Scott Jaschik has written a wonderful follow-up to his article last fall, "How To Get Out of Grading," called "No Grading, More Learning": http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/05/03/grading
I'm sure the sarcastic comments will begin to fly but, for now, I'm basking, not only in this fine article but in the aftermath of one of the most serious, dedicated, thoughtful (you'll see that word again in this blog) courses I've ever taught.
Jaschik's piece in "Insider Higher Ed" touches all the high points of my course. I'm sure the sarcastic comments will begin to fly but, for now, I'm basking, not only in this fine article but in the aftermath of one of the most serious, dedicated, thoughtful (you'll see that word again in this blog) courses I've ever taught. Classes have personalities, and "thoughtful" describes this one. Less laughter than many of my courses, less argument, just serious, concerned, engaged thought, class after class, blog after blog. I felt humbled by it. If ever I let myself get cynical (I read a lot these days about the Internet and not all the thinking is first rate), the serious response from my students over and over again made me realize that, it didn't matter if pundits were doing a bad job of it, it was our responsibility to take various topics--from privacy and surveillance and anonymity and intellectual property and pornography--with the proper respect, attention, and complexit it deserved.
inspired by my blog post "How To Crowdsource Grading" where I talked about an experiment in pedagogy in my "This Is Your Brain on the Internet Course," Jaschik reprizes the basic terms of the grading experiment. I used a combination of contract grading and peer quality control and feedback. The new article is just wonderful, and I could not be more proud of student Lacey Kim who responded to Jaschik's request to hear directly from a student. She stepped up and exemplfies the eloquence and insights of the students in this class. I'll quote from the article: 'Lacey Kim, a Duke senior who took the course, said she thought the alternative approach to grading in the course didn't eliminate the teacher's role, but changed the dynamic from "a single teaching-student interaction to multiple teacher-student/student-student interactions" with students in the roles of both student and teacher. She said she was certainly aware that fellow students would be looking closely at her work, and that "peer pressure is a very influential thing."
But Kim said that what was really important in the class dynamic wasn't pressure, but a sense that "everyone had insightful and varying experiences to share" and that in every way, "everyone participated." In making the transition to this approach to grading, students may have been helped by the Internet as the course's subject matter, Kim said. "A lot of the topics we discussed were contemporary, easily applicable to our lives, but because all of us had different voices, we felt we were on an equal plane.'
There is no way to know if the sheer thoughtfulness of this group was due in part to the grading system, which shifted the terms of the class from "how to get an A" to "how to really think through these complex issues in deep ways." Whether in conversation or in the presentations, my students often took the best writing on a topic and then took it to a new level, with greater complexity and greater attention to a range of possibilities (rather than polemic) that quite literally any published work on the same topic. I was surprised the first time it happened and by the end of the course began to just accept it as the unspoken rule the standards had set themselves. It was something on the order of "don't be shallow!"
By the end of the course, a regular peer-led class was happening the same week as the multi-media collaborative projects (the equivalent of a final exam in seriousness) and the class level had become so high that I kept confusing the two. None of us could keep apart which was just another weekly assignment and which was the year end extravaganza. The bar was as high as, well, CNN. A number of the videos made by students were professional quality. And then the intellectual, informed and informative discussion began.
This has been a fabulous week for innovative pedagogy. On Friday, I was delighted to be part of the panel conversation on "The Future of Learning is the Future of the Web" with my inspiring colleagues Laurent Dubois, Negar Mottahedeh, Mark Anthony Neal, and Tony O'Driscoll. You can watch we had to say on YouTube, as part of FutureWeb, the conference colocated with the annual meeting of the World Wide Web consortium in Raleigh, NC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT7WCdnUTVA
Negar tweeted the whole thing at: #fw2010e #fw2010 #www2010
And of course the HASTAC Scholars Forum continues in its lively, thought-provoking manner on this site. "Blogs and Beyond: Teaching with Technology and Creativity." Check it out!