Week 12 Reflection and humour

I decided I would like to try Glogster out and do something with some humour and images and less words after squeezing everything before I leave for Uganda on Sunday. Hope it gives you a chuckle.

Here is a link to my poster on Glogster.

In case that does not work, K.Gluck Glogster Reflection as a .pdf

I think perhaps Glogster is not a tool my students would use given they are very savvy with a program called InDesign for layouts. I found the text tool very limiting and fussy and for this light-hearted look at my learning journey in this course it was fine, however, something with more substance is better suited to mindmapping tools I believe. However, of course I did use the free trial version and did see other layouts with more space for writing.

Looking back does of course help us look forward and I know I need to find more time to get in the conversations. I also am not sure why my comments in the thread are still sitting awaiting moderation – I must not be doing something correctly.

Best wishes for these last pieces of the pie everyone, and of course best wishes for the holidays and new year. I appreciate all of the collegial feedback from our cohort.


5111 Assignment 4 : Assessment Strategies

For the Unit Plan and Lesson Planning Assignments for both this course and EDDL 5101, initially I created simple rubrics with the project criterion and asked students to refer to the detailed grading scale. After more consideration and working through the weekly activities of EDDL 5111 weeks 9-11, I have revisited this and also explored the Web 2.0 tool iRubric.

I redesigned the three rubrics for my lessons there and have updated my Weebly site once more to revise the link to the previous .pdf files to the new online rubrics. And as always, as I complete this reflection piece, I can still see room for improvement in terms of clearly showing an area for self-evaluation rather than simply suggest students use the rubric for self-evaluation. However, I also see my departure for Uganda in a day and a half and no preparations done for the year end reflections I look forward to participating in with my teaching team there!

Here are links to the rubrics to save you navigating through my Weebly site:

Rubric for the Project Illustrated Guide to Section 3.8 of the Building Code

Rubric for Design Audit of a Barrier-Free Environment

Rubric for Unit 3 Design Scenario

Our students, faculty and advisory committee worked together under the guidance of myself and another lead instructor to create a master grading scale which suits all courses in our curriculum. This is published and revisited annually as part of the student manual. I ask the teaching team to integrate it into all of our rubrics and sometimes that happens! Here is Grading Scale guidelines I am referring to. I am looking to make the tabulation of that more succinct – I can see the challenge in converting it to the iRubric format for calculations because it was designed in a way that facilitated some flexibility in the range of score unlike the field value of the iRubric templates.

I think that the Unit Plan rubrics are each summative in their feedback intentions, however, they are formative in the way they reinforce development and layering application of knowledge at higher levels culminating in a final product. The successful projects strength’s will clearly link to Bloom’s higher level thinking elements as I tried to include in the criteria headings.

Specifically, the final project of my learning unit measures application of the principles and knowledge constructed through learning materials and activities that progressed from basic to more complex challenges as the course and units led the students path.

The three rubrics I created each draw mostly from the guiding principles of functional context as these assignments are all designed to provide components of a toolbox for students’ use in their academic and professional careers. This is also suggested by McIntyre in his case study examining online assessment of studio teaching when he suggests ‘designing an engaging, contextualized and inclusive curriculum’.

The presence of any rubric at the onset of a lesson, unit or course supports the androgogical practice of learner self-evaluation.

Sadler, cited by Nicols and MacFarlane-Dick (2006) states three points which support the grading scale in andragogy:

1. what good performance is (i.e. the student must possess a concept of the goal or

standard being aimed for);

2. how current performance relates to good performance (for this, the student must

be able to compare current and good performance);

3. how to act to close the gap between current and good performance.(p. 204)

According to Nicols and MacFarlane-Dick (2006) students must also understand how to evaluate themselves. Many students, especially in visual arts, request copies of previous projects and completed rubrics to gauge their work against. I am not convinced this is good practice as the creative approach should leave room for individual approaches and sometimes less confident learners feel diminished when they look at their progress against that of a student whose work is typically catalogued as a ‘good’ example. Instead, I wish to continue expanding the use of reflective practice and self/peer evaluation in my assessments.

I considered and drew from these principles from D. J. Nicol and D. Macfarlane-Dick (2006) in redevelopment of my rubrics for the unit plan:

Good feedback practice:

1. helps clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, expected standards);

2. facilitates the development of self-assessment (reflection) in learning;

3. delivers high quality information to students about their learning;

4. encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning;

5. encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem;

6. provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance;

7. provides information to teachers that can be used to help shape teaching. (p. 205)

Prior to completing the research study  Assessing Creativity: Strategies and Tools to Support Teaching and Learning in Architecture and Design, funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC), the authors published some foundation considerations which also support the notion of process work equal in evaluation to final product especially if trying to assess creativity. (Williams, A., Ostwald, M., & Askland, H., 2008). Specifically they emphasized; ‘. . . when teaching and assessing design creativity, it is necessary to consider, not only the final product, but equally the creative process leading up to it’.

