October 23, 2007
MarkBernstein.org
 
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WikiSym

An interesting, disturbing talk at WikiSym from Andrea Forte and Amy Bruckman described an exciting instructional project using Wikis in a US high school. All the desired and hoped-for things happened: students were engaged, they wrote lots of good things, they learned far more about the subject than did students in past years, they created a wiki of lasting value to other students and perhaps to outsiders.

You may be surprised to learn that, to the participants of the student, this was bad news. Bad, as the teacher pointed out, because all this time and energy wouldn't show up on the standardized test — and the test was really all that mattered. Bad, as several students pointed out in their evaluations, because by learning nuances and details that would not be evaluated, they might actually be hurting their chances to get into a good college, a top graduate school, and so the profession.

This signals, in the US, that research in academic computing might be essentially over. If all changes are likely to have negative impact, what's the point?