Thursday, August 6, 2020

Online Assessment with Portfolios in Response to the Coronavirus, 8am Wednesday

I will talk on "Online Assessment in Response to the Coronavirus" Wednesday 12 August, 8-9 am, AEST (Canberra Time) as part of the Microlearning Series curated by Manisha Khetarpal at Maskwacis Cultural College in Canada. This is the third of six weekly sessions.  Register now.

Higher Education After COVID-19

  1. Responding to the Coronavirus Emergency with e-Learning
  2. Open Content for e-Learning in Response to the Coronavirus
  3. Online Assessment with e-Portfolios in Response to the Coronavirus
  4. Tools used to engage students in online delivery
  5. Mentoring student group work onlin.
  6. Higher education after COVID-19: Not business as usual
These are online, open to all and free, but please  register now. Suggestions are welcome.

Part 3: Online Assessment with Portfolios in Response to the Coronavirus

Slides and notes (2 Mbytes PDF)

Due to the risk of COVID-19, universities are using online invigilated examinations in place of examination rooms. However, there are much better ways to assess students online. Assessment can be an afterthought when delivering a face to face course: after all, it comes after the learning, doesn't it? Perhaps not. Assessment can be used to provide the student and the teach information on what they already know, to help plan what to learn and how. Assessment can be used during learning to see what more needs to be done. Assessment can also be integrated into what the student works on, in real world tasks, or simulations of them. A portfolio can be used for students to collect evidence of the skills and knowledge they have gained in formal courses and co-curricular, to show they have the real world skills needed to graduate. All of these approaches to assessment require more skill of the educator, than a final examination, but may not take any extra time. There are tools which can be used online, such as Moodle (Quizzes, forums, and peer assessed assignments) and Mahara (e-portfolios), but these require a knowledge of pedagogy, as well as the technology.  This third talk in the series and also I will cover some requests from the second talk.

See also:
  1. Assessment for ICT Sustainability-Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future, (ANU COMP7310, Athabasca University COMP 635,  ACS Green Technology Strategies), Worthington, 2016
  2. Assessment for the Learning to Reflect module for the ANU TechLauncher program, (COMP3500, COMP3550, COMP3710, COMP4500, and COMP8715), Worthington, 2019
  3. Capstone e-Portfolio for the Masters of Education, Athabasca University, Tom Worthington (2016)

Don't Replace Long Paper Examinations with Long Electronic Ones

  • Online invigilation allows paperless home exams
  • ProctorU at Athabasca University,  Proctorio at ANU
  • Work okay, but do we need a long exam?

In the first half of the year I tried a couple of demo exams with one of the leading online exams products. There were some good points : the compatibility test beforehand warned my CPU was too slow, but it worked okay anyway. I have a relatively under-powered laptop by today's standards and slow Internet connection. This is not just because I am a cheapskate, I am doing what Ken Mattingly did for Apollo 13: make sure that if it works on my equipment, it will work for those out in the void.

The business of panning the camera around the room, to make sure no one else was present was a bit of light relief.

Having tried this process twice, I could image taking a short test this way. There is the comfort of a familiar environment, rather than an exam room, but help is further away. If it was for a small amount of my grade (perhaps 20%) and short (around 30 minutes), this might be tolerable, just. But if for the majority of the grade in a course and for hours, there is no way I would ever contemplate sitting such a test.

In my view, any exam should be relatively short, more like a take-home examination, than end of semester one. One issue is when the students can do it. I worry that some course designers are assuming all the students take the test at precisely the same time. This will not work well at home. There should be a period of a day, or days, over which students can choose to start their exam.

Academics and university administrators may be using online examinations in the mistaken belief that some law, policy or rule requires examinations. Even before COVID-19, there was flexibility with how assessment could be done. Assessment rules generally have a lot of detail about how to do a traditional examination, but then include a get-out clause saying that some other form of assessment can be used. Other forms of assessment take skill to design and resources to administer. But if you have been trained in how to design assessment (as I have), this can be done reliably, at reasonable cost.
While just a practice, these exams brought back a tinge of the terrors I suffered as a student with assessment. As an instructor, I would not use such a system for long examinations. Such examinations are not a good way to assess the knowledge, and even less so for assessing skills needed for real work tasks. In addition such examinations increase the risk to the health and safety of students. Students were already at risk of mental illness and self harm before COVID-19. They are now at higher risk, and there are better, safer, ways to carry out assessment. Online invigilated tests should have only a small part in assessing students.

See also:

Use Small Quizzes and Short Exercises For Building Confidence

Use Projects for More Advanced Skills

Use a Reflective e-Portfolio Disguised Job Application as a Capstone