Surveys and polls
Surveys and polls can be used to collect students’ perceptions of the class content and online delivery at any time during the semester, although surveys towards the beginning of the semester can be particularly valuable. Asking one or two of the following questions works well:
- What’s working thus far?
- How could your learning experience be improved?
- What do you want or need help with?
- What are the top three to five concepts and ideas you have learnt so far?
These assessment activities can be conducted through LumiNUS and PollEverywhere. It is preferable to keep these assessment activities anonymous to ensure students answer questions honestly. If you wish to credit students for taking part in the survey, then you can mark the survey as a task within LumiNUS. This will ensure that students see this task on their dashboard under the “What’s due soon?” section.
Discussion forums have the potential to trigger in-depth conversations, of constructing a learning experience around collaboration as a means to deepen understanding. Such spaces can be set up within LumiNUS. However, students need clear directions on what they are expected to do and by when, especially if discussion forums are to be used for assessment purposes. LumiNUS has an online grading rubric to help students understand the expectations and these also help instructors grade student work fairly. With the full participation of the class, instructors will be able to assess students’ learning as well as communication skills with online discussion forums.
Quizzes and exams
Quizzes can be created in LumiNUS and can be used both formatively and summatively. Quizzes can also be incorporated in videos uploaded to LumiNUS and can thus provide some interactivity for the students while they are watching videos. The LumiNUS system allows instructors to create a pool of questions from which a subset can be randomly distributed to students by creating a section within the quiz. Both the order of the questions and the answers can be randomised. Additionally, students can be required to provide a rationale for their choice of answer that can give further insight into student understanding. LumiNUS quizzing allows feedback to be given after each attempt and if multiple attempts at the quiz are allowed then online quizzes can provide a powerful formative environment for students.
Online exams can be created using ExamSoft. Such exams are necessarily open-book and so fixed answer questions should be avoided. Instead, short answer questions allow students to provide unique answers. ExamSoft can be used to ensure that the exam is time limited. However, note that the lockdown security feature in ExamSoft cannot be easily proctored if the exam is to be taken at home.
Final projects provide a great opportunity for students to collaborate in an online module. Online students do not get to know each other in a face-to-face setting, so teamwork assignments to create a final project will challenge students to work together. Students can use Google Drive, Dropbox or Microsoft Teams to share files, and can perform conference calls using Skype and Microsoft Teams to discuss their work. As final projects mostly use real case studies, they assess critical thinking and students’ response to the teaching strategies in the online class. They also require specific rubrics to be evaluated effectively and again these can be developed in LumiNUS.
Term papers are a traditional assignment in many disciplines and remain a useful assessment device in an online environment. They allow students to develop arguments and to critically analyse evidence. LumiNUS can be used to provide a rubric and to upload documents that can then be checked by Turnitin for similarity.
Blogs are an alternative to a term paper, but in addition they encourage comment that can be built into the online learning activities. Wikis allow the production of a collaborative artefact that can be contributed to by the entire class. Podcasts and video presentations can be used to assess other forms of digital literacy as well as oral communication skills. Online role-plays allow students to take on the role of a persona and to respond as that persona in a scenario constructed by the teacher. Role-plays are designed as authentic learning and assessment activities; students can interact with other students (through their personas) to collaborate, collude, negotiate or debate an issue.