Justin Goff is a Haiku Learning Community Specialist, and our in-house assessment expert here at Haiku Learning. Before joining the Haiku Learning team, Justin taught upper-school English at international schools in Korea and Japan. He’s a big fan of standards-based assessment practices and loves that Haiku Learning provides the right tools for teachers to use sophisticated approaches to grading and assessment.
If you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail, right? It’s not surprising that technologists often focus on assessment practices, like multiple-choice tests, that lend themselves to technological solutions.
But at Haiku Learning, we put education first when we talk about educational technology. That’s why we’ve developed a flexible, easy-to-use platform that gives students and teachers plenty of room for a wide range of creative approaches to assessment.
We have our tests and quizzes, sure (we call them Assessments). But with features like WikiProjects and Standards-Based Grading, Haiku Learning is simply the best authentic assessment tool around.
First things first: Let's define authentic assessment
Broadly speaking, “authentic assessment” means designing meaningful assessments that require students to apply both knowledge and skills. It’s often used with practices like standards-based assessment (tracking student performance on learning goals across a range of tasks) and backward design (starting with the desired learning outcomes and planning curriculum “backwards” from there).
Authentic assessment isn’t a clear-cut category: some assessments are more “authentic” than others, and it all depends on your learning goals. If you’re teaching a standardized test prep course, then a multiple-choice test could be considered “authentic”: it measures both knowledge and test-taking skills.
But in most cases, authentic assessment involves more complex and open-ended tasks. For example, in a course aimed at teaching students how to code, an authentic assessment would most likely require students to build some actual software.
So why does Haiku Learning rock at authentic assessment?
Reason #1: WikiProjects turn the web into a sandbox for your students
WikiProjects are probably the single most powerful tool for authentic assessment in Haiku Learning. Each WikiProject gives students a space where they can use Haiku’s intuitive content management system to showcase their knowledge and their 21st-century communication skills.
Like a lot of what you see in Haiku Learning, WikiProjects are simple on the surface. Beginners can easily add video, audio, images, and text to their WikiProjects without writing a single line of code - what you see is what you get.
But WikiProjects are also incredibly flexible. With Embed the Web blocks, students can create content in a huge variety of web applications and embed their work directly into their projects. And with MiniSites, students can even build entire HTML websites, Java applets, or Flash applications and run them right in Haiku.
This makes WikiProjects great for authentic assessments. Where else can students combine research writing, videos, images, audio tracks, and even simple software applications in a single online space - let alone one that’s integrated with ePortfolios, Gradebooks, and everything else Haiku Learning has to offer?
Reason #2: Standards-based grading tracks performance in detail
One common complaint about authentic assessment is that it’s harder to quantify than a traditional test. With a well-designed test, you can get a good sense of what students know by looking at what kinds of questions they can and can’t answer.
But if you’re not careful, authentic assessment can obscure a student’s specific achievements behind one big overall grade. If an authentic assessment measures ten different learning goals, and the student gets a B, how do you know which learning goals the student needs to improve on? And if you have more than one assessment of the same learning goal, how do you measure the student’s progress towards that goal over time?
Standards-Based Grading in Haiku Learning, or SBG for short, is a gradebook designed from the ground up to address precisely these problems: It lets you assess students on multiple standards per task and then tracks student performance on each standard across multiple tasks.
And if you still want to give an overall grade for each task, you can use the Traditional Gradebook right alongside SBG.
Already a master of authentic assessment?
We’d love to hear from you! Let us know if you’d like to share some specific examples of authentic assessment in Haiku Learning for an upcoming blog post. We love showcasing the great things our teachers do with Haiku Learning! Please share in our Customer Forum.
And in case you missed it, Justin did a post on traditional grading vs. standards-based grading back in January.
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