The Next Killer App?

A Conversation (unconference) session at the
2009 EduBloggerCon

2009 was the year that my 4th of July lasted for 42 hours, at least that’s the best I could calculate it at the end of the day.  Much of the day was in Auckland, New Zealand, then the flight to San Francisco, a four hour layover, and then five more hours across North America.  A bit ragged this morning.

I’ve been been reflecting, though, about my NECC experience — especially the conversations at the Leadership Symposium and a couple of the conversations I had at the EduBloggerCon.  The idea is starting to jell in my mind that the next big…  Hmmmm!

As I wrote yesterday, it seems that everytime we sit down and talk about education reform, there seems to be something in the way, preventing us from what we want to do right now.  We can’t move that tile in the puzzle, until the one next to it is out of the way, which we can’t move until another one has been shifted, etc. etc.  There is only one open space in the old Cracker Jack puzzle game, and often only two tiles that can be shifted to make room.  In our particular game of education reform, it seems to me that there is only one tile that can be moved into one empty space.  But when that one is shifted, a domino affect may result, leaving room for a sudden and complete overhaul of education.

That tile is how we assess the quality of education for the sake of accountability — namely the high-stakes government issued tests.  No surprise here.  We’ve all had this conversation.  And we are starting to feel that there is a new spirit for doing things differently. 

:..SPARK..:
by Aamnesiak1978TM

However, accountability continues to be a focused part of conversations, especially in the monologs coming from the Education Department — and I don’t think we should hold our breaths for any proclaimations of a different kind of assessment coming from Washington.

So what might spark the change.  What might the catalyst be.  What’s going to jolt us to a new level.  I’m wondering if the next killer app, at least for education, might be a highly innovation new eportfolio platform.  It will be something that we all get so excited about, that we’ll all want to use it.  We’ll want our communities to be excited about it.  We’ll want to switch to eportfolio assessment, because we’ll want to use this new thing. 

Here are a few features that would excite me:

  • It won’t be just a digital folder.  The killer eportfolio app will be about much more than assessment.
  • It will be used all year long, not just at assessment time at the end of the year.
  • It will be a work platform, not just an archive for assessment.
  • It will have elements of social networking, featuring personal profiles and a variety of communication devices, such as blogging, micro-blogging, discussion forums, and commenting.
  • It will easily and invitingly accept multimedia products.
  • All products will be critiqueable with commenting or threaded discussion, by educators, fellow students, and the verifiable community.
  • It will also have components of a course management system.  There will be curriculum structures within the platform so that work can be aligned, at least implicitly, with instructional objectives.
  • There will be a facility to critique work based beyond mere foundational standards.  Work will also be judged on inventiveness, collaboration, quality of communication, compellingness, value to an authentic audience.
  • “Standards” will play a minimal roll in this product. 
  • It will facility portability, so that students can carry their portfolios with them to the next grade and/or as a standalone product on CD or other networked platform.
  • It will not merely be classroom-friendly.  It will be user-friendly, regardless of the location of the learning.
  • Students will want to spend time here.  They will have a strong voice and hand in what it looks like and how it operates.
  • Students will be able to enter products that are not necessarily curriculum related, such as personal video and machinima creations, art work, game scores, business ventures, and products of personal and passionate interest.
  • The work will belong to the students.
  • Students, teachers, and parents will participate in selecting the work that is assessed.
  • Assessment will be school-based, government-based, and community-based. 
  • It will preferably be open source, but not necessarily so.
  • The social aspects will be reasonably open.  Students (and teachers) will be able to collaborate across classroom and school (and even national) boundaries.
  • Assessment will be based on content, quality & compellingness of the communication, and value.
  • All learning products will include an element of reflection by its producer.
  • It will become the talk of the town.

Please suggest your own features.  I would love to see this happen before the next NECC.

Another Interesting Photo

Confederate Pyramid
Meade’s Pyramid

I used that setting on my camera that take multiple shots, and this is the only one that came out nearly clear.  I’ve seen it before, but, out of curiosity, I Twitpic’ed it this morning to see if anyone knew what it was.  Here’s what I learned.

There is a Civil War memorial near Fredericksburg, VA that is a twenty foot high stone pyramid. It was built in the 1890’s by a railroad company to commemorate the Confederate victory there in 1862. It is right next to the auto-train tracks. It’s far away from where the National Park Service wants you to look at it, across a ditch and the railroad tracks. It might be possible to get closer to it, but I have never tried. I think Amtrak has a fence up and the pyramid is either on Amtrak or private land. ((“Mysterious Confederate Pyramid.” RoadsideAmerica.com. 14 Jun 2001. 27 Jun 2009 <http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/3837>.))

This information was contributed to RoadsideAmerica.com by Willie Zaza in June of 2001.  Someone else added this later.

It’s known officially as Meade’s Pyramid. It stands 23 feet tall, is built of granite, and was erected in 1898 by the Confederate Memorial Literary Society, who originally just wanted a sign. The railroad vetoed that idea, so the Society built a 17-ton pyramid.

What I find interesting is that I learned of this, in less than ten minutes, by way of Jo Fothergill, from her home, in New Zealand.

Who says learning has changed!