What Is The Online Assessment Approach For Collaborative Learning Using Social Media?

How does collaboration work for students on social media, when peer feedback is not part of the online toolkit? Will using visual images of peers helping each other achieve success on a task help define successful behaviors, or will the online assessment approach at the expense of peer involvement and feedback help define effective behaviors?

What Is The Online Assessment Approach For Collaborative Learning Using Social Media?

As you’ve likely noticed, some teachers are using social media to facilitate high-stakes assessments. The changes you have noted, especially where video is concerned, indicate how these instructional efforts can modify student behavior while yielding significant learning gains. Fortunately, there is an easy test. What’s the best way to use and measure this amazing new tool that some teachers are using?

The Common Core academic standards outline a number of social media-based instructional objectives (that are linked to key Common Core learning standards) that teachers should implement. The current consensus among policy experts is that it should be the teacher, not a lab assistant or a student, who decides what content should be assessed on, and when, and how. But let’s talk about the key insight, of how school-wide assessments of social media-based learning exist when:

Students are watching what their peers and teachers are doing and discussing and writing about;

Social media (and YouTube) activities can trigger students to produce more thought-out information than would be produced in, say, a standard essay. And these social media discussions can spark different pedagogical approaches and just plain spark some smart, smart learning.

But just because social media activity is part of students’ day (and increasingly every day), how can it ever be integrated with standard “test” content? These question are not easy to answer, which is why so many people in education are freaking out over the answer. Let’s consider three possible approaches:

Immediate & Natural: Everyone works hard and plays hard together, so why not engage everyone in real-time social media activity?

Instant: Students are watching other students’ behavior in real-time, so why not start with them? I call this approach “social intelligence”…it involves students’ social behavior as an assessment feedback mechanism.

Precautionary: Because, let’s face it, kids are still learning to be responsible learners, parents and teachers don’t always feel comfortable knowing what their kids are up to.

Social intelligence

You see, this “social intelligence” project gets its name from the peer-to-peer social intelligence framework from the online educator Geekschool.org, “the framework makes people think like other people, look at things from new perspectives, and recognize ideas outside of their own prior experiences”. Here’s what Geekschool.org tells us about it:

“A study from students of a US elementary school puts an amazingly exacting focus on the role of social intelligence in classroom behavior. They were asked to observe classroom behaviors from various angles to determine whether or not they involved peer supervision or peer interactions. Then they built a theory of social intelligence. Social intelligence works by combining observation, observation of others, individual evaluation of attitudes, and exchange of information among peers. The single greatest possible variable is the learning of peers or “interaction” — the key to self-discipline and achievement.”

Sounds simple, huh? Just watching other people and then learn how to control yourself so you can do what other people do. How’s that for testing and identifying your own ability to learn? Simple as that.

But here’s where it gets sticky: How do you separate all the learning that occurs in groups from the learning that occurs among the individuals as a whole?


All outcomes have pros and cons. I don’t think this project will likely ever get implemented across the nation, as it requires building new institutional practice and ability to evaluate the results, or revising and re-evaluating curriculum and instruction and technology—hard challenges to take on when this model requires change, as it clearly does.

But should the online-based school experiment be given another try?

Maybe, I’m open to that. I think at this point we all need to be aware of the very low odds that a major school district will adopt this approach for teaching social media and collaborative learning. But maybe there are ways other districts can adopt it for their campuses and “outsource” some of their social media needs.

I’m open to that.

The other day we had a loud discussion regarding how much resources we should put into our social media programs in our schools. I think we should still consider the new tools as an opportunity to measure and reward collaboration in our schools, as opposed to just “compete” against schools that have already come up with these approaches.

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