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Blooming Assessment

Five steps for 'doing' elearning

There has been a real buzz in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) recently about Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. The educational origami site has a wealth of information on Bloom’s Taxonomy. On the site, Andrew Churches says, ‘it’s not about the tools, it’s using the tools to facilitate learning.’ Selecting the right tool for the needs of the learner is spot on. Often there is a dichotomy in elearning – ‘old technology’ versus ‘new technology’ … subsequently the next ‘new thing’ sometimes distracts us from the selecting the right technology.

The digital taxonomy does provide a useful framework for helping us scaffold learning. Here is an infographic you might find useful and a prezi that maps the taxonomy to technologies – the scary part is the amount of technologies and apps out there! It reminds me of the Say Hey lyrics by Michael Franti … ‘the more I see the less I know’.

A colleague from a TAFE Institute has done a lot of work around Bloom’s specifically in the VET context. Here are his top 3 insights:

  1. Any level of the taxonomy can be applied at any level of learning/training – interactions tapping into Creativity can be utilised effectively at AQF level 1 just as well as they could be at AQF level 6. The key is that the selected tasks/processes must match the learning needs and outcome requirements.
  2. The real challenge for VET is applying the taxonomy to assessment – it is just as important as the need to apply it to learning. He reinforced that something as commonplace as multiple choice questions (& answers) can be written to match different levels of the taxonomy. He asserted that because some people think multiple choice questions are ‘simple’ forms of assessment, they can be quickly and easily created.
  3. There are very few models within VET that demonstrate the application of the taxonomy to vocational training – plenty in the Higher Ed/school sectors.

The point he made about assessment was particularly interesting because much of the discussion around Bloom’s is in the context of learning. Often, educators spend time thinking about the learning content and the best way to deliver it. The eLearning design model above might be useful to you in the context of designing of digital vocational education from an assessment or outcome perspective.

One useful notion when contemplating Bloom’s is assessment for learning, which the Assessment Reform Group describe as, ‘using evidence to decide where the learners are, where they need to go and how best to get there’. Here is a document from Rob Stowell on assessment for learning in the vocational setting you may find interesting.

In 1995 Boud said, ‘students can escape bad teaching: they can’t escape bad assessment’.

In 2005 Race, Brown and Smith said, ‘Nothing we do to, or for our students is more important than our assessment of their work and the feedback we give them on it’

It will be interesting to see where assessment will be, in the context of vocational learning, in 2015! What do you think?

Often we speak about Teaching, Learning and Assessment (TLA) – does good elearning design and delivery mean we should reverse it to Assessment, Learning & Teaching (ALT)?

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