If your institution intends to scale up online learning, it will need to consider how it delivers and assesses learning for online students. It may be straightforward to adapt existing approaches to an online context, but this could also be an opportunity to reconsider what is being assessed and how this assessment is done.
Assessment design should be part of the broader curriculum design process, but staff may not be sure how to adapt assessment for online learning.
Authentication, tracking activities and managing different kinds of data systems might all present problems. Your institution may have to adapt some of its systems and procedures to support online or electronic assessment.
Our guide to changing assessment and feedback practice looks at some of the benefits and suggests ways to move forward, including involving students as change agents.
Our guides on transforming assessment and feedback with technology and electronic management of assessment are particularly relevant for online learning as they focus on using technology.
Institutional assessment examples
The University of Glasgow produced an introduction to curriculum mapping and assessment blueprinting (CMAB), which is a practical approach to redesigning assessment.
Manchester Metropolitan University has made available a series of resources on assessment and feedback that offer examples of using different technologies.
An interesting collaborative example is from Oldham College and Edge Hill University working on developing screen casting as a tool for formative and summative feedback for learners.
Online learning has the potential to offer new ways to provide formative feedback to students. Social networking technologies, in particular, can facilitate feedback from a range of different people. Including open participants on a course can bring in feedback from people all over the world, which allows for different cultural viewpoints.
Similarly, online courses can include feedback from people working in the field, allowing for authentic responses from other professionals. Students can also offer feedback to each other, for example on student blogs or wikis.
Social networking technologies can also support similar benefits for closed courses within a more controlled community.
Managing feedback from external sources can present problems, and it can be useful to draw up community guidelines to help to establish trust within that community. Teaching staff may have to fulfil new roles, 'policing' feedback to mitigate any potential negative impact this feedback may have.
They may also have to establish and manage safer authenticated spaces for feedback, to make sure online students don’t feel too vulnerable.
A more radical approach is to include students in the design of assessments. This can be done both face-to-face and online, but online technologies can be used to aggregate and manage assessment banks created by learners.
Case study - students informing assessment design
The US University of Mary Washington offer part of an undergraduate campus-based course as an open online class.
Students design the assessments for the digital storytelling class, identify appropriate free technologies and resources, and make online tutorials for other students to use.
The assignment bank grows with each iteration of the course, and students can choose which assessments to do.
Further Jisc guidance
Our other guides deal with specific aspects of assessment and feedback include: