Thursday, 1 December 2016

#OEB16 the exhibition ideas and a great peer reviewing tool

What do you look for, when you are wandering through multiple online learning stands at a conference? I start out looking around just out of curiosity, but as soon as I get a few stalls further… I get ideas. Positive and negative one’s.

Let me start with a really nice surprise. The Peergrade was the best surprise (for me). David Kofoed Wind (from Denmark) built this during his PhD years. It is a truly practical, amazingly efficient and directly applicable peer reviewing software. And, any teacher can use it for free. The software is written in python, with some java scripting… and it looks magnificent.
You can use the software to let students or learning peers of any kind to review the work of others. The software offers:
·        A really easy to use option for setting up a comprehensive rubric (yes/no questions, commenting feedback, scaling options)
·        A nice interface to use these rubrics for evaluation, and nice additions for grading these learner reviews
·        Dashboard visuals that let you see disparities at a glance. Useful meta visuals to see where a potential discussion happens (good from teacher perspective)
So, as a teacher, you can see in just a couple of glances which projects or documents are creating skewed reviews/discussions, where you might need to add your own feedback to clear the air of a discussion, you can also immediately see how good the reviewing process is of each learner, you can even discuss meta reviewing data… I was truly impressed by the scale of the options and the practical use of the program. So have a look if you are searching for a peer review option with multiple uses. The dashboards are really worthwhile to have a look at, such meta-learning visualisation options… Really, great. Especially, as learners will get more feedback on their work and get a deeper understanding of what the actual process from different angles.

Another option which triggered an idea, was provided by LinkLearning. The development of this self-contained software is still in progress, but it made me think. The software enables courses to be built in the cloud, but the learner can use the courses both online and offline (nice and necessary contemporary element for every type of LMS). They also use a very visual layer for courses, which helps to stay on top of content. But what got me excited was the fact that you could build your own course, and than integrate it in any type of LMS (if I understood correctly). This means you could let students/learners build a course or part of a curriculum, by using (creative commons based) course content from the web, not only curating content, but constructing it into an actual course, while letting you keep that course set-up as you move to other platforms. So, I thought that would be something nice, being able to build your own curriculum. This would be useful for training teachers ... I think I might go for something like that in a future class. A long project, asking students/learners to build me part of a curriculum that would be useful for them later on as well, so closely related to a niche topic of their choice, that they could simply use (either immediately, offering them authentic teaching credentials, or later, saving lesson prep time).

On another note, most of the stalls at exhibition events look magnificent, they are made out of big colourful cardboard … just to make an impression. And most of those stall carry big hype-driven words: personalised learning (which is interpreted on many occasion as: it is available on any mobile, truly funny), or take control of your own learning (which is mostly not what I would consider it to be actual curating your own content for learning, but rather meaning: we provide you the content, and you plan when to learn it). This year I also started looking at stalls that I simply do not get.

Companies (more then one!) that offer assessment ID security… Why?! For if we need such software’s, than it is clear to me that education is not at all as disrupted as some say it is. Software that will keep an assessment taker from using any type of solution that might help her/him in solving problems at hand in a test is more an expression of bad assessment tests. First of all, a test of any kind should be so well conceived, that a) you would never be able to solve it without already existing deep knowledge, even if you had 3 hours of any type of internet access and b) that those type of assessments should only make up a fraction of any complete curriculum testing. Why would assessment without access to any type of help be considered as the ultimate testing option ?! It is completely non-social, and thus non-human – thank you Aristotle.