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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Product vs. Process

Sylvia does it again. Schools/teachers like wikis and podcasts because...

But as I thought more about it, I don’t think it’s that simple. I think it reflects a larger issue of assessment and comfort with the status quo. In most schools, curriculum focuses on student rather than process.

Wikis can be graded like term papers. Podcasts can be "rubricked" like a speech. Blogs, well blogs are not neat and easy. Teachers have been conditioned to standardize (bastardize?) education. Blogs represent growth, and growth is a process.

I offer this consideration. In class sits a child who has never had to work hard to complete her classwork at an accuracy level of 95%. She's smart. Nothing wrong with this.

In the same school a student with autism sits. He has never spoken, never truly communicated to any of the people in his life. One day, after the love and perseverance of a teacher, this boy picks up a marker and begins to scribble. On occasion a letter-like symbol emerges. The teacher continues to read to him a book with simple words. As days and months pass, the boy picks up a marker and draws on the board. Two letters emerge. H...i... Hi. His first word that, without a doubt, he communicated. He was 11 years old when it happened. The teacher took her student to rooms throughout the school. After the teacher said, "What would you like to say?," the student walked with purpose to the board and wrote H...i...

He did it in nearly 20 classrooms.

Spring rolls around. The girl takes her state-wide-color-the-bubble test. She scores in the 90+ percentile as she has ever other year. She did not need the time permitted to complete any of the sections. Her teachers did not have to spend any extra time helping her prepare for the test. The student says school is easy, and that she is usually bored. It's hard to disagree with her.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION! - Which student learned more in that year of education?

How can you prove your answer? There is no way to prove which student LEARNED more.

Wikis, though a great tool for collaboration are, as Sylvia says, "A different way to do the same thing."
Podcasts, though we have not really found the power of them yet, is being used to do old things in a new way.
Blogs, well, they demonstrate the long-term growth of ideas from seed to flower. They can become an old things in a new form if a teacher uses them as a note-taking tool.

But like the two students, the Essential Question - Which tool will lead the student to learn more from prolonged use? I have blogged many different ways since 2001. I have done podcasts in many different forms since 2005. I have used five different wikis with students and other teachers.

For me, my learning occurred in my blogs. I can't measure it, but I know it to be true. Even Twitter, my microblog of choice, has allowed me to learn more than wikis and podcasts.

I'm still thinking this through, because I know in my heart-of-hearts that podcasts have a greater power than how most educators are using them. I need a classroom to experiment...does anyone have a standard I can make fit into my experiment? :-)

Already know it

Versus something brand new.

Measure the growth not the outcome

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