I was excited to see the article we were assigned to read, “Forming Assessment Through Technology.” The article grabbed my attention simply because it has the word “technology” in the title. I must admit, after the instructor of the course characterized himself as a limited technology user, I was somewhat surprised to find this as the subject of our very first article reaction. Nonetheless, it is technology, so how could I not be delighted to use it?
I am always interested to read about other teachers using technology in the classroom. Specifically, using it in such a way that improves some component of education, in this case, assessment. I particularly appreciated that the teachers listed here are using technology specifically to assess for learning. Formative assessment can be vastly improved by using technology because it gives the teacher the ability to give almost immediate feedback to the student. Thinking about using technology to assess makes me wonder if I have put the “cart before the horse?”
In my class, I am guilty of withholding feedback (not on purpose) from students until the point at which they might be too far into the curriculum to be able to correct their problems. I recognize this is a problem and needs to be corrected. Technology! Hopefully, it will come to the rescue. In the article, they mention blogs and wikis. Discussion boards are alluded to in the article, as well. These are three tools I use heavily in my class. I admit, my reasons for using these tools are not (until now) related to assessment; they may only be to “be the cool teacher” or to be “different from everyone else” (which no longer happens to be the case), but I am intrigued by the notion that assessment can be improved by integrating one (or all) of the technologies mentioned by Henderson.
She interviewed a teacher/blogger named Bill Ferriter for this article. It was really neat to read an article with the comments of a “friend”. He writes a blog of which I am an avid reader. I have also interacted with him through the asynchronous conversation that is Twitter, so in some ways I feel as if I know him. Ferriter is a heavy user of wikis in his own classroom and this is a fact I very much appreciate. He is not a researcher, gathering information and synthesizing it into a table of data for a bunch of teachers; he is a teacher, trying new things, not being afraid to fail, not worrying that technology might not work in his classroom. I like that he is actually trying things out and sharing those ideas with his blog audience (and the article audience).
This article is meaningful to me because the author talks with teachers who are using the newest technology available. They are not doing this because some principal is cramming these tools down their throat; they are doing this to improve their practice. That is the crux of the article for me; teachers finding (what used to be) an obscure piece of technology and making it a daily part of student’s lives. These folks are improving student’s educational experience simply by not being afraid to push the boundaries of what used to be acceptable.
I will be looking at using these technologies differently in my class. If not differently, I will certainly be looking for different outcomes from my students. I think I will be using them for different reasons. I have realized that I may have been using technology for the wrong reasons. I think I have the right tools in place to achieve some great learning in my classroom over a wide variety of learning styles; however, if I do not re-evaluate what targets are required of my students, what is the point?