Process work has become integral to the summative assessment which supports accreditation of our design program. In fact, without documentation of how students developed an end-product, we are seen not to meet the curriculum standards. This actually becomes a strong basis for developing more aligned evaluative tools. Our accreditation standards do reflect the profession’s body of knowledge and seeing that clearly helps learner’s situate knowledge reflecting Functional Context learning theory.

Lastly, I wanted to consider that there is a conflicting element in this unit plan/course with regards to authentic assessment practices that requires further consideration. Specifically, the final examination which would come last in the course (I laid out unit three of five) is modeled after the professional examinations which interior designers must take to be legally able to apply for a building permit on behalf of a client. Those exams, while somewhat applied in nature, ultimately are a lengthy set of multiple choice Scantron answer sheets. I feel quite confident that I am working to create assessment tools and project guidelines which, ‘. . . provide multiple paths to demonstration of learning in comparison to traditional assessments like answering multiple-choice questions that lack variability, owing to students’ ability to demonstrate knowledge and skills they possess. Authentic tasks tend to provide more freedom to demonstrate their competencies.’ (Pellegrino et al. (2001), as cited by Fook and Sidhu (2010)). However, it is also important students have this opportunity to tackle a practice examination. I think that the benefit of this learning opportunity outweighs the less-favoured traditional examination scenario.


Chan, Y.F., & Sidhu, G.K. (2010). Authentic Assessment and Pedagogical Strategies in Higher Education, Journal of Social Sciences 6 (2): 153-161, 2010, retrieved from: http://thescipub.com/pdf/10.3844/jssp.2010.153.161

Nicol, D.J., MacFarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, 31:2, 199-218, DOI: 10.1080/03075070600572090

Williams, A., Ostwald, M., & Askland, H.H. (2010). Assessing Creativity in the Context of Architectural Design Education, retrieved from http://www.drs2010.umontreal.ca/data/PDF/129.pdf

Week 11 Assessment evolving

The content for the link provided on our Week 11 Resources (http://pre2005.flexiblelearning.net.au/guides/assessment.pdf) for post-secondary assessment was archived and I could not trace it to where the website suggested I might chase it down. This gave me a chance to instead comment on another article I had tucked away.

Since the start of my TRU courses in the spring of this year, I have been working to collect any literature which describes or even mentions online practices in the areas of art and design, specifically at a post-secondary level. There is relatively little online teaching in this area, and as one article cites, this is most likely due to the visual nature of the subject. Specifically, online assessment practices seem even more scarce. University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts formed an academic unit in 2003 to train academic staff and industry professionals to write online courses related to art and design, specifically identifying pedagogical practices to suit. I am in serious pursuit of this course. I have acquaintances in Australia from studying interior architecture there and I really feel they are advanced in this area compared to North American schools – that is, in design education specifically.

A case study published by a participant of this UNSW academic unit lists the following guidelines on learning that inform teaching:

1. engaging students in learning

2. contextualizing students’ learning experiences

3. designing an engaging, contextualized and inclusive curriculum.

4. teaching an engaging, contextualized and inclusive curriculum.

Sourced from: Case Study via www.cofa.unsw.edu.au/online author Simon McIntyre

Well, I like the sounds of that, as the above key points resonate with the learning theories I feel I am most influenced and inspired by: Andragogy, Functional Context and Experiential Learning.

Reflecting on my own teaching and assessment practices over the years, the most significant change is of course empowering students in these processes. Studio critiques have a long standing tradition of being harsh and critical – a bit too much like judgement day with far too much stress related to the delivering of ‘the goods’ and then the student designer standing ‘defending’ their work. Yes, there is a value to an external voice from the industry who is seeing the final product as if it were being presented to a client, however, I prefer evidence-based design solutions which place equal if not more emphasis on process.

The one design degree in my region teaching entirely online is using a software called WebCampus. Doing a simple search, it seems this is an LMS much like Blackboard. However, it would appear they rely on scanning and photographing work which is then critiqued by the faculty. Rubrics are utilized as we currently do in f2f settings. I still hope to find something more synchronous than that. It would seem that a video call is the way this is done in order to facilitate a real-time dialogue as we would have in the studio. The scale of drawings then becomes a challenge. I hope to explore this more in the future. It is a concern to me that the time involved in the scanning etc will add to the return time and with process work / formative assessment it is critical to respond quite rapidly before my students are so far along they decide they do not have time to make changes.

Referring back to the COFA article, their approach is based on Bigg’s model of Constructive Alignment – ‘that means all course elements including assessment tasks for each course must be mapped out in a timeline or course structure diagram (and visual learners love diagrams!) that shows the relationship of each task to the student’s learning pathway to the context of the course as a whole’.

