Moving Student Assessment Online to Deliver Optimal Learning Outcomes

Posted by SPOL on Apr 28, 2020 10:00:00 AM

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions have quickly adopted online learning environments. The move online promotes social distance and safety for students and staff, especially as the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow. This move also provides institutions with the unique opportunity to modernize their assessment processes.

Below, we share some insight into how your institution can incorporate assessment into your online learning environment and why the move online can help your faculty get more done without extra effort.

Assessment doesn’t have to be a burden

The move online, compounded with Stay-At-Home Orders, will be a first for faculty who have taught in traditional classroom settings and may be concerned about maintaining course integrity across an online environment. The challenges are myriad, with students now scattered across the world, new technologies to learn, variances in Internet connectivity, among other issues. Assessment doesn’t have to add to these issues.

For traditional classroom environments, assessment may have been viewed as an extra task, especially if those classes didn’t necessarily link the institution’s learning management system (LMS) with an assessment platform. The formal assessment process of entering test scores, building reports, and analyzing findings can begin to feel tedious and time-consuming if assessment occurs largely offline or is inputted a second time in separate assessment software.

Although the act of capturing assessment information from traditional courses may feel tedious, assessment, before COVID-19, was always happening. In fact, the most meaningful assessments happened among faculty who met in the office and discussed their classes. These essential watercooler conversations were often filled with anecdotal information on how to improve courses and student learning. The problem with the watercooler, however, is scale, but online platforms can help there.

Assessment brings the watercooler to the digital world

Integrating assessment with learning allows institutions to maintain the integrity of the course and the learning environment. Because institutions must still continue to maintain accreditation, integrating assessment with online learning offers proof that students are continuing to learn, confirming the quality of your courses. This integration simplifies your institution’s ability to produce reports and provide evidence, keeping your reaffirmation activities on track.

By moving learning and assessment online, your institution can formalize information capture, create reports, and identify necessary improvements. This provides a bird’s-eye-view for courses and programs, which then rolls up to continuous improvement for your institution.

The move towards linked online learning and assessment also bridges the gap between the classroom and assessment. Faculty transitioning to online classrooms are relying on your LMS to post coursework, collect homework, distribute tests, and encourage class participation. Integrating this storehouse of data with your assessment platform achieves new, greater scale of use and creates even better and more timely data. Faculty can pivot to online assessment because they’re already online, making it easy to capture information. And even when your team isn’t having in-person assessment committee meetings, the work can continue anywhere. In this sense, an integrated assessment platform feels like a natural extension of learning and ameliorates the challenge of assessment work.

Writing the future of higher education assessment

Although the world is changing, many institutions are redefining education now and for the future. Part of that process is software-facilitated assessment and how those results more reflect and impact learning outcomes. An online approach to assessment provides instant continuity and measurable sustainability, the fluidity of which are difficult to achieve with paper-based or home-grown approaches.

More than a steppingstone towards accreditation, online assessment can provide unique insight into how well students are adapting to new learning environments and how your institution can continue to provide value.

How is your institution integrating assessment with online learning? We’d love to hear how you’re embracing continuity and sustainability for student learning.

Topics: Continuous Improvement, Institutional Effectiveness, Assessment, COVID-19