Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Marking...a rant?

I know, theoretically, that marking is a valuable exercise.

I sat in on a webinar last night hosted by Alec Couros where the guest speaker Dave Cormier (a prof from UPEI - @davecormier) was talking about MOOCs; yep, had to look it up, too - the acronym is Massive Open Online Course (thank you, Wikipedia). He shared an anecdote about running into a student that had been in a MOOC that he was teaching. The student mentioned that he was disappointed in the course because he hadn't finished it and hadn't received a final grade. Nevermind the fact that he didn't finish because he met another student in the same course and through the course of this meeting they went on to produce some other cool stuff as a direct result of their involvement in the course in the first place. The student could only focus on the fact that he hadn't finished the course due to the fact that he hadn't received a final grade.

So, that begs the question. Is it more important to create the environment where learning is a process and an exciting starting point? Or, is simply achieving the final objective, a final grade based on assessment through the course, enough?

I think most educators when asked theoretically would say that it is most important to create a learning environment that allows students to think, create and to be curious. However, at every semester's end I find myself frustrated with the fact that I am assessing only on the student's performance at mundane tasks that I have asked them to perform. In some cases, I've been able to allow students create their own mundane tasks or even to create a unit, however, everything always comes down to assessment, evaluation and a final mark.

And, man, that just burns me.

So, I'm going to try to figure out some other ways to address it. Anyone have any to share?

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