This has ignited an idea of how I can apply this theory to my unit plan and create a simple overview that much better describes the pathway than my current page which simply lists and totals assessment.

Week 10 Authentic Assessment

I think that the newer version of Bloom’s better represents the resourcefulness, multi-tasking and rapid fire approach of my students. As well, the majority prefer to first explore the resources available to them, tackle a topic or application and then share the results. However, 10-15% are learners who might better relate to the old school Bloom’s as they are tentative learners who would prefer to come in and receive knowledge via intravenous or osmosis.  I based this on the very comprehensive descriptions and examples on this site: http://www.techlearning.com/studies-in-ed-tech/0020/blooms-taxonomy-blooms-digitally/44988 from this week’s resources.

As always, I searched around to connect the general to my specific area and found this site: http://www.arteducators.org/learning/blooms-taxonomy, while it did not relate to visual arts education, I did appreciate this image comparing old to new:

Considering development of my assessment and evaluation practices and tools, I always think of my grade 13 algebra and calculus classes. I had applied to a Fine Arts degree which required both of these maths! Yikes! I really did not have strong foundational math to successfully tackle these. I am not sure I EVER correctly solved a problem in either class, however, marks for working through the equation (and perhaps creativity!) meant that I did not feel a complete sense of failure – frustration yes, but failure no. I relate this to the design process and the problem solving process of the activities I have designed in my unit plan. What I want to try to provide is a means of assessment to see if students can gauge their understanding of the principles as they apply them to scenarios. I think the depth of their observation, analysis and reflection will support this. In an exercise which asks them to observe and experience an environment, apply specific criteria, evaluate the conditions and create a solution – they will climb the Bloom’s ladder. I had created rubrics, and will be revisiting them to design them in a way that better connects to the new Bloom’s.

For now, I have given up on either of the two e-books suggested for now as the library website last evening and this morning just responds with an internal server error.

from Week 9 – wanted to consider my thoughts before I wiggle into the conversation late

Considering the differences between assessment and evaluation, the below definitions are really instructive, especially given I might be guilty of using the term assessment very loosely. In fact, I called one of my colleagues to discuss this and she said the same thing – when we discuss student progress in our team, we rarely differentiate effectively between assessment and evaluation.

From : http://www.icc.edu/innovation/PDFS/assessmentEvaluation/ASSESSMENTandEVALUATION2007.pdf

Assessment is classroom research to provide useful feedback for the improvement  of teaching and learning. Assessment is feedback from the student to the instructor about the student’s learning.

Evaluation uses methods and measures to judge student learning and understanding of the material for purposes of grading and reporting. Evaluation is feedback from the instructor to the student about the student’s learning.

Formative vs summative

I am intrigued by this entry on the Princeton Review site http://www.princetonreview.com/corporate/formative-vs-summative-testing.aspx

Most high–stakes tests are “summative”–they attempt to sum up what’s been learned, and then apply good or bad consequences for students and schools based on that judgment.

Here are some of the key points of this author:

Summative tests provide:

  • a snapshot of a school system, can be easily compared to prior years, and currently form the basis of accountability systems that ensure schools are effectively teaching all their students.

Summative tests do not provide:

  • information to identify and remedy instructional problems before they become critical.
  • they’re of no use to a teacher seeking to help her class with problems they’re experiencing right now. having one big test makes everyone anxious, and is disruptive to school life.

Formative tests and quizzes throughout the year:

  • help inform instruction, usually in a low–stakes way.
  • Most formative testing is not consistent or reliable enough to be used for high–stakes decisions (which is why even traditional final exams count for only a portion of a students’ course grade), let alone to look across classes or schools.

‘Neither formative nor summative testing alone can meet the needs and responsibilities of public schools. We’d like to see a hybrid of low–stakes, ongoing, formative (also known as “interim”) assessment that guides teaching and learning, tied tightly to both the curriculum and the state’s high–stakes summative test.’

The goal, of course, is to create a formative or interim program that can identify and help to avert these negative outcomes before they happen, for as many students as possible.

According to http://www.slideshare.net/jcheek2008/formative-assessment-vs-summative-assessment

Assessment OF Learning (Summativevs. Assessment FOR Learning (Formative) – I wish it were that simple – I think it is a more complicated relationship than that.

Considering assessment and evaluation tools:


  • “stop – start – continue” quick feedback used bi-weekly or three times a semester
  • practice quizzes that are not calculated into final grade but used as comprehension aids by students,
  • discussion groups, student facilitated Q & A’s, mind-mapping with opportunity to guide direction of a project/course focus


  • Unit ‘principal’ tests which lead to a final exam which is application based
  • Pin-up reviews by peers and external critics (we do this twice in a 6 week project)
  • Detailed feedback via rubrics which are provided at the start of a project/course – I prefer interim submissions which are weighted quite heavily and not a final evaluation worth significantly more – this supports the importance of process work especially in design.

