… Learning is Personal – and so is Assessment!
The right tools at the right place for formative assessment with a touch of your finger tip
Providing students with formatively inspired, individually tailored teaching, support, guidance, and feedback requires a very detailed understanding and great insight into the strength and weaknesses of students, their achievements, their attitudes and the ongoing social interactions. It requires a careful monitoring of the changes and the progress over time – for each individual student. This is a remarkable challenge for a teacher.
nextTRACK supports classroom-learning in two ways: On the one hand it allows a device-independent and very simple tracking of all sorts of events, activities and competence developments. As an example, having a tablet computer on a desk, a teacher can track important events right on time with a simple touch of the finger tip. Using nextTRACK is so easy, that students can use it as well. By documenting their own activities they unburden the teacher and, maybe even more important, take control over their own learning process – with all related positive pedagogical benefits (motivation, self-esteem, etc.).
On the other hand, nextTRACK provides modular features to analyse, work up, and present the gathered information. For example, a teacher can overlook the learning performance of the entire class and can immediately identify competence gaps or critical break-ins. A teacher can also look into the social relationships in a classroom and identify social roles. The system also automatically generates very detailed reports which can be used to communicate achievements or problems to the students or parents.
An epical feature is the Heuristics Engine that allows analysing certain data sets coming from external tools in terms of competency development. These analyses are based on a set of more or less complex rules and heuristics.
The nextTRACK package includes the following components:
- LIP: A highly usable tool that allows teachers and students to produce in-depth documentation about activities and observations and links them automatically to predefined sets of competencies. LIP is designed to be used during class time – thus saves documentation time in the afternoon. LIP can transfer its data to myClass and via myClass to the OLM, thus all tools can be used in parallel.
- myClass: A handy, device independent classbook that allows recording, analyzing, presenting and comparing educationally relevant information about individual students and entire classes. It serves as an electronic classbook and allows an automatic generation of reports and report cards. myClass comes with an own configuration tool: myAuthoring.
- OLM:The open learner model allows in-depth data analysis. While LIP and myCLass are designed to be used during class time, the OLM is the tool for deeper reflection in the afternoon.
- Initial Configuration Tool:This tool allows to fill all three tools simultanously with the same data about groups, students, teachers and competencies.
nextTRACK comes either as “empty” system or with predefined sets of competencies and activities. There are various packages depending on age groups, curricula and competency standards.
Example 1: using LIP
Nika and Martina area teachers of two primary school classes in Vienna. Nika is presently leading a 1st and Martina a 3rd grade. They collaborate and jointly educate their 50 students who speak 13 different mother tongues. In order to address the very diverse skill-levels of the children they use a lot of “free learning” with Montessori materials. Both of them spend a lot of time observing, documenting and analyzing the individual learning of the different students.
NEXT-TELL’s package nextTRACK offers LIP, a tool that helps documenting and analyzing the learning process of each student. First a web- and tablet-based “app”, tailored for the use with tablet computers or smart phones helps collecting the data efficiently. It is so easy to use, that the students themselves can use it. Instead of a roll call at the end of each school day Nika and Martina are able to collect the data during class. This frees up 20 minutes of working time for each student each day! In addition the analysis comes in real time. Instead of transcribing the hand written data to a spreadsheet and running different analysis by hand all insights are now available instantly. This saves Nika and Martina a lot of time in the afternoon. Within the nextTRACK package, the collected data can also be projected to a skill model, which builds a belief about the individual’s progress. This helps Nika and Martina a lot for planning individual steps for their students and serves as orientation when discussing next steps and grades with students and parents.
Example 2: using myClass
Marco is a teacher at a junior high school where he teaches physics and geography. Marco’s school is not equipped with sophisticated technical devices but there is a computer in each classroom and a computer lab. For the geography class Marco is using software tools from time to time, e.g., to do tectonic simulations or educational games (e.g., the geography game Feon’s Quest developed in the European 80Days project). Most of the time, however, there is conventional classroom education, although occasionally Marco takes the students on excursions out in nature. Marco wishes he could gather and link the information coming from the software tools he is using and, more importantly, Marco would like to be able to realise activity tracking and note taking of learning progress events from both in the classroom and on excursions outside the school.
NEXT-TELL’s package nextTRACK offers a simple yet flexible online platform named myClass; the tool can be accessed by all sorts of devices but it is tailored for tablets and smartphones. When using the system in class, Marco has a tablet on the front desk. With a simple touch Marco can record events for his students such as “demonstrating great insight”, “did their homework well”, or perhaps, “student comes late” or, “disturbing the lesson”. At home, Marco is wrapping up the school day and correcting homework; he is using his laptop to access MyClass and he is taking notes and adjusting the learning process on competency level for each of his students. When on excursions, Marco is using his smart phone to continue the activity and competency tracking. At the end of the semester Marco receives complete aggregations of his recordings and visualizations about the learning progress of each of his students. With a single click, Marco can generate the report cards and circulate them to the students and parents.
Curriculum area and student age
nextTRACK offers a very general approach with no restrictions to a certain curriculum area and student age. There are several predefined sets of competencies available for nextTRACK.
nextTRACK shows its full benefit in “open learning environment”, where documentation is a big issue. Such open learning environments are more common in Primary schools – that’s why most of our pilot schools work in this age group.
Core competencies addressed
As mentioned above, nextTRACK is not restricted to a certain curriculum area or agegroup. However, using nextTRACK certainly has a big influence on several 21st century competencies, namely the student’s articulation and reflection of learning goals and learning strategies which leads to taking over responsibility for his/her own academic development.
People and roles
- Teachers: They collect information about activities, achievements and events and retrieve tailored analyses about their individual students or their entire class. Teachers can utilize the outcomes for their own planning and for communicating learning and teaching to students, parents and colleagues.
- Students: Students can document their activities themselves. Visualisations about activities and outcomes forster reflection and motivate students for their future learning as well as for taking ownership of their own learning process.
- Parents: By building on the evidence in form of a variety of recorded information teachers can communicate and negotiate achievements, assessments and appraisal.
nextTRACK supports the following activities:
- data collection
- data analysis in terms of statistics (who did what how often, with whom, etc.)
- data analysis in terms of competency development
myClass @ a glance:
LIP @ a glance:
OLM @ a glance:
For myClass: email@example.com
For OLM: firstname.lastname@example.org