Additional Use Cases for Community Collaborative Review (CCR) Tool

The Community Collaborative Review tool is in development as a part of the Public Philosophy Journal’s (PPJ) ongoing sustainability strategy. The tool provides an opportunity for the PPJ to conduct values-enacted, community-driven peer review cycles that recognize scholarship both by the author and by the reviewers. Because of the focus on values in the Formative Peer Review process that the PPJ team has developed, users of the CCR tool will be able to identify parameters of review including naming and categorizing values that they wish reviewers to engage with.

Since the PPJ is the focus of the tool, ongoing development has focused on their use case. However, the tool is being designed to be usable by other organizations and with other tools in the long-term. Below I’ve outlined a few use cases I can imagine may work with CCR as the product matures.

Case 1: Review for Humanities Commons CORE Deposits

Authors of a document intended for upload to Humanities Commons CORE could use CCR to engage in peer review from members of their own communities or a broader community of reviewers willing to participate. Authors would be able to determine their own set of review parameters and values based on the particular composition being reviewed, or by a set of personal values they have identified as part of their scholarly work.

After peer review, the document would be published along with evidence of peer review in CORE. Creating the ability to conduct a more visible peer review process prior to a CORE deposit would serve to provide more weight to contributions to CORE should an author desire, and could allow for deposits to carry an indicator that they have undergone a values-enacted review cycle in accordance with the work being conducted with the HumetricsHSS project.

Case 2: Facilitating Review in Communities of Practice

Communities of practice to conduct peer review within their community on a variety of compositions. Because these products may be published in a variety of spaces and theoretically the evidence of peer review could be attached or connected in some way to the publication it could provide an opportunity to strengthen this work in ways not currently facilitated.

Using CCR could facilitate a more meaningful review process in communities where peer feedback is the norm. Many currently available peer review tools are aimed at course-based or student project/assignment peer review and do not facilitate ongoing community review in that way that professional communities of practice may require. “Editors” of these works could use the system to provide review processes guided by review criteria that are in line with organizational or group goals and values.

Because a more values-based/enacted approach to peer review requires some thought on the front side of the process, it would best work for groups who have identified a set of values by which they work, publish, etc. In a case like this, a process to guide groups in developing values and parameters for review such as the HumetricsHSS Values Sorter could be helpful.

Case 3: Review for Proceedings, Grey Literature, Collections, or Formative Stage Publications

Many who work in higher education or other academic institutions are regularly producing scholarly work that has limited opportunity for peer review. Grey Literature publications, for example, are works typically produced and distributed outside of traditional channels. The CCR platform could provide opportunities for peer review of this type of publication, including the ability to attach evidence of the review to the publication.

Conferences and other gatherings could make use of the system for crowd-sourced peer review. For example, if we used CCR to review a set of papers for a panel or presentation and left it open in the system it could allow for audience members to give feedback/review during or after the conference.

Case 4: Peer Review for Journals Across Various Publishing Platforms

The CCR tool is designed to facilitate a particular type of peer review that is rooted in identifying values and enacting them as a core part of the review. The tool could provide the framework, and facilitate peer review for any number of monographs, journals, or other collections of writing that have need for peer review but are published on another platform such as Manifold or Fulcrum.

wordcloud from this post

10 Tips for Creating and Offering Online Courses


This post started as a presentation that I gave as part of the Foundations of Successful Online Teaching and Learning series my colleagues and I created as part of our outreach work to K12 schools across Michigan. The tips are a few that I’ve identified in my 20+ years of experience building and teaching online courses and they apply across the disciplines and levels of teaching from Kindergarten through Graduate-level courses.

Before I start with the tips, I want to place into context where I’m coming from. In online teaching, each of us faces a unique challenge as we develop our courses. Some of us have challenges with access to materials, technological hurdles, timing, or space issues. For example, many of our classes that make use of hands-on activities or that require studios, labs, gymnasiums, or other specialized spaces, will find the online teaching can be a challenge for emergent readers and writers. We may need to provide different types of supports, and many of the things that we do in the classrooms are just different in online courses. It doesn’t mean they’re worse. They’re just simply different.

