Diagnostic, formative and summative assessment are all supported by a wide range of different technologies, according to their different needs (see our guide on improving student assessment).
The many benefits of electronic management of assessment (EMA) are outlined in our electronic assessment management guide and include:
- Better engagement from students
- Staff can choose the timing for their assessments
- Students can choose when and where to undertake assessments
- More efficient management of assignment submissions, marking and moderation
- Better storage and archiving of student attainment records
- Ability to improve existing “human” or solely paper-based methods of marking.
Social networking tools
Social networking tools offer particularly useful ways to provide formative assessment to online students. They facilitate online feedback, and can be used to involve more people, such as other students, online peers and industry or professional experts, in the process.
Multiple choice questionnaires (MCQ's) and online quizzes or polls can offer immediate feedback help students assess specific areas of learning, following small chunks of learning activities. These are used extensively in MOOCs after video presentations to assess how much information students have retained, and may contribute towards final certification.
Using online technologies for accreditation raises many issues for institutions around authentication and validation and there can be reluctance to link these to formal accreditation. Online open badging offers a way of 'soft-certification' that takes lessons from gaming. It provides regular feedback and rewards for each level attained and presents the user with a visual symbol (badge) of their attainment.
They can then share this achievement with others, either on a personal or institutional dashboard, or by incorporating it into a formal e-portfolio.
Our blog post identifies some interesting examples and highlights places to get more information about implementing open badging.
Managing open badge systems
To overcome concerns about incorporating badging, we recommend your institution adopts an institution-wide approach to ensure proper management of the system's operational and technical aspects.
The Open University recently went through this process and are now piloting open badging on their informal OpenLearn courses.1 Using specific centrally managed assessment technologies (such as MCQs and quizzes in a VLE system) provides management information and data that can be linked to wider institutional systems.
This is a concern for educational institutions and many routinely use plagiarism prevention software such as Turnitin, which offers a means for both staff and students to check their assignments. An open online mailing list allows institutions to share and discuss information and issues around plagiarism.
Validation and authentication
Any mechanisms your institution uses for assessment and feedback need to be both technologically accessible and pedagogically relevant for online students to ensure equity between online and campus-based students.
Validation and authentication present the biggest challenge in online learning but there are systems and mechanisms that can validate the identity of people doing assessments. See our guide to making assessments more accessible.
Presenting assessment results raises some potential problems when students are working with e-portfolios, especially as there is an increasing demand to show a student’s development through their course rather than simply stored feedback within each module of learning.
This is particularly challenging if they use non-institutional technologies for feedback and assessment.
Policy and processes
Technologies present opportunities for your institution to reconsider assessment practices, but these need a clear policy and processes to ensure that you adopt change coherently.
Our guide to changing assessment and feedback practice shows how to approach large-scale change in assessment and feedback practice using technology. Staff will need guidance and support to use technologies effectively for assessment. Manchester Metropolitan University produced ideas for how their staff can use technology to support specific teaching and assessment approaches 2 .
|Barriers||What you can do|
|Authentication and validation of online students presents risks||Adopt soft-certification approaches that present minimum risk|
|Use external exam centres, or partner with other institutions|
|Use a combination of technologies, such as webcams and authentication sign-ins, to support summative assessment.|
|Adapting to pedagogic approaches and assessment can be difficult||Instigate an institution-wide approach, properly supported by strategy and policy|
|Offer change management support|
|Provide staff engagement and development activities|
|Online courses are perceived to have lower value accreditation||Ensure any online assessment conforms to appropriate quality requirements|
- 1 Badges come to OpenLearn - http://www.open.edu/openlearn/get-started/badges-come-openlearn
- 2 Manchester Metropolitan University learning innovation: assessment and feedback - https://web.archive.org/web/20150704214401/http://lrt.mmu.ac.uk/li/categ...