It’s late January. I started writing this earlier in the month, soon after I was back in my office and thinking about first semester courses. After a couple of years working with the most recent iteration of assessment in EDP4130, a project-based design challenge, it was time to consider a change. In 2015 and 2016 students created teaching resources for the two Australian Curriculum: Technologies subjects, Design and Technologies and Digital Technologies. With more than 150 students each year that’s in excess of 500 teaching resources, many of which were very good quality. Having so many examples from past years out there means that there may be as many as are needed, it will be more difficult for students in 2017 to innovate in those areas, and it may be tempting for some to ‘borrow’ work that has been done in previous years.
Moreover, although some aspects of the assignment–creating something personally useful, peer review, access to shared products–were successful and appreciated by students, there were aspects that made grading complex and time consuming. Preserving the good aspects while reducing the grading burden without sacrificing quality seemed to be an appropriate target for a revised major assessment task in 2017.
The WebQuest task has continued to work well as an in-class activity and for assessment and will stay with minor adjustments. Students completing that activity comment that they have learned about Coal Seam Gas and about the role of values in decisions about technology. The end of semester quiz will remain too as a way of encouraging student to engage with more of the course than just the assessment items. Hence the necessary changes, other than minor adjustments and conversion to a Moodle book as already completed for the WebQuest, will be to the major assessment task.
The paper I wrote and presented at ACCE2016 made the point, among others, that for teachers to engage students in creating digital solutions they really need to be creators of their own digital solutions. That claim echoes the argument of Lankshear, Snyder and Green (2000), that for teachers to plan and implement authentic learning activities using ICT they need to draw upon a repertoire of personal uses of ICT. The implication is that, if the goal of the Digital Technologies subject is to have students learn how to create digital solutions, we need teachers who have experience of creating their own digital solutions.
Setting my pre-service teachers an assignment task that would require them to create a digital solution would be one step toward graduating teachers with a sense of what that might mean in practice. The overall structure used in recent years–project presented as a design brief, project proposal required in the first weeks of semester, peer review of drafts a few weeks prior to the end, final project shared with class–has worked well and could be retained with a change of project focus. That would require work on the design brief to set parameters for the project and on the rubrics or marking guides to match. Other changes would be relatively minor.
My initial thought about the digital solution was to describe it as a ‘database’ for collecting teaching resources. In 2013 and 2014 the major assessment was based on students building curated collections of teaching resources in specific topic areas. They used tools like Scoop.it and Pinterest or blogging systems to manage that. Similar approaches would work for the task this year but I wanted it to be described more generically to encourage creativity in finding a solution. Eventually I described it in the design brief challenge as
Design, develop and share, with your cohort and the wider profession, a quality assured digital solution for storing and accessing ideas and resources to support classroom implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Technologies.
There was an added requirment to include sample content items and to treat at least one more completely with a description of how it might be adapted for use in a classroom.
Revising the rubrics required some thought. In 2015 and 2016 the task involved development of two teaching resources aligned to curriculum content descriptions. The rubrics addressed the design of the two resources and their alignment separately. Given the importance of design thinking in the curriculum, I opted to rework parts of the rubric around the components of design thinking as described in the curriculum. The intention is to reinforce those ideas and provide a degree of guidance through the design process. Some aspects of that appear in the proposal and others are in the final project.
With those elements worked out I was able to revise the HTML files used in 2016. I then proceeded to convert those to Moodle book format for placement in the course site. I’ve since had it checked out but the course moderator. Everything looks like it should work but we cannot be completely certain of that until we see how students interpret things.
Albion, P. (2016). If this is the second coming of coding will there be rapture or rejection? In S. Prestridge & P. Albion (Eds.), Australian Council for Computers in Education 2016 Conference Refereed Proceedings (pp. 1-8). Brisbane: Queensland Society for Information Technology in Education. Retrieved from http://conference.acce.edu.au/index.php/acce/acce2016/paper/view/49
Lankshear, C., Snyder, I., & Green, B. (2000). Teachers and Technoliteracy: Managing literacy, technology and learning in schools. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.