Landing : Athabascau University

» Assessing teachers’ digital competencies Virtual Canuck

Terry Anderson on an Estonian approach to assessing teacher competences (and other projects) using Elgg - the same framework that underpins the Landing. I've downloaded the tool they have developed, Digimina, and will be trying it out, not just for exactly the purposes it was developed, but as the foundation for a more generalized toolset for sharing the process of assessment. May spark some ideas, I think.

A nice approach to methodology: Terry prefers the development of design principles as the 'ultimate' aim of design-based research (DBR), but I like the notion of software as a hypothesis that is used here. It's essentially a 'sciency' way of describing the notion of trying out an idea to see whether it works that makes no particular claims to generality, but that both derives from and feeds a model of what can be done, what needs to be done, and why it should be done. The generalizable part is not the final stage, but the penultimate stage of design in this DBR model. In this sense, it formalizes the very informal notion of bricolage, capturing some of its iterative nature. It's not quite enough, I think, any more than other models of DBR quite capture the process in all its richness. This is because the activity of formulating that hypothesis itself follows a very similar pattern at a much finer-grained scale to that of the bigger model. When building code, you try out ideas, see where it takes you, and that inspires new ideas through the process of writing as much as of designing and specifying. Shovelling that into a large-scale process model hides where at least an important amount of the innovation actually happens, perhaps over-emphasizing the importance of explicit evaluation phases and underplaying the role of construction itself.


  • I look forward to seeing and hearing how this elgg application works Jon.

    Indeed the idea of hypothesis generation as the final phase of a design based research project is the "sceiency" way to think and talk about research. But it is to get away from that thinking that makes me prefer words from design sphere. One deosn't formally test a hypothesis when designing a building or a table, one normally just builds it, based upon implicit and explicit design principles from past, plus any emergent innovations. If successful, based upon esthetics and user adoption, then the innovation moves slowly towrds being an established 'design principle".  Not just a confirmed hypothosis.

    Really the two aren't that dissimilliar, but I like the design orientation. 

    Finally, indeed a scaled down DBR research project (as done for a thesis or final project) rarely leads to the format or adoption of grand design principles, but as you suggest smaller iterations that create enough success to justify the intervention and enough ideas for an iterative round of doing it again.


    Terry Anderson April 28, 2015 - 11:27pm

  • I don't know about grand design principles: I suspect they only occur more often in bigger projects because of quantity, rather than quality, though there is probably also a benefit to be had from having a team discussing and trying things - more opportunities for discovery and serendipity as a result of diverse views. Those smaller iterations are often where the biggest innovations emerge though - the 'aha!' moments come at least as often from tinkering and realising that things could be different as from reflective review. In fact, it is often a result of mistakes or surprise side-effects (exaptations) so it's a dialogue with the tools. And that's why I like 'hypothesis' ...

    The table you are building is not a test of the hypothesis: it is the hypothesis. The test of it occurs in the iteration (the third stage); as you use it, then go back to the previous stage and think about what you have done, what effect it had, whether there were any issues, surprises or adjacent possibles, then maybe modify it or start to make a new one. The implementation of the idea (the hypothesis) is not the same thing as the idea - it's something else, in which the materials, ways it is used, constraints, path-dependencies and side-effects play an important role too. I rather like that - it's a science of the concrete that puts proper emphasis on the created object as opposed to just the ideas that inform it. The things we create are not a product of the thinking process but part of it, with an interdependent and important role to play. It's a way of recognizing the distributed nature of cognition, how the objects and processes we create contribute meaningfully as an active part our thoughts and beliefs.

    The plugin installs OK, but it relies on some IMS QTI files that I don't have access to yet, though it looks like it should be possible to import questions etc from any QTI package - no time to check at the moment, but I will do so when things get less busy. It's not a brilliantly written plugin for general purpose use as it mixes in a whole load of theming and embodied assumptions that it will be used to create a stand-alone dedicated site: not quite the Elgg way of doing things. But I think it might be the basis of something more useful.

    Jon Dron April 29, 2015 - 11:23am

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