Monday, September 07, 2009

2Assess from 2Simple first look update


 

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Can we always say we know what our children can do in ICT? Probably not reliably and certainly not quickly. Assessment of Primary ICT has always been a headache and due to the lack of compulsory reporting or an ICT SAT test, levelling and reporting are often patchy and haphazard. At worst this amounts to nothing more than posting or pasting levels on a tracker spreadsheet, or ticking skills boxes.

There must be another way…

In the holidays I was lucky enough to have a look at the Beta for 2Assess, the new product from 2Simple. This suite of activities allows the teacher to set children tasks such as draw me a square using Logo, plot a graph for a given purpose, or create an effective spreadsheet formula for a menu or a party. Children then receive a score based on how they did, taking into account issues such as how efficient their sequence of instructions were and the time taken.

What struck me is that these activities are set in a very real context,so children work on a real database and real spreadsheets. And because they use ICT not a written test the activities are seen by children as being like games, they don’t feel like they are being assessed.

I knew one well-intentioned teacher who used to set the children a series of typed up questions following an ICT topic, they’d need to wait a while for the teacher to mark these and then she’d use a crude mark scheme to give a grade. With 2Assess, pupils and teachers would not have to wait or spend time marking they could instantly see how well the class had grasped an ICT skill and if this is coupled this with AB Tutor, Ranger, Net Opps,or some other screen sharing software, then one can bring all of the work up on screen and immediately have a discussion around what the class now know and what they need to know next.

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Other tasks include responding to a series of emails,here children have to give the correct response in order to demonstrate an awareness of Esafety. The product boasts over 100 activities and they are not dependent on you having all of the 2Simple titles as the tasks measure generic skills that could be applied in a range of apps, regardless of supplier.

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As a teacher I can award certificates for children based on their progress and I can see at a a glance how well my children tackled the task set. But I need to stress that at no point are children awarded a level. I think this is very positive and I can see the intention of the team that developed the software was to see 2Assess as part of the assessment process, but not the whole answer, teachers need to be fully involved in the process and not see 2Assess as the one stop shop for their ICT assessment. That said there is a lot here to assist teachers in assessing, and I keep coming across new features. Look for example at the feedback in the image below:

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Above you can see one of the feedback features which allows you to generate a print out like the one above. allowing you to follow up the judgements with your own comments and those from the children. I think I’d keep a file of these to assist me in using APP or to just inform my planning week to week.

 

 

A further thought on levelling is to say that at a time when we are experiencing curriculum review, it would be unhelpful to number crunch the results into a crude level, as this could change in the coming months anyway.

To me the application would be a very valuable part of a Primary ICT toolkit, but it would sit next to my APP document or level descriptors and would operate alongside teacher questioning and pupil interviews, in order for me to build up a full picture and level.

For example, if we look at AF1 Planning, developing and evaluating:

Across a range of contexts pupils:

    · Plan how they will use ICT to solve a problem

    · Comment on success of their solution

    · Refine and develop information using ICT tools and techniques to make changes

    · Describe how they use ICT at school and how it is used outside school

Though 2Assess will help with analysing skills here, it should be clear that there is an implication that children need the opportunity to talk about their work and how they might have initially planned and then improved it.

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I am quite excited about using 2Assess at the beginning or conclusion of a lesson as a sort of electronic formative assessment. With it, I can find out whether my children can for example remember how to query a Database, it goes without saying that good teachers will then use the evidence from the assessments to address misconceptions and plug the gaps in children's knowledge and ICT skills set, rather than ploughing through the next lesson.

I think we now have a very useful and exciting tool to assist us in Primary ICT assessment.

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Here is what 2 Simple say about 2 Assess

Do you find it challenging, demanding or time-consuming to keep track of your pupils’ ICT skills?

Ofsted has highlighted in the recent ‘Importance of ICT’ report that ICT assessment is commonly weak and requires improvement. We’ve created something to help you.

2Assess presents a time-saving and consistent way to help you assess ICT skills across your school. It is a formative assessment tool with 100 real activities to support discrete and cross-curricular ICT. All tasks are delivered within highly visual, contextual based scenarios and pupils are guided by short video instructions facilitating independent use.

Instant feedback on activities helps teachers and pupils identify strengths and areas for development. View summaries of class results and exported spreadsheets, while pupils celebrate their achievements with certificates.

· Provides base line testing results for whole class and individual tracking.

· Supports the requirements of Element 4 of the Self Review Framework, by promoting regular assessment, the use of ICT to track progress and opportunities for self-assessment.

· Enables teachers to identify where children may need further support or more challenges and differentiate planning accordingly.

To watch a short overview video, please visit www.2simple.com/2assess/video  not live yet

Site licence -

Primary Schools: £249

Secondary Schools: £299

Primary School introductory site licence price- £199 if purchased before 15th October 2009.

Available on 30 day approval.

6 comments:

John Sutton said...

Crucial questions:

1: Is each activity mapped to a National Curriculum objective?

2: Does it only measure performance as a %?

3: Is there an overall map of activities to the NC?

Anthony Evans said...

Hiya John as far as I know the activities are mapped to QCA but this is purely an organisational framework and doesn't mean the software is dated/ rooted in QCA.

No it does not only measure as a % - it provides a visual line of progress and a comment on performance based on efficency and time taken.

Not that I can see as yet

Anjum Cleveland Junior said...

Anthony, do you think along with the app we'll be trialing, this would be a useful addition?

Also ease of use wise, it does look intuitive but would my most technophobic colleagues find it easy to use?

thanks
anjum

Anthony Evans said...

Hiya Anjum and others - haveing looked ' it with North East London Consultants - I believe it is intuitive and realtivly easy for the non-techy -. It sits alongside APP but is not a replacement for it - remember this just looks at skills.
I could let you demo a beta if you like

Dughall McCormick said...

This does look quite good, Anthony, and, although we have a copy, I haven't had a chance to look at it properly yet (so I appreciate your blog overview).

My reservations are about it mapping to (an outdated) QCA. Although you reassure us about this being an organisational framework, my fear is that it might help to keep some schools entrenched in their habit of slavishly following QCA.

I fully endorse your recommendation that it should be one tool, amongst others, that can be used as part of an overall assessment programme.

Let us hope that there aren't any schools that would see this as an out-of-the-box, quick fix answer and use it simply as a box-ticking exercise.

As with so many things in Educational ICT - Great potential if used effectively.

John Sutton said...

Seems really bonkers that it's ben mapped to QCA. Anyone involved with ICT knows how out of date that scheme of work is. Would have been much more helpful if mapped to the NC. I await my copy with interest.