Rebecca Hamer & Liam Simington

Hello, welcome to the AEA SIG blog! To paraphrase Bill Bryson’s opening of his history of science, A short history of nearly everything, “[We’re] delighted you could make it. Getting here wasn’t easy, [we] know.” And now that you are here, Liam and I would hope to persuade you to return regularly. Ideally you will find this blog is an easy way to connect with likeminded practitioners and researchers.

So why start this blog?  It can be difficult to find the latest information on pilots or developments, to read up on state-of-the-art digital assessment in all its forms. There are a variety of reasons for this, some that we have experienced include:

  1. the lag time between any experiment or trials of innovations and the peer-reviewed publication of results, preventing access to the cutting edge of developments;
  2. the low priority awarded outside the academic arena to formal sharing of findings and experiences, increasing the time lag or even preventing publication altogether;
  3. legal obstacles to sharing innovations and implementation experiences in commercial contracts;
  4. reluctance of researchers and developers to share their findings as they have been misinterpreted or misused in earlier instances;
  5. political or business sensitivity of sharing difficulties and disappointments associated with developing and implementing digital assessments.

This is where this SIG-blog comes in. Due to its informal nature, blogs can be used to share (developing) ideas, ask questions, to canvass opinions or solutions, to provoke discussion and discuss corroborating, confusing or remarkable findings. In this way, the SIG also hopes to use the blog to source ideas for the SIG webinars – essentially, it will support best practice and provide an expert resource to the SIG and AEA-Europe.

How can we convince you to start sharing and write a blog?

We are looking for content with a focus on educational assessment as it is linked to digital or technology enhanced environments. It can be research, opinion, or musings, anything that will help spark interest and maybe shape best practice in the field.

Imagine SIG blog discussions such as…

  • why – given the affordances of a digital environment – educational assessment is still shying away from trying to measure and assess the really hard stuff, like creativity, soft skills or wisdom;
  • why haven’t researchers been able to agree on what these 21CS really are and whether they are actually more important to a digitized society and digital pedagogy / andragogy;
  • the lack of consensus on a definition of problem-solving and its place in higher order thinking, and how this inhibits progress in designing digitally enhanced ways of assessing higher order thinking and a range of problem-solving skills;
  • the scarcity of evidence of measurable benefits and drawbacks of marking by QIG (Question Item Group)– there is a literature presenting the theoretical or aspirational expectations, but limited sharing of empirical evidence;
  • the empirical and psychological limitations of artificial intelligence and automated scoring.

Would you like to read any of these? Do you have knowledge of, or would you be able to present an argument or queries that could spark a lively discussion? Then the next blog post could be yours.

We are hoping for at least two blogs a month, so it is up to you now. If you have an idea, contact the SIG here. See you soon!

And finally, for those of you who are wondering how to write a blog: think of a cupcake.

We have collected some tips and links with practical guidance below. Then again, I don’t know about you, but to me that feels a little like giving you an ingredient list for a cake without letting you taste it first. Without examples and visuals, it may be difficult to imagine what to do if you have never written a blog before.

Researchers often train long and hard to master the conventions of writing an acceptable paper. A blog is not like that, as we are trying to demonstrate here. To introduce a simile: a blog is to a journal article as a cupcake is to a multi-tiered wedding showstopper. Blogging requires slightly different skills and a lighter touch approach. It is up to you to decide if we were successful in any way to exemplify what a blog is in this one.

The most obvious difference is the length. A quick trawl of the internet seems to indicate the normal length of a blog can range from anywhere between 500 to 2000 words. This blog is about 1000 words.

It helps a lot if you can come up with a catchy title. Ok, ok! You are right, this blog is not the best example for that. I personally really like this one on comparative judgement.

This example was written with teachers and schools in mind and keeping the audience in mind is crucial. Step-inside their head, concentrate on what they might want to know or learn, not so much on what you want to tell.

Decide on the main message and stick to it. Of course, there is a fun acronym to go with this: KISS! Or rather K.I.S.S. which stands for Keep it simple scholar! (Nate Palmer, the University of Kent’s guide on blogging).

The IB communications team recommends blogs to be built around a few questions (as we have tried to demonstrate here) and bulleted lists, apparently five is the magic number. Keep the paragraphs short, remember that blogs will also be read on a phone or tablet. LSE have some more handy tips in a series of slides here.

Obviously, like a cupcake, a blog should be short and sweet. Be brief, be vivid and be connected says Corey Tomsons. If possible link your article to other sites, resources and articles. And tags are important according to George Julian. Info on Tagging and Categories can be found here.

If you’d like to join the SIG mailing list, type your email and we’ll make sure you’re including in future emails!