In the course I am presently taking, “Facilitating Online Learning,” I must create an artifact to share my responses to the questions in this http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/864832-setting-goals-learning-outcomes”>PPT link.

I thought I would share my homework on our class blog, since the questions relate so much to what we were looking at during our second module.
Here are the questions I had to respond to and my answers:
SETTING GOALS
What are personal and professional goals?
Personal goals are what you want to achieve yourself personally, and professional goals are what you want to achieve professionally. At times they may be overlapping especially if your personal goals and professional goals are similar, for example, studying for a degree, knowledge or to attain a skill.

Why set goals of any kind?
Without setting goals I believe we are like a swimmer who treads water in the center of a pool. The swimmer never advances nor recedes, but eventually gets tired of staying in the same place, keeping his head above water. (collage by jpalmer). In our lives, we must set goals, both long and short term, in order to feel accomplishment and satisfaction in what we do, either personally or professionally.

What are some of the challenges and benefits of goal setting?
It takes practice, careful consideration, and sensitivity to set up challenging yet attainable goals. If we learn to set goals that are too easily reachable, we will not feel challenged to work towards other goals, and if we set our goals too high, we might feel defeated by not being able to reach them.

How do you set goals?
When I set goals for myself, I plan for short and long term goals. I visualize myself and where I want to be or be doing in five years. Then I start thinking about what I have to do to in steps, and I get started. (picture from Avijit Nath in Personality Tutor) Sometimes I reach goals without even thinking about how I reached them by neuro-linguistically programming myself. Usually, the hardest thing to do is to start, so breaking down the goals into attainable steps works well for me.

What tools do you use to set your goals? Do you use text, audio, video, or images such as graphic organizers?
I start organizing myself by writing ideas on graphic organizers at the outset, but do not refer to them once I start. Once I have written something down, it is committed to my memory, and I commit myself to them.
My most recent goals have been: to learn how to use Moodle (in process); expanding my PLN (in process); setting up and using blogs in education (doing it!!! with a pilot school besides my own classes); and sharing what I do with other educators (in process constantly).

ABOUT LEARNING OUTCOMES
What are learning outcomes?
Learning outcomes are what you want learners to do after a learning session. They are the goals for learning, in essence.
In a country where traditional teacher-centered education is the norm,teachers set the learning outcomes, and students either sink or swim for traditional teachers who use their learning outcomes as a norm instead of a sliding scale to help students who do not reach the learning outcomes stipulated. Using learning outcomes, teachers can see whether or not students have learned what was set in a lesson plan or whether they need to reteach. They can be adjusted according to student needs.
Without learning outcomes in each part of planning and design, there might be haphazard teaching, and certainly without setting these daily objectives, no goals will be reached.
A big challenge for educators is setting learning outcomes which will help learners gain competencies in whatever they are learning while working with learners’ characteristics and needs. Learning outcomes are best planned to be measurable and based on performance in order to know whether students have reached the lesson objectives.
Using the new Bloom’s taxonomy, I can pose questions that will help me guide learners in their learning process by asking questions. The higher the thinking skills on the taxonomy, the more learning will take place.

ASSESSMENTS
What are assessments?
Assessments are measurable instruments we use to see what we have learned. Who sets the assessments? Students, Teachers or the administration?
Mostly teachers set assessments in guiding or teaching in learning situations. Very often administration superimposes a set of learning outcomes and assessments know as standards, competencies, and standardized exams into the fray.

Why do I need them?
Assessments let us now if learners have been able to meet the learning outcomes.

What are some of the challenges and benefits of assessments?
Some of the challenges of designing assessments is making sure that they reflect the learning, fit the students’ characteristics, and provide reliable and valid feedback of the learning process. some benefits are that if designed to align with the instruction, then they provide a reliable and valid feedback of how effective the learning was.

How do you decide how to assess your students? What do you base assessment on?
Based on what students show they need, I try to design assessments based on critical thinking and collaboration concerning the material in the syllabus so that they can strengthen their weak points through working with other students. Therefore I try to use formative, performance based assessments as much as possible to take the pressure off of summative exams (although in my EFL classes I must stick to the 80/20% ratio along with everyone else, in my teacher training classes I have gotten the administration to accept a 40/60% ratio of artifacts versus exams.)

How is Bloom’s Taxonomy connected to assessments?
When we ask students to memorize and recall by using LOTS (low order thinking skills), we are not really engaging them with the material and they will most likely lose what they learn temporarily for an exam. When we ask them to transform the material in some way, analyzing, evaluating, or creating artifacts, we are using HOTS (high order thinking skills) which helps students learn in cognitive and metacognitive domains.

What comes first, learning outcomes or assessments?
During the WiZiQ class on Sunday, backward design was mentioned in reference to designing the learning outcome and assessment before setting the goals. I happen to use backward design but do not care very much for the name. Goals, learning outcomes, and assessment must all be aligned and grow together in planning so that integral learning can happen.

What kind of assessments are there? What are formative assessments? What are summative assessments? How do I determine which to use?
It is important to use different assessment types so that all students have an opportunity to show what they learn. Summative assessments, in the form of progress tests, achievement tests, and proficiency tests give us feedback about how students do in an artificial but possibly reliable and valid instrument.
Formative assessments in the form of assigned tasks are ongoing, performance based, and student-centered, thereby providing a different kind of feedback. All assessments should be objective, and provide feedback for improving instruction, to evaluate programs and provide accountability information.

Summative assessments are very heavily used in my learning situation, and not many teachers know how to provide opportunities for formative feedback. Students are also accustomed to exams weighing a lot in their marks. Therefore, in my situation, a balance should be used in order to provide all kinds of feedback for many different purposes. Assessments are for learning: for feedback of student achievement, for planning efficiency, and for reflecting on instructional design efficiency.

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