Monday, November 12, 2012

Resubmission in Formative Assessment

In this excellent blog post by a fellow educator, a great case is made for the opportunity to resubmit assignments as a formative assessment strategy (see Nov. 7 post on formative assessment). 

When I taught my course online at ETSU, whenever I gave a graded assignment back to a learner, I always gave them a chance to raise their grade by resubmission under certain circumstances. If the reason that the grade was low was due to poor grammar and writing, I required a documented visit to the Writing Center to precede a corrected resubmission. If the problem was related to content/course material, I would add additional questions to my feedback that would lead the learner in the direction I had been hoping that they would take on their first assessment attempt. By making sure that there were some new specific objectives to be met, I knew that the learner would not be able to simply rely on the feedback given to his or her peer to fulfill my requirements for resubmission. The resubmitted assignment always took on just a bit more depth than the original assignment—by design.

When the resubmission option was exercised, it worked well! But not everyone wanted a second chance. What are some strategies I could employ to inspire those who didn't take the opportunity to want to improve their learning, their grade and their overall course experience?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

15 Lesson Plans for Making Students (and Ourselves!) Better Online Researchers

I was overjoyed to find this in the Edudemic feed on Facebook this morning. I know that my online research skills could use some refinement, but I also know how much more effective my research efforts became when I began learning the mechanics of how search engines work. This is the sort of critical infrastructure that should be a foundation of every person's digital literacy, fluency and mastery, including our own.

And Google is not the only search engine! There are hundreds of search engines, many of which are dedicated to specific fields or topics. Some are even open source!

I'm going to work my way through those fifteen lessons, to refresh my existing skills and add new ones to my digital toolbox. Join me?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Formative e-Assessment of Learning

In the world of learning outcome assessment (testing), things can get complicated in an online learning environment. The nature of the LMS (Learning Management System, such as Blackboard or Moodle) encourages the automation of assessments with tools like multiple choice and true/false question quiz banks. But before deciding on just how to use those assessment tools, it's best to think about and answer a few questions.

Do you want to use summative or formative assessment strategies with your learners? If you're not familiar with those terms, think of the question as a learner might. Would you rather that your grasp of the information being learned be evaluated at the end of the learning process, or at intervals throughout the process itself, to make sure that you are staying on track and not getting lost along the way?

The practice of assessing learning outcomes at the end of the learning process (whether we're talking a unit of curriculum or at the end of the course) is summative assessment. Using summative assessment, the instructor (and perhaps even the learner) might be unaware that there are problems or misperceptions on the part of the learner until its too late to remediate the process and ensure learner success.

Formative assessment, however, "checks in" with the learner at various points throughout the learning process to make sure that they are grasping the information being presented and synthesizing it appropriately. By checking in with the learner at various points along the way, the identification of learning obstacles occurs much earlier, while there's still time to get the learner back on track and ensure ultimate success.

It may daunting to an online instructor to think about increasing the frequency and depth of assessment efforts in courses that are being taught to what are likely increasingly larger student enrollments. That's quite a time commitment! However, the carefully considered use of self- and peer-assessment strategies can help both mitigate the level of instructor involvement as well as provide additional learning opportunities through self-reflection and collaborative peer-to-peer learning opportunities for learners.

There is a lot of information out there in the world of e-learning about the use of formative assessment (using self- and peer-assessment strategies) in online courses. Here's one journal article that lays out the basic concepts involved but still sticks closely to the traditional tools. It presents sound research that provides a rationale for using formative assessment in online learning environments.

While the traditional multiple choice quiz banks certainly have value as one component in an overall assessment strategy, I'd like to suggest that we all look at assessment with new eyes and think about ways that we can integrate reading, writing, critical thinking and new forms of expression into the assessment process in online learning environments. How can we inspire and document critical thinking and problem solving in our e-classrooms?

I will be on the lookout for both research in this area and more practical information and tools that help integrate formative assessment strategies into online course development. I am also launching an ASSESSMENT section of my blog resources to highlight the resources that I find. I welcome your input, questions and suggestions!

Mistakes that Online Students Make

I just found THIS GREAT LITTLE BLOG POST at Schoox that provides some good points to share with students who are enrolling in your online courses. It might be worth linking to the same blog post or citing its content in an introductory course document that helps the learner assess his or her own readiness for asynchronous online learning. Take a look! What would you add to this list?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

10 Must-See TED talks

Anyone who knows me knows that I have nurtured a long-standing adoration for TED. And it's not just TED. It's the whole TED-x phenomenon as well as the community of folks who love, live, watch and talk about TED. TED is a way of life for us.

TED devotees tend to be lifelong learners who embrace new opportunities for growth and insight, even when those opportunities come wrapped in dramatic change!

So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I found 10 TED Talks Perfect for the e-Learning Industry. I haven't watched them all yet, but I recognize a few. I just had to rush over and share with you all before I lost the link in the information avalanche that I plow through every day in my adventures in e-learning.

I'd love to hear your feedback on any and all of these great talks! And do you have suggestions for others we should include?