Keeping that challenge in mind, we also need to remember that good online teaching is a combination of best practices for teaching in your discipline, subject, or sub-discipline; the level you are teaching, and best practices for teaching online. At the convergence of these sets of practices is where you find your best practices for teaching your subject/level in an online class.

Tip 1: It does not need to be perfect the first time.

We tend to want to do everything the best way that we can and in the most perfect way. And when you’re doing it online, you often find yourself clicking the mouse button to try to truly perfect where that picture is on a page or to write that last paragraph we know could be helpful, or that we think needs to be in there. Perfection ends up creating a situation where we end up racing at the end to finish something anyway, and then we don’t often get the perfection that way. So I’ve tried started to try to work on this myself to adopt it and encourage you to do so as well. It doesn’t need to be perfect the first time and just getting something up there so that you can iterate on it and revise as you go forward is what you should be striving for at first. Once you’ve built a course or built the materials, you can then go back through and start working to fine-tune and perfect the content that you have up there.

Tip 2: Mix up your content.

Things can get bland and boring quickly in online courses. If you don’t have different modalities of content. Think about integrating different sorts of formats, pictures, videos, text interactives. All of these work to break your content up and help the students to maintain focus and attention. Video activities that ask students to get up and move are a great way of mixing up this content. You start to get at switching between passive and active modes of learning in this way. You may also think about it as having students read about something then asking them to get up and make, move, talk, or otherwise engage with someone around them.

Tip 3: Follow best practices for writing on the web

There is a lot of information about what the best practices are for writing on the web, using this information can help you think about how you present your content to your students.

Break up your text, not long paragraphs are large paragraphs of content, but break it up into smaller chunks of information. I find that it helps to think about it as chunks of information rather than how we would traditionally write a book or a paper or some sort of larger format, piece of content. There are a lot of studies that have shown that people skim headings, sorry, skim the text, and read headings. So, know that they might be skimming over some of your paragraph text. Some studies have even shown that information on the left side of a paragraph is read more than on the right.

Be careful of what goes in what is called “below the fold.” And that is the point in which you scroll on the screen. So, if you have really important instructions in an online course or information to communicate that you want the students to see, make sure you keep those in a space that’s visible before they start to scroll.

Last, know that students will generally tend to scan large blocks of text that have no interactivity or other means of breaking those text blocks up. This is where looking back to tip number two is helpful as you combine these two to create great content for your course.

Tip 4: Everything takes longer online

Everything takes so much longer online, longer to get to know each other longer to read things longer to provide feedback to receive and to reply to messages. This seems like a pretty obvious thing going from face to face classrooms to online but it’s a reason that a lot of us try to still teach face to face when we can. There’s something about the immediacy of the feedback, both in terms of student learning, and just simply in terms of communicating with others. I’ve built my career on online teaching and I still love to teach face-to-face. But when I’m teaching online, I try to remind myself that everything is going to take a little longer. By doing that, I can pace myself and pace the course accordingly so that I’m not trying to do too much too quickly. And I’m not also trying to do too little because I’m unsure of how the pace is going to go.

Tip 5: Repeat, repeat, repeat

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repeat across multiple modalities. Emails and a video, plus telling the students put it in multiple places in the course, multiple times. So many times, to get across that information because it gets lost so easily. repeat yourself almost to the point where you feel like you should not say it another time. And it is probably not even too much at that point.

Tip 6: Keep your important information and dates in one place.

Despite my urging you to repeat, repeat, repeat, It is also important to put the important information in one spot where the students can always know that the information is in that place. So even if you’re repeating in different places in the course you want to have one spot where that information is always kept. I keep all the information on one page in my classes. It’s updated there, it’s referenced there, students know to go there, I put the dates in that I’ve changed information or updated things in there. So there’s no confusion about it. If we change something, the way the assignment is, a date extension, any of that stuff goes in that one spot. It’s like where you put your keys in your house. If I don’t put my keys in the right spot when I come into the house, I can’t find them when it’s time to go. And then I’m wandering around looking for the keys, this is my digital version of that. I make this page a digital key hook to put all the information there and the students know to go there when they need some information.