REVISED! Assignment 3 Technology Enhanced Unit Plan


I found some broken links on my Weebly site which have now been fixed. Also, I reduced and clarified my learning outcomes. Hope you might have a chance to view the new and improved.

Summary of the unit plan with revised learning objectives.REV K.Gluck EDDL 5111 Assignment 3


Having gotten my feet wet on Weebly, and with some helpful peer review feedback, I decided to use it to create a new course unit for this project. I will continue to develop this course for the assessment project as well.

This is the link to my ‘Barrier-free Design’ unit of course in Ontario Building Regulations. This is a course I have taught f2f and think is really a viable course to redesign as a distributed learning opportunity.

Here is the written summary portion of the assignment. REV K.Gluck EDDL 5111 Assignment 3

To make it legible the PDF is formatted to an 11×17 page, so I hope you can read it.

I think I will be paring down my zealous plethora of learning objectives for the next part of the assignment.




Week 7: Developing a Personal Theory of Learning Mindmap

Thanks to the tip from Paula about Xmind. My 30 day trials had also expired so this was timely. I believe that a personal learning theory should always be a work in progress. Some experimentation with new ideas and previously unconsidered theories should always encourage educators and relatedly nurture learners. As I continue to discover more about Web 2.0 tools I plan to expand my map and connect it to specifics.

Week 6 Reflection on learning theories and distributed learning

  1. What were the most interesting or important considerations for thinking about learning theory in distributed or online teaching environments?

My response to specific considerations from Anderson, T. (2008). Toward a Theory of Online Learning. In Theory and Practice of Online Learning (Chap. 2).  Accessed from:http://cde.athabascau.ca/online_book/second_edition.html

I appreciated the overarching statement that Terry Anderson wrote to emphasize the need for a framework or theory to guide use of the web for design of learning and teaching:

We do need theory, however, to help us envision how education can best take advantage of the enhanced communication, information retrieval, creative tools, and management capability provided by the Net. It is all too easy to consider new innovations in a horseless-carriage manner, and attempt to develop new actions based on old adaptations to now obsolete contexts.

In many of the readings for our TRU courses, there is a reference to assessing learning and learners – these diagnostic tools I am not yet familiar with and am keen to understand them better. Anderson also notes learner-centered activities which ‘make extensive use of diagnostic tools and activities to make visible these pre-existing knowledge structures to both the teacher and the students themselves’. I wonder if these are discreet or overt components – and to what extent do they guide learning direction.

Another important consideration is the design of evaluation as a learning tool. Anderson stresses the importance of diverse forms and tools within a course or learning module including ‘. . . formative evaluation and summative assessment that serve to motivate, inform, and provide feedback to both learners and teachers’. I know that my Canadian and Ugandan learners are most interested in feedback that informs their final outcome – when the final grade for a project is available to them they want the number and have little interest in the feedback that supports it – well, unless it is a lower grade than they anticipated!

I also appreciate Anderson’s consideration about the challenges of hosting ‘collaborative learning environments that students create to document and assess their own learning in virtual groups.’ He stresses that we not take for granted that nurturing these student groups cannot be taken for granted with specific issues of ‘[l] earner  differences that are linked to lack of placedness and synchronicity in time and place, the mere absence of body language, and the development of social presence’.

Lastly, Anderson’s comment on learner expectations for teacher interaction resonates with a situation our college has ‘fed’ in our student body with its consumer / customer satisfaction culture. A question on the bi-annual student feedback questionnaires asks students if instructors respond to them within 24 hours whether by phone, email or Blackboard. In some instances this is simply not possible, and often, if it is an issue with a group dynamic, it does not permit time for the group to work through a conflict following the guidelines established at the start of the project. Keeping students ‘happy’ is a key management issue and I think that setting realistic criteria for the learners is important. I will keep in mind this statement from Anderson’s article as I design both evaluative and interactive opportunities for my learners:

Sufficient levels of deep and meaningful learning can be developed as long as one of the three forms of interaction (student–teacher; student-student; student-content) is at very high levels. The other two may be offered at minimal levels or even eliminated without degrading the educational experience.

My response to specific considerations from Cavanaugh, C., Barbour, M. & Clark, T. (2009). Research and Practice in K-12 Online Learning: A review of Open Access Literature. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning[Online] 10:1. Access from:  http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/607/1182

The article written by Cavanaugh et al. did not resonate as deeply with my current work and plans for future work. However, I did appreciate this table summarizing the benefits of ‘Virtual Schooling’:

What I grapple with is how to measure some of these benefits. I think that these points relate more to an area or a demographic where there are few choices, sub-standard facilities, or limited access to physical facilities. For me, replacing some of the tactile teaching moments with discovering materials, for example, seems difficult to replace with a virtual experience. However, I am open and anxious to discover the e-tools to help me make that happen.

