Thursday, January 31, 2013

 With grading finished, and a new semester opening, and winter playing its cat and mouse with the tease of a delay here, a little ice there, this week has been a busy one.  The development of the GAME plan that I will soon need to put into play with my Visual Arts students has been as hectic and busy. To date my goal of using an online blog space as a strategy for advancing the learning experience for my Advanced Placement Students has been somewhat short of meeting my expectations.  Positive events have been that the students have been developing, both visual images for their Advanced Placement “showcase” portfolios (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, p. 151), and the higher level thinking skill sets for critical dialogue. Students have uploaded visual work in digital form to folders on the blog site and students now await the opportunity to evaluate and reflect on their portfolios using this medium that Dr Helen Bartlett, has identified as both “process and product” (Barrett, 2010, p. 2). 
Drawbacks include the difficulty in bringing the technical and logistical pieces together in order for this type of blog activity to begin allowing distance learning to occur for a specific group of students and peers. This week the pieces are coming closer to a point where there will soon be resolution of the activation problems. What has brought this about has been interaction with my peers at Walden University, my PLC peers at my high school, and IT personnel with in my school system. The result of this dialogue has been acquisition of the procedural information for establishing proper networking connections that will allow for successful implementation of the social networking strategy. Soon the Activity part of the GAME can begin.
As the concerns for the technical problems lessen, questions about assessment formats have come into focus. This week’s review of assessment formats has brought renewed interest in providing the best means for student assessment. The recent addition of, Netops Vision , ( to classrooms with in my school system has increased the ability for instructors to assess student performance across a wider range of formats. Netops Vision is digital classroom management software designed for networking computers for presentation and oversight of computer operation has proven to be a much-needed asset for assessment.  The software provides the instructor with the ability to interact with students, monitor and record ongoing progress of digital assignments in a formative as well as summative manner. The ability to incorporate this software based program and others like it, within the matrix of digital technology presents the student with an instructional platform in which they can gain immediate feedback by peer and instructor. This feedback can follow incorporation of Open-Ended Response Format, text based entry opportunities through, Journal Writing, and Blogging activities such as my GAME plan will employ.
A second positive aspect of the incorporation of software applications such as I have described is with the ability to incorporate Forced-Choice assessments formats into the student learning.  I am coming to see the positive aspects of the inclusion of a more Forced-Choice type of assessment formats where Visual Arts assessments tend to lean toward open-ended response, performance and project-based formats.  What has changed my thoughts on this are the new trends in testing software design that ease the process of test development, implementation, and review. Having a means for data evaluation, the ability to load a quiz, or test, to have students self assess, have responses reviewed, and receive immediate feedback is of great benefit for both the student and instructor. The technology helps streamline instructional development, implementation, and data collection to a point where it becomes part of “monitoring and evaluating student success” in meeting their instructional goals (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, p. 162). Though the format makes it more difficult to accurately assess higher-level cognitive skills and knowledge it allows the instructor a more varied approach to student evaluation.
What I have gained from this experience is that, as in the learning experiences that we design for our students, the benefits of a collaborative relationship can be a very productive means for advancing our learning potential and experience, and in the manner in which we reflect and assess our participation in the learning process.


  1. Hi Jim,

    I see that you have a good software system for monitoring your students’ progress and for delivering feedback, but did you solve your challenge of finding an online environment where only students involved can collaborate/exchange thoughts on the process? Teachers at my school are only permitted to use the school’s server for online activity, so I have not had the need to search for a private blog space. This would be a blog site with email invitation only, correct? Let me know what you have found. Nevertheless, it sounds as if your students have accomplished a great deal of steps through the process of their art project. What a powerful learning experience indeed!

    Always an interesting read,


  2. Hi Alexi,
    As I am coming to find through dialogue with IT and software personnel, the My Big Campus blog has been contracted and authorized through the County School system providing for the opportunity to work and develop an educational situation that has different rules than those for an individual subscriber. This situation as defined will be similar to a chat room environment, only under the oversight of the instructor, and administration and yes it is tied to the server, which is what needed to be dealt with. As with any complex administrative body, the process for getting something organized and functioning properly can be difficult. Learning how to gain accurate information, analyze and synthesize requires flexibility, and the facility to think creatively, and desire to collaborate. We each being the quarterback for our “team” need these skills for our GAME to be effective and our students Active on the field. The authenticity of experience provides the basis for a well-understood plan of action and a “real context” for the field and the player’s game play.

  3. Hello James,

    I enjoyed your post. The vision technology you are describing sounds wonderful. How exactly does the interaction between you and students work in terms of the assessments ? Do you give the students a variety of ways to complete the assessment based on ability level and pre assessment data ? How is the data collected ? It sounds like your process is going well. Be Well.


  4. Jeremy,
    Thank You for your post. What I expect of students is a weekly post to a student following a provided prompt. The response is to be written in proper English and Spellchecked for grammar and spelling. The response is to consist of a well thought out statement that uses language appropriate to the Visual Arts and follows the rules of critical review. Students have the opportunity, to correspond as often as they would like or feel the need to in this specific critical review, or in the questioning that commonly follows review of the ongoing development of their portfolio. As to how I might differentiate there is some assistive technology available for the necessary modifications due to a student's IEP. I have had ESL students that had the assistance of a coach that was extremely helpful in guiding the students through the nuances of some of the specific language usage. The problem that arises with the visual arts for a student with limited vision is in not having a visual reference. I have had healthy dialogue with students that worked with Ceramics that were able to dialogue effectively. It would not be a great leap to find assistive technology that would provide a student with limited vision the opportunity to interact with another student through the same social network situation and find success.