Tip 7: Keep videos short

A lot of us tend to want to use video when we produce online courses. It can be engaging for the students, a way to break up working with text, help you to manage your time, and help to increase and maintain student motivation and engagement. But be sure to keep these videos short. They should not be longer than seven minutes at a time. And usually, even seven minutes is a little long. Break them up into shorter chunks.

Think about not using the talking head exclusively. If this were a video presentation and it was just simply a video of me in a classroom, and all you had to do was listen to me and there wasn’t much interaction in terms of looking at the screen changing slides, etc. I probably would have lost many of you by now. So mix it up, show some video with slides. Maybe put a cut over to your face from time to time. Or perhaps even a third perspective of the video if you get fancy.

One of the things I find to work well is that I’ll have a break at about somewhere between four and five minutes. At that point, I’ll ask the students to think about something. Even just one question where they take a moment to think before moving on is a way of breaking that up for them. It’s getting them in a space where they’re more likely to continue learning because we’ve reset their attention span and broken up the video. We also forced them to think about something that we’re talking about, so we are promoting reflection during the content presentation.

A last note about this is you don’t even need to stop recording your video to make multiple videos. You could even put a slide in there, where you ask the students to stop and consider something and then press a button to move on. Software like Camtasia makes this easy to do and can even export data back to you after the fact.

Tip 8: Stick with core supported tools for your school

Stick with core supported tools for your institution or school district. This is important. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be thinking about innovating or other ways that you can do things better and help students learn more. But especially as you think about students who are in multiple classes a day, each teacher using one or two new or different technologies could add up pretty quickly, you could have students thinking about how to use 20 different tools to do their classwork. The cognitive load on the student, in that case, is huge. We want to ensure we’re helping do as much as we can to keep their energy and focus on learning the course content. By using core tools, we’re able to help to do that by limiting that aspect of cognitive overload.

Most core supported tools also have support built into them by your school, you can often find tip sheets, instructions, workshops, and even support personnel to help you and the students. When you choose to adopt a new tool, you take on the burden of teaching the students to use that tool. You take on the burden of supporting the tool when there are questions, and you’re left on your own when the tool doesn’t function correctly. If you’re having a hard time thinking about how to make something work with your current set of tools, have a conversation with your colleagues about how they’re using the core tools. Is there a way that they’ve thought of using those tools to do what you want? Once you start reaching out like that, you might find some interesting uses of the core tools that help you to be able to accomplish your teaching goals without adding extra tools.

Tip 9: Set expectations for communication.

Expectations for communication are extremely important in online courses because we sit in front of the computer all day, and it becomes very easy for us to get mired in the amount of communication that comes through. The number of emails, chat messages and social media posts we often get from large classes of students can be overwhelming and keep us at our desks. A communication plan for your class can help establish when you will and will not be available for the students, and what the “rules of engagement” are in terms of communicating with you. Think about questions such as; how quickly will you respond to them? How do you want them to ask questions of you? Via email, a discussion board, or during a synchronous session? What should students do if they can’t get in touch with you? Is there a backup mode of communication that you have in the event of a technical failure of email or the learning management system? Is there an “emergency contact point” that you’ve set up where a student can leave a message, or otherwise communicate information to you that comes up suddenly.

Some research has shown that giving time for students to respond to each other’s questions can lessen the load on the teacher, while still allowing the student who asked the question to get a good answer. This may or may not work in your course, but it’s worth a try to see if the students can help one another.

You may also think about how to communicate in multiple forums, and multiple times, to multiple audiences throughout the week. Perhaps it’s communicating to students in a synchronous class, sending them an email later, and posting something in that space in your course that you’re going to be posting the important information. In K12 perhaps this is also engaging the parents in an email update or somewhere that is public on the web where the parents can get to and read.

Tip 10: Just because you’re teaching online doesn’t mean everything needs to be online.

