Relearning Collaborative Assessment
I wonder if the only way we really know that we have learnt something is when we socialise that learning. Maybe some of us are lucky enough to know that we know something, or can draw something that we know is world class. I feel most of us get better when we share, and even better when we collaborate in learning experiences. It has always struck me that world class athletes get better by using more coaches and support. They don’t, and can’t, keep on the top of their games without support. The more reciprocal, give and take, that support is, the better. Collaborating seems such an obvious feature of learning. We should help people, educators and students, get better at collaborating, and develop it in its own right, for feedback and assessment, if you like, rather than just thinking about assessing the output of an experience. For instance, whilst painting, I was much better at capturing the light in my painting after collaborating on a project.
For too long we have lumped collaboration into a bucket called 21st century skills. Yet, collaboration has always been a goal of the learning makers. It was dropped as an approach, and we were taken down the narrower path of assessing an individual’s set of skills. This let us think almost too much about individual assessment methodologies, rather than the assessment toolkit for collaborative activities.
In the 21st century, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media devices have offered us more ability to communicate and collaborate. But as barriers to using collaborative learning experiences are falling away, it has exposed a lack of understanding about how to know we have been collaborative, how we can spot a good collaborator, or when we should and maybe should not collaborate. This is different, and should lead to new pedagogies—or possibly ancient pedagogies rediscovered.
Jim Wynn is Chief Education Officer at Promethean and is responsible for the company’s education strategy. Jim has been head teacher of two secondary schools in the UK, in which he pioneered the use of ICT.