DISPLAYING ITEMS BY TAG: ASSESSMENT

Innovate My School kindly invited me to ruminate on the theme of "edtech that schools might want to know about in 20/1819". Given that the Department for Education recently announced five areas where they think technology has the ability to create real positive change within the educational system, this seems like a useful starting point. With the usual caveats around implementation, training, and contextualised procurement, here are my suggestions:

Assessment

The DfE states: "Technology has the potential to make assessment far more effective and efficient – while reducing the time teachers spend on marking."

The Edtech Podcast view: If you’re looking for assessment tools, make sure they do more than multiple choice questions, but less than a NASA control centre. The idea is that tools give a clear picture of ‘progress’, so that you can step in with your specialist knowledge of a student’s particular circumstances to support. Many assessment tools now use algorithms to ‘personalise’ learning for a particular student: see CENTURY, Third Space Learning, Watson Education. Assessment focused on identifying personal effort in group work is also surfacing as the demand for collaborative skills intensifies: see Cambridge Assessment and, more generally, Classroom Monitor, GL Assessment, Earwig Academic Timelines, Unio by Harness, Pobble (for Literacy) and HegartyMaths (for Maths) are just a few to review.

Teacher CPD

The DfE states: "We know that for many teachers, individualised training opportunities away from school can be hard won, but there are now more options to take up online training, which can be more flexible and more cost effective."

The Edtech Podcast view: We think this is a massive WIN area, offering continual support and learning for teachers and leaders in a fast-moving world. There are multiple tools and services out there (outside of Twitter, podcasts, Facebook groups, Medium blogs and YouTube channels). Check out the likes of TeacherTapp, Makematic, Spongy Elephant, The Chartered College of Teaching, TeachPitch, HES, BlueSky Education, Onvu Learning and many more.

Administration and saving teachers time

The DfE states: "Innovative new technology can reduce the administrative burden on teachers – saving time and money. Already, moving from server-based systems to the cloud has saved a number of schools thousands of pounds and hours of time.”

The Edtech Podcast view: We have visited schools where the focus on saving teachers time has allowed a laser focus on student support. This is usually driven from leadership with teachers and follows Dom Norrish’s ‘Implementation Effect’ (how the tool is implemented is far more important that the quality of the tool). Where this heavy lifting is done effectively, it allows for huge efficiencies to be made and for teachers to be spending their time. Services range from entire cloud-based VLEs, to niche products around school timetabling or communications. Check out the likes of Microsoft, Google, GroupCall, Wonde, Firefly, Show My Homework, Edval Timetables, and Airhead to get started.

Inclusion

The DfE states: "Technology can help access and inclusion for children with different backgrounds and abilities. This can be especially powerful in supporting students to learn alongside other children irrespective of their needs."

The Edtech Podcast view: The potential for technology to assist learners previously held back by more traditional learning is great. On the show, we have talked about how voice technology might enhance the learning opportunities for those with Dyslexia, and Microsoft has brought out some great tools and enhancements in this area. Many of the “famous” YouTube channels - like HegartyMaths, Khan Academy, and MisterWooTube - started as a way to allow students who were unwell to be able to keep up with their peers whilst in the hospital or in the home. Where class sizes or societal status are an obstacle to learning, personalised technologies allow students to progress. See Microsoft OneNote, Lyfta, Connect Design, Dolphin Assistive Technology, British Dyslexia Association resources, Mrs Wordsmith, Mister WooTube, Edovo, Digiexams, Xprize, One Billion.

Adult education

The DfE states: "In an increasingly automated world, jobs are changing fast. Many adults want to learn new skills, but have responsibilities that make returning to a classroom or lecture hall difficult. That is why, as part of our National Retraining scheme, we will be offering online adult learning courses, including in digital skills."

The Edtech Podcast view: This is an area which is truly exploding, as we see the likes of WeWork ride on the back of a huge freelancer economy and become new global mega-brands - seemingly overnight. These freelancers are well aware that lifelong learning isn’t just a nice-to-have, but a necessity for continued employment. Juggling multiple roles, “gigs” and caring roles, these adult learners are embracing flexible learning opportunities. See FlatIron, WhiteHat, FutureLearn, General Assembly, Facebook with Freeformers, DigitalMe, Pluralsight, Lynda.com, Hub42, HowNow and many more. Knowing and understanding this world is a good starting place for preparing young people as they start to consider what to do after school.