Find opportunities and ways that you can ask students to engage with the materials and ideas outside of the digital. This can be powerful in their learning. We might ask them to talk with family members or friends, to interview a parent, or grandparent as a way of getting historical context and perspectives, or doing some sort of hands-on activity in the home or around the home. Once they do that, they can use the computer to report back to the class and share what they’ve learned. A colleague of mine often says “online courses are online reporting, not online doing.” This may not always be the case, but it’s a great way to lessen screen-time and to help students think about applying their learning to real-life situations.

So there are my top 10 tips!  I encourage you to think about these tips, make some changes to them, customize them to how they might work for you, or think about other tips and ideas that you might incorporate into your course. Good luck with your online class development and teaching!

Interested in watching the 16 min video presentation this is based on? Check it out on MSU Mediaspace!

child learning online

Resources for K12 Teachers Moving Online

Earlier this summer my colleague Jeremy Van Hof and I began to work with administrators and teachers in Okemos Public Schools to plan for and develop training materials for supporting K12 teachers moving courses online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The result was a set of materials and accompanying workshops we titled the Foundations of Successful Online Teaching and Learning series. These materials build off of training programs we use at MSU and have been adjusted for K12 focus.

As school districts across the state began to also move toward online learning we worked with our colleagues at MSU and Okemos to further develop and openly release our materials to other districts across the state. The materials are available in self-study format for teachers who are not in districts with broader access, a Google Classroom site that can be installed at a school or district level that provides materials and opportunities for teachers to discuss with one another, and we have also developed an optional series of live webinars that can accompany the resources if desired.

More information about the Foundations of Successful Online Teaching and Learning series can be found at and the MSU press release is available on MSU Today.

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

Model for Professional Development and Course Quality in Online Teaching

The Challenge: What Resources to Draw On When Planning Online Learning

When developing online courses it is often difficult, as an instructor, to determine which resources to connect with at different points of the process. From an administrative perspective, it can also be difficult to determine which supports to invest in and plan for, in order to maximize our impact. As we continue to expand and grow our online course offerings it is essential to provide guidance to faculty, administrators, and course developers about which resources to leverage, and when.

About This Model

This model provides a decision matrix and flow diagram for faculty and administrators as they develop online learning experiences. Designed to leverage existing and emerging opportunities for faculty development, it also allows for short-term scale-up and long-term use in terms of developing new courses, and in updating and revising existing courses. In this sense it aids in moving toward an approach to teaching and learning that relies on continuous quality improvement through tinkering, assessing and revising.

At the heart of the model are a series of professional development opportunities that serve as a sort of menu for faculty members depending on which track they take. The opportunities include Course Development Experiences which help those in the process of developing a new course or module; or Teaching Enrichment Experiences which allow someone to revise, research, add to, or otherwise enhance the work they are already doing online.

This model is meant to be customized for specific units to suit their needs, with governance around which experiences count determined by a group within each unit.

Quality Check Through Peer Review

The model also relies on peer review as being an essential part of the course development and offering process. Peer review is important at both the formative and summative stages of online course development. During the formative stage of peer review participants are put into small groups of 3-4 colleagues. Each member of the team reviews each course in the group using a rubric designed to support review at this pre-offering stage.

After the formative review, each participant creates a short revision plan that outlines how they will use the feedback to enhance their course further. Once the course has been offered, each faculty member will join a second review group for the summative review process. This process uses a larger rubric that includes elements from the formative review as well as elements that expand upon the work that is done while teaching an online course.

Building on the formative feedback and lessons learned during the course offering, this summative rubric (Quality Matters) assesses courses on the following categories: Course Overview and Introduction, Learning Objectives (Competencies), Assessment and Measurement, Instructional Materials, Learning Activities and Learner Interaction, Course Technology, Learner Support, and Accessibility and Usability.

Like the formative review, the summative review also requires a revision plan in order to assist faculty with implementing peer review.

