Harvesting Gradebook in the Wild


Gary Brown coined the term Harvesting Gradebook to describe a new strategy to thinking about assessment in a Web 2.0 ePortfolio context. Theron DesRosier, Jayme Jacobson and I have worked to implement the concept, inverting it from harvesting the work from its world contexts to harvesting the assessments made of the work in-situ.


(Image by Jayme Jacobson)

Harvesting Gradebook in the Hothouse

In Fall 2008 WSUCTLT partnered with Meriem Chida to pilot the Harvesting Gradebook in her class and in Spring 2009 with Rich King to make a publicly accessible “test drive.”

These pilots are constrained within the hothouse of university courses, and they contain certain artificial aspects as a result — time for completing the process being one, scale and authenticity of the problem being another.

Into the Wild

A. Garrett Lisi offers a glimpse of how the Harvesting Gradebook might function in the wild (in a Web 2.0 community). Lisi is independent of any institution, but his work is contributing to a theoretical development in high energy physics.

Lisi created Differential Geometry wiki  as a personal wiki notebook in theoretical physics, analogous to the concept that WSUCTLT has examined in its case studies for a workspace portfolio. Lisi describes dG:

“It’s sort of a “choose your own adventure” book in theoretical physics — only the book is being written day-by-day and no one knows the ending, or if there is one. It’s my real-time research notebook, made available to public view. I hope to make it comparable to an open ended Living Reviews in Relativity article in spirit and quality, but updated more frequently and navigable as a wiki. My long term goal is to construct a concise and beautiful theoretical description of reality unifying General Relativity, Quantum Field Theory, and the Standard Model using the foundations and language of basic differential geometry. Such a theory may not exist, but that’s what I’m after. And here you can watch me walk down every dark alleyway looking for it — until I find it, or at least some interesting stuff along the way. This evolving search tree will grow and be pruned in ways I can’t now predict. But I expect the information contained to be equivalent to a book and several overlapping research papers, wikified and presented as they are written. It’s open source physics.”

Lisi is developing social and intellectual capital by his strategy of working in public, and has posted a “pre-print” of some of his work in the highly visible High Energy Physics – Theory section of arXiv entitled “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything.”

The Wikipedia entry on Lisi’s paper gives a picture of how the work has generated social capital and become a focus of theoretical debate. The paper has been accumulating peer reviews (in the form of blog posts) and a number of citations including in refereed Physics journals as well as comments on the social news website Reddit.com.

Unlike WSUCTLT’s course-bound Harvesting Gradebook examples, Lisi’s workspace portfolio and showcase pre-prints in arXiv are an open-ended community learning activity (the far end of the spectrum WSUCTLT has postulated (pdf) ). Important feedback is being accumulated in public forums, and the feedback is impacting Lisi’s stature in the High Energy Physics learning community (or Community of Practice).

This example is also interesting to me because it gives me a new perspective on the roles of showcase and workspace portfolios. Helen Barrett has this diagram that relates the two. In Lisi’s case, the showcase is his postings in arXiv. The workspace is the Differential Geometry wiki. The two run in parallel.

3 Responses

  1. […] Lisi, who is working outside the traditional academe system and who’s practice gave me insight to understand other ways of thinking about credit/reputation and also about gathering feedback for […]

  2. […] Top Posts Harvesting Gradebook in the WildAbout […]

  3. […] Community-based learning Just another WordPress.com weblog « Harvesting Gradebook in the Wild […]

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