Scores on the door

I’ve recently returned from an event which probably wasn’t for me. A Technology Exemplar Open day at Oldham College. The event itself was fine and we were well looked after by Oldham College but the content wasn’t really for me.

I’d become aware of the event through emails from the JISC RSC-Northwest and Julie Harding at the college itself. I’ve worked with Julie on several occasions; first as her e-Guide Trainer and latterly as her Advanced e-Guide facilitator – but with a bit of MoLeNET mentor support in between! I really like Julie’s enthusiasm for e-Learning and appreciate the hard work her manager Roger Clegg, puts into giving her the time and facilities to develop.

So, as my work has pretty much dried up for this academic year (hopefully only for now – fingers crossed!) and I have some time on my hands, I thought that it would be useful to see what they’ve been up to. A bit of personal CPD.

There was an impressive list of attendees from all over the country and I thought it would be a great day – but I was misled by the title. Apart from Julie’s presentation, which DID enthuse me, there were two others which were purely technology. Not that others in the room weren’t enthralled – they were, but the other two subjects just don’t ring my bell. MIS and mini-MIS (Grade Book). There was absolutely no point in me giving up too much of my tiny brain to understanding HOW they worked: just WHAT they did was enough. I can’t take in new things without playing (activist) and as I have no opportunity to play with these technologies, I have to just take away what I can. We were shown a beta version of Share Point 2010 with a newly added ‘decomposition tree’ – and that impressed me. If I was still in a college, I could and would see the point of using this. However not today and – no mention of cost.

Julie showed us what she’s been doing with her e-Learning Moodle course for staff. I’d heard plenty about it prior to today, but was impressed with the way it worked. The ethos is something I’d started to work on myself back at Dewsbury but I couldn’t fix on any grading (gold, silver, bronze v good, bad, ugly etc.) that worked. This is something that still exercises my thoughts. To encourage progression. Julie and Oldham College have decided to go with the Ofsted grading criteria, which is a scale I’ve never gone along with:

  • Outstanding
  • Good
  • Satisfactory
  • Inadequate

It seems so demoralising. Other than ‘Outstanding‘ all the rest are a bit dismissive; ‘Good‘ being damned with faint praise [to paraphrase Alexander Pope] and ‘Satisfactory‘ being lumped with ‘Inadequate‘ in salacious news reports. Just the other week I heard an announcer say something along the lines of “‘xx’% of British schools are failing. Ofsted inspections have classed them as either satisfactory or inadequate” – surely if you’re satisfactory you are … well, satisfactory. Wouldn’t it be better to have a scale that is more upbeat, more positive – even if it has to be just four points? The whole four-point scale thing needs more exploration for me too.

On our Saturday walk, John Rousell talked about a research project he did for his Dip. Ed. where he naughtily asked for answers (difficult moral answers) along a four point scale. The majority of respondents selected none of the given answers and chose their own mid-way ‘about right’ answer. Given difficult choices, most of us would choose a mid-way route, why else would we need the word average (which over time, like good, has been given a bad press)?

I was hoping that I could come up with a scale which rewards desired personal progress and might be more supportive of the learner’s work. Initial thoughts came up with:

  • Exemplary
  • Singing and dancing
  • Improving
  • Up and running

Each would have descriptive criteria to explain how each might be achieved, but although the route was visible to the learner (in this case colleagues undertaking staff development), it would not be prescribed. As you might guess, I’m not happy with this grading yet and feel it needs more discussion but frankly (even if slightly factitious) naming the grading after Super Heroes would be more engaging than the Ofsted ranking.


  • Superman
  • Spiderman
  • Batman
  • Captain America


  • Cat Woman
  • Mystique
  • Xena
  • Captain Marvel

It was remarkably difficult by the way to come up with androgynous heroes and despite the huge list on Wikipedia of Super-heroines – I recognised very few.

Addendum: I saw this on Sunday:

Perhaps slipping back to the Basic > Intermediate > Advanced > Expert routine can work then?

One Response to “Scores on the door”

  1. ‘Virtual’ – an environment for learning? « EduVel Says:

    […] post regarding ‘levels’ – James Clay e-Learning Stuff Podcast on this subject: […]

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