Table of Contents
Electronic Portfolio
Education or School Reform
Performance Assessment
Authentic Assessment
Alternative Assessment
Content Standards
Performance Standards
Program Standards

Technology is a method or process for handling a specific technical problem, as well as a system by which society provides its members with those things needed or desired (Webster, 1972). The International Technology Education Association (ITEA) adopts the definition of technology as "human innovation in action, involving the generation of knowledge and processes to develop systems that solve problems and extend human capabilities" (ITEA, 1995). Technology can involve tasks such as designing, inventing, innovating, practical-problem solving, producing, communicating, and transporting (Satchwell and Dugger, 1996). Satchwell and Dugger state that "technology influences our society and culture by changing our lives and our environment" (p. 2). Technology education helps students "understand, use, and evaluate the effects of current and emerging technical devices and activities" (Satchwell & Dugger, p. 2).

Multimedia refers to computer or video technology that incorporates graphics, sound, text, animation, Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), and video components into one presentation. These programs are generally interactive, allowing the student to make decisions, input responses, control the direction or pace of the presentation, and make connective links to other parts of the program. Authoring and presentation programs allow the user to digitize and store graphic, video, and audio media directly into the computer.

HTML refers to Hyper Text Markup Language, the format used to publish documents on the web. These documents, referred to as web pages or home pages, are located at an address on the web called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). The World Wide Web (WWW) is the generic term for the collection of Web computer servers that span the world. A browser is used to retrieve and display WWW documents.

A portfolio is a "purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student's efforts, progress, and achievements. The collection must include student participation in selecting contents, the criteria for selection, the criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection" (Lankes, 1995). Portfolio assessment includes performance-based works in progress, as well as best products used for assessment measured according to the achievement of content standards (Office of Research Education Consumer Guide, 1993b).

An electronic portfolio refers to the collection, and management of student work electronically through the capture and storage of information in the form of text, graphics, sound, and video" (Lankes, 1995, p. 3). For the purposes of this study, an electronic portfolio may be referred to as a digital portfolio or a computer portfolio.

Performance assessment requires students to perform, demonstrate, construct, or develop a product or a solution according to a defined standard of achievement. The "Education Reform Study on Assessment of Student Performance" includes alternative and authentic assessment under the heading of performance assessment (U.S. Department of Education, 1997a).

Authentic assessment refers to evaluation using techniques which require demonstration of authentic tasks or specific behaviors or skills as evidence of achieving educational objectives. Wiggins (1994) believes that authentic assessment requires that criteria and standards be clear so that accurate self-assessment and self-adjustment can be made by the student.

Alternative assessment is distinguished from traditional assessment in that it does not involve fact-based, multiple-choice testing, but involves on-going active student production of evidence of learning. Alternative assessment goes beyond the testing of facts and small procedures, calling for assessing complex knowledge and demonstrated capabilities that represent a "rich array of a student's abilities" (Bennett and Hawkins, 1993).

Education reform or school reform refers to federal programs designed to promote research, consensus building, and systemic change in order to ensure quality education for all Americans. Education reform grew out of the 1983 "A Nation at Risk" report which indicated that American schools were failing to educate children effectively. School reform promotes the development and adoption of skill standards and certifications. Reform instruction involves student exploration, interactive modes of instruction, extended blocks of authentic and multidisciplinary work, collaborative work, teacher as facilitator, heterogeneous groupings, and performance-based assessment (U.S. Department of Education, 1993). According to reform documents, educational tasks should be authentic, challenging, and meaningful, with students taking an active part in defining their own learning goals.

Content standards refer to what we want learners to know and be able to perform. Content standards specify the content knowledge and skills that students of all races and ethnicities, from all linguistic and cultural backgrounds, with and without special learning needs, should know and be able to do at particular developmental levels. (U.S. Department of Education, 1997a).

Performance standards refer to competency level or level of achievement within a content area. Standards may be presented for one content area or across groups of content areas. Generally, achievement is measured according to whether the student meets or exceeds the content standard. (e.g., advanced, proficient, partially proficient or basic). State content standards generally provide the definition of how students must demonstrate their proficiency in the skills and knowledge of a subject area.

Program standards refer to professional certification standards of instructional services, facilities, staff qualifications, and administrative processes of education or training institutions. Curriculum framework refers to a document published by a State government board of education outlining the desired subject content for a core academic subject area. A state framework is written by a team of content experts and serves as a bridge between national professional standards and local curriculum and instruction (U.S. Department of Education, 1997a).

Constructivism refers to the concept that students create their own knowledge within the context of their own experiences (Fosnot, 1996). Students learn, not by passively receiving knowledge, but by being actively engaged in doing authentic tasks. Personal knowledge is socially constructed within an active and collaborative learning environment.

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Copyright 1999 by Carla Hagen Piper