Saturday, November 10, 2012

Examview and Building Provincial Assessment Banks... A possible rationale and model.

This week was a very interesting week for me professionally. I was fortunate enough to attend provincial in-servicing hosted by the Eastern School District. It is always nice to network with teachers that still teach in the face to face classroom. There are a great deal of innovative things happening in schools and the ability to hear of those initiatives alone is worth the day.

In amongst those conversations this week, the topic of using publisher assessment banks came up. A few teachers had the publisher banks for the new courses but were unsure as to how to create tests and assignments from them. Not only did I demonstrate that to some teachers I also demonstrated how the dynamic capabilities worked with questions that my colleagues and I created. The teachers immediately seen the power in the software. Hopefully we will be delivering some workshops soon on using Examview with other teachers. Here's why.

In our province our teacher population is relatively small when compared to other jurisdictions. If we can train a handful of teachers on how to create assessment items that are dynamic... then we have the potential to build a huge bank of assessment items that can generate numerous other assessment items very quickly. The more teachers we train... the lighter the workload becomes for building these banks. If we can lighten the workload for teachers as it pertains to assessment item construction, the more time gets freed up with... teaching and learning... sounds like a no brainier.

However there are two extremely important items that need diligence for such an idea to take root and be successful.

1) The initial teacher training will need to be face to face followed by collaborative networking of teachers to grow the questioning expertise from both a technical and pedagogical perspective. The code to generate dynamic assessment will need to be learned/evaluated/shared as well as ensuring the questions are worded properly and assessing outcomes properly.

2) Although not mutually exclusive from #1, before questions are added officially to a provincial bank, they will need to be vetted to ensure mistakes are identified/corrected as well as ensuring questions are of high quality to be added to a provincial bank.

I believe that both can be achieved if we were to use the tools that the province now has at its disposal.

1) Blackboard Collaborate: After our teachers are trained initially face to face, teachers can then use the synchronous tool mentioned above to collaborate via distance. Sharing/evaluation of code and questions can be as simple as application sharing in Blackboard Collaborate. In addition, those that are responsible for vetting questions created could do so in the same way, using the same tools. All sessions can be recorded and archived for later reference or future training.

Desire2Learn: After teachers are trained face to face, they can be registered into a Desire2Learn course. Here questions and answers can be shared via discussion forums, teachers can contact one another via e-mail and all Blackboard Collaborate training and help sessions can be archived under the content module inside Desire2Learn for future access. Furthermore, teachers would upload their dynamic questions to a Dropbox. From here, those that are responsible for vetting the questions can download them and eventually add the good questions to the banks to be shared provincially.

I think a provincial assessment bank for all teachers is possible to build and I think this model is both feasible and sustainable in the long term. Time will tell.

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