For several decades now, assessment has become an increasingly pressing educational priority. Teacher and school accountability systems have come to be based on analysis of large-scale, standardized summative assessments. As a consequence, assessment now dominates most conversations about reform, particularly as a measure of teacher and school accountability for learner performance. Behind the often heated and at times ideologically gridlocked debate is a genuine challenge to address gaps in achievement between different demographically identifiable groups of students. There is an urgent need to lift whole communities and cohorts of students out of cycles of underachievement. For better or for worse, testing and public reporting of achievement is seen to be one of the few tools capable of clearly informing public policy makers and communities alike about how their resources are being used to expand the life opportunities for their children. This course is an overview of current debates about testing, and analyses the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of approaches to assessment. The course also focuses on the use of assessment technologies in learning. It will explore recent advances in computer adaptive and diagnostic testing, the use of natural language processing technologies in assessments, and embedded formative assessments in digital and online curricula. Other topics include the use of data mining and learning analytics systems in learning management systems and educational technology platforms. Participants will be required to consider issues of data access, privacy and the challenges raised by ‘big data’ including data persistency and student profiling.
This course is designed for people interested in the future of education and the "learning society," including people who may wish to join education as a profession, practicing teachers interested in exploring future directions for a vocation that is currently undergoing transformation, and community and workplace leaders who regard their mission to be in part "educative."
Additional online resources are available here:
Take this Course for Credit at the University of Illinois
This course has the same content and anticipates the same level of contribution by students in the e-Learning Ecologies course offered to graduate certificate, masters, and doctoral level students in the Learning Design and Leadership Program in the College of Education at the University of Illinois.
Of course, in the nature of MOOCs many people will just want to view the videos and casually join some of the discussions. Some people say that these limited kinds of participation offer evidence that MOOCs suffer from low retention rates. Far from it – we say that any level of engagement is good engagement.
On the other hand, if you would like to take this course for credit at the University of Illinois, you will find more information about our program here:
The Learning Design and Leadership Series of MOOCs
This course is one of a series of eight MOOCs created by Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis for the Learning Design and Leadership program at the University of Illinois. If you find this MOOC helpful, please join us in others!
e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age
New Learning: Principles and Patterns of Pedagogy
Assessment for Learning
Learning, Knowledge, and Human Development
Ubiquitous Learning and Instructional Technologies
Negotiating Learner Differences: Towards Productive Diversity in Learning
Literacy Teaching and Learning: Aims, Approaches and Pedagogies
Multimodal Literacies: Communication and Learning in the Era of Digital Media
Course Orientation + Intelligence Tests
This course is an overview of current debates about testing, and analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of approaches to assessment. The module also focuses on the use of assessment technologies in learning. It will explore recent advances in computer adaptive and diagnostic testing, the use of natural language processing technologies in assessments, and embedded formative assessments in digital and online curricula. Other topics include the use of data mining and learning analytics in learning management systems and educational technology platforms. The module also considers issues of data access, privacy, and the challenges raised by ‘big data’ including data persistency and student profiling. A final section addresses the processes of educational evaluation. Video presenters include Mary Kalantzis, Bill Cope, Luc Paquette, and Jennifer Greene.
Kinds of Assessments
The word "standard" is used in two quite different ways in testing theory and practice: to create a common measure of learning in "standardized assessments"; and the generalized and measurable objectives of learning. Sometimes standardized assessments are used to determine the outcomes of standards-based education, but often not. Standards-based assessment can also be criterion-referenced, and self-referenced.
New Assessments in the Digital Age
Computer-mediated assessments can be used to mechanize, and so make more efficient, traditional select-and-supply response assessments. However, new opportunities also present themselves in the form of technologies and assessment processes called "learning analytics."
Educational Data Mining + Evaluation
In this module, Luc Paquette discusses educational data mining – a new generation of techniques with which to analyze student learning for the purposes of assessment, evaluation, and research. Finally, Jennifer Greene explores theories and practices of evaluation. Assessment data may be used to support evaluations, however evaluation is a considerably broader process.