Taskstream

I’ve been checking out Task-stream, to see how it works, and test if it would be helpful for making art lesson plans. On the one hand, it does a good job of holding the user’s hand through the lesson planning process, giving suggestions, letting them click through standards menus, easily upload attachments, and giving descriptions for each segment of the lesson plan. But then again, it holds the user’s hand and babies them through making the units and lessons, without having the more advanced options that someone who is already a teacher would need. For instance, there are several nice lesson or unit plan templates, which can be linked together to make a nicely navigable whole. There’s only one problem — students don’t have the ability to make our own templates. I can’t say, for instance, that I want a “essential question” category added to the standard NAU format, which is most inconvenient.

The same problem pops up in other Task-stream features. It is not possible, for instance (unless I’m missing something really obvious), to edit the portfolio or web-page templates in CSS or HTML, and give them a bit of personality. They are the epitome of cookie-cutterism.

An example of a portfolio. Yes, that’s pretty much how it has to look.

Here’s a lesson plan (don’t look at it too carefully!).

They are in desperate need of something in between the teaching for dummies approach that seems to be going on now, and requiring that everyone be able to program all those features themselves. A customizable portfolio template that allows at least as much freedom as blogspot would be a nice start. And wouldn’t it be cool to have a matching blog, portfolio, and website?

This is pretty interesting: there may be no room for individual creativity in Taskstream portfolios, but there seems to be plenty scope for education professors to impose rigid requirments on us. I found a Secondary BS Ed required portfolio. Oh how I am brimming with enthusiasm for next semester.

At least there can be no confusion on what they want from us.

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