Activities, assignments and assessment/Digital assessment

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Assessment opportunities in the age of elearning. Cathy Gunn. Copy on Youtube.

Assessment opportunities in the age of elearning

Cathy Gunn's presentation for AAAOpenConf2013

The range of assessment options has increased considerably with the evolution of elearning tools. Online exams, eportfolios, practice tests, group projects, simulations, intelligent tutors, learning analytics, student generated resources and automated marking assistants have become common features of the higher education landscape. Major institutions are taking MOOCs seriously, in the belief that open courses – massive or not - are a disruptive technology. The potential is only beginning to be explored, and some observers wonder if the investment will yield better returns than the open education trend of the early 2000s. Assessment will remain a challenge as long as formal accreditation, invigilation and institutionally defined pathways to achievement of objectives dominate the space.

The beginning stage of many learning innovations sees familiar things done in new ways. Thus most university courses are based around content, student activity is more or less directed by teachers and assessment is as much about measuring outcomes as promoting learning process. The tools listed above are just some of the available ways to make assessment more relevant and engaging within traditional course designs. Pedagogy remains the critical factor, and users of these tools are beginning to discover new opportunities for designs where learners take control, determine their own pathways and collaborate with whoever they choose. As is often the case, unexpected consequences are proving most productive.

An important question is: are institutions ready to embrace these innovations, and do they empower staff to explore the shifting landscape of e-assessment? Teachers can apply new educational concepts and technology skills to learning design, but institutional support is equally important. This talk explores the latest innovations in assessment and the conditions necessary for adoption and further development.

Notes[edit | edit source]

University of Auckland has been innovative in digital space for some time with own LMS - sparked creativity; half learning tools developed in house; some purchased.


Large organisation (+/- 1500 students in 1st year classes), marking workloads huge and students not happy with assessment and feedback, staff also dissatisfied.

How can technology help?

Grademark - Turnitin

Allows faster turnaround of assignments. Voice comments can be added. Students will pick up on this.

Lecture/tutorial model - not meeting needs.

Peerwise tool - MCQ - students write questions, rate each other.

Item bank of questions generated. Catalyst for learning and modelling standards. Peer feedback productive.

Authentic tasks - write about things but also how information can be used in real situations.

Student generated resources.

Assessment as a catalyst for learning.

Beyond the lone enthusiast - how to find time and take ideas forward. Shirley Alexander - need to look at more than teaching and learning plans (Alexander, S. (2001). eLearning Developments and Experiences. Education + Training, 43(4/5), 240-248.)

Flexible and reuseable; Networks for sharing learning; tools

New strategy university management - how much do they realise how that will filter down?

New capabilities and challenges - how to implement and operationalise?

Rules in institutions out of step with how young people operate online - are new rules needed?

Tensions - accreditation and economic models not working.

Students come out of university with huge levels of debt that affects their life choices.

Assessment a catalyst for learning as well as a measure.

Employers encouraged to use authentic tasks rather than interviews or paper based testing.