Reply to Week 8 Summary Comment by James

James, you are right in stressing algorithms are not static but change as the focus of the inquiry changes. Perhaps I would have been more accurate by emphasizing that algorithms are not necessarily capable of initiating changes but only react to external changes as expressed by a change in search terms or other forms of original inquiry.

Response to James’ response to Week 9 Summary

“. . . even if all five of your high schools shared a curriculum and even the same assessment exercise, as long we ask students to ‘work digitally’ in the preparation of the work, the experience will be different.”

James, your sentiments on this are correct and I think reflect the ongoing battle educators have in standardized testing. We seek to established norms, or algorithms, that will indicate the level of proficiency students achieve in a certain content area, or as predictors of future success in university or a chosen vocational field. Where the real frustration lies is the unknown quantities and qualities of experience, motivation and innate drive. As our algorithms this past couple of weeks have shown, searches may be made “easier” when Google or Facebook as two examples, can predict what or who we are looking for, but the algorithms cannot predict, or perhaps even decipher, internal motivation to even begin the search and how the search may turn given the results, or lack of, received.

As with algorithms, standardized testing should be used with caution. It is good to have established learning objectives as we do in EDC17, for example. Those objectives however, are achieved not by everyone in class creating uniform essays or blogs or Tweets. As has been displayed over the course of the last few weeks, we each approach the ultimate objectives of the course in a different way, but do manage to end up in reletively the same place at the end. With testing, it is wise to have specific goals and standards that need to be met. What is not usually accounted for is the fact that learners, even with the ultimate objective goal in mind, will reach it by diverse paths, and some perhapds not at all. In my opinion there is no algorithm that can adequately, or even fairly, account for the subjective nature.