In our Technology class this week we held a video conference class where we listened to and asked questions of Ian Landy, a BC principal. I found the conversation and topics really interesting and he made points I hadn’t thought about before but definitely want to research further.
While many of the topics were new to me the method of conversation, a video conference room where both sides were filmed and projected onto the wall, was not. When I was in high school I lived in a small community where there were not enough teachers to run all the grade 12 classes every year. As a result we would have courses like history 12 and geography 12 alternating every year. In my grade 12 year we had geography and they brought in a video conferencing system, my classmates and I were in the class with the teacher while 2-3 other schools in northern BC attended through video conferencing and smart boards. This system was not perfect, calibrating video, sound, and smart boards could lead to delays and class interruptions, but we were one of the first classes in the school and I have heard the system has improved in later years.
The video conferencing system in class was familiar but much better than what I had access to over four years ago. It is encouraging to see technology moving forward when I know that it can provide students in certain situations opportunities they wouldn’t normally get. After that video conferencing geography class students were able to take history/geography/English lit without planning years ahead, they would video into which ever school had a teacher that year.
In the conference call Ian Landy spoke to us about assessment and using technology to present students work to parents, E-portfolios and methods like Fresh Grade. I find assessment very interesting as we have been presented with many different ways of doing it over our program so far, and they are often different than the methods I experienced in school. He discusses not using letter grades, not assessing everything a student does but the things that are meaningful to their learning, and focusing on quality of education over quantity.
I find myself very open to these ideas, especially not using letter grades and percentages. It is something we have discussed a few times in this program, whether a letter grade accurately reflects learning or is useful for the learner. I am likely biased by my own poor letter grades in elementary school. I believe I was motivated by low grades to improve, but I did not necessarily know how or have the tools to do that. When I would receive a final grade at the end of the year I did not have information on what I needed to do next.
I compare this to my younger brother’s class last year using Fresh Grade to keep in contact with families. My parents appreciated having information on what the class was doing, seeing that allowed for specific questions at home. The class also did reflections, the result was responsibility around their own learning. Parents may not be aware of exactly what students are needing to work on or what their goals are, this way student had a voice in their learning needs.
The best part of that experience was updated and current knowledge on where the children were and what they may need help with, rather than only a summary at the end of the year which was my experiences in the same grade. (The downside of an E-portfolio system according to my parents was a lack of keepsakes.)
Assessment and evaluation has not played a huge part in any one of my classes so far but it is a topic I am eager to learn more about.