College Board Advanced Placement needs to take a couple more technological steps

Education & Technology

Early this summer, I participated in the First Session of the AP Reading in Louisville, Kentucky.  1,200 readers, including AP US History teachers, college instructors, and graduate students, read over 1.2 million essays. I read just over 1,020 essays in seven days. Education Testing Services (ETS) and College Board Advanced Placement leaders pulled off this magic trick once again with few problems. The leadership continues to maintain high, consistent standards on each essay.  It truly is amazing. Amazing enough that 90 percent of universities will award credit if students meet the high standard of Advanced Placement.

Interestingly enough, as well organized as this reading event is, the College Board (AP) seems to be a bit behind when it comes to technology. I think the College Board knows this and, according to some of the rumors I heard at my table, is taking some measures to use more technology prior to and during the readings across the country, including the one in Louisville. Knowing this is in the works, I have a few suggestions for the Advanced Placement higher ups to consider.

I attended the Gordon Wood (Brown University) and Nancy Cott (Harvard University) lectures as part of the “Professional Development” opportunities offered to readers on site. Gordon Wood gave a wonderful lecture on the Seeds of the Civil War in the American Revolution and Nancy Cott gave an interesting lecture on Modern Feminism from an historical perspective.  As I sat there listening to the presentations on successive nights, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if these presentations were streamed live and recorded for a wider web audience using WizIQ? Wouldn’t it be even better if the professors actually gave the presentation using a Virtual Classroom in a gigantic WizIQ MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) for others who might be interested in the topic?

The Virtual Classroom would then allow those attending online to ask questions via chat or audio. Live streaming wouldn’t allow for this sort of synchronous participation, but would allow for viewing on the web. There was also a “Best Practices” night where AP teachers shared their classroom ideas for other AP teachers to adopt (or not) into their own classroom. I thought Matthew Kazlauskas from Boston Public Schools class on ‘AP US History in the Urban Environment’ confirmed my own philosophy and approach to APUSH. Mr. Feah’s class on classroom role playing and other activities had many possibilities. How many more teachers could have benefited if they were made available online synchronously and recorded for later viewing?  As it stands, these classes are now completed and lost for all intents and purposes, except in the minds of those who were there in person

I also thought, why does this sharing only need to take place at the AP reading? Why can’t it take place year round? I’ve noticed the AP program has online events, but I think they need to take the next step, because the AP community hasn’t quite internalized these initiatives as a normal professional practice. There are so many great ideas out there that need to be shared by and among the AP community for the betterment of everyone. The technology is there and WizIQ is one of a few Virtual Classrooms that would serve this community well and take it to a new level of shared professional experience.

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