Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New iPad app helps teachers better serve their students

Two Melbourne educators, Frank Ryder, a teacher turned software developer, and Gary Bass, an Apple Distinguished Educator who lives and breathes technology, have developed Rubrica, a rubric manager and tool for teachers that runs on the iPad. It includes a series of example rubrics to be used and to show teachers how to make their own.

‘‘Rubrica came from a group of us that had access to a high level of impressive technology,’’ Bass says. ‘‘We were linked with education but we thought it was being used for trivial applications. We thought about what we could use this impressive technology for – what could we improve – and overwhelmingly the answer was assessment.

‘‘Assessment in schools is being done the way it has always been done,’’ he says. ‘‘It is onerous, time consuming and important, and it is high stakes. Rubrica comes from the idea that we have got a technology that can support the work of teachers, which is about teaching, learning and assessing. There is a body of thought in education that says that if something can’t be standardised tested, it can’t be done. Ongoing assessment done using rubrics changes that.’’

‘‘An example is dance,’’ Ryder says. ‘‘It’s more qualitative than quantitative. But you can use a rubric with a set of descriptive things that the assessor is looking for, and so an assessment can be done.’’

‘‘So, Rubrica will allow things that can’t be tested to be done in schools,’’ Bass says.

Rubrics are also used by judges of Olympic diving. ‘‘They have a rubric and they can turn a dive that last less than two seconds into a score,’’ Bass says. ‘‘They discount the high and low and get a score that is extremely robust. They can ask other judges to view a video of the dive and those judges, using the rubric, will get very close to the same score.’’

Rubica (rubrica.com.au) works within Filemaker Go, an iPad database app. Broadly the idea is that rubrics to suit subjects being taught are loaded into the teacher’s iPad, which also has details of the students in that teacher’s group. The teacher then uses the rubric to mark and comment upon each student’s work in a variety of ways, according to pre-determined criteria. Other relevant rubrics can be selected from a drop-down menu.

Online Masters and PhDs

Online and Distance Learning