SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany fall 2007 term end assessment report

As in prior terms, the accomplishment of the student learning outcomes on the outline are reported via an assessment portal

The portal is designed to be used as an interactive exploration of work done by the class this term with references to past experiences in [square brackets]. While this is not a direct measurement of student learning, I have argued that this provides a course level portfolio assessment. Although indirect, the outcome, "Students will be able to communicate and describe the healing uses of local plants and the cultural contexts in which that healing occurs," is arguably well evidenced by online evidence. The web page provides photographic evidence of a student accomplishing that particular outcome, in this case Julia Layan.

Video would provide a more direct form of evidence, but videos that spanned all activities over the whole term could not be stored on servers nor transmitted over our limited bandwidth networks. The videos would be DVDs sitting in MITC essentially unused and available only to those who can physically access MITC. Photographic web page essays are compact, can be stored, and can be transmitted over our networks. These pages are available both to future sections of the course, students on other campuses, even globally.

Part of the attraction of web pages is best captured by a warning to those who post comments on web pages. W3 coordinates the standards that underlie the world wide web. The warning runs along the lines of, "Comments posted on this site will be publicly viewable forever or at least the next 10,000 years." As writing implements and surfaces permitted the writing down of history and thus cleaved the prehistoric from the historic, so it seems that the Internet will cleave inaccessible paper, book and library based history from Googleable, globally and eternally computer accessible history.

If this seems like hubris, then have a look at the Internet archives project.

Now officially recognized as a library, the archives provide access to over 85 billion pages of Internet "history." Included in the archives are pages I created back in 2000, with regular updates since that time. A mock-up I made in 1998 or 1999 replete with an image was archived in June 2000 and can still be retrieved from the archives.

One might note that this mock-up was originally built before the college had a web site with a web server. These archive copies were not submitted by me - the archive actively seeks to store copies of the entire Internet.

Web pages may ultimately prove far more durable than any previous technology for storing information. At the very least, the assessment portal provides evidence of learning that is accessible to college personnel.