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PULSE for Contemporary Assessment
Author: Sofia Pardo , ideasLAB | September 14th, 2011

285_PulseGenerating and publishing content is no longer a task exclusively associated with journalists, professional writers or news broadcasters, today, the proliferation of online publishing platforms provides anyone with the means to produce media and reach large audiences. In addition, the ‘process of writing’ has become a transparent and social endeavour with writers and readers engaging in open dialogue. Learners are more widely engaging in publishing online content across formal, informal, personal and public contexts, gaining exposure to and learning from diverse communities. Classroom blogs and wikis are increasingly becoming a staple in schools with both teachers and students taking advantage of the opportunities that these online spaces afford.

Coupled with learners increased production of online content is the need to track, manage, assess and understand the quality of this content. The dynamic and distributed nature of online content presents a challenge for educators as they try to extend their summative and formative assessment practices to incorporate students’ online content. PULSE is an embedded learning analytics tool that enables the collection, analysis and reporting of diverse web-based content. This tool provides educators with the means to assess student online learning where it happens, be a social network, online learning community, wiki or any other online learning platform.

PULSE consists of a browser plug-in installed once and a website that houses a database with all content and associated metadata (e.g. assessment criteria or rubrics) for each author (e.g. student). As a browser plug-in PULSE allows for the assessment of content in its original publishing context, while the database serves as a repository of all the content assessed from which reports, for individual learners and entire classes, can be automatically generated.

At the heart of PULSE is the concept of a lens which can be modelled and customized to reflect any assessment framework. Educators can make use of the default assessment lenses, modify them or create their own as well as include multiple assessors if needed. PULSE empowers educators with an agile and flexible contemporary learning analytics tool that works across different publishing platforms to leverage students’ online content production.

PULSE also lends itself for self and peer assessment, enabling learners to reflect on their own online content and give feedback to others. Learners can, as a result, capture, annotate and showcase their work across different online spaces over time as they move across school years and learning contexts.

ideasLAB has made PULSE freely available after its launch at ISTE 2011. Educators or anyone interested in doing analysis of online content, such as movies, photos, comments, blog posts and so on can benefit from using PULSE. If you are interested in participating in the closed beta please contact ideasLAB, a demo preview can be found at pulse.ideaslab.edu.au

Dr Sofia Pardo is the leading researcher of the ideasLAB. She has nearly 10 years of experience as a researcher and has recently completed a PhD at The University of Melbourne on the evaluation of educational software for primary school children. Before joining the ideasLAB in 2009, Sofia was part of the Research Branch at Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

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