The MAPLE project was proposed as a transnational strategic partnership aimed at automating the Measurement of Attainment and Progress in Learning across Europe (MAPLE). It has to be carried out transnationally as one of the pivotal aims is to provide comparative empirical data between countries. The initiative addresses three key dimensions. The first is a focus on computational thinking and finding out what pupils know and understand before and after formal teaching. The second is the use of open source infrastructure and methods to support assessment from diagnostic, formative and summative perspectives. The third is to act as a focus in the shift to educate for understanding rather than learning procedures specific to technologies that are subject to rapid change and lend themselves to problem based approaches and the support of basic skills.
The project outcomes are important in their own right in that we will be able to get objective measures of both attainment and progress with comparative measures between institutions and countries. This is similar in concept to PISA but in Computing and with any school invited to join in at no cost and with full automation of feedback for the results to individual schools with their data remaining confidential to them. The primary target group is pupils in the 10-14 age range and their teachers.
The aim is to have an impact at an institutional and policy level by using a grass roots teacher community led project using data from their institutions to raise the profile of professional teachers as practitioners of high quality research based on empirical quantified data. It will be possible from a series of on-line tests taken every 6 months during lower secondary school, to provide individual and departmental progress measures that are confidential to the school but with aggregation of scores for local, national and international comparisons.
A clear spin-off for the project is to train teachers in the use of collaborative technology based methods to exploit “Big Data”, in an education setting. In addition, the process under-pins progression and transition to nationally regulated computing qualifications referenced to the EQF and supporting the principles of ECVET and EQARF.
The methodology can be transferred to any other subject areas and in particular mathematics, science and technology. The foundation in computational thinking is relevant to under-pinning mathematical competence and general literacy in a technological age. It is focused on using established open source tools developed through co-funding in several other EU projects and sustainably developed by TLM one of NAACE’s strategic partners, beyond the funding periods of those projects.
Thus the project will provide OER support building on previous projects and going well beyond anything that could be achieved by starting from a zero based beginning. The OER delivery mechanism is already in place and over 60,000 pupils across 670 schools have been tested in England within 9 months of the proposal being suggested. The potential is for 10s of millions of pupils to participate across Europe. When this is achieved, it will be by far the most significant Erasmus+ project in terms of significant impact across Europe.
The tests are supported by schemes of work related to the new English national curriculum and referenced to Level 2 of the European Qualifications Framework with support for progression to Level 3 and 4. This provides another potential spin off in raising the profile of the EQF as an international referencing tool. Links from the learning outcomes and under-pinning assessment criteria to OERs, and a comprehensive learning management system which will be free for all participants. This means that the strategic value of the tests in encouraging take up of wider digital learning tools and open education resources as well as supporting transversal technology skills and raising levels of attainment.
NAACE supported by sponsor partner TLM, has already demonstrated proof of concept by setting up and sustaining a national testing programme in just a few months from its initiation as a concept. Beyond the grant funding, providing optional low cost certification of pupil attainment and progress at 1 Euro per certificate will easily sustain development and extension to other subjects and further development of open education resources. There is also the option to get companies to sponsor certificates. The main needs of the project is for increasing the server capacity, translation and localisation, training teachers, dissemination and improvements to the delivery platform to scale to millions of participant end users.