History of Computing mini-project

I have started this mini-project with one of my classes in the hope that it would stimulate conversation about the History of Computing.  The first lesson was spent coming to grips with the various time-line creators including TimeToast, Whenintime, Tiki Toki and TimeGlider (most opted for TimeToast).  After this, the lessons have been great, with the pupils really getting into the spirit of things.  Listening to conversations between them has been really interesting, especially as time after time, they seem so surprised at what was being used when “Dad / Mum was a kid”.  They are really taking on board just how quickly technology has been moving since they were born and how they take things for granted because they have never known anything different.


Y8 House Building Project using #digitalstudies and #badges

After posting my draft idea for a Y7 project this morning, this is my second draft at the Y8 one after receiving useful feedback from @mwclarkson whose original idea I have ‘borrowed’ from extensively!  As with the Y7 project I have tried to keep in mind the following:

  1. The project should be about integrating the 4 strands (technology; authoring, society, literacy) over the whole year and NOT teaching elements in isolation
  2. The project should be about mirroring what happens in ‘real life’ rather than making things up for school
  3. Pupil progress must be evidenced through the use of a bportfolio
  4. Pupils should be encouraged to learn both collaboratively and independently
  5. Assessment of pupils work will be done through the issuing of badges which I have previouslyblogged about

Again, as with the previous post I really would welcome both constructive and positive feedback either in the comments section or via twitter @teachesict .  If this image is too small, you can download the original from here – I have included some more comments after the image:

  • The project is taught from left to right, although the last 4 items can be dipped in and out of
  • Throughout the project the pupils are expected to be learning about HTML / CSS so that they are ready to create the website (this is in place of the more ‘traditional’ homework)
  • Pupils will be expected to blog about their learning, especially with regards to their HTML / CSS progress
  • Progress will also be evidenced when pupils upload and comment on each others work as they progress through the sections
  • In the diagram above I have also included where badges can be awarded.  This is very much in its infancy but I want to get an idea of how I can use them.

Y7 Mobile Phone Project for #digitalstudies

I have spent a lot of time and effort contributing to the #digitalstudies wiki and doing general promotion for #digitalstudies and #rethinkingICT12 as remixes of #ictcurric; however, I hadn’t to date, actually been planning my own lessons.  This post is a first attempt to address this!  When planning the delivery of #digitalstudies is it important to consider the following:

  1. The project should be about integrating the 4 strands (technology; authoring, society, literacy) over the whole year and NOT teaching elements in isolation
  2. The project should be about mirroring what happens in ‘real life’ rather than making things up for school
  3. Pupil progress must be evidenced through the use of a bportfolio
  4. Pupils should be encouraged to learn both collaboratively and independently
  5. Assessment of pupils work will be done through the issuing of badges which I have previously blogged about

With these thoughts in mind I have come up with the following plan and would welcome both constructive and positive feedback.  Please take a look and then add your comments to the post.  If this is a little small then the original is here.  I have included more explanatory notes beneath the diagram.

  • The proposal is taught from left to right, although it does allow for the pupils to ‘dip in and out’ of the different areas as they will be made aware of the whole plan from day 1.
  • ‘Homework’ involves some trust as pupils will be expected to self-teach how to create an app.  Monitoring of this will be through monitoring their blog posts.  Pupils will be invited to explore different development apps and then choose the one most suited to what they want to create.

Assessing #digitalstudies – grades or badges

What is #digitalstudies?

If you are reading this post, the chances are, you already know what #digitalstudies is; however, for a refresher take a look at the introduction on the wiki to see how it differs from the more ‘traditional’ subjects of ICT and Computing.  Here, you will see that a fundamental difference is the way in which the subject is assessed using blogging portfolios or bportfolios.

What is a bportfolio?

Traditionally pupils, students and adults would keep an online eportfolio of their work that they could ‘exhibit’ as a way of demonstrating their achievement and skills over a period of time.  The aim of this would be to show potential schools or employers what they were capable of doing in the hope that they could get a place at that school / company.

The problems with this eportfolio approach included:

  • Each portfolio piece is isolated, not showing how it links with other pieces
  • Eportfolios do not show progression from initial idea to solution as it is the completed work that is shown
  • Eportfolios do not include self, peer and teacher comments
  • Eportfolios do not encourage the owner to respond to comments during the progression of their work, favouring a response to completed work.
  • Eportfolios do not encourage the owner to comment on their own progression
  • Eportfolios do not show failure

By including the portfolio as part of a blog (i.e. a bportfolio) the owner is able to impart so much more information to the reader.  There is also a real sense of progress in the owners work.

Demonstrating #digitalstudies skills through a bportfolio

Rather than delivering isolated units that do not interrelate, #digitalstudies allows the pupil to look at a project that as a minimum will last a term, although could concievably last a school year.  By using a Problem Based Learning / Project Based Learning approach pupils are encouraged to seek solutions themselves rather than have the teacher show them first.  Projects will be structured in such a way that a solution will require the pupil to demonstrate skills from each of the available strands (authoring, literacy, society, technology).