After the summative review process is complete the model allows for a credentialing process that is based on the competency achieved by the participant shown by the artifacts (activities, courses, peer reviews) their experiences helped them to create. The credentialing process could include further funding or development opportunities, a digital badge program, or credit toward promotion/tenure depending on the institution’s goals and culture.

CAL PD for Online flow outline

Author: Scott Schopieray
Contributors: Bill Hart-Davidson, Kate Sonka, Stephen Thomas & Jeremy Van Hof

Installing OpenFace on Macintosh

This is a bare bones guide to installing OpenFace on Macintosh that I wrote during the Towards New Horizons in Digital Humanities workshop hosted by the Passau Center for eHumanities in March 2019.

Go to

Download the source code as a zip (it’s 750MB so will take a long time)

Meanwhile…. (Go to

  1. Install HomeBrew
    You’ll want to install Homebrew to get the open source libraries.
    Open a new Terminal Window (Shell → New Window) and copy and paste the command below:/usr/bin/ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL”This will take a pretty long time. You will want to check in on terminal every once in a while because you’ll need to enter your password.While this is happening
  2. Install XQuartz
    Get XQuartz (an X Window system for OS X). You don’t actually need it to run OpenFace, but having the X libraries and include files on your system will make OpenFace (and various other things) much easier to build.
    Note: When xquartz tells you to log out and back in you can ignore it for now.
  3. Once HomeBrew is installed
    you can Install boost, TBB, dlib, OpenBLAS, OpenCV and Wget with:
    brew install tbb
    brew install openblas
    brew install dlib
    brew install opencv3
    brew install boost
    brew install wget
    Note: While you can run the install for all of these at once, you might want to run these one at at time so you can more easily read any errors that appear.

    While this is happening…

  4. Get ready to Install the landmark detection model
    The landmark detection model is not included due to file size, you can download it using the bash script included in the master files. ( For more details see –
    Move your Zip file of your OpenFace master files into a folder where you are going to want to work with it regularly and unzip it.
    By using normal drag and drop, move the file (in the OpenFace master file folder) into the “build/bin/model/patch_experts” folder.
    Now navigate within terminal to the build/bin/model/patch_experts folder and then run the command “sh”
    This should trigger the download of the landmark detection models.
  5. Install CMake

    Go to and download the MACOS version then install. This is a regular install of software where you’ll need to drag/drop into the applications folder.

    Once you have done that go back to the command line and enter the following command (which will ask for your password)

    sudo “/Applications/” –install

    Also open the file CMakeLists.txt and on line 30 you’ll see that it references version 3.3, you need to update that line to your version of OpenCV (4.0.1 as of March 2019)



Jpeg files need to be renamed to jpg
Will read mov, mkv and avi (maybe mp4?)
Take the .exe off the executable

Bear Constellation

Constellation of Activities

A Constellation of Activities is an engaged digital presence. This activity allows the participant to identify those areas they are either currently or wish to be engaged with and map them to the main hub of their digital presence activity. It both serves to create a better understanding of the broader ecosystem of one’s digital presence, to help identify areas which are more or less heavily used, the connection points (both digitally and thematically), and how those connections are made.

Materials Needed

  • Paper/Markers
  • Access to computer/tablet
  • Visitor and Resident Map

How we do it

After having done the Visitor and Resident Mapping activity earlier in a workshop, we ask participants to reference their map and identify at least 3-5 of their active areas (or those areas they wish to become more active in) to map onto their Constellation of Activities.

Participants first choose a center point to orient their constellation around. This is most often their website but could be social media or other platforms depending on the person. Constellations are built out from this center point by drawing connections which represent integrations, information sharing, or other connectedness of idea or information. As lines are drawn from one node on the constellation to another they are labeled with the type of connection, ultimately forming a visual representation and map of the person’s engaged digital presence.

Sample map below:

sample constellation of activity map

This post also available as part of the handout from the #DeL2018 presentation I did with Kristen Mapes

students in the ios lab

iOS Design Lab

The iOS design lab is a project that we started Michigan State University to help our students gain valuable skills that they need to be successful in 21st-century work. The first year is a two-semester program, with an option for a summer internship to continue working on a project.

