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Friday, August 28, 2009

An Assessment Bank of questions tool

I attended a workshop by the Shuttleworth foundation last weekend where they introduced us to their new baby the Siyavula project where you can download (and create) free (as in gratis) high quality textbooks that are created under the creative commons license for your class. They already have maths and science textbooks available (they are busy loading lots of other subjects accross all grades- so let the other teachers know) but unfortunately no maths lit material yet. They are currently doing workshops around the country to introduce teachers to the Connextions platform from where they are running the project. The idea is that you can use "subject- lenses" or you can compile your own lens of material and lessons. You then have a choice to print the "textbook", store it electronically etc. To contribute to this open source collaborative project you can create a document in their connextions platform and add to the lenses. It even has a maths editor in place. At the moment I find the document creation tool quite difficult (it uses XML), but I am nagging them to provide us with an easy wysiwig tool to create our resources.

But.......if I look at how the teachers are using our maths literacy community ( it seems to me that most of the interest is in downloading/getting tests and exams to use for setting/creating test and exams for our learners. I have therefore asked Mark Horner (the project manager) to create an assessment bank tool for us/the platform. This will in essence mean that we upload (original) questions according to Grade + LO+AS+assessment level+context+language and it will then make it possible to pick (tick) questions, click on a button and it will create the test/exam/assessment tool for us, after which we can edit it to custom suit our needs and print it out as a personalised test/exam on the fly. How does that sound??? Cool hey???!!!

This will require for them to motivate the building of such an assessment bank tool which will require funding. They are not going to do it if local teachers will not contribute (original- creative commons) questions to populate the assessment bank. So this is where I require your buy-in. An assessment bank tool would be an amazing help to us all, but it is not going to work if we do not have commitment from teachers to actively participate in providing questions. They have made it quite clear that we have to motivate the time, money and effort that will have to go into developing a tool like that for us to use freely.

So what do you think - should we pursue this? Will you be able to contribute if they create the tool for us? They have the programmers and will be able to let it happen provided that we will support it.

To talk about this I am scheduling an online session/meeting in my virtual classroom (promise nothing scary) so that we can discuss the feasibility and what we will need them to do for us (what elements should it have to work for us).... How does next Thursday evening at 6h30 pm sound? It will be an ONLINE meeting and you will just have to click on a link to join in (all you have to do to participate is to type with 1/more fingers and if you have a microphone and/or earphones, you will be able to hear/talk as well). I will post detailed instructions to guide you into my "virtual" classroom. (

So please let me know if you will be joining our online meeting or if you have any ideas on the assessment bank idea by click on the comment link below.

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