Dylan Arena – Measuring What Matters Most: Choice-Based Assessments for the Digital Age

April 02, 2013
9:00 am - 10:00 am PST
By Educator Innovator

What are the benefits of embracing choice-based assessments, and how can we prepare for this assessment paradigm shift?

View the Conversation
During the broadcast, the conversation also took place on Twitter using the hashtag #connectedlearning.

Key Questions and Comments:

  • (06:50) The fundamental goal of education…is to prepare a learner to act independently in the world. Which is, to say, to make appropriate choices about how to behave in the world.
  • (09:22) You have other kinds of assessment that get close to it–performance assessments, portfolio assessments–but they’re not scalable, they’re very time-intensive…What digital technologies give is the possibility for producing environments that allow students to make choices that in what, to them, is a very naturalistic setting.
  • (12:28) In terms of painting what [choice-based assessment] might look like in a concrete way, you talk about video game assessment and you talk about law school assessment…Can you elaborate on those?
  • (16:07) Nowadays, kids are going to face, maybe, a dozen different career types in 5 or 6 different fields. They’re going to have to learn a ton of stuff after they’re done with school…So they are going to need (much more than generations past) the ability to learn new things…So we need to be giving students the opportunities to make choices about how to learn.
  • (20:01) How do we bring creativity back to school, but at the same time make it so teachers have ways to account for the learning that’s happening?…You could say ‘Let’s just let kids creatively explore whatever they want,” but that doesn’t really work today in a system where teachers have to be accountable.
  • (24:55) It’s great to get this into the K-12; is it too late for the college student already in the classroom?
  • (29:00) Let’s circle back to this question of ‘How do you have an environment that is safe for kids to ‘face plant’, fail, explore, and experiment?’ Carla, you had interesting point about how you think Badges can help create that.
  • (33:04) I have a colleague that has a school in Chicago that’s trying many of these interesting, new assessment approaches. Some of the pushback they’ve gotten from parents–but, also, even the kids–is they wonder whether or not ‘having fun’ is actually learning…and then there’s this very practical concern…that this seems great, but how are they going to do on the end-of-the-year exams?
  • (36:56) What are the types of things that we should be measuring?
  • (41:44) Obviously, I’m coming from the Open Badges world where I think there are lots of opportunities to allow people to develop their own concept of assessment and to acknowledge what’s important within context. To me, when we talk about assessment, context is vital.
  • (43:48) One good example from the report about something that we can capture with choice-based assessments that we can’t with knowledge-based assessments–and that gets close to something that we think is worth measuring–is responses to failure.
  • (46:28) You make this point that choice-based assessment is tied to democracy and free society. And I was very interested to hear a bit more about that. What’s the connection there?
  • (50:44) If you have an educator that is really interested in trying to do right by their students, even though they may be in a context that is hard, what are the sorts of things people can do? Where can they go?
  • (52:50) ‘Is this something that we have to wait to come from “the top” or is this something that we can do immediately, and be empowered to go after it?’
  • (56:45) How would/do youth and students respond to this sort of approach versus what they’re subjected to through most of their schooling lives?
  • (62:06) The idea of investing and helping teachers understand how to create these environments and be comfortable with them–that’s the big question when you come down to the practitioner thing. How do we support teachers to do this type of assessment and create environments where it’s embraced?

Guests for this webinar included:

  • Jeff Brazil – Moderator, Communications Director at the DML Research Hub
  • Dylan Arena – Guest speaker, Chief Learning Scientist at Kidaptive.¬†Dylan Arena is Co-founder and Chief Learning Scientist at Kidaptive, a media & technology company dedicated to smart storytelling and creating entertaining & adaptive content that helps children learn. Along with Daniel Schwartz, he produced the report “Measuring What Matters Most,” which explores the aim of assessment, and choice-based assessment design.
  • Ben Shapiro – McDonnell Family Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Tufts University
  • Ethan Danahy – Computer Science professor at Tufts University
  • Brian O’Connell – Doctoral student at Tufts University
  • Mitchel Hare – Executive Program Chair at The Institute of Production and Recording
  • Carla Casilli – Web Literacy Badges Lead at Mozilla Foundation
  • Tim Lord – Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director of the DreamYard Project

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