We start students out doing work in groups and teams that are arranged by connecting their interests and passions. The first several weeks of the semester the individual students look at what they are interested in, areas they want to work in or topics they want to focus on. They form teams and the teams engage in a lot of design thinking, brainstorming, and conversation over the course of the semester to design the idea for an application that they will develop. By the end of the first semester, the teams have thought about their ideas, developed some strategies for dealing with the ethical, moral, safety, cultural, etc. components of their applications and are preparing to think about how they will handle more of the technical components as they move forward.

During the second semester, they focus largely on the technical portions of app development. They develop a familiarity with the Xcode, create small apps that allow a sense of accomplishment and which develop skills with Swift, and software, and developing a level of competency with thinking computationally and learning to use different components of the programming language to accomplish their goals. We work over the semester to get them into some state where they are able to both develop things for the app, think confidently about what they are doing and need to do in the future, and to get themselves ready to move forward with finishing out the app over their summer break.

Across both semesters we work with them to do journaling and documenting their code or other thinking in various ways. We help them collect photos of themselves in practice and we help them to collect artifacts of their brainstorming and other creative activity. The portfolio they produce at the end of the first year of the program shows a holistic process where they’ve engaged in the social, technical, cultural and creative acts of creating an application that is designed to be successful. As we move toward year two we envision the year to be one of putting their learning into practice with a different project and working to develop applications for other people or projects as they continue to develop the portfolio.

Each student is eligible at the end of year one to apply for a World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) scholarship, to apply for the World Wide Developer Academy in Naples Italy, or to take the exam to gain a credential been certified in Swift. Additionally, each of the students who complete the year will receive a micro credential granted by the University, and a line in My Spartan Story (the University level co-curricular record).

image of a video fingerprint

Image Analysis at Scale in the Undergraduate Humanities Classroom

Today Kristen Mapes and I presented at the Chicago Colloquium on DH and Computer Science about some of our work we’ve done to support undergraduates learning about distant viewing techniques. Our work builds upon the classroom work that we have been doing with collaborators such as David Bering-Porter and Cody Mejeur to think about how distant viewing techniques may provide additional options for looking at visual content in DH and Cultural Studies work.

As part of the presentation, we discussed some of the simple shell scripts we’ve written to support our work and make it easier/less time intensive to do some of the tasks. For those who may be interested doing similar work we have provided several scripts on our GitLab instance. We have also made the slides from the presentation available.

Abstract for the talk is below:

We are interested in sharing approaches and examples of teaching computational image analysis to a non-computer science student population in a humanities context. Digital humanities curricula usually include methodological introductions to such topics as text mining and analysis, mapping, network analysis, metadata, preservation, and archival curation. Since 2015, we have incorporated large scale image analysis into introductory digital humanities courses at the undergraduate level.

Incorporating image analysis into the suite of digital humanities methods adds to the possibilities of DH: it makes digitized collections and born digital image and video content available for analysis at scale beyond those currently available for study with text analysis methods. By expanding this potential corpus of material available for study, we also open up digital humanities to more topics that resonate with our students. Teaching digital humanities to undergraduates is a process of eliciting excitement about an expanded methodological toolkit, and including large scale image analysis is a striking way to get students engaged in thinking about corpora, metadata, method, and presentation.

In the Introduction to DH class at the undergraduate level, we have demonstrated the use of ImagePlot ( and have given students the opportunity to use the software as well. This approach has led several students to pursue a final project using this method (for example: This presentation will share how we have used a corpus of Harlem Renaissance art images to tie the software instruction into the content of the course and how we are now extending computational image analysis instruction beyond ImagePlot to incorporate Distant Viewing ( tools into the classroom in early Fall 2018. This extension of image analysis instruction to algorithmic face detection and classification opens up new possibilities for analyzing material in the classroom and engaging in critical conversations about how such programs work in the corpora we create as well as those used in the corporate world.

cropped image of presentation room at DEL2018

Digital Presence and Public Scholarship: Empowering Graduate Students as Professionals

Yesterday my colleague Kristen Mapes and I presented some of our work around Digital Presence and Public Scholarship at #Del18. Our presentation, titled “Digital Presence and Public Scholarship: Empowering Graduate Students as Professionals” gave an overview of our work in general, but more specifically focused on our work to integrate digital presence work with graduate students as they move into careers as professional scholars.

