In the report Making Mastery Work: A Close-Up View of Competency Education, the authors highlight four findings on information management systems used by the ten schools in the Proficiency-based Pathways Project:
- Performance tracking is often the first priority for competency education system building. A simple system can go far, but there is still far to go.
- Schools must often—still—straddle traditional and competency education systems.
- Neither packaged courseware products, which have little flexibility, nor learning management systems that allow for maximum customization but offer no content, meet teacher needs for online curriculum delivery systems.
- A human system needs to work in tandem with the performance data system
Most importantly they remind us that “even though a student or teacher can go online and track performance, people need to figure out how to use that powerful information effectively.”
The report goes on to give examples of how the schools are managing all the data on student learning that is generated, making sure that there is transparency so students see that data as well, while deploying resources to either retrofit time-based products or convert into time-based structures.
Personally I think we are just at the beginning of understanding what a powerful management information system could look like – something that can roll up from student learning into a state and federal reporting. When I watch the video about the system being designed with the Education Achievement Authority, which has daily self-assessment surveys of how students are feeling and the ability to monitor productivity and progress through color-coded icons, I can’t help but believe that in less than five years we will have a whole new way of thinking and talking about learning and teaching.