3 oktober 2014

Skills test

Now our first period has ended and we should finnish our courses, grade our students and start with new courses on Monday. So, what happened during my course 'PCs and Peripherals'? Did my Masterplan worked?

Usually when you force someone to do something, 25% loves it, 25% hates it and the rest can live with it. In my case when using Minecraft & MinecraftEDU 67% loved it and 33% could stand it. To have that many students loving it, even though they are 16-18 tells me the ways of learning starts to change. 

And to see those students have their 'epic wins' (succeed with a minecraft problem) and be able to take that feeling out in the real world is truly amazing. I've said it before and tell you again, from being the best to be worst, they have now aim to be the best of the best.

Instead of a written test we thought our Business Information Technican (datanom), first (14) year and second years (13) students, would have more benefits of a skills test. The 13-class has learned the same course I have had for the 14-class in an opposite way and it was very clear last week my masterplan have been working better.

You should also be aware of the 13-class had the course (I have run 14) last year with another teacher, the same one I hi-jacked btw... so they should have the same skills and lot more comparing to the first year students...

Instead of a written test in each course we also believed they could prove lots of knowledge (courses) with a skills test because of all the parts. We also put together the groups so there would be one strong and one weak student in each group, but both students in one team could have dyslexia. The strong/weakness was more about actually knowledge then diagnoses.

The skills test briefly: 
  • get an old computer up and running, make a documentation of the process.
  • Make sure the choosen computer works
  • Install an old OS (win98, winXP SP1 or win2000) where plug and play doesn't work.
  • troubleshoot and correct (drivers)
  • Install Chrome, Firefox, firewall and antivirus (upgrade winXP to at least SP2 to get it working)
  • Install MS Office, free of choice
  • Connect a printer, print testpage
  • Documentation at G Drive, share with the teachers.

The 14-class turned out to be much better problem solvers, they were more creative and collaborated even outside the groups. They wasn't scare to ask the teachers if they needed something, like if it would be possible to upgrade winXP to SP2 or a licence key to MS Office. The 13-class on the other hand, in the same situation, started to yell about how worthless the organisation was, how stupid the teachers were but had to face the fact, no matter what, they had to solve the problems.

When it came to the documentation, it was vice versa, the 13-class was a bit better, structure and layout but only one group (of nine) scored with highest marks, a team from the 14-class.

The average time for a 14-class was 3,5 hours and a 13-class 4,5 hour. In both classes there were students with crappy computers, as a result of lack of attendance, if you have been in school you would have had the chance to pick a working better computer. We had told our students there will be a skills test and they had a possibility to prepare themselves: chose computer, clean it, test run, search for drivers. They were even allowed to install the computers before the test, but the groups who did that installed winXP with service pack 2... You get more problems to solve with SP1 so that was also a good experience. 

And as you know: 
"Chance favors the prepared mind"

Before this course and during it I've asked myself these questions:

  1. What will happen if I allow one game during class, a game of my choice? 
  2. And within that game I give the students challenges, quest to solve?

One thing for sure, I havn't had any of those problems my colleagues usually have, negative energy to ban the games. The 13-class either play card games as often as possible or looked at youtube... 

In one class (13) games are not allowed, there the games and youtube is the wild factory. In the other class (14) one game has been allowed and only that. Those students (14) have became, as it showed in the skills test, better problem solvers, was more creative and could collaborate over the borders (with other groups/the other class).

Another thing, when I allowed the one game and they understod they could play that game, they could also better concentrate on the other tasks which is not gaming.

Finally, when we gathered feedback about the skills test we also realized there had been another, tenth, group: the teachers. With similar challenges and also one stronger/weaker group member. But as we told them, the strong/weak role depends on the challenge or task.

We asked them several questions, here are some results 

What did you feel about having a test like this?
The scale 1-4, 1 lowest, 4 highest

What did you think about the challenge?
The scale 1-4, 1 lowest, 4 highest

How important do you think this knowledge would be to you?
The scale 1-4, 1 lowest, 4 highest

What mark will you give the teachers?
About the marks below, 0=not passed, 3=excellent

Self evaluation, what mark do you deserve?
About the marks below, 0=not passed, 3=ex

Besides the fact I had one student with several epic win, me myself also got an epic win. My colleague saw what happened when I allowed one game and challenged them inside that game. He has now signed up for a Majong account and will use Minecraft to practice (challenge) stuff like Logic Gates...

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