Would Captain Kirk Ever Use A Rubric? I Think Not!

Just when I thought I was done, they pull me back in. To the LEC Admin Boot Camp course that is. But that’s the wrong movie reference. More on that later. After having received an email titled Final Grade Update with all 3’s (the highest possible score) for my portfolio assignments, I was dutifully informed today that my final reflection did not actually meet the requirements of the assignment. Something about rubrics and missing standards. In response I posted this follow up reflection to my portfolio:

Despite receiving a passing grade on the final assignment, apparently I did not fully comply with the 7.2 reflection instructions because I did not reference each and every NETS-A Standard in relation to my readiness to support digital learning. This has left some people in a quandary as to how to pass my portfolio when it does not fully comply to the three metrics on the rubric. I would argue this is the problem with Rubrics when used to evaluate anything. Once a rubric enters the picture, people know how far they need to go and they stop trying. I guess I’m with Alfie Khon on this one. Actually I’m probably beyond even his position, since there is actually no learning value proposition for me in completing the assignment per the rubric.

But enough about rubrics, even though I’m pretty sure I did actually provide an honest reflection that had value to me versus simpy making up some association of feigned learning mapped to a set of technology standards that for the majority of school administrators is esoteric at best and a series of potential budget line items they can’t afford at worst (was the whole point of this module to change that perhaps?).

There are 5 NETS-A big standards with 21 little sub standards. You can read all about them here. There is some interesting information. Like how the latest revision was published in 2009. You know, 2 years after I started using twitter, implementing Google Apps with students and began bringing teachers together across subjects to talk about teaching in a 1:1 netbook environment. Through this course I did not learn anything ground breaking or even slightly eye-opening that would compel me to list all 26 standards and how they relate to me. If you read my real reflection I explain why this is not a negative reflection on the course but rather on me as a learner and the purpose for taking the course in the first place. I’m not taking it to learn the content, I’m taking it to become certified to teach the course. Even teachers aren’t made to sit through a year of Intro To Science before they can teach the class. I’m not sure why we were made to do basically the same thing for this leading edge course.

Turning a critical eye on the standards and this course for a moment, I would say the course failed standards 2c. These learning resources did not meet my diverse needs.

2. Digital Age Learning Culture

c. Provide learner-centered environments equipped
with technology and learning resources to meet
the individual, diverse needs of all learners

Maybe this is why I am not a big standards fan*, because you can’t standardize creativity. Unfortunately the NETS-A standards don’t address this critical element directly and yet it is creativity we need more than anything in our schools. Technology has the power to enable students and teachers to create in ways never before seen in the classroom. We can now create for near zero cost, at scale. We are all the next Spielberg. Prior to this course I had been actively engaged in support of all of the big and little standards (with the exception of 4b as it deals with data, see my reflection on Data Driven Decision Making for why) and I intend to continue to be actively engaged after this course but not because I will tailor my actions to the standards but rather because my actions and beliefs can be found in the standards.

I was also supposed to reference the “Essential Conditions: Necessary conditions to effectively leverage technology for learning“. While I would agree that organizations should have all of these conditions to successfully leverage technology for learning, we have to start somewhere and for many that means being able to provide equatable access to modern technology for teachers and administrators. Without this basic system in place I think it is difficult to promote technology integrated learning, develop a shared vision for technology integration, empower leaders, provide technical support, retain skilled personel or provide professional development. So give every teacher and administrator a MacBook (and I say MacBook for a very specific reason) and see what happens. I’m thinking a lot of the other conditions sort themselves out. Asking the community to fund technology is scapegoating the real issue, districts need to step up and recognize that technology is an essential element to the 21st Century classroom and stop asking teachers to teach on twelve year old computers running 10 year old operating systems.

*Reference Yong Zhao if you want to know why pursuing stricter math standards might be counter productive and Sir Ken Robinson’s wonderful RSA Animate talk about where we should be heading so our kids have the best possible futures.

Could I have just beamed down to the planet in my red shirt and assessed my readiness to support digital age learning in relation to each of  the standards as the assignment and rubric demanded? Sure. Would there have been any point to me doing so? Not really. It’s the no win scenario students face all the time. Complete an assignment that holds no learning value or turn something in that is good enough to pass the rubric test but doesn’t have any personal value. I never saw Captain Kirk use a rubric to save a planet. In fact when faced with the no-win scenario he chose to re-write the assignment so that he could win rather than worry about the rubric or a set of standards he was supposed to meet. He mastered the scenario by thinking outside the box. The rest of the red shirted cadets accepted their fate, learned the lesson they were told they needed to learn and beamed down to the planet to die. I think that just about sums up the problem with education today. We have a system that produces red shirts instead of Captain Kirks.

My LEC Admin portfolio in it’s entirety can be found here.