Are You Listening to Students?
As we finish up the "Year of Education Online Work" (aka YEOW!), it's normal to reflect on what has had the biggest impact on student success, and what has not. On the positive side, the mobilization of institutions to provide access to teaching and learning has been phenomenal. Those who are worn out by the Zoom sessions and glitchy technology, still manage to find a way to be creative, experimental, and connected to students. Many are re-thinking the value of hybrid and online delivery from a positive mindset, not a deficit one—they are listening to their students with openness and making adjustments as the semester progresses.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are missed opportunities that abound in distance education, and authentic assessment is one of them. If faculty are the engine on a train and instruction is the cargo, assessment is the caboose. The caboose is coupled at the end of a freight train, intended to keep a lookout for load shifting, damage to equipment and cargo, and smoke. This blog post seeks to debunk the need for ed tech's caboose: surveillance technology. Faculty, keep writing your exams! Assessment should be classified as cargo (more learning is taking place), and not a lookout post that broadcasts to students, "I don't trust you!"
I've been in higher ed long enough to know, some will never be convinced ed tech software is designed to bust students and is not equitable. "Those who are not persuaded by the ethical and empathetic position should know that proctoring software fails miserably when checked against the science of learning too. Students have to deal with the extra cognitive burden of thinking about questions like 'Are my eyes looking in the right place?' 'I didn’t move my head too much, did I?' 'I’m not cheating but will the instructor think I am?' 'I opened another app because my kid's teacher just pinged me.' etc."
I highly encourage you to read, Refusal, Partnership, and Countering Educational Technology’s Harm by Charles Logan, and the New York Times article, Keeping Online Testing Honest? Or an Orwellian Overreach?
In April 2020, UC Berkeley provided instructors clear guidance on assessments in a COVID-era. Below are recommendations from this document, applicable to all segments of higher ed.
Cabrillo's installation of Proctorio is going away in December. What remains available to faculty is Turnitin's SimCheck (a similarity checker), and Respondus LockDown Browser (no live proctoring). We can continue to influence our institutions and define how we keep teaching in an equitable manner. We can also eschew using these tools that pit our students as adversaries, and support each other in using authentic assessment techniques and open education resources. See OER and Online Learning Faculty Quick Start Guide.