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The future of testing

the future of testing

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I read this guardian article recently where a woman asked Tinder for all her personal information. They sent her 800 pages worth of data. Apply this to the world of testing, which is increasingly data rich, and it doesn’t take much to make a pessimistic prediction.

This thought was originally from a town hall discussion at the E-ATP conference, which I had the pleasure of participating in.

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Academic failures – got any previous?

We carry around our academic failures like previous convictions.

If pressed, we might even blame something: but I’d never even been to France so it just didn’t make sense…

Whether or not the excuse is fair, we accept what the piece of paper tells us. I’m not very good at that. Sadly, what we really believe is this: I could never be good at that…

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Withered Tree

withered tree

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I took my 3 kids out of school in order to support the stand against the increased importance placed on SATs, summative tests for primary school children in English state schools, which place a supreme importance on Maths and English, as if those were the only two subjects that matter. Please note, dear reader, I’m a BIG fan of my kid’s school, it’s leadership and it’s teachers.

We spent the day creating things. First on paper, then on devices, and lastly using a makey-makey kit, Lego and Scratch to create our own basic electric piano for the man-shed.

This thinkery was created by my 11yo (who has now sat his SATs). I simply formatted the text around the side of the tree.

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Kids don’t need SATs

Kids don't need SATs

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Have you ever heard anyone say “I’m no good at maths” ? Do you ever stop to wonder where they picked that up from? An exam? Or an adult’s opinion off the back of an test? We talk about maths as if it’s some sort of binary – either you’re good at it or you’re not. But that’s not the way the world works. Not with maths, art, basketball, or playing the ukulele. Practice, interest, seeing it, tiny advantages on top of advantages…

I’m supporting this campaign to boycott SATs tests in primary schools.

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Open Badges (P.S. there’s data inside…)

Open Badges seem so simple, don’t they?

But wait – don’t make assumptions – ask questions! They’ve got stuff inside. Data. Authenticated data.
But the big news? – you can take them with you because they’re built on an open standard. They can be connected together to form a learning pathway. The data structure inside the badge can even be extended for a particular purpose.

Curious? There’s loads more information (and pictures) here: OB101

Learning – to what end?

Learning - to what end?

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“Dad? What does this spell? F-L-A-P-P-E-R?”

My 5 year old is an engineer in the making. He has a book of how to make a whole array of paper planes. And so he starts his self-crafted apprenticeship.

“Dad? Can you help me with step 10?”
But this is the Expert Section.
“Can you just do it?”
Ok…

A few weeks later, our house is full of paper planes. He has started to teach other kids. Some of the designs, he has modified to fly better (well, why wouldn’t he?). I just try to help out and follow orders. I can see his reading improving. He reads to decode the steps. I’m certain his maths and spatial intelligence has too. He creates, and enjoys his creation.

This is productive learning. I wish I’d figured this out earlier…

Changing your world view

Changing your world view

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This looks all wrong, doesn’t it? The thing is, it’s not at all easy to change your current world view. In fact, we actively look for things that will confirm our existing world view. This, I now know, is called confirmation bias, which always reminds me of the Simon & Garfunkel line “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest, hmm hmm hmm…”. I find the world a much more complicated place to live in being open to different world views, for to be open to other ideas we must also be open to our position being a bit wrong too. Feelings of doubt, uncertainty, and not being clever enough…

However inconvenient, this humility surely forms an essential ingredient of learning?

Learning to Credential

Learning to credential

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It was my pleasure this week to give a talk at the Bett Show this week alongside Dr Doug Belshaw of Digital Literacies & Open Badges fame. One of Doug’s points was that in Education, we’d like to think that the starting point for learning is the learning itself. Not so. Due to the nature of the system, we start with the Credential and work backwards. Ah. This is further illustrated by this graphic, highlighting the massive difference between prescriptive and descriptive pathways.

This resonates with my wapisasa journey too. Having set out to chart our Rookies (young people) on a path to surefire digital greatness, we prescriptively created a bunch of badges. However, after 6 months we sat down with our first Rookies and reviewed what had been the most valuable learning – which became a very different set of descriptive badges…

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