My response to specific considerations from Sontag, M. (2009).  A Learning Theory for 21st Century Students.Innovate 5 (4). Access from:


My interest in social and cognitive connectedness theory was enthused by this article. I am one of those post-it note people and have this added to my inspiration board:

Today’s students “do not just think about different things, they actually think differently” (Prensky 2001, 42).

I can meaningfully relate this to the way I knew I needed to respect and reward students’ resourcefulness in problem-solving. I was encouraged to rethink my cellular policy when the Toronto District School Board did so – even though it was for primary and secondary schools, it was a wake up call that any tool which improved my students’ learning was worth integrating. We have never looked back, however, sadly, we do still have to ban smart phones in tests/exams for obvious reasons. For the open access and sharing capabilities, I consider Slideshare and Prezi social media tools and through the work of my peers here at TRU, I am discovering how we can easily integrate those tools into our current f2f learning.

This is supported by the comment by Cavanaugh et al.:

‘Although more research is needed, initial results suggest that a design model that taps into students’ social-connectedness and cognitive-connectedness schemata can facilitate learning transfer and help students achieve learning outcomes’.

 2.      Do you think certain  learning theories are more relevant or appropriate for considering learning at a distance as compared to a face to face (f2f)  environment?

Having read through the list of theories provided to us last week via http://tip.psychology.org, I think that any or all theories relate to online/distributed learning, however, only certain elements or principles from each may be effective. I suppose that this approach is reflected in social and cognitive connectedness theory, which I digest as a blend of the best practices of other theories juiced up with connection to a learning community facilitated by web tools as well as respecting the wired in generation. (not to mention those of us catching up to that generation!)

 3.      Are there different challenges in applying learning theory to teaching practice in a distributed learning context?

I am not yet teaching online, I have only supported learning online with supportive resources posted on Blackboard so this response  is not well informed.

  • I think that I will really need to resist the urge to instigate interaction amongst my learners – in f2f I am concerned that all learners be engaged in a discussion, be willing to share ideas etc. and if I shifted a course to online, I would be monitoring that same scenario wondering “why aren’t more students commenting on the blog?” type thoughts.
  • Will I know my learners as well I think I do from our f2f interactions – will their feedback on strategies arising from learning theories be as forthcoming or will I miss observational feedback?
  • Our teaching team is often debating issues surrounding attendance and participation –  we are split on this issue – do we focus on the students who WANT to be there and who are engaged/committed? At a college level do we attempt to mandate/enforce attendance? Does that make a difference to the students’ outcomes? In theories related to collaboration this becomes an important consideration.

oh dear! I’m behind – posting my thoughts from Week 5 Learning Theories

Well I had hopes that something I am doing in my teaching was one of the more exotic sounding theories, but alas, while many of these are intriguing, they are not what I do – however, I will be doing more investigation into the possibilities that distributed learning within our curriculum might afford our students.


Malcolm Knowles work developing a learning theory more relevant to adult learners has always been of interest to me. The principles arising from his work in the early to mid 1980’s strongly supported problem based learning in my studio environment. The basic principles associated with andragogy are:

 (1) Adults need to know why they need to learn something,

(2) Adults need to learn experientially,

(3) Adults approach learning as problem-solving,

(4) Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.

From: http://tip.psychology.org

 While freshmen students, often aged 17, are not necessarily mature in their decision making process, they have already experienced some autonomy in their academic path. Higher level secondary school art classes provide students the chance to propose a path of focus and creative medium, for example. Students already have chosen some electives that appeal to them. Affording more choices and options for these learners definitely engages them on a deeper level of interest and relatedly, commitment. From http://tip.psychology.org, the principles which guide andragogical learning design include:

1.     Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.
2.     Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for learning activities.
3.     Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate      relevance to their job or personal life.
4.     Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented.


Seeking authentic practices to connect classroom context to real-world experiences resonates with the principles of Experiential Learning. I relate Rogers definition of cognitive learning to rote memorization type processes (I hesitate to say learning, as the regurgitating of memorized principles is usually meaningless without opportunities of application). An inquisitive mind is invaluable, experimentation and experiential learning surely ignites a thirst for more knowledge. Rogers principles of Experiential Learning taken from http://tip.psychology.org include:

1.     Significant learning takes place when the subject matter is relevant to the personal interests of the student
2.     Learning which is threatening to the self (e.g., new attitudes or perspectives) are more easily assimilated when external threats are at a minimum
3.     Learning proceeds faster when the threat to the self is low
4.     Self-initiated learning is the most lasting and pervasive.


I was not familiar with Tom Sticht, however, Functional Context is related to both vocational education I am involved with in Uganda and with design education here in Canada. Student kits are planned to provide tools for use beyond the classroom during and after academic life. It makes good sense to plan educational experiences in the same fashion. Perhaps this is something one does without fully knowing the theory behind it. I looked at some of my assignment outlines for the students and I think this relates well to my idea of students developing best practices in their methods and materials.

