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.