It is important for stakeholders to reconsider the assessment methods that are used in online education. Previously, online education was the reserve of a few individuals and it served as a supplement for traditional classrooms. Currently, online education operates in large scale where a single classroom can have more than a hundred thousand students. The fast-rising nature of online education has prompted some colleges to adopt this educational system out of the fear that they will become irrelevant. Consequently, most online education providers lack enough preparation when venturing into this mode of education hence the need to reconsider the assessment methods that are used in this form of learning. Online education is the only form of modern learning that was introduced in a period when higher education was ‘free for all’. Some elements of higher education feature traces of discrimination against women and minorities but online education does not have these aspects (Segers, Dochy and Cascallar 29). The shift from the analog systems to the digital era has also had a significant impact on online education. Therefore, the assessment methods that are used by online students should feature both the new freedoms that have been accorded to online education and the advanced elements of the digital age.
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Two specific assessments that might be used by online instructors include quizzes and online journals. These two assessment methods can be used for an online American Literature course. The America Literature course examines the literary contributions that have been made by literary-icons since the early days of the American nation. The course will focus on the literary, historical, philosophical, and cultural elements that have shaped American Literature. At the end of this course, students should be able to; read, examine, and understand the literary works that make up American literature. In the second learning outcome, learners are expected to recognize the philosophical, literary, and cultural aspects that have shaped American literature throughout history. As a third learning outcome, learners should be in a position to perform a literary analysis for any work that falls under the category of American literature.
When measuring these outcomes, an online journal is a formative assessment method that should assist online instructors in determining their students’ levels of reflection and self-analysis. An online journal is often a web-based tool that consists of the students’ first-person views about a particular subject. The student can use the journal to improve his/her writing and/or reflection skills. The journals can also be used to accomplish the goals of the second and third learning outcomes in the America Literature course. For example, a student can post an online journal about his/her philosophical reflections about a novel from the eighteenth century.
Quizzes are summative assessments that can be used by online instructors to point out what a student has learnt. Unlike the online journals, quizzes are used as ‘an assessment of learning’ as opposed to them being ‘assessments for learning’ (Achtemeier and Finnegan 10). In an online literature course, the goal of the instructor should be to use various formats and a randomized question bank to minimize the probability of cheating among students. Essay questions are also very important in this assessment method. Quizzes are mostly useful for assessing the first learning outcome of the American Literature course. Learning assessment in an online environment can be perfected by ensuring that incidences of malpractices and irregularities are minimized. In addition, the verifications that are common in other aspects of digital communication such as online shopping should also be applied to online-education.
Achtemeier, Sue and Catherine Finnegan. “Considerations for developing evaluations of online courses.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 7.1 (2009): 1-13. Print.
Segers, Mien, Filip Dochy, and Eduardo Cascallar. Optimising new modes of assessment: In search of qualities and standards, Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2011. Print.