Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yes, But Can We Keep Up?

Ann Moore , Associate VP at Virginia Tech, recently wrote an excellent article that appeared in Educause Quarterly entitled, "The New Economy, Technology, and Learning Outcomes Assessment" In this piece she argues that the speed of which things are changing demands we revisit how we do assessment. Good point.

She talks about how we need to change our assessment thinking to make up for this rapid change. She separates out "Contemporary Skills" from "Foundational concepts" and "Intellecutual capabilities" suggesting that the skills are the things that change rapidly. That the concepts and capabilities are deeper somehow and more important - not so prone to rapid changes as the technology change accelerates underneath. I'm not so sure - in fact I think all three of these levels are changing rapidly and the pace of their change is increasing as Moore's Law suggests.

The problem education is having assessing learning is that all levels of learning - from the skill set to the intellecutual capabilities are changing.. rapidly - very rapidly and we don't know what to do about it. We don't really have time to "explore seriously and systematically what we think students need to know" as Dr. Moore suggests. What we need to do is some how figure out how to move more quickly from one set of knowledge being important to the next set. Technology and its pace of change will attack everything we know (or think we know). It will destablize our values. It will lay waste to our knowledge - requiring relearning - at an ever increasing speed.

Everyday I listen to my collegues talk about what outcomes they desire in students and not a one of these outcomes (IMHO) isn't questionable. Tell me one thing we want students to learn or do that you are SURE of - just one.

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