So lately I’ve been talking and thinking more and more about this idea of a “performance standard” that reads something like “Students create, grow and navigate online personal learning networks in safe, effective and ethical ways” and what that would mean in a NETS type framework. For instance, students:

  • locate, identify and evaluate potential mentors or teachers online
  • communicate with co-learners clearly and effectively in a variety of modes
  • share work online using a variety of media in appropriate and creative ways
  • track, read, evaluate, organize, utilize and share relevant information effectively

And so on. It starts some interesting conversations among those who haven’t yet considered or been much exposed to the idea of online learning networks, and often, those conversations lead to “how do we assess that?” The only obvious answer is that it probably isn’t happening on a test.

I constantly struggle with my own work in this. The last few weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the nodes in my network, trying to think critically about diversity, reexamining the tools I use to access it, looking at the ways I interact and what I contribute. For all sorts of time-related reasons, I’m not happy with the scope of my work right now either; it feels too text heavy, too comfortable. And, for many of the same reasons and even though I have made some changes of late, my network seems static. I need to come up with some strategies for freshening things up around here.

I know assessing networks takes understanding networks, and that’s why I’m still very much into the “think about this in your own practice first” mode. But at some point, it would be interesting, and hopefully necessary, to think about ways in which we’d assess our students in this undertaking.