Snap to it! When assessment goes viral…….

Right, for the last two weeks I’ve become really interested in Snapchat. I have to admit I struggled with it, the whole issue of impermanency really bothered me. I couldn’t take an image and send on to others, once I’d snapped it and sent it “poof” if was gone. It took me ages to get used to that, I’d take a picture of video and then fail to add text, so my friends were getting these random, disconnected images all of the time – once I worked out how to add text – I was off and flying. Its a great tool for fun chats or lazy ones……sort of like the Tumblr of instant messaging. snapchat2I decided to go have a look online for some info on this app – I was staggered to learn that on average 700million snaps were being sent per day. Huge numbers of messages that once sent were being deleted. I’m going to accept the whole “deleted off the server” thing as being true, but part of me thinks nothing is ever deleted on the internet so where are all these possibly being stored and for what purpose. I tend to slip into conspiracy theories pretty easily…….anyway I read a few interviews with Evan Spiegel one of the founders of Snapchat and its CEO, an interesting guy who essentially developed the app with Bobbie Murphy and Reggie Brown, all Standford University students, as a project for one of their design classes. Interesting – one of the most popular apps started out as a university assessment. Maybe we should do that in our program? Set a “design an app” task for students – design an app that could be used in teaching or learning? Pretty challenging, and considering Reggie Brown was brought in to work with them since he is an expert coder, well……it kind of puts this type of assessment task out of the realm of the normal type of skills needed. Got me thinking though, assessment needs to be real and for us in pre-service teacher program, that means it needs to be teachable content or teaching related. I think I try to keep that as a core skill in the assessment tasks I set, but I wonder if I manage to do that all of the time? Authentic assessment has been a buzz word for the last few years, some people were concerned that if we focused on authenticity, then the emphasis shifts to processes and skills, not content knowledge or theoretical knowledge. I disagree, I think if we carefully plan an assessment task we can hit all of these aspects equally. Assessment needs to be meaningful, real and achieve a balance between content/theory and processes/skills. Snapchat is the perfect example of this, there is a strong design focus sitting behind the fun and usability – it is a communication tool, that is private and linked to friends (as opposed to public messages) and is enabled to use video or images. The disposability of the messages is smart, your device will not be consumed with copies of your messages sitting there taking up space, and since its images or video, this could be potentially a huge memory-eater. So I will perservere, keep on perfecting my Snapchat-skills. I always admire ideas that take off, so you never know……an app assessment task might appear one day in my units!