The functional context approach to learning stresses the importance of making learning relevant to the experience of learners and their work context. The learning of new information is facilitated by making it possible for the learner to relate it to knowledge already possessed and transform old knowledge into new knowledge. By using materials that the learner will use after training, transfer of learning from the classroom to the “real world” will be enhanced. From: http://tip.psychology.org

 As well, I try to have students hone their observational skills. For example, when designing a restaurant, students often have worked in a restaurant and can relate the design of service areas to their work for productivity issues, clearances, functional paths and storage. That is a way for the students to substantiate their design decisions which reflects principles of Functional Context:


1.     Instruction should be made as meaningful as possible to the learner in terms of the learner’s prior knowledge.
2.     Use material and equipment that the learner will actually use after training
3.     Literacy can be improved by: improving content knowledge, information processing skills, or the design of the learning materials.
4.     Valid assessment of learning requires context/content specific measurement.     From: http://tip.psychology.org

Kelly’s Assignment 2 Part B Research Paper

‘The true job of an educator is to provide students with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and the ability to acquire it’ (Weiser Friedman, & Friedman, 2008, p.5).


From my own experience and research, online learning in post-secondary design and architecture has expanded. Accompanying this growth is an increase in published literature which describes various methods, projects and virtual studio collaborations, however, there is very little research available related to online evaluation of design projects.

‘The field of design education however has not been researched extensively in regard to online learning, delivery and evaluation’ (Park, 2011, p.22).

Most design schools are accredited by two major organizations which provide very specific criterion for curriculum development and delivery. However well intended the accrediting body’s strategy of providing equal exposure to various residential, commercial and institutional typologies, students often are not engaged due to a lack of personal choices that support a design direction they may wish to pursue intently.

While our accreditation does regulate much of the curricular content in terms of design typologies, we are not limited to the way in which a particular project might develop for each student or design team. For example, adaptive curriculum in a design studio setting might be a means of exposing the students to the various genres of design in a constructivist manner increasing the level of complexity, size and user determinants as well as facilitating discoveries about personal best practices.

This paper will review considerations for the potential development of adaptive course curriculum within a  post-secondary interior design degree program providing increased learner control, choice and independence’, which is one of five ways online learning is enabling change in post-secondary education according to the Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors of Contact North (Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors. Contact North, 2013).


It is important to provide a brief capsule of the current state of design education, which has remained quite true to its roots for over a century, dating back to L’ecole des Beaux Arts and more recently, to the Bauhaus.

The Studio is well established as a physical place and a unique pedagogic method. Studios are usually problem-solving settings where educators who are experienced in the act of designing tutor students individually or in groups.  . . . [S]tudio learning is “inherently dynamic, a convergence of spontaneous action and knowledge, and adaptation to changing situations” . . .Through speaking and demonstrating (eg drawing) in tandem, the teacher demonstrates how to explore and act. The process can be described as a dialogue of reciprocal reflection in action between coach and student. This concept of a dialogue is important in the studio environment’ Broadfoot, O., & Bennett, p.2)

 From written descriptions and past research on this topic, little has changed in the evaluation of design studio work since the days of L’ecole des Beaux Arts. Certainly, the benefits of online collaboration are highly celebrated, however, an essential ingredient to student success is feedback, and given the design process is very visual, a technology-based system which might lend itself to adaptive curriculum in any automated way remains undeveloped.

With a simple search through the promotional material of design and architecture schools, it is obvious faculty and students revere the physical design studio. In the 1970’s, to permit collaboration between schools geographically far apart, the Virtual Design Studio (VDS) was created. According to design faculty who examined the virtual design studio in a recent study, ‘[t]here are several characteristics of VDS: broadening time and space boundaries; designing and communicating with computer-mediated and computer-supported platforms; representing the process and outcomes with electronic forms; accessed through the Internet; providing asynchronous and synchronous communication; supervision by professional practitioners (Maher, Simoff, & Cicognani, 2006, p. 2) as cited by (Shao, Daley, Vaughan, & Lin, p.918).

Based on such publications, the stage is set for online design activity, however, an essential tool for evaluation is not yet evident. From my understanding, adaptive curricula respond to student ability which would be measured using technology, and that specialized technology is not yet responsive to design criteria as noted throughout this paper.

Discussion of research findings

My interest in this area arose from a chance visit to the Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors. Specifically, I was interested in the extent of online learning in design and architecture and any initiatives to assist in this transition. A search through Canadian post-secondary school offerings reveals only two schools appear to have launched online studies in this area. I believe that a main reason for this is the design studio teaching and learning pedagogy and the need to develop a more effective evaluative tool then our long standing critique process. Currently, in a mixed modality setting, one solution is to record a video segment of an instructor critiquing a student’s design proposal, however, even with techniques such as data mining, this will not create an automated process in sync with adaptive technologies.

