|Tweeting my mouth off|
Rather than addressing the distraction caused by digital devices, we ignore them, or try to ban them. Even at our best we only tentatively use digital tools, and when we do we ignore the data they could be providing on student activity. Digital devices could shine a powerful light on student learning, instead we call them a distraction and let students abuse them into uselessness. Effectively harnessing educational technology could give us granular, specific data about student activity in the classroom, yet we choose to wallow in darkness. Really useful data-driven learning is only a decision away from implementation.
A student who is shown, in specific detail, why they failed a course (but watched oh so many fascinating youtube videos), is being shown their own poor choices in stark detail. One of the great joys I have in elearning is showing students their analytics. When I get the, "I don't understand this!" line, I ask for specifics, which usually gets me a, "I don't get any of it!" I can then pull up an analysis of what lessons the student has attempted. The student who didn't bother to actually even try any of the lessons gets wonderfully sheepish at this point.
With meaningful data on hand about their poor choices, education's arbitrariness instead becomes a metacognitive opportunity to adjust learning habits; something we seem loath to do on digital tools, even as we criticize how students use them.
Digitization in the classroom offers us access to meaningful data on student learning behaviour that was impossible even ten years ago. Instead of being ignored and treated as a distraction, we should be harnessing digital technology and communicating that data. A student who spends less than 10% of class time working on their project before failing it? If that data were included in assessment, a student would have a metacognitive opportunity to understand the mechanics of their own failure. They might then also begin to harness digital tools rather than being distracted by them. Digitization shouldn't be an escape from accountability, it should amplify it.
In such an environment, assessment might become something more than a damned statistic.
I didn't even get into how this data could serve employment after school. Detailed data on how students tackle work would be of great interest to employers. Even the basics like attendance and ability to focus on work would be of more interest to employers than any grade.
Imagine an Ontario Student Record that offered employers an automated resume that included attendance and other useful details like ability to complete work in a timely fashion, group/team skills, communications and approach to new challenges. Instead of hiding education behind a curtain of graduation, we could begin to make it immediately and obviously connected to future success.