Assess students’ academic learning, not Web 2.0 technology

I thought that we have moved beyond focusing on the technology to focusing on student academic learning.  I thought that back in the 90s.  However, I find evidence even today that technology still has become the true focus rather than student academic learning.  Whenever I look at the rubrics for an Web 2.0 tool, I see that the vast majority of rubric items focus on the “mechanics” of the technology. They do not focus  on the students’  academic learning.

My writing teachers never graded me on the mechanics of a pencil. They wanted to see if I could write something worthwhile. As I went to college, no one graded me on the mechanics of word processing; they did grade me on how I could demonstrate my content learning. Yes, I do agree that we need basic word processing skills  but those technology skills must not be confused with academic learning.

What new academic skills are students learning through Web 2.0 tools?  What new ways of thinking are they developing and how do they demonstrate those ways of thinking?  Does each Web 2.0 tool add a different dimension of learning?

Let’s demystify Web 2.0 learning by focusing on student academic learning, not on the technology!

My new book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Reponding to Your Students

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2 Responses to “Assess students’ academic learning, not Web 2.0 technology”


  1. 1 Brian November 13, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Much of my work is to combat this very notion that we must assess the technology skills. I think a lot of confusion lies in 21st Century Skills being the keys to success in the future. But if our future means no one can coherently put some ideas or concepts forth, what good will it all be? We’ll have some savvy tech people, but will they be any different than the machine they are working on?

  2. 2 Simon Robinson November 16, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I get where you’re coming from Harry. You get what you assess and a writing class shouldn’t turn into “how to use a wiki 101”. That would be a different course.

    With younger students I think it is necessary to go through the “mechanical skills” of using sites/tools. It’s not “in their DNA” as the media may have us believe. Your writing teachers may not have graded you on the mechanics of a pencil, but I’m sure you would have received feedback when you began writing letters and numbers for the first time.

    I created a unit this year where the “web2.0 skills” of the students are assessed (http://audienceandpurpose.edublogs.org/ if you’re interested there are rubrics on the Resources page.) It’s not the only thing assessed though and the students are only twelve/thirteen. There is also a state requirement (Victoria, Australia) at the moment to report on such skills as part of “interdisciplinary learning” (including communication, design and creativity) so it’s sort of an “academic requirement” of itself.

    BTW: Love the blog, find it challenging, stimulating and thought provoking.


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