The assessment for EDUC1751, Knowledge and Information Technologies, was centered on the making of a short film. In small groups, students took a project based learning (PBL) approach. PBL uses real world problems to capture and engage students, with the teacher acting as facilitator, providing some guidance reinforcing the real-world relevance and fostering the development of what the Buck Institute for Education (2010) calls "21st century skills, such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking" The finished product is publicly presented, in this case the films were screened to all EDUC1751 students.
The production of a film, even one with a five minute duration, is a very complex task. Successful completion requires a broad range of skills, effective team work and delegation, and a high level of competency. As well as this, the mere fact that the project is a film rather than an essay or other writing task goes some way to ensure student engagement, allowing an outlet for student creativity. This way, the task falls in line with the Melbourne declaration's stated goal to create "confident and creative individuals" (Melbourne Declaration, 2008). While this particular task may have been focused upon the Stage 4-5 English syllabus, it is easily transportable, and indeed I have already attempted to integrate a similar task into lesson plans for the Stage 5 History classroom. Outcomes 4.8 and 5.8 (Stages 4 and 5 respectively) of the syllabus clearly state an outcome which could be fulfilled by this task, that a student should "locate, select and organise relevant historical information from a number of sources, including ICT, to undertake historical inquiry."
While quite a complex task, students were limited by their brief making it necessary to focus upon the theme of 'Twisted Fairytales.' By including this caveat, the brief mimicked constraints placed upon those in the working environment, bringing real-world relevance to the task. However, the focus of the task was sufficiently broad to still allow, and indeed encourage, a large amount of student direction and creative input, guaranteeing different perspectives and a "diversity of outcomes" (Reeves, Herrington and Oliver, 2002). Further to these characteristics, by including the writing of a reflective blog in the task the student is given opportunity to reflect upon the way in which the assessment was seamlessly integrated, breaking down into parts a seemingly simply yet very complex task. Taking into all aspects of the assessment, it is clear that it fulfills all ten requirements of a truly authentic task as defined by Reeves, Herrington and Oliver (2002).
It also covers the three main areas of the NSW Quality Teaching Model, Quality Learning Environment, Intellectual Quality and Significance. But that's for next blog.