1) Read the article: “In Defense of Cheating” by Don Norman; accessible via: http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/InDefenseOfCheating.html and comment on the following issue:

do you agree or disagree with Norman’s position? Why?

how does his view relate to your own experience in your school, university, and working life (in case you have worked somewhere sometimes)?

I strongly agree with Norman’s argument; performance-based assessment does much better service to students, and provides better information to educators and others interested in students’ abilities and accomplishments, than traditional letter grades. At the same time, by eliminating bases of comparison like grades and rankings, alternative types of student-assessment eliminate teachers’ need to arbitrarily isolate students or discourage collaboration, remove students’ motivation for cheating and other deceitful behavior which traditional schools actually encourage, and really re-center classrooms as places for learning rather than competition.

I have some experience with alternatives to letter grading in education. I went to an alternative high school where no letter grades were awarded. Instead we used a process of self-assessment, iterated with a teacher/advisor and a group of peers that resulted in documentation of all our classes and other accomplishments. My high school transcript was about 20 pages written by me and approved by other members of my school documenting the most important things I did in high school including service and travel experiences, a class I taught, independent projects, as well as classes. There is no question to me that that document was more helpful to my learning and more useful to my teachers than the high school transcript most people get: a one page list of classes with As, Bs, and Cs next to them. On the other hand, a transcript that long is enough to give university bureaucracies the hiccups. At CU, for example, there is no one whose job it is to read my high school transcript and decide whether I’ve met CU’s minimum academic preparedness standards. It took me a 2 year appeals process stay out of remedial math classes. In other words, high school transcripts from my high school are much richer sources of information about students than traditional schools’ transcripts, but are also more problematic and difficult for universities to use.

I’ve also seen the type of assessment Norman is talking about at work in an elementary-level classroom. At that school they called it whole-child assessment and used portfolios rather than transcripts, but the two were similar in that both lacked grades and other forms of ranking, provided more detailed descriptions of the child’s activities and accomplishments, covered a wider range of activities (not only classes), and included a component of self-assessment. There again I was very impressed by how well it seemed to work. That class was an exceptionally gentle and cooperative group anyway, but I think the lack of rankings helped foster a collaborative classroom culture. Portfolios were a big source of motivation and pride for every student—no one had a “bad portfolio.” And portfolios were a great tool for parents who wanted to know about their child’s work. On the other hand, that class had one full-time responsible teacher, one full-time student-teacher, and me, as a part-time assistant, all for about 20 kids. So, that kind of assessment is really great and grades/rankings are really crummy, uninformative, counter-productive in many ways BUT grades have one strong argument in their favor: they’re easy. Most public schools just do not have the resources to do better.

2) Visit one of the following websites and explore it as a medium for collaboration



I visited mamamedia.

3) Briefly discuss for your chosen website:

what did you find interesting about it?

Some of the activities are interesting. Botblox was pretty cool.

in which way is it related to “collaboration”?

I’m not sure how it relates to collaboration. There seem to be some ways for members to communicate, but most of the content is just individual activities for kids.

how does it compare with the Swiki used for our class?

It’s very different from the swiki. Whereas the swiki is a communication / collaboration space for a group, the website is basically for one-way communication from the site developers to kids.

4) which is your favorite website / system in support of collaboration (briefly justify your opinion)!

gnod is the first that comes to mind. user input about tastes in music, movies, books, are compiled to create a "map" of tastes showing things that a person with a particular preference might also enjoy.

5) have you ever read a book(s) / article(s) (or books) about collaboration? if yes:

choose the most important one

provide title and one paragraph what you found interesting about it!