Jenny Mackness raises some interesting issues arising from some recent presentations by Stephen Downes.

There are many issues to consider here, but there is one additional issue that needs to be raised, namely 'currency' as opposed to 'assessment'.

In a sense assessment it not the real issue, it is but a stage on the way to the main issue. Of course, it is not a trivial task, but educators are pretty good at it by now (a few hundred years of practice), even though we might not always agree with each other on how it should be done - or even what exactly it is that we should assess. (From norm referenced to criteria referenced, and from content to capability).

However, assessment is really just the first stage. Despite the importance that institutions attach to performance in assessment (i.e. a numerical score indicating successfully demonstrating compliance with the institution's prescribed outcomes), most learners are concerned with value in a wider context. They want to move on. They want to use the academic or professional capital that their qualification gives them as currency in the wider market place; they want to cash in that capital for new roles in society, with financial, status, social, personal, community etc benefits.

That's currency - within one or more 'markets' in society.

Currency, ideally, must travel, quickly and simply, and as widely as possible. It's a reductionist, simplistic mode of social interaction.

So the key issue is not really how to assess, but how to transform the evidence and learning-mapping from the places it has been created (work, school, university, community, social group, social networks, etc) - through assessment frameworks - into currency.

Maybe we're looking for the Bitcoins of learning.

And ...

See here for some debate on this in OLDaily ...