Oct 29, 2012

The ECOO Experience #ecoo12

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of presenting my thoughts and ideas at the ECOO Conference 2012. My presentation was geared around my assessment and evaluation methods and madness.

I was proud to speak in front of such an intelligent, engaged audience who asked so many great questions and provided some varied perspectives. I have embedded below the slides from my presentation.


The conference moved this year from one where the tool was the principal focus to the pedagogical shift taking shape in education. Obviously, I like this move. I think too often we spend time worrying about the what and how of teaching, and too little time is spent wrestling with the why. This conference enabled that wrestling.

However, it also enabled something else for me, it forced me to focus my thinking around assessment, which ironically I spoke about. I realized, with more clarity than I had before, that assessment is right now the linchpin to the shift in education.

John Seely Brown, Michael Fullan, and even Nora Young, all addressed the shift in instruction, but none of them offered the insight into the shift in assessment and I fear that is underlooked.

Frankly, assessment and evaluation may be the structure of the system that slows down change the most.

I see it as there are two main cogs in education, instruction and assessment, and while instruction is slowly coming to life, assessment is still in a state of disrepair. It’s rusted over and will take some serious elbow grease to get it moving again.

And we can’t disregard it.

We’ve made cosmetic changes to evaluation, however, at the end of the day will universities and colleges accept our students if they haven’t jumped through the hoops of GPAs and averages. What then becomes of the innovation, creative problem solving, and imagination?

The ECOO experience has focused in my interest in assessment and evaluation, it has left me with more questions than answers and has enabled me to connect with other educators asking those same questions. I can’t wait to see where this takes me.


It’s Not About the Number


  • Hi Scott;
    Your presentation on Thursday at ECOO2012 was great! I appreciated seeing someone pushing the boundaries and willing to get/address some push back as well. It was very thought provoking and I will be thinking about and sharing this quite a bit.
    I agree that assessment is key in the shift of education reform and that it is often overlooked. As well, it is going to be one of the hardest thing to change partially because grades are the aspect that have the most (perceived) meaning for those outside our buildings (Universities, colleges, employment). It is going to take a lot of “elbow grease to get it moving again” and a lot of talking/convincing to get people to agree it needs to get moving.
    I do question your general thoughts on the conference though, and I’ve been thinking a fair bit about that as well (not just because of what I’ve interpreted here). I heard of number of people talking about the shift in focus of the conference. My question is whether the shift is in the conference itself, or in the attendees’ readiness for a different perspective. Most of the people I heard talking about a different focus were people who I believe have been attending for 3-5 years. I didn’t hear this from the people who have been attending longer than that, and from the ‘newbies’ there was still a lot of talk about the new tools they saw and how were they going to ever get around to incorporating them into their classes. In looking at the schedule, there seemed to be a wide variety of sessions from how to/why to use tech in class to discussions about the effects of tech in teaching/critical thinking to conversations going beyond the use of tech at all. I wonder if there is a predictable pattern in the growth of attendees. I think the first couple years people are excited by the great tools and potential those tools have in changing students’ experiences and they are inspired by the people around them because they are used to being the ‘out there’ ones on staff; after that there is a movement away from the tools and more about the deeper questions around pedagogy, learning – and now assessment; then there is a swing back to something in the middle, where people want to know about or see the newer tools in action, but also want to balance that with more theoretical discussions.
    It is the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario. I believe the attendees are the people on staff who are more willing to try new things and think about things in a different way. But maybe we need to be careful not to expect it to be a catch all for all the reforms/revolutions we need to pursue in education. I am glad though that it provides a place to have some branching off and start some conversations that need to take place. But I think they need to take place in other venues as well; Edcamps and board rooms.
    Back to your post… I too, can’t wait to see where this train of thought on assessment takes you. I am interested in following, please continue to share it. I have some people on staff who I think are close to this way of thinking, I will be sharing your chart (from lanyard) and your slideshow with them as well.
    Keep up the good fight!

    • Lisa,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate the support and am happy that my questions around assessment have triggered more questions and help continue the pursuit to some mediated place where the evaluation of a student is not the purpose of public education.
      To address your comments around the conference as a whole, they are quite insightful. I may be too myopic in what I believe the conference should be. The major worry I have is that we distract ourselves with the tools and too often implement technology in ways that don’t positively impact learning. I agree that maybe I’m looking at ECOO to do too much of the heavy lifting, but I believe that much of the change in educational practice and learning is because of the technological change, that’s why I think it fits. But I do take your comments in saying, these conversations need to happen everywhere in education.
      Thanks so much for reading and I hope to keep these conversations and connections going.

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