A New Method of Assessment

Well, not quite new, but a new wrinkle on the old way to assess language skills. When I worked in the Second Language area of my former employer, they did assessments in an interview session where the interviewer could only ask and respond according to a script. I always thought that this could be automated and it was one of the items I was going to push forward this year before my contract was not renewed. Ah well, missed opportunities. It’s nice to see that Desire2Learn’s latest upgrade allows for recording right in the tool – finally. This is something second language learners have been looking for – having used other solutions like the clunky Can8 system – having an audio stream connect directly to the LMS is a great thing. Of course, assessing verbal skills is tricky, and certainly you wouldn’t want to do too much of this sort of assessment at a distance, but business courses could easily say record your 10-second elevator pitch, listen to it, improve it and submit the best version. All in that one assignment you have a reflective component that deepens the learning and builds a practical skill both things lacking in higher education. ┬áTo build it out further, you could add in a component of what makes a good elevator pitch prior to the assessment, perhaps a video of a good elevator pitch or a demonstration of you giving an elevator pitch.

For me this is a real advancement in LMS’s. We’re not relying on written skills (which have been in decline for the last few decades) as much as one used to because profs are bored with marking papers and students are bored with writing papers. Yes, papers still have a purpose in higher education. Look at the popularity of Michael Wesch, who largely has gained his academic fame from videos on YouTube (not to say that he’s not a highly respected anthropologist, he is the author of many of those papers!). Surely these are markers that education is changing – shouldn’t academics respond?

What I Learned This Week (Part 6)

Google DNS: This can be taken a couple of ways – if you believe the “Do No Harm” mantra of Google, then this is simply a way for you to take a personal control of the Domain Name System, and out of the hands of your ISP. This can be seen as a good thing, especially with ISPs under a lot of pressure to track users to get rid of file sharing.

On the other hand, it could be used for Google’s main money maker, demographic information. In fact, it seems that Google’s pretty transparent about this as they say in the blog post:

As people begin to use Google Public DNS, we plan to share what we learn with the broader web community and other DNS providers, to improve the browsing experience for Internet users globally.

That’s fine, but lets be frank. Once Google shares this information, how can they be sure that the recipient of the information will actually take this and act accordingly? Unless there’s a contract or some sort of binding terms of agreement, perhaps a Creative Commons one, it’s unlikely that a third party will not be tempted to use this data.

In a previous life I was an audio engineer. After discovering that poverty was in my future should I not work a billion hours a week listening to abominations… I went into web design and later teaching to some extent. Clearly, money is not a motivating factor for me. Anyways, this blog post by 10,000 Words brought me back to my previous life – 10 great interactive audio experiences.

To add to their list I would add Hobnox – a good Flash based tool to create anything from atmospheric beats to raging noise. I usually end up at the latter due to adding a chain of 800 distortions filtered through high and low passes. Good fun for a while, but you have to have a decent widescreen monitor to take full benefit of the interface.

I’ve also talked about Aviary Myna Audio Editor before and how it’s a fun, multitrack audio creator/editor in the vein of Garage Band.