An article entitled 5 Ways Online Learning is Enabling Change in Post-Secondary Education included adaptive curriculum. Their description emphasizes that adaptive curriculum has the potential to adjust what the student is being asked to study according to their learning style and performance on assessments’. Thus within a single subject ‘the course material is adaptive – different material (video, audio, text, simulation) for different students in the same course according to ability. While this is “new” (and is more commonplace in the K-12 system), it is quickly gaining traction in the post-secondary world’ (Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors. Contact North, 2013).

On the Edudemic website, which connects education with technology, adaptive learning is said to ‘. . . tailor the educational process to the strengths and weaknesses of individual students’. Relatedly, ‘[a]daptive technologies are tailored to offer insight into the ability of each student. The software that is used during internet classes is designed to understand the limitations of students and help them learn. . . Feedback is one of the features of this type of educational system. The computer program recognizes the student’s weaknesses and offers ideas to help them learn a particular concept. The information is tailored to any learner’s strengths and weaknesses’ (Dunn, 2012).

 In my continued search for other design programs who might be piloting such a project using technology versus bits of paper in a hat (as I have tried), examples of post-secondary adaptive curricula were scarce. Nor did I locate articles specific to design or architecture. However, if evaluation which connects to increased learner choices relies on other performance indicators, the possibility to integrate individualization within a course project would still provide elements of independence for students. Perhaps a merit system would also encourage a deeper level of engagement at an earlier stage of that project. Such tools might include peer review, participation in team dialogues, achievement level via instructor evaluation of drawings and models etc. Points might be added up online, leading to a reward system of choices. However, that sounds less like adaptive curriculum than I understand it to be.

A second article posted on the Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors  describes ‘[i]ncreased learner control, choice, and independence’ as intimately linked to technology available to a student impacting access, work methods, research strategies and types of information available to supplement course learning materials. Thus strictly managing a set curriculum in terms of a limited content chosen by the instructor becomes less meaningful. The emphasis shifts to deciding what is important or relevant both within a subject domain, and to the needs of a particular learner’ (Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors. Contact North, 2013).

An essential component of many curricula, certainly not just design, is creativity. According to Lui Dongfeng, ‘. . . the key of creative education or the immediate mission of teaching is to create subjects and activities suitable for students to participate and explore independently, and to provide students with the necessary method, conditions and environment for fostering creative spirit’ (Dongfeng, 2013, p. 170)

Students struggle with ideation and creativity when they do not have many choices within the work they are assigned. Our teaching team pragmatically argues that in the professional world, a designer is usually assigned work as part of a team, or not in a financial position to turn away work. However, surely there is more freedom than when we launch a student project with a prescribed list of requirements. If the technological mechanism to provide such paths in design learning can be developed, adaptive curriculum also holds the potential to inspire creativity and even innovation with options to ignite student curiosity and innovation through control and independence.

Dongfeng refers to the importance of curiosity in facilitating innovation. Specifically, this educator’s writing reports on the success of ‘. . .an open-type teaching mode, attempt to break restraints set up by traditional art design teaching mode, and explore a path of teaching in favor of fostering students’ creative spirit and practical ability, as well as being beneficial to induce students’ interests, and build their curiosity, imagination and creativity, thus to find an effective path of practically implementing goal of innovation education in design’. (p. 168)

In the article mentioned above, published in the Canadian Social Science Journal, Dongfeng lists the essential philosophy of successful art and design learning (classroom based) in his article entitled ‘Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness, Foster Their Creative Spirit: “Open-Type” Teaching Philosophy-Based Art Design Teaching Discussion and Practice’.

These include a focus on:

  • Student centred,
  • Active Participation, Exploration and Practice,
  • Constructing a dynamic and open teaching practice.

 The conditions Dongfeng describes are needed to make this happen include:

  • Build up Consciousness of Innovation,
  • Set Up Open-Type Teaching Environment,
  • Formulate Reasonable Teaching Evaluation System.

(Dongfeng, 2013, pp. 169-171)

Dongfeng repeatedly emphasizes that ‘. . . the key of creative education  is  . . . to create subjects and activities suitable for students to participate and explore independently, and to provide students with the necessary method[s], conditions and environment for fostering creative spirit. Therefore, the fundamental objective of open-type teaching is to make the teaching process really based on consideration of students’ individuality and their independent exploration and Learning’ (Dongfeng, 2013, p. 171) In this sense, the author’s description of ‘open’ is in tandem with my concept of adaptive.

However, the missing component of technology to support this open and adaptive course in an online design education setting is still not evident. Another article which is not discipline specific, considers the use of social media technologies to enhance online learning. Certainly, an element of choice in media can provide a means of engaging students and also sparking curiosity as to how that media might enhance both their learning and their design.

