share resources in much more creative ways – most medical faculties still have art /publications departments drawing and digitizing representations of the human body in a massively inefficient ways. When capital expenditure cuts come at least it will stop lots of monument building that has been going on campuses around the country.– most university buildings run at under 50% capacity which is scandal.

The Open University model is the way ahead.

And now 63 minutes later I've forgotten half of it

Friday, September 03, 2010

Assessment Futures , New Ventures and ALT-C

I'm on my way down to the Association of Learning Technology Conference on Monday.  It is probably the best place for ideas and theory sharing across the UK Learning Technology community . I've been engaged with ALT since mid 1990's . But this post is not an advert for ALT it is to set up discussions with colleagues at the conference and beyond . The post will be picked up by the excellent Crowd Vine tool that is being used.

So if you are at ALT-C here is flavour of things we are up to and areas of my immediate interest at the conference.

As you would expect from National Awarding and Accreditation Body there is quite a lot of work going on around looking at different models of assessment.   By the current nature of our system this is largely work we are doing in  Further and Higher Education , Community and Workbased learning spaces - but a quick flavour of some of the themes that are emerging
  • Exemplifying models of holistic assessment utilising range of different mediums.
  • Exploring use of E-portfolios and their application across institutional boundaries - portfolio moving with learner.
  • Describing and exemplifying Assessment strategies beyond the written word video or other evidence capture mechanisms including Virtual Worlds
  • Demonstrating use of Wki and Blogs for assessment of collaborative and group work
  • Piloting and creating models for test item sharing in (maths , sciences and computing ) how far can we share/ re-use  items between institutions /continents/ education systems  ?
  • Further exploring potential of Games Based Assessment
These areas of work and some broader work around building and defining Digital Literacy across  the spectrum of life long learning.and how qualifications support this. 

Always interested in anything out there that can inform our work in these areas - and welcome input from ALT Colleagues and broader blogosphere.