Tests! We don't need no stinking tests (in the 21st Century)

Teachers and parents railing against tests everywhere while states and the federal government ramp up more flawed multiple choice tests for the kids to take. So here we are. It's 2013 and nearly every kid, ages 8-18 in America (sans some students living in poverty) owns some sort of iPhone/Droid or tablet with a built in camera to take and share snapshots and videos for all the world to see. Heck, they use these tools so much that video became the most widely shared media type in 2012 surpassing text, images, and audio only. They use these tools to share the important and no so important moments in their lives, to goof around with and to instruct others on how to do something they have become an expert in such as a video game, skateboarding trick or even how to braid hair. As I am sure you have heard from your nightly newscast that they are also famous for using these powerful tools to do some not so good things as well. But by and large, they use their devices ability to record  and share anything in interesting and mostly positive ways.

Yet, most schools in America ban or limit their students use of such tools in the classroom.  And while a few pioneering folks in the world of education and technology have called for a total immersion of such personal tools in the learning process for some great reasons such as free and easy access to the world of information and the ability to collaborate with other students and teachers, I believe they have missed the most compelling reason of all. The powerful personal recording and sharing capabilities of these  21st Century tools could and should replace the current proliferation of the outdated standardized tests that our students have been subject to for far too long while transforming our culture of student learning assessment from drive-by to real-time, from standardized to personalized and from rote to performance based. And it should not be too hard to do given whats available and mostly for free given that most students own their own devices and bring their own networks with them to school each day. Heck, camera's are not new in education. We've been using them for 50 years in sports, teacher preparation and student broadcasts. The difference now is that their personal, their networked and every one has one. The time has come to wrap our arms around these devices and some of the innovative apps being developed to achieve this new world of student learning assessment such as showme and explain everything so that we can get back to teaching and learning at the highest level of bloom instead of the middle level of proficiency on a standardized test. Tests! We don't need no stinking tests.