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Online assessment design

Often our focus when designing content for online or face-to-face delivery is on the content itself and we forget about the important part of the learning — assessment. Assessments in any delivery method are an important part of the learning process and we should view it as part of the whole learning experience and not as an evaluation tool of the knowledge that has been taught.

Assessment is an important part of the process of evaluating in evidence-based terms the learner’s knowledge, skills, beliefs and attitude to learning, subject matter, and their own competency.

Types of assessment

  • Formative assessment refers to assessment that is ongoing within the duration of the learning. For example; let’s say you were discussing with someone the skills they need to for basic reception duties. Any assessment you would design would need to indicate the learner had an understanding of what skills were required to attend to reception.
  • Summative assessment refers to assessment that is completed at the end of the course and demonstrates the learner, in our example, can perform basic reception duties. To assess this, you would observe them perform on the job basic reception duties.
  • Diagnostic assessment is designed to highlight any gaps in knowledge and identify strengths.
  • Integrative assessment refers to assessment that clusters units of competency or learning objectives. This approach endeavours to combine knowledge, understanding, problem solving and technical skills into assessment.

Deciding what to assess

What you assess is inextricably linked to your learning objectives, so make sure you understand the outcomes you want your learners to reach. Don’t test for the sake of testing; test to evaluate understanding and competency of the tasks you are assessing. Consider the following when designing your assessment:

  • Define the purpose of assessment
  • Will all learners be able to demonstrate their learning?
  • How will you collect evidence to support their learning?
  • These considerations will help you plan and choose your assessment methods and tools.

Assessment methods and tools for online delivery

Designing good assessment requires the same principles whether it’s for Higher Education or Vocational Education. The increased use of Blackboard and Moodle suggests that trainers and educators are connecting with technology to create engaging and interactive learning, this also includes assessment. Online assessment, like face to face assessment can take many forms.

  • Q&A’s: this is verbal, exam, short answer or multiple choice questions
  • Performance/ practical demonstration
  • Folio of work
  • Scenarios and case studies
  • Workbook
  • Role play

Some advantages of assessing online are: learners acquire instant feedback; it can foster collaborative learning, especially if you use discussion forums (a great way to assess participation). Learners can access the assessment on the go; and increase their opportunities of practice and ongoing feedback. As in with any technology, there are some challenges to also consider, such as reliability of technology, technical skills and combating the learners fear of feeling isolated and disconnected from the instructor. To overcome these challenges, prepare the learner for the tool, show them how to use it and let them practice.

Next time we’ll look at how you can incorporate assessment tools in Moodle. Check out our presentations on assessment for more guidance. If you have any tips and hints on how you develop assessment for your business, we’d love to hear from you.