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Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a way to accelerate student progress in Maths, while also ensuring that they have fun along the way? Well, with Maths-Whizz, the multi-award winning online Maths tutor from Whizz Education, both of these seemingly contradictory objectives are entirely possible.

Not only has the Maths-Whizz Tutor been proven to accelerate student attainment in Maths*, but the verdict from students is that it also makes the subject fun. But how does Maths-Whizz achieve this? The process can be broken down into four easy steps.

1. Assessment

As soon as your students log into Maths-Whizz, they will take a pressure-free assessment which pinpoints their individual strengths and weaknesses across the curriculum. The tutor will then automatically set each student engaging tailor-made lessons and fun games, which aim to close the specific gaps in their core knowledge that have been identified in the assessment.

2. Adaption

As your students learn, the Tutor adapts its lessons and games, ensuring that they receive appropriate content at the exact moment it's needed. Factors used to determine the appropriateness of the content provided include: the student's answers to previous questions, the time taken to answer questions, and the level of encouragement provided by the Tutor before an answer is submitted.

3. Support

Just like a human tutor, the Maths-Whizz Tutor supports your students’ learning by providing confidence-boosting prompts and scaffolded support. Additionally, if the Tutor feels a student is struggling, it will take them back to foundational material.

4. Reinforcement

To ensure a student has mastered a topic, they must pass a short interactive test. Once they have passed this test, Maths-Whizz will move them on to more challenging content. If a student does not pass the test, the Tutor will continue to build on their foundations until they are ready to progress.

What’s more, we’re so confident that the Maths-Whizz Tutor will accelerate your students’ learning that we back it up with a Money Back Guarantee. T&Cs apply.

To find out more about how the Maths-Whizz Tutor can help accelerate student attainment at your school, visit www.whizz.com and book a free consultation, or call us on +44 (0)203 328 6564.

*Research by Whizz Education - conducted with over 12,000 students and verified by independent experts - found that students who used Maths-Whizz for 45-60 minutes a week increase their Maths Age, on average, by 18 months in the first year of use.

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Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement.” - William Grosvenor Pollard (1911 - 1989), physicist / priest

I recently received an invitation to chair the Westminster Insight forum in London on the assessment reform in our Primary schools. At first, I felt a little unsure; the word ‘baseline’ was being muttered on everyone’s lips in the staffroom, and I wondered if this could end up being a rather fiery forum to have to control. I realised, however, that the main reason so many teachers and parents - as well as fellow lecturers in the Teacher Education Department - seem so concerned about the new baseline testing for Reception is that there is still much ambiguity about how the testing will be done.

“What can educators do to personalise assessments?” We posed this question to five of the UK’s leading edu-suppliers. Here are their thoughts....

One of the defining characteristics of successful schools is how they deliver assessment. How effective a school is at assessment goes a long way to determining how they are perceived by parents and other stakeholders. Assessment is mission-critical in the constant drive for “school improvement”, a buzz-phrase has now become a key strategy outcome for school leaders.

Reading is incredibly important in supporting students’ overall growth. It’s a predictor of success in further education and life, with achievement in Mathematics and reading significantly associated with academic motivation and quality of life. So it is understandable that education policy largely focuses on developing strong readers at an early age. With that focus comes assessment requirements that can be confusing to parents and exhausting to educators. How do we communicate the value of assessments and the importance of data they return?

I bet children will be cursing every day this month, if only about having to take exams and needing to revise for them. Exams are often seen as a necessary evil to be able to assess what children have learned throughout the year. However, exams imply marking, and for time-poor teachers of big classes, it can quickly become a nightmare. So what to do?

If you are reading this, you are no doubt privy to the expectations heaped on teachers and school leaders about the importance of feedback in driving student success. If you hear the word “feedback”, and are haunted by images of lengthy, scribed comments that go ignored, much to your distress (how many hours of your life that you won’t get back?) and to the student’s peril, you are not alone.

With levels now a thing of the past, more and more schools are investigating standardised testing as a way of ensuring accurate and consistent assessment. Here, we explore the range of benefits that such tests provide.

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