As the student progresses through their solution they will be expected to post their thoughts and processes on their blog so that they can receive feedback both from readers inside and outside of the school.  This will also act as a means of showing how they progressed through the broad stages of analysis, design, implementation, testing and evaluation (and user documentation if appropriate).

Assessing #digitalstudies skills

Firstly, it should be stated that whilst bportfolios are the most significant part of assessment for #digitalstudies, it will also be supported by product / solution presentations and hack days.  A hackday (or morning / afternoon) allows a pupil to complete an integrated task rather than a traditional written paper.  It is possible that a Hack Day could also be supported with a written paper as obviously pupils still need to familiar with the requirements of GCSE exams.

Traditionally I would give a class a mark scheme, rubric and even an example of completed work so that they knew exactly what was expected of them.  Nothing really wrong with this as it provides the pupils with very clear expectations and there was no confusion over what they had to do.  I use this approach mainly because that is ‘always what I have done’.  The biggest problem;however, with being so explicit about what I expect the pupils to do is that I am forcing them to take the route that I want them to take to get to a solution as I have told them what they need to do to get each mark.  I have removed any incentive to explore different paths.  This traditional method also discourages learning through failure as they already know what I expect.

#digitalstudies must have a far more flexible way of assessing.  It cannot say to a pupil that they must take a certain route from the foothills of a mountain to its summit; indeed, it should allow them to choose their own summit.  We should put the mountain range in front of them, show them the different peaks, show them the different places that they can start from and then let them find their own way.  Sometimes they will go wrong and will have to come back down and try a different route; sometimes they can ask a climbing partner (pupil) for support or ask a guide (teacher) for help.  Ultimately though, they must find their own route and be responsible for their own successes and failures.

Assessment of their failures, successes and progress will be done continuously by internal AND external peers, teachers and essentially anyone who reads their blog.  They would obviously be encouraged to seek support outside of their normal environment by using email, twitter, etc to contact ‘experts’ who could help them – they would be expected to blog about this contact as way of showing progress towards a solution.

Assessment of most of the work done in #digitalstudies does not need to be AoL but MUST be AfL and should be continuous.  We should not present mark schemes telling pupils what steps we expect them to take to get to a solution.  We should let them find the best way appropriate to their skills and encourage them to broaden their investigations through AfL.

Grading #digitalstudies

Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing is not for this post; however, at my school we use ‘Challenge Grades’ that are calculated by pupils taking MIDYIS and YELLIS tests and a likely GCSE grade statistically attributed to them.  We then ‘boost’ this statistical prediction by another grade (or more) to take into account the Value Added that we expect to deliver through the pupil attending our school.  We then send a report home every half term to say whether the pupil’s work for that half term is + or – against their challenge grade; this also includes a 140 character ‘how to improve’ comment.  At the end of the school year we write a full report.

I have included this introduction as it demonstrates that whilst I believe that #digitalstudies must be flexible in the way pupils are assessed, I have to, as probably all of us do, report back on the pupils progress.  I do not see a conflict of interest between #digitalstudies and providing a grade, although I can see their being some difficulties.

I have to provide report grades between A* and D, so must find a way of mapping what the pupils are doing against this grade.  At the moment, I have mark schemes so their is no problem as x out of y equates to n grade but as I said earlier this means that all pupils have taken the same route to a solution and is therefore not appropriate for #digitalstudies.

My initial thoughts are to provide a rubric that assesses the actual blog rather than the computing / ICT work that they do. By setting a scheme that awards grades for such things as ideas, reflection, creativity, data gathering, post frequency, feedback to others, organisation, appearance of blog, etc I will be able to keep the pupil informed about how they are using their blog and that they are on the right track.  I am also able to complete my reports and provide informed feedback to parents and SMT.

#digitalstudies badges

I believe, as does @sharland in his post assessing pupils’ work for #digitalstudies – my examination of badges and levels that badges are the way forward.  Badges allow the pupil to progress by taking their own route towards a solution.  Rather like gamification they can quickly pick up badges for work that they are already proficient at, whilst also being encouraged to persevere for those badges that they do not yet have the skills for.

Using a PBL approach, solutions cannot be achieved unless a broad range of badges have been collected; however, the badge system must also differentiate.  By including badge levels (e.g. Novice, Intermediate, Advanced) pupils of all abilities will be able to reach solutions.  This is where the real skill in delivering #digitalstudies will come into play – Problems must be set so that all pupils have the chance of reaching a solution no matter their ability.  The weaker pupils should be encouraged to collect the Novice badges and aim for Intermediate where they are stronger, whilst the stronger  pupils should be aiming for Advanced status throughout their journey.

There is still some way to go to develop the badge system although @infernaldepart is looking at developing an independent system along the lines of Mozilla Open Badges.

In conclusion, the bportfolios used in #digitalstudies will allow for traditional grading as required by SMT, whilst open badges will allow a more flexible ‘grading’ system for the pupils using a type of gamification incentive.