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OtagoNet & DunedinNet: Milestone 5 Reflection ('Blaze BLP' - introducing a 'learning-centred' evaluation to tool to support personalising of learning )

  Blaze BLP logo 

Context and Goals

Conventional definitions of 'student achievement' tends to emphasise mastery of skills and content in particular subjects or learning area; and often centre on formal credentialing (NZQA/Standards). 

One key outcome of project has been to redefine 'student achievement' to include and forefront students 'growth as learners' - a  more expansive definition that focuses on the growth of students' learning dispostion. Essential to the project overarching goal of 'personalising learning' (- increasing every students ownership and active engagement in every stage of the learning process)

Because our conventional assessment tools do not providing particularly valuable data for monitoring and supporting this learning-focused definition of student achievement , developing evaluative tools which was capable of providing both teachers and students with information of students’ growth as a learner was a priority. We needed more embedded, transformative and student controlled tools.

What have we done so far?

All effort to date have been with students in OtagoNet online classes. In 2010 we initially tried using a research-based tool known as LASSI - while this yielded valuable information for research purposes, it was of more limited value for students and their teachers. It was not particularly user friendly (- the student disliked using it!) and information wasn't readily or immediately available for students and teachers to constructively use. We had intended using the LASSI framework, but simplifying this to make it a more  user friendly and responsive tool. Fortunately Blaze BLP was discovered before a lot of development work had been done

Blaze BLP is a set of online evaluative tools based about Professor Guy Claxton's 'Building Learning Power' framework (- the BLP framework is centred on ongoing growth  of all learners as  'lifelong learner' - growing dispositions for learning). Five short, interactive, web-based quizzes (a generic 'Learning Power' quiz and 4 other quizzes looking more closely at the 4 'Rs' - Resiliency, Resourcefulness, Reciprocity and Reflectiveness) are aimed at opening up and extending thinking about 'learning to learn', and encouraging 'learning conversations' among students, their teachers and others involved with mentoring student's learning.

The 4 'R's

( -diagram from Claxton G., et al (2011) "The Learning Powered School"  )

In late 2011, at their annual eHui, our eTeachers were introduced to the 'Learning Power'  framework/philosopy and recieved some early training in the use of Blaze BLP. During Term One of 2012, all OtagoNet students were invited to do the first (generic Learning Power)  - feedback as student reports and teaching/coaching reports was immediately shared to individual students and their teachers. Class cohort reports have alsobeen provided to eTeachers. Student and teachers have been invited to use Blaze (particularly students wanting to look more closely at a particular Learning Power dimensions) as an ongoing formative tool. 

What have we learned?

Blaze BLP is potentially a very, very powerful tool for supporting students growth as learners. It is very user friendly providing ongoing information to both students and their teacher. This information can act as the catalyst for powerful learning focused discussion to occur. However these learning conversation don't automatically occur - there is a need for a move learning and teaching practice & culture to include an ongoing strong 'learning to learn' focus. This shift involves teacher reframing themselves as ongoing 'learning coaches', not just subject experts
From a technical perspective, Blaze BLP isn't particularly easy to set up for the person who will act as the site administrator. The initial setting up and importing of student, teacher and course data takes time because its set up to integrate with UK based SMS (- different from those used in NZ). For those in cluster arrangements it is even more difficult. Once set up however it is relatively easy to maintain, and for the users, students and teachers it is very user friendly

What are our next steps?

We have taken some early, promising steps along the 'Building Learning Power' pathway - Blaze BLP is an excellent tool to support this progress. We have committed to using BlazeBLP for the next 3 years, during which time its hoped that BLP and Blaze will be embedded in the classrome culture of our online classes. The will be a need for ongoing PLD to support teachers make this shift

We will be promoting this direction with our associated schools and other eLearning clusters.

Further Resources

- try doing one of the quizzes

"The What and How of Blaze BLP"  manual