Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Role of Artifact Reflections in Participatory Assessment

By Rebecca Itow and Dan Hickey

On June 7, 2012, we hosted Bloomington’s first Hackjam in conjunction with the Monroe County Public Library. In our initial recount of the day’s events, we mentioned that we used artifact reflection and digital badges as ways of gauging, evaluating, and rewarding progress in each activity. In this post, we will explain how and why we chose to use reflection and badges as forms of assessment. To read more about the theory of badges as Transformative Assessment, read our June 10 blog post. 

Assess Reflections Rather than Artifacts
We have been struggling for several years to refine practices for assessing artifacts that students create.  It seems pretty clear that badges are going to highlight a problem that teachers and proponents of portfolio assessment deal with all the time: rubrics.  If you attach consequences to the quality of student artifacts, there is a natural tendency to demand detailed rubrics and individualized feedback as to whether the artifact matches what is demanded by the rubric.  Most learning environments are more concerned with the learning embodied by the artifact than by the artifact itself.  So focusing so much on the artifact and the rubric can be quite problematic. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Responding to Michael Cole’s Question about Badges

By Dan Hickey

Michael Cole
I was involved in an exchange on XMCA, the listserv established by Michael Cole’s Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition and the journal Mind, Culture, and Activity.  I mentioned digital badges in the post, and Mike wrote back to ask:

You know there appear to be several people who appear from time to time on xmca involved in the Mac Arthur initiatives where badges are all the rage. For anyone interested in multi-modal representational practices, it is certainly interesting as a subject of CHAT analysis.

Question:  if you are right in your assumption that the BADGE movement will start a trend what do you think that the trend promises or portends more broadly?

I have taken some time to respond, in part because I wanted to get caught up on the latest work by Cole and his students regarding their successes and challenges around the Fifth Dimension after-school computer clubhouses.  The Fifth Dimension is precisely the kind of educational innovation that should be easier to create, sustain, and study when digital badges are widely used.