Time Moves On

Sorry about the scarcity of posts– we had a slower week with the HS students at Alternatives, and I used the time for a lot of meetings with vendors and to catch up on paperwork. Then we had a four-day October break weeekend, so I took the family to Portsmouth and Gosport for three days and two nights (I’ll make a separate post about this trip).

At the moment, I’m working on several threads. Researching student information systems (PCR Educator, Veracross, Senior Systems, Blackbaud, and custom FileMaker), interviewing IT consultants, preposing redesigns of three computer pods in the HS, a co-location plan, the MS laptop program, the school’s web presence, academic content management systems, and working out the budget for next year. Lot’s o fun. Maybe I should try to work on more projects simultaneously?

I will admit that the student information system research is bearing interesting results. At first, I thought only the newer, smaller vendors had moved to serious web connections and interactivity with other databases, but it appears that this challenge may be being picked up by some of the larger vendors as well. It would be nice if we could have more flexibility with the system, without having to start with an underdeveloped system.

Meanwhile, back to the email and meeting appointments. More later.

Time for a Break

Good news on the UK front. I had some key meetings this week that had taken a lot of prep, as in “what is the master plan for the next three years for technology,” but they went well and it’s time to focus on the wheel. I feel officially past the stressful parts of getting started this year, and I know there will be surprises, but the short and long range goals look solid and doable.

Sailing on the SolentTo celebrate, it was time to sail. I went to Hamble last weekend to sail with British Offshore Sailing School on the Solent. We sailed a Sigma 38 sailboat (that competed in the Fastnet race this year) to the Isle of Wight and spent the night. Walking the docks in East Cowes, I came across Ellen MacArthur’s boat, B&Q, the big trimaran she single-handed around the world for a record. It felt more than great to sail in open water again, and my wife is there this weekend with the same group to take out a 40 foot Westerly sailboat.

Pictures from my sail are here:

http://www.photos.sailingvoyage.com/v/album_014/

This weekend, I’m with the kids and just resting a lot. At the end of this week, we have four days off for an October break, and I need to decide where we might go for a couple of nights: Portsmouth, Lake District, Cornwall?

Assessment: Too Focused on Individual Work?

I had several interesting meetings today. Perhaps the most interesting theme was that of assessment, and in particular whether or not the most common assessments are overly focused on individual achievement instead of collaborative achievements.

For example, most working world positions now involve working collaboratively in teams, or using shared pools of text and content to construct documents. An employee isn’t evaluated by sending them into a room for an hour with a bluebook. In fact, our students will likely move on to work in collective teams that band and disband for projects, and then move on to work collaboratively with an entire new set of colleagues on a new project.

Coursework and assessment may or may not take this type of future into account. Obviously, the students are actively collaborating outside of class on homework and other projects using technology, whether it is assigned or not. (When this “help” or “sharing” crosses over into “cheating” is another discussion.) As for “working in groups” in the classroom or on projects, it is occasionally done but not typically for a final or dominant assessment.

In fact, some kids may argue that “I should get a higher grade than the rest of my group” if they feel they did better than the others. Again, it’s the idea that all assessment should be individually granted.

I wonder what a school would look like if the idea of active, ongoing collaboration was the norm, and rapidly assembled and disassembled teams were commonplace. Assessment would be on collaborative skills and support of each other, in addition to the products or processes achieved.

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