First the disclaimer. This open letter is strictly an individual one: the opinions and comments below are uniquely mine and not those of any employer, past or present. All comments are based on my personal experience as an assessment specialist in desperate need of more attention and better tools from Blackboard.
The plea is simple. Please find your way to becoming an education company and not just an educational technology and distance learning company; I believe your value (and profitability) will increase dramatically within, at least, the higher education segment of the industry. The effect you could have on the quality of teaching and learning and the future of higher education is infinitely greater if you were to focus on assessment across all delivery methods rather than the latest and greatest technology features, tools, and and user interfaces. Why? Assessment is the single greatest issue facing every institution; but currently, Blackboard appears to be “missing the boat” regarding assessment even though there’s several, readily accessible corporate strategies that could rectify that issue.
I believe higher education professionals should STOP demanding that performance-based funding should measure learning and outcomes rather than “just” completion and jobs. The current model of performance-based funding in Texas, as it pertains to community colleges, appears to provide necessary data for legislators to hold community colleges accountable for their responsibility to the tax-paying public, and I believe it does so while minimizing legislative intrusion into the classroom and institutions.
We are working to revisit, review, and as needed, revise our program outcomes assessment plans. To a large extent, the assessment has been done very well at the program level; as our office of learning and assessment (OLA) has evolved over the past 4-6 years, however, we are continuously working to improve the services and support we provide to our faculty and instructional leaders (department chairs and deans) regarding program outcomes assessment. We are working to improve and to better institutionalize those processes. Read more
My thoughts regarding Federal regulators debate how to handle direct assessment programs @insidehighered.
Higher education inevitably will have to figure out competency-based education; it’s the logical conclusion to the national accountability discourse. Several examples from this article that illustrate perhaps that we’re further away than we might hope:
When discussing the LEAP Value Rubrics, the AAC&U allows and even encourages institutions to customize to to modify the rubrics for use locally. Certainly, I believe when presented with an instrument like the LEAP Value rubric for Critical Thinking that it is the natural, inherent tendency of faculty and educational institutions to add their perspective or to research that construct in order to create a “better” rubric or to establish “our institution’s definition” of critical thinking (because critical thinking may be defined in *many* different ways). At the moment however, I believe it is important to resist that tendency. Quite simply, revising the LEAP Value rubrics is not likely to add value to the institutional assessment effort, may nullify the benefits of using the LEAP Value rubrics, and may expend valuable time and effort resources better spent.