The so-called social media technologies – often referred to as Web 2.0 –encompass a wide variety of web-related communication technologies such as blogs, wikis, online social networking, virtual worlds and other social media forms. Much has been said about the unique character of the social media technologies, the features that unite these seemingly disparate technologies under a single umbrella. These characteristics of social media can be summarized by the 5 C’s:communication, collaboration, community, creativity, and convergence’ (Weiser Friedman & Friedman, 2008, p.4)

Without a doubt, Web 2.0 tools facilitate collaborative ideation for my students. We have Pinterest boards for design studio, students share various items on Facebook, inviting feedback, and we post the students’ portfolios online as a means of building confidence and marketing their skills for work placements. Again, collaborative and visual technologies are well suited and inspiring curiosity and engaging students, however, some aspects of the physical design studio, specifically technology based, specifically technology based instant feedback type assessment tools, are not yet developed to suit our needs. This notion is supported in a research study examining the context of virtual design studios.

Conclusions from the research to date suggests that the current design of the teaching environments in virtual design studios does not fully address the characteristics of studio teaching. . . Furthermore, in the physical design studio, students receive trainers’ supervision through informal reviews and formal presentations (Kvan, 2001). This model needs to be adapted to the virtual environment; however, the virtual environment allows for a different mode of review and presentation. The setting for communication between trainers and trainees in VDS is different from the traditional one. Whether VDS can actually replace the physical studio is still in debate’ (Shao, Daley, Vaughan, & Lin, p.918).

Simoff and Maher analysed participation in collaborative design environments, and stressed two key issues in their suggestions for the way forward; ‘the need to create a sense of place and community among the participants in the studio and  the need for interactive and/or automatic assessment’ (Simeon, & Maher, 2000, p.24).


Perhaps the temporary way forward is as suggested by the author of a similar study which suggests that online design learning be merged other modalities, supporting my idea that a system of choices which would facilitate adaptive curriculum might currently be facilitated in a mixed methods environment. Park (2011)  proposes that ‘. . .  online design education should be integrated with various educational values and functional features in a systematic manner, and requires designing learning evaluation protocols as part of learning activities and communicative forms within online-based learning sites’ (p. 30)

As I deliberated on this topic of adaptive curriculum in post secondary design education, I sorted through my playlist of TED Talks and noted a particular statement I believe encapsulates my rationale to seek a means of facilitating this type of learning experience.

As emphasized by Sir Ken Robinson; Human beings are naturally different  and diverse (Robinson, 2013). In conclusion, adaptive curriculum that celebrates those differences and diverse ways of thinking and creating laterally is surely an effective way of designing online learning for architecture and design students. What remains unsolved, based on this search of online resources and published literature, is a responsive evaluative technology for assessment.


Broadfoot, O., & Bennett, R.  Design Studios: Online? Comparing traditional face-to-face Design Studio education with modern internet-based design studios. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Dongfeng L.(2013). Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness, Foster Their Creative Spirit: “Open-Type” Teaching Philosophy-Based Art Design Teaching Discussion and Practice. Canadian Social Science, 9 (4), pp. 168-172.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968%2Fj.css.1923669720130904.2653

Dunn, J., (2012). How Adaptive Learning Technology Is Being Used in Online Courses. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/how-adaptive-learning-technology-is-being-used-in-online-courses/

Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors. Contact North. 5 ways online learning is enabling change in post-secondary education. Retrieved from http://www.contactnorth.ca/trends-directions/evolving-pedagogy/5-ways-online-learning-enabling-change-post-secondary-education

Ontario Online Learning Portal for Faculty and Instructors. Contact North. A new pedagogy is emerging…and online learning is a key contributing factor. Retrieved from http://www.contactnorth.ca/trends-directions/evolving-pedagogy-0/new-pedagogy-emergingand-online-learning-key-contributing

Park, Ji Yong (2011). Design education online: learning delivery and evaluation.

International Journal Of Art & Design Education, 30(2), pp. 22-33. Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/41247/1/41247.pdf

Robinson, K., (2013, April). TED Talks Education: How to Escape Education’s Death Valley Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/playlists/125/tv_special_ted_talks_educatio.html

Shao, Y.J., Daley L., Vaughan L., & Lin, W.K. Toward a Phenomenology for Virtual Design Studio Teaching. Retrieved from http://pdf.aminer.org/000/288/499/flexibility_in_virtual_environments_a_fully_adjustable_virtual_classroom.pdf

Simoff, S.J., & Maher, M.L. (2000) Analysing participation in collaborative design environments, Design Studies, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp. 119-144, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0142-694X(99)00043-5.

Weiser-Friedman, L., Friedman H.H. (2008). Using Social Media Technologies to Enhance Online Learning

Retrieved from http://distance-educator.com/using-social-media-technologies-to-enhance-online-learning/