Curation and Assessment

A brief discussion of the two major challenges facing edtech.

GUEST COLUMN | by Alan Greenberg

CREDIT Career FoundryCuration, finding relevance  

With a billion downloads on iTunes U, even greater numbers on YouTube Education, then add TedED, Khan Academy, EDx, Coursera and a multitude of others and I would argue there is “too much noise” in online education currently. How do you find what’s relevant, what is good, what is required for my students? The teacher has been promoted into the role of librarian, editor and curator of what is relevant for their class; responsible for finding the right content, in the right place, at the right time.

Much of the learning assets online in almost all subjects are free, easily accessible and globally available. I would suggest that quality education should be increasingly monetized,

I would argue there is “too much noise” in online education currently.

with teachers and their schools receiving and benefitting from royalties for their contribution and IP. People of every age, diverse interests and international location have access to great teaching. Whether their interest is formal or informal, education is accessible and available. The difference between classroom teaching and digital engagement is that digital delivers; one-to-one learning, delivered one to many, with each student learning at their own pace. Private tuition if you will, from teacher/mentors. But relevance is key. Which is why both instant access and the contextual search of documents are so crucial to the online learning process. Not to mention the availability of audio and video files for all. At my company we believe that the disciplines of web development and UX design are important components of today’s rounded education, for teachers and for their students.

With mandates in the US and the UK demanding that every child learns to code, there is significant pressure on educators to absorb this knowledge and pass it on to their students in the classroom. For the average English Literature or History teacher these are skills that they are unlikely to have learned themselves as students and would need to take on as total beginners. The popularity of learning to program (due, in large part, to the increasing tech skills gap, which is leaving many job positions open to those with the right skills) has meant that there is an abundance of online opportunities to learn these skills. But how to learn is the question. Not everybody is comfortable with MOOC’s and digital courseware, which has led us to believe increasingly that a blended learning model online adds significantly more value than simply online, recorded tutorials. Digital access, personalized with a mentor, an online tutor to support the individual through their experience and learning engagement, is the key.

We are developing a ‘teach the teacher to teach code’ program for schools; supporting the international movement to improve the teaching of code in schools. We shall be empowering teachers with a courseware that they can dip in and dip out of throughout the year, as their students demand and their interests dictate. We believe these skills are becoming essential; helping manage, support and deliver the disciplines required for curation and in finding relevance in the classroom and beyond.

Assessment, the next generation

Is gaining a degree from a credible university still the benchmark for a good education? Or, is this the start of a new learning journey? A university degree equips you with a certificate and a qualification, but few would deny that many people continue to learn when they are in the workplace. Traditional assessment is broken. My degree may get me an interview, possibly employment, but is it not then that the learning really starts? Is not Life-Long-Learning and CPD (Continuous Professional Development) just as important as any degree to the individual, to the knowledge economy, individual career progression and vocation? How do we benchmark this learning and subsequent assessment in a digital world of resources and experience?

The Mozilla Foundation has done some remarkable work around ‘badging’, and this is becoming increasingly deployed in assessment, particularly in the emerging markets. Companies like Degreed are changing and evolving the next generation of assessment. Degreed measures all learning, from the personal, to the professional; finding, tracking, measuring and recognizing all the different ways people can and do learn. Providing personalized accreditation disciplines for CPD, for experience and for achievement, post-graduate engagement and within vocation. At CareerFoundry we have adopted OBE (Outcome-Based Education) supporting a ‘learning-by-doing’ methodology, highlighting achievement milestones, mentor interaction, peer-to-peer collaboration, and by doing so building a foundation for learning technology skills.

But these are not exclusive disruptions and advantages in the next generation of assessment. Online educators have increasing amounts of data and analytics that they can use to map pedagogy, greater access to information on digital learning successes and failure rates of what is being taught, the levels of engagement from individual students, and how students respond to different educational tools. Online and offline educators are able to accumulate this data on students’ capabilities and interactions, effectively mapping their experiences and responding to them as individuals, better meeting individual needs and learning outcomes. All of this within schools, and beyond into the workplace.

A conversation that is growing at pace within enterprise appears to be about finding the right ‘fit’ for the individual in the workplace. Be that through the interview process, the job offer, on-boarding and induction, or through maximizing individual skills within the workforce, matching these skills to others with complimentary capabilities, and in building team-work: all contribute to this ‘fit’. The next generation of assessment is with us, and everywhere.

A Business Development and Marketing specialist, Alan Greenberg headed up the EMEA Higher Education before moving on to becoming Apple’s Head of Education in Asia. While with Apple, Greenberg developed the rollout of iTunes Universities in Europe allowing teachers to give each class a customized learning experience through iTunes U on the iPad. Now working to change how coding is perceived and taught on a global scale, Greenberg has teamed up with Europe’s #1 online training platform CareerFoundry to deliver this in-demand product.


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