Saturday, April 16, 2011

Is it learning if there is no assessment?

I have a feeling that this question falls into the category of "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"... but I will ask the question anyway :-)

This question came to me by reading Sheena's comment in my Different Levels of m post a few days ago. Sheena wrote that she was thinking of an SMS based mLearning project, being inspired by text4baby. Having never heard of text4baby, I looked into it (big thanks to Sheena for bringing it to my attention :-) ) So how does text4baby work? According to the site

Registration is easy and can be done online here or from your cell phone. Simply text the word BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411. You’ll be asked to enter your baby’s due date or your baby’s birthday and your zip code.

Once you are registered you will start receiving free messages with tips for your pregnancy and caring for your baby. These messages are timed to your due date or your baby’s birth date. If your due date changes, you can text UPDATE to 511411 and enter your new due date.
This is an intriguing learning service and the geek in me wonders what the back end looks like :-)  This got me thinking.  In instructional design (no matter what model you use) there is always an Evaluation or Assessment aspect.  Did the learner learn what they were supposed to learn? Could they demonstrate the desired behavior?  How do you test this?  With text4baby it doesn't seem like there is an assessment component. You sign-up and you are sent personalize information daily via text, but it doesn't seem like there is follow up in terms of assessment. So for us learning professionals, is there learning taking place if there is no assessment to demonstrate that learning has taken place? Your thoughts?

As an aside, for all fellow mobiMOOC participants, how high up is assessment in your mental list when you're thinking about creating mLearning?
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