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Usable Knowledge

What You Read This Year

Making the grade, the Metaverse, and controversy in the classroom — our most read stories of 2022 show some serious thinking outside the box
Highlights 2022

Grading of some kind or other featured prominently in the stories that interested you the most this year: from reimagining grades, to dialing down the pressure that some parents can put on their kids about their GPAs, to advice on how to overcome that age-old problem of students cheating to get good test scores. Not to mention a story that, in your opinion, deserved top grades for exploring a topic that is out of this world: learning in the Metaverse.

Without further ado, here are your top five Usable Knowledge stories of the year, along with some extra resources if you want to dive deeper:

Badges Instead of Grades

The traditional letter grade system has been around for a long time but this past summer, the Democratic Knowledge Project proposed a new way of measuring K–12 student learning: a competency-based badging approach focused on the mastery of skills.

  • You can read about another potential change to academic grading in a related article in Education Week. The Carnegie unit, developed more than a hundred years ago to measure how much time students spend on a given subject in secondary and higher education, could be headed to the scrap heap, it reports.

Parents: Are You Putting Too Much College Pressure on Your Kid?

Getting into college is a competitive business but stressed-out parents can unintentionally make the process even tougher for their students. Thankfully, the Making Caring Common project shared some great questions that parents can ask themselves to avoid the problem.

  • In other college news: Higher education enrollment has not recovered from the pandemic. Learn about the ongoing declines in undergraduate students in this report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The Questionable Ethics of College Students

The verdict was grim. “Not only do students cheat and unabashedly discuss their cheating, but they don’t see anything wrong with it — they rationalize and justify academic dishonesty,” according to Wendy Fischman, co-author of The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be, who offered advice on what colleges can do about it.

  • Related to student ethics: Could a new artificial intelligence program that can write essays take cheating to a whole new level? Find out more here and here.

What Will Learning in the Metaverse Look Like?

The Metaverse isn’t just for Facebook. In the spring, a team of researchers explored the possibilities of introducing immersive technology, such as virtual and augmented reality, into the classroom with their manual, An Introduction to Learning in the Metaverse.

  • For more on the Metaverse and why Mark Zuckerberg’s bid to develop augmented and virtual reality tech has had a “bumpy year,” check out this article in The New York Times.

You Want to Teach What?

Many teachers are worried about the potential ramifications of discussing controversial topics with their students, particularly during these politically divisive times. In her book, Hard Questions: Learning to Teach Controversial Issues, co-author Judith Pace considers how preservice programs can best prepare teachers to tackle thorny issues.

  • Read another Usable Knowledge story to learn what the general public thinks about educators teaching hot-button issues in the classroom, such as racism, sexuality, and gender, here.

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