May 9th, 2012: “The Next Digital Revolution in Education? Grading.”

Not sure about CoursePeer, but this guy is absolutely right.  With the huge number of college graduates out there looking for jobs, there is a growing need for alternative/complementary signaling and screening methods.  Students need better ways to convey their individual talents and employers want to know which of the hundreds of college grad applicants is best suited for the job.  With the right online tools, students who forgo college might even be able to prove they are just as qualified as applicants with university degrees.  That would be exciting.

But there’s another big group interested in digital learning: employers.

Think about how employers are currently served. The university system spews out trained graduates — but some are more trained than others. How do employers currently sort out who’s who? Well, universities do help some by providing what is a called a “grade,” one for each course the student has taken, printed out on an official transcript, protected with currency-like copying security. But even after reviewing a transcript, employers have to go through a huge, personnel-intensive process of screening applications on a bunch of dimensions that the grade is not telling them. Sometimes that screening process is designed to learn things professors already know: how well a student can write, argue, debate, interact, and ultimately think and be creative. Such duplication of effort implies waste.

The problem is that the grade is an aggregate statistic. A student who wrote a wonderful assignment, but botched a test under time pressure, could still earn an “A.” So could one who rushed an assignment, but is quite good under pressure in an exam. Even worse, the conditions for earning a grade are, to a large extent, arbitrary, with different professors assessing students with different weightings for different courses. Much of that weighting is constrained by “university rules” that basically require that enough of the grade comes from things (like exams) where it is harder for students to cheat. That’s useful for the university, but it isn’t necessarily of the same value for employers.

Full article herevia HBR Blogs

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