I’m on the same side as Anthony Cody in supporting teachers in the classroom and thwarting corporate control of U.S. Public Education, especially when it comes to assessment. I don’t want assessment of learning to be defined as the external monitoring of the work inside the classroom. I agree with Cody that teachers are the ones who need to be making judgments about what students learn, how they learn it, and how learning is assessed. I want teachers to control the teaching and learning tools used in the classroom. So, that’s why I want teachers to learn how to use the tools available to them to use for instruction and assessment. I don’t want something that teachers don’t drive being forced on them by corporations and those who want to ‘disrupt’ our public education.
When I suggested in a recent blog post that I didn’t think he was fully informed, yet, about the possibilities of CBE and its various other names - standards based grading, student learning outcome reporting, and etc., I think (based on the flurry of tweets in the hours just after I posted) he thought I was siding with Bill Gates, Tom Vander Ark, Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, and the other business people who are trying to get their hands on the very limited amount of money available for public education. I’m not. I’m on Anthony’s side.
Using a learning management system (LMS) for instruction and teacher created assessments is not something that has been done by very many K12 public school teachers in the U.S. It's not taught in most schools of teacher preparation and not something that most large public school systems promote. I get it; state departments of education and school district bureaucrats are all about control and not so much about authentic teaching and learning. I was an Open School elementary teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools for sixteen years. Most of those years I also served as a teacher lead on the district technology advisory committee (back when they actually included teachers in planning about technology.) I also served as a building union steward for many of those years and did my fair share of butting heads with the district on contract issues, especially when it came to allowing teachers to choose what kind of professional development they would do and how they would do it.
I want teachers to be the best users of all tools that can be used for instruction and assessment of learning. Learning managements systems were not practical for most public schools until devices and wifi became as ubiquitous and as inexpensive as they are today and will continue to be in the future. Now, it’s time for teacher preparation schools, and district administrators, and education bloggers to work to support teachers in using all of the tools that are available. We can’t pretend that current technology is not a wonderfully powerful teaching tool. It’s unfortunate that we as a society have taken as long as we have to come to understand that. But, free open source learning management systems are available now. Free, digital open education resources will soon be as ubiquitous as public libraries. Teachers need to know how to use them. Let’s not let the disruptive business people take charge of instruction and assessment tools.
Keeping track of who knows what is still a crucial part of education. Let’s not let the disruptive business people take control of our necessary record keeping. That means that teachers need to do it. It’s very possible and might even make teaching fun again for public school teachers.