September 13, 2007

Why Technology Assessments Suck

I’m getting frustrated. As Canadians, we aren’t tied to NCLB or other testing requirements that restrict and enrage my southern counterparts. It’s not that we don’t believe in assessment, it’s just that we don’t think these measurements and demands help kids.

I’ve been asked to try and develop and build something that could measure student achievement in technology. Here’s my issue: First this idea of separating technology from everything is not ideal. We know technology isn’t “integrated” it’s just used. We know the real skills aren’t “the student can save a document” just as we don’t measure, “the student will keep their pencils in a pencil case”. We want to measure learning in deeper ways and to break it down to this, misses the boat.
I’ve developed what I think are the important skills, learning in our school division. It doesn’t break it down into grade levels but why should it? I’ve seen too many teachers who think showing someone how to use a word processor or spreadsheet accomplishes the goal of using technology.

If you look at places like ISTE, they are beginning to get it right. I have no idea our Americans are using this because it doesn’t appear to focus on the type of data (quantitative, simplistic data) that is typically desired.

There are still a number of places offering really specific tech outcomes. TechLearing sent me an e-book that offers assessments that once again target things like:

  • know basic computer parts
  • email
  • web browser

and the list goes on. Reminded me of a video Alec discovered a while back:

I don’t know. Maybe we have to measure this stuff. I think we’re breaking this down too far and missing the real important skills. Do I need to break it down further or is our Big Ideas all we need?

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