We are going back a bit here! The reason is that recently I have been teaching adults and they and their employers don’t ask for accountability in the form of grades. I think this is very significant and points to the need to question the giving of grades at younger ages if it is not going to happen in your adult life.

The project described below does not talk explicitly about how it was assessed (and to be honest I don’t have the evidence any more) but there was a learning diary for individual assessment and a website as an end product, for group grades.The closest it comes to Paul Bogush’s 24 assessments is the Public Service Announcement since the goal was to create a website for a political party.

My final comment is worrying I guess:

It is obvious though that what has been learned differs greatly between students.

Having said that, I recall, and it is obvious from what I wrote at the time, that the students came with differing abilities and prior knowledge about building websites. So the question is, did they all reach an agreed minimum bar, having all started from different levels? If so, then I guess it is OK that some in the end went further than others.

Here’s a product from a prior task in which the class were asked to make the case for having a Youth Ministry. It’s rather a dark vision of Danish youth(!) but I guess they felt that was the only way to make a case.

Here’s what I wrote at the time (3rd December 2009): Note: the student work sites no longer exist as pbworks has been tidying up!

Election special

I have just finished a project with my technical students in which my subject Communication and IT was linked with sociology. The sociology teacher had a role play she wanted to use and so in the end the six week project revolved around that role play. The final project was a good mix of the digital, the technical and the human. The role play was an election simulation available from the Danish public broadcasting service, which required the class of 32 to be divided into 6 groups, each representing a different political party. The political parties were fictitious but closely mirrored the actual Danish political landscape which consists of many different political parties. While the sociology teacher concentrated on the legal and constitutional background, I asked the six groups to create a political party website. We attempted a similar project last year but it didn’t work too well. Then I used pbworks, a wiki, and the students complained that it cramped their style. So this year I chose wordpress.com. I still had complaints that it cramped their style and one group went so far as to code their own website from scratch because they had the expertise. However I thought that the end results from the other 5 groups looked very good indeed and were not that far removed from the actual political websites in terms of appearance. The project was coordinated from my teacher blog which is in English even though the students do their work in Danish, a sort of hybrid CLIL arrangement.

The templates I created for them were all identical in the beginning and over the weeks they chose and adapted other templates so that we ended up with a very diverse set of looks (see political party links listed in the righthand menu from http://polkom.wordpress.com . The groups had to add a disclaimer on the ‘about’ page in case any passer-by was fooled. As part of the project we looked at search engines, evaluated the real Danish party political websites, explored what use was being made by Danish politicians of Facebook and Twitter, tried to apply the AIDA model to both existing political party websites and their own, looked at what makes a good image both technically and aesthetically and upgraded the skill of evaluating the trustworthiness of websites. We were lucky that there were local elections in Denmark on November 17 so we were able to have some local politicians to visit the school. Unfortunately they talked so much that my students didn’t have a chance to put the questions which we had earlier prepared in class. The local election meant that we could also look at a campaign meant to get young voters to use their vote. It was presented virally as a campaign to stop young people voting because they their brains are insufficiently developed.

The political party websites had to be ready before the election and I asked some people I knew in Denmark, Sweden and Norway (who would understand the language) to take a look at the websites. Some left comments so the students had some non-teacher feedback. The highlight of the project was undoubtedly the live election day during which the parties had to make political speeches setting out their policies, answer searching or tricky questions from journalists and spin doctors and then vote. Once the voting was over, the horse trading began and the political party with the most votes ended up as the opposition party because no other party would ally itself with them – a valuable political lesson. I then had the difficult job of maintaining the momentum after the excitement of election day. Their final task was to produce an election special magazine. This proved to be a real challenge because in this laptop centred college nobody is used to printing things out on paper and images especially suffered when printed so we had to go back to the technical aspects of images in this different and alien medium! Having read their learning diaries for this project I can see that a great deal has been learned on many fronts, both technical, digital literacy wise and about politics. It is obvious though that what has been learned differs greatly between students.

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