Content curation as assessment for learning

I’ve had a long pause for travel and then, once I returned in mid-October, catching up with comments on drafts for doctoral students and getting a conference submission away. Sometime last week I managed to get my head back into this space and begin thinking again about course design. I’d previously thought through feedback and experience of recent offers and come to the conclusion that ab initio development of curriculum materials should be replaced by an activity that would be closer to curation than creation, encouraging students to engage with a  personal learning network to locate and curate resources to support teaching of technology education. The challenge now is to develop that idea into an assessment task that will help to engage our students in appropriate learning.

As always, there are some constraints imposed by bureaucratic processes. There are limits on the number and timing of assessment items that make it more difficult than it need be to arrange for an optimal flow of activity with checkpoints at the most appropriate places. It seems undesirable, and risky, to trust the outcome of an untried assessment process to a single submission at the end of semester. Ideally there might be multiple checkpoints that would provide for corrective feedback along the way so that students who initially misinterpret the requirements can be helped back on track. If I’m serious that this is about assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning then it seems sensible to try to arrange that students do not spend the semester learning the wrong thing.

Given the administrative restrictions, I decided a little while ago that the best I could do would be to arrange a checkpoint by placing a requirement for a plan/report about 3 weeks into the semester. That would require students to make an early start on the curation process and would deliver them feedback early enough to allow for adjustments where those might be necessary. The final piece of assessment would include the curated collection and whatever report might be needed around that.

With that basic structure in mind for the content curation task I needed to think about how that might be described and specified in a way that would both allow a degree of choice for students about content and tools and ensure some defensible basis for assessment of the products (and process). Rather than risk reinvention from scratch I spent time last week searching for material to support my assessment design, ideally by way of a ready made rubric. I’d been collating links to material on curation in Diigo for a while and some concentrated search turned up a variety of resources related to content curation but no ready made solution to my assessment challenge. About the closest I came was the curation project in a class offered by Corinne Weisgerber. Using some ideas gleaned from that course syllabus and other sources I found in my search last week I’ve been working toward setting up at least the skeleton of the curation task for EDP4130. I’m focusing first on envisaging what students might produce at the planning stage and by end of semester and writing some marking guides around those. Once I have that in place I can think about preparing a fuller description of the task with links to relevant resources. That will almost inevitably result in another iteration through the marking guides to align and refine those. As usual, I expect the first steps will be the most difficult because they involve a blank page. Once I have a draft, the refinement might be easier.

My current thinking about criteria for the final collection and a short associated report is:

Criteria Notes
Publication Curated collection published on a professionally presented public site
Content A number of properly attributed items linked to the collection theme
Value added Evidence of selection, editorial comment, contextualisation and critique
Audience engagement Evidence of efforts to promote the collection and of responses and further dissemination
Curation process Explanation of the curation process, role of PLN, etc.
Professional learning What was learned in the process and what is the continuing value of curation for professional growth?

I think those criteria address the key aspects of curation as I’ve been reading about them but I’d be interested in comment about anything I may have missed or that seems not to belong.

The earlier piece of assessment needs to be pitched toward ensuring that students make an early start and are on track for success. For that I’m thinking about the following criteria applied to a short report about progress to that point:

Criteria Notes
Theme Identify and justify a theme for its professional relevance to technology education
PLN mechanics Explain the choice of 2 or more online services as sources of information for curation
PLN membership Explain the choice of 3 to 6 experts as sources of information
Curation tool Explain the selection of a curation system
Curation sample Provide a sample of a curated item with an explanation of the curation process

Again I’d be interested in comments about what I might have missed or anything that seems out of place.