Today was my annual lesson in authenticity.
I’ve spent since November 7 riding my rollers a couple times a week to try to keep my legs about me.
It is actually a little less fun than it looks, but it is better than riding home in the dark on snowy roads and hoping that drivers can see me…and that they care to avoid me.
Today was my first real ride home and as much as I think I am pushing myself on the rollers and think I am getting a decent workout, it is nowhere close to grunting up the hill on a singlespeed.
Here is my route. I have no idea why it looks like I rode down the hill from the sidewalk on Hillside Drive to the roof of Sun Country Toyota and back.
My point, vague as it may be, is that pretending that you are doing something when you are not actually doing that thing is never as good as actually doing that thing. Riding the rollers is a moderately good workout, but it is not riding up a hill.
In the same way, as teachers, when we try to simulate real-life activities in a classroom, we need to remember that actually doing the thing is generally better than pretending to do that thing. This has implications for the types of assessments we use. How many of our students will need to know how to pass a multiple guess exam in their career? (Maybe those who work for Pearson creating the next high-stakes exam for elementary school kids.)
It also has implications for what technology environment we use. As useful as LMSs are at managing students, they are all exceedingly poor at allowing students to engage in the actual work that they will be doing in their career. Perhaps there will be a few who will make a career of responding to forum posts or downloading powerpoint slides, but I suspect that those will be few and far between.
I get that universities need ways to manage enrollments and authenticate students, but surely there are ways to do that outside of the bloatware provided by the likes of Blackboard. If we reduce our reliance on the LMS, then could we not free up resources (people, software, etc) for students to actually engage in the activities that we know are of significant educative value?
I think I’ve stretched this analogy thin enough. Authenticity is important.
Keep the rubber side down.