“Open Network” Tests
Feb 10, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I was talking with someone after my talk today about exactly this: as Jonathan Martin’s asked, "We know that content memorization must no longer [be] the goal of our learning programs; what our goal must be is that students can make the most sense of the voluminous and fast-accelerating quantity of information which will forever be at their fingertips, and about which they must be able to think critically, to select, to evaluate, to apply, and to amend as they tackle challenging problems. So why shouldn’t our school-tests evaluate our students ability to do exactly this?" Total: 208
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Re: "Open Network" Tests

Good question. The conventional wisdom is that this hypocrisy is a function of our inability to construct the assessments that we should. The damage done by this myopic assessment strategy is enormous because it operationally defines "education" and thereby narrows all discussion of it to content memorization. Operational definition: define a thing by the steps necessary to produce or detect it.

Since we've had Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives in the Cognitive Domain (and much derivative work) since 1955, this excuse has worn rather thin.

Evaluating Higher Order Thinking (HOTs) is difficult, time consuming and expensive. Is that a good excuse? Of course not but stating it this way is better, I think, because it doesn't obfuscate the issues. We know what to do and how to do it. What we lack are the resources and that translates to the will of the community.
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