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[Assessment & Curriculum Design Spotlight] Keeping an #EducatorFirst Perspective

[Assessment & Curriculum Design Spotlight] Keeping an #EducatorFirst Perspective

Since last summer, I’ve been using the hashtag “#EducatorFirst” with my curriculum team and other Edmentum colleagues and on social media. Many people light up at the idea of putting educators first when it comes to discussing education and building educational technology. However, over the last few weeks, my team has started changing the conversation by adding the hashtag “#StudentFirst” to highlight the fact that the students are at the center of it all. This additional hashtag is great because it ties together the two most important things we need to keep in mind for assessment and curriculum design—educators and students. Each part of this team works together to learn and grow as individuals. 

What does educator first mean in assessment and curriculum design? 

As the Edmentum Curriculum team, we want to put educators first by designing assessments, content, and technology that is balanced and provides for a meaningful learning experience that involves both teachers and students. We want to help educators and learners understand where they are, where they need to go, and how best to get there. Our curriculum will be designed to be useful, informative, timely, and valuable. These are all aspects of great instruction, and we want our assessments to be truly reflective of the content and skills needed for learning. Everything we build should be relevant and part of a larger system to move students toward the next thing. 

I like to think of our curriculum and assessments as an ecosystem for teachers and students that gives feedback on where they are, offers recommendations on how to adapt or change their learning, and  provides those aha moments to let them know they have moved forward in their learning!

What are some trends in the past that are expected to be seen in the future?

Over the last year, I have looked at many ways to build this balanced system. I also have looked for ways to make it easier for students and teachers to improve in their learning. A recommendation for improving content that I hear often is to bring more engagement in instruction and assessments. To me, engagement comes from how the material is presented, how relevant it is, and how much fun it can be to complete.

We have seen a lot of growth in the areas of gamification, virtual reality, and augmented reality and will most likely continue to see those areas reaching new heights. My team is working hard to bring these elements to all our programs. If students are more motivated to learn, then teachers will have more time to support their learning. That’s part of the educator first movement to me—giving teachers time back to work with students.

Another trend that I’m seeing is what I call “smarter assessments.” Assessments should give you more information and insight than just a score. Assessment items should be supercharged with tons of data so that teachers and students can learn from them. We want students to receive meaningful feedback that will help them grow in their learning.

My team is looking to add loads of metadata to our assessment items so that we can share the following with each student: what questions were missed, how incorrect answers relate to common misconceptions, where to review the material, and when to move on to the next concept in a lesson. Assessments are only as good as the data they provide. Putting students and educators first means making assessments truly meaningful for everyone involved in the learning process.

It’s easy for me to say that we will always put educators and students first. The hard part is finding a balance in how to truly support educators and students in a way that changes everything about typical classroom instruction. My team is actively talking and meeting with educators to learn and respond to the everchanging needs of students. 

We’re also listening to students. Learners have an incredible understanding of what they want to learn and see in their instruction. I’m optimistic that by focusing our curriculum design mindset on putting educators and students first we will open up a new partnership between EdTech and school systems. This will allow for programs that support everyone who walks into a classroom, whether in person or virtually.

At Edmentum, we’re proud to offer comprehensive and engaging online courseware for educators and students. Interested in learning more? Check out our guide to Meeting Student Needs with Online Curriculum!