Thoughts at a Conference – Texas Distance Learning Association, Day 3, Part 2 – 4/9/2015

This is the second half of day 3 of the Texas Distance Learning Association conference.  I broke day 3 in half to keep it from getting too long.  So, this will cover the post-lunch sessions.

Building Effective Assessments in Online Courses

Presenters – Four Texas A&M representatives – three from Texas A&M Central Texas and one from Texas A&M Texarkana

Why is assessment important?  Assessment should be aimed at a process to help the students understand and improve their learning.  We should gain insight into student learning and development, professional effectiveness and program quality.

Forms of assessment – assessment “of” learning and assessment “for” learning

Formative assessment – gathering evidence to improve learning for the purpose of improving learning

Summative assessment – gathering evidence of student achievement to show student competence or program effectiveness.

Components of assessment – clear purpose, clear targets, sound design, effective communication, and student involvement.

  • Clear Purpose:
    • Who – student, teacher, parent
    • How – formative/summative
    • What – information, type?
  • Clear Targets
    • Do instructors understand what they are trying to assess?
    • What do they want students to learn?
  • Sound Design
    • Have assessments been designed to match the learning targets?
    • Has an appropriate method been selected and has it gone through a planning and development review?
  • Effective Communication
    • Does information provided from assessment practices allow for the development of instruction?
    • Can results be recorded and managed properly?
    • Can it be used as effective feedback?
  • Student Involvement
    • Do assessment efforts communicate the necessary information back to students, such as: learning targets, constructive feedback, learning progress

And yes, this is basically what the slides were.  The rest was largely bashing faculty for not using the tools out there, not knowing what they are assessing, being unwilling to work with what is there, and being at fault for everything.  It is interesting to see this from the perspective of the instructional designers, where we are all intransigent faculty who seem to come out as incompetent in their eyes.  Again, this is funny from my perspective, as we do not have instructional designers where I am, and I have to learn everything on my own the best that I can.

The solutions are all aimed at four-year universities as well.  What they say is goad faculty into doing this by pointing out that it is tied into tenure.  They also assume that we have big instructional design departments.  There was little actual discussion of actual assessments that are running and working, just the broad ideas.

And there we go – one of the last questions – somebody actually asked what assessments you have seen that actually work.

Tune In: Integration and Support for Harmonious Online Learning

Presenters: multiple

Tilly Slaten – San Jacinto College – Distance Learning Coordinator

Atomic Learning – online resources for distance learning students – help support dual credit students especially who don’t have the resources to make it up to campus

Julia Allen – Learning Technologist – Texas A&M University-Texarkana

Using it for professional development for faculty and to help unprepared online students so that faculty did not spend their time remediating.

Atomic Learning – just-in-time training (<3 minute) on 250+ different platforms, both aimed at faculty training and for student help. Can be completed anywhere at any time.  Training can be assigned and progress can be tracked.  Can even get certificates of completion.

Then, she made the mistake of only showing that it worked with Blackboard.  No indication made as to compatibility with anything else.

Wade Ashby – Hardin-Simmons University – Blackboard Admin

Atomic Learning – quick turnaround support – self-service support

As a note, nobody has talked about price yet – the website for Atomic Learning talks about getting a campus quote, meaning that it is not something practical for us to use at all.  In theory, this could be useful, but since it costs money and everyone is only talking about Blackboard, it is basally irrelevant.  Could be useful and cool otherwise. Ah . . . they just said that it does integrate with Moodle.

And, I won a shirt.  A Large shirt, meaning it doesn’t fit me.  But I won something.

Using Technology to Engage Students: Online AND Face-to-Face

And, I asked them, and they are not really going to talk about blogs, which is what I wanted to see.  So, I am going to head out to beat traffic.  Day 3 is over for me.

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About Scott Williams

I am an educator, community-college instructor, thinker, husband, parent of three, student of life, owner of a parrot, player of video games, voracious reader, restless wanderer, and all around guy.

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