You can view Kristen’s post about the presentation, check out our presentation on Google Slides, or contribute comments in our open paper draft.

As a follow-up to a question that was asked during our session about how do we work with people in our workshops who come to the workshop simply seeking to be hand-held through the technology rather than doing the active skill development and learning that we expect.

I think a partial answer to that is that we are working to build a culture of people doing this digital presence work where they can rely on each other as the expert and not have to feel that they need to rely on us as “technical experts.” Our goals are to have participants engage with us as colleagues who are, while perhaps further along, on the journey of crafting and curating digital presence ourselves. This culture change is really at the heart of making this a long-term and sustainable initiative, it’s how we recruit other collaborators and co-facilitators for the initiative, and how the work spreads through departments, units or other organizations on campus. It is a shared culture of creating, maintaining and sharing.

Methodologically, the roots of this for me are really in my background as a writing consultant where the goal of a writing consultant is not to write the paper for the client, but rather to coach them through some of the issues that are found in the paper. Or, perhaps it’s rooted in some of the background of peer coaching that often accompanies leadership training. When peer coaching, your job is not to solve the problem for your colleague but rather to provide a sounding board and opportunity for them to come to a conclusion or solution themselves. By practicing in this way we move toward the culture change we desire, allowing us to continuously innovate and move toward higher levels or more complex instances of digital presence.

AAN Panel on Learning Assessment

On Friday 2/16 I was part of a panel sponsored by the Academic Advancement Network on Learning Assessment. Fellow panelists Stephen Thomas, Justin Bruner, Becky Matz and I were asked the following questions with conversation among us and the group following.

The word “assessment” means different things to different people and roles. What does learning assessment mean to you?

For me assessment is about understanding what the student has learned, or how they’ve moved the needle so to speak in terms of advancing their thinking or understanding of an issue. In our work with credentialing we really need to understand how the student is making connections of these kind of seemingly disparate events or activities that they’re doing in order to show that the sum is greater than the parts.

How do you talk to people you work with about assessment? At the college or program level, how does that translate into helping faculty and colleagues understand what you’re trying to achieve or assess?

We really start by talking about goals and objectives and understanding what it really is that we want to know. You can’t assess anything unless you know what you want to assess and too often when we start thinking about assessment we haven’t considered what our initial goals were and so we have no real way to assess.

Stephen’s comment about classroom assessment and program assessment was a really good point, one that shows that we often think about assessment as on a programmatic level and mostly with a negative connotation. Michael Lockett pointed out as well that in post-secondary education we often conflate assessment and evaluation, and that if we were to think about it in a way like K12 or other areas where evaluation happens by combining numerous assessments.

How do you see technology impacting your assessment practices? What does that mean for you?

As always, technology should be used in support of the work that we are doing or as a lever to make things easier or more efficient. Sometimes it can make things more effective, but all too often the assumption is that the technology makes things more effective without some real planning about it.

For me the technology is allowing me to better show the goals and objectives that we’ve set out for the students ahead of time so so they are wandering around in a “fog”. The achievement system that we’ve been working with Brian Adams, Nate Lounds and others has been a great way of showing how the technology can help the students to understand where they are in a program so that they can best participate and choose ways to participate.

How do you see assessment impacting teaching and learning practices in the classroom? Do you see an impact?

When we are better able to assess learning accurately, we are better able to make adjustments to our teaching practices that will ideally yield better learning. When we can understand what students are learning better, we can best scaffold and teach more or present more learning opportunity for the students and help them figure out how to support their own learning. This is really where I see and advantage for us if we’re thinking about these things early on in a student’s career so they aren’t spending the majority of their student career here not really understanding why, what and how they need could be learning things.