1000 e-learning authors on Yacapaca

Yesterday we hit another milestone: 1000 authors on Yacapaca. By this measure, we must surely now be the largest educational publisher in the UK and possibly the Western world, which is quite cool to contemplate.

I’ve just been going through the stats and found some interesting data:

  • 415 authors have created at least 10 items (an item can be as small as one question).
  • The top author has created 1184 items.
  • The average author has 360 students on the system (the non-author average is 30).
  • 3.6% of all teachers on Yacapaca are authors.
  • 25% of active teachers are authors.

So now you see why I’m happy to subsidise author training? The Yacapaca authors are the engine of our success.Thank you, guys!

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AfL: pie in the sky?

temp1.pngI was really upset when I missed the seminar Assessment and Learning due to a calendar clash, but thankfully presenter Andrew Watts has now published his slides so I can at least get some idea of where he was going.

And that’s very challenging. The message coming through is that true AfL is not really happening in schools, because the crucial intention behind the assessment remains to get pupils through exams. You will immediately see the irony of this coming from Cambridge Assessment, aka the OCR exam board.

Not that I am criticising Andrew Watts or (much) Cambridge Assessment.  They, in turn, are constrained by Ed Balls‘ gutless unwillingness to get rid of the geriatric, content-obsessed A-levels.

Rather than end this post on such a bum note, let’s just speculate on what hypothetical replacement for A-levels actually would promote AfL. The crucial components of AfL are that students should take control of their own learning, and that they should learn collaboratively. Well, those in themselves seem to me to be measurable and able to be evidenced.

Here are just two ideas for how one might do that:

  • Measurement of taking control of own learning: students should keep a blog in parallel with each learning project. The blog details how the student approaches each component of the learning task, including approaches they have considered but rejected. Exam moderators sample blogs at regular (but unannounced) intervals, and may engage directly into conversation with the student via the blog.
  • Learning collaboratively: once again the blog provides the perfect medium for collaboration to both happen and be seen to happen, through blog comments. This does require the students to maintain an awareness that written collaboration earns marks where spoken collaboration may not (so not pure AfL) but it is still a step forward. Audio and video could play a strong part here too, for example by videoing crucial group processes and attaching these for the moderator to view.

So, that was my mini-brainstorm. In the spirit of collaborative learning, what are your ideas?

Advanced desktop?

I hate this. My desk is messy enough already; the computer is where I come to escape. It’s terribly clever, though, I’ll give them that.

More general point: have you ever wondered at the mixed metaphor of putting a “window” on a “desktop”? I can’t help thinking that the GUI took a wrong turning when those two concepts were permitted to be mixed on one screen. What organisational metaphor would you use for a computer, given the chance? What would make most sense for an educational computer, if you weren’t worried about compatibility with ‘adult’ machines?

Via Scribble