Monday, November 19, 2007

The highschoolification of higher education and the LMS

Michael Feldstein at e-Literate discusses: Desire2Learn Competencies and Rubrics: Part I, and the increasing tendency to create metrics to measure... heck if I know? I just know they're not measuring learning.

Of course, you regular readers know that I think these bloated and bureaucratic systems are a step in the wrong direction for institutions of higher learning. Perhaps I'm old school, but I think these sorts of things are best left between the learner and their professor. Not between the learner, some software, and their institution.

Are you looking to maximize students’ likely economic benefit from their education, regardless of career path? Are you trying to create better citizens? Or do you care most about helping the student cultivate a rich and fulfilling life of the mind? The answers to these questions have a strong impact on whether it makes more sense to look at test scores or portfolios, whether assessment instruments should be the same across courses or even across states, and lots of other critical implementation questions. Without widespread agreement on goals and priorities, there will be no widespread agreement about what to assess or how to assess it. It is nearly impossible to get such widespread agreement in many cases. And yet, there is also a sense that if we give up on assessing outcomes altogether, we run the risk that the schools that students, parents, communities, and governments invest in will produce nothing of value for anyone.

Higher education never seemed to have an issue with being considered a valuable investment before there was something called a Learning Management System. In reality these are Learner Control Systems (LCS). They have nothing to do with what's best for the learner. The sooner they can be run out of higher education the better off everyone will be-- especially the learner.

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