Springing in to DI: Participatory Assessment

I knew where I wanted to start this morning when I returned to Digital Is:  Indiana University Learning Sciences and the research team’s two resources, “Join the Network!” and “Participatory Learning and Assessment Network (PLAnet).”  Quite honestly, as a new member of the IU System, it was initially the IU logo that drew me in, and I ended up exploring for a while.

I started with “Join the Network!” and then moved on to “Participatory Learning and Assessment Network (PLAnet),” and I came away thinking about two main elements.  Regarding “Join the Network!” I was most drawn to the participatory approach to formative and summative assessment.  “All participants in a particular setting are potential learners, including students, teachers, administrators, parents, designers, and researchers, and all have valuable insights to share.”  The conversation around assessment and the shared and organic approach to growing assessment according to need, conditions, and context are meaningful and workable within networks of expectation.  In “Participatory Learning and Assessment Network (PLAnet)”, I focused on the explanation of digital knowledge networks and the quotation from Henry Jenkins that “ ‘not every member must contribute, but all must believe they are free to contribute when ready and that what they contribute will be appropriately valued.’ ”  Participation is presented as both passive and active with knowledge-building, relevance and applicability, and confidence as central to the learning process and growth of the conversation.

Within “Join the Network!” the module “Learning the Art of Persuasion: From YouTube to Formal Debate” really shows the conversation in action.  The contributions to the activities illustrate how a conversation around activity creation and assessment can lead to both refinement and broadening of ideas when need, conditions, and context are considered.  This module, along with the others, walks the reader through a collaborative process of activity and assessment building.

Moving to “Literacy In Our Lives” provided the same immersion in the activity building, learning, and assessment process.  In this case, the process of development and the activity content both illustrate the power of the participatory model.  The final section of this resource, “Identities as Readers and Writers of Texts,” pushed me to explore the Related Link, “NWP Multimodal Assessment Project,” which in its focus on the assessment of multimodal texts enacts a participatory process that leads to a framework that invites more participation in its development and application.  The framework is compelling in terms of both its structure and flexibility, and the final questions posed by the resource seem to be an invitation to, in fact, “Join the Network!” in terms of participatory development:  “We welcome you to join the discussion.  How would you use our framework to discuss the development of a multimodal project?  Are there elements that need to be added?  Where does performance fit within our framework?”

Striking to me is that there isn’t any conversation about this in the form of comments about the resource.  And, when I return to my initial reasons for blogging about daily engagement with Digital Is, I recognize that these questions, these invitations to participate, are one of the ways that when pressed for time, I can simply “dip in” to Digital Is and participate in the conversation.