Sunday, 22 February 2015

Adventures in Gamification - Revisited

In 2014, I started a course on OpenLearning by Tom Benjamin called "Gamification in Education". During the course, I blogged each weekly module for, culminating in an interview with Dr. Benjamin. 

I've decided to curate all of the links in one location, so anyone who is interested in Gamification can easily join my journey as they decide to embark on their own.

Adventures in Gamification: Week One – An Introduction to Gamification

Thank you for joining me on my Adventures in Gamification.  I’ve just started taking Games in Education: Gamification via OpenLearning and I am very excited to do so!  I first came across the concept in a course on designing Blended Learning courses and it stuck to me.  Like Crazy Glue.  Why settle for a boring “Sage on Stage” when you can have F-U-N in class?

Adventures in Gamification: Week 2 – Strategic Use of Games 

Thank you for joining me on my Adventures in Gamification.  I have just finished Week 2 of Games in Education: Gamification via OpenLearning and I am very excited to do so!  I first came across the concept in a course on designing Blended Learning courses and it stuck to me.  Like Crazy Glue. In true gaming fashion, sometimes an idea may threaten to drive me crazy…but then I have to figure it out and well, that’s half the fun!

Adventures in Gamification: Week 3 – Application to Education 

Welcome back to Adventures in Gamification!  Previously in this series, we reviewed the Introduction of Gamification, tried to define what a game happened to be and talked about a few quotes from Tom Sawyer.  We also reviewed the Strategic Use of Games, discussing how to use gamification to reach adult learners, the magic of gamification, and the importance of maximizing the students participation and involvement and minimizing that of the instructor.   The first two weeks were exciting – let’s go on a journey through Week Three.

Adventures in Gamification: Week Four – Scenarios as Levellers 

Welcome back to Week Four! So far we’ve covered the introduction and trying to define what a game truly is, the strategic use of games and applying games in education. Phew! We are now into week four of six and are investigating the use of scenarios as levellers. What is a scenario?

Adventures in Gamification: Week 5 – The Hero’s Journey 

We are into week five of Gamification (Games in Education) from OpenLearning!  So far we’ve covered what are games and gamification, strategic uses of games, application in education and scenarios as levellers. This week we will learn about the Hero’s Journey before we cover our final week of the course – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia. The Hero’s Journey

Adventures in Gamification: Week Six – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia

This week marks the last week of Games in Education – Gamification on OpenLearning.  I hope you’ve had as much fun on your Adventure in Gamification as I’ve had – starting from the Introduction, strategic uses of games,  how to apply games in education, using scenarios as levellers, to the Hero’s Journey.  We’ve covered a lot of topics, played a few games and had a bit of fun along the way! If you’ve followed along but not yet signed up for the course, you can start it at anytime.  Add it to your To Learn list or start it today!!  The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia

Adventures in Gamification: Wrapping it up! 

Well, we’ve worked through the six modules that make up Gamification in Education.  We’ve learned a lot and had fun – but now comes the big question…how do we SHOW and TELL anyone what we’ve learned? By creating an e-portfolio to display your incredible learning!  During a previous course, I learned and blogged about e-portfolios as I searched to find one that best fit me – which is how I found Accredible…learn more about that here! Gathering Your Game Pieces (This is Always the Trickiest Part)…

Interview with Tom Benjamin 

To finish our series Adventures in Gamification, we have a special surprise for you! Dr. Tom Benjamin, who teaches the Gamification in Education course on OpenLearning, has kindly agreed to participate in an interview with Accredible to discuss Gamification, MOOCs and his future plans. This was especially exciting as a student of his course as he answered a few questions that I thought I had sorted out…read on to learn more about applying game theory to learning – and how he applied it to the course.

The Complete Interview: Dr. Tom Benjamin 

To finish our series Adventures in Gamification, we had a special surprise for you – Dr. Tom Benjamin, who teaches the Gamification in Education course on OpenLearning,  had kindly agreed to participate in an interview with Accredible to discuss Gamification, MOOCs and his future plans.  By the time we were finished, we had so much great material that it was hard to pick and choose what to share! As a student of his course, I was fascinated by his answers.  I couldn’t put down the notes as they were sent back and forth!  As a writer, I had so much good information, I hardly knew where to begin!  After I finished the initial article, I felt compelled to share the entire interview with you.  Without further ado, here it is.

Hope you enjoy the journey!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Untitled 1
Grade 5 French Immersion Supply List
September 2014
All supplies provided are for student’s personal use only. 
Please ensure that they are labelled.
2 good quality dictionaries:  1 Francais/Anglais HARRAP’S PETIT DICTIONNAIRE  OR COLLINS ROBERT PAPERBACK (if possible)
1 package of loose-leaf (500 sheets total)
2 high quality pocket folders (one will be used as a notice folder and needs to last the year)
1 coil notebook 6½” by 9” (used for a math dictionary)
1 4-pack of 32 page scribblers - No Coils Please!
4 1” hard cover binders (please ensure these are 1” binders, no larger, no catch all binders)
4 packages of dividers for binders
1 package of loose-leaf reinforcers
1 duo tang for Music
1 duo tang for French
1 1” binder if your child is in Band
Please open the packaging on the following items at home and label everything with your child’s name written in permanent marker or using labels.  This will save us a lot of time on the first day of school. Place these things in a large zip baggie labeled with your child’s name.
5 packages HB pencils (sharpened) (more may be required later in the year)
1 package of at least 8 markers
1 small package of multicolored permanent markers
1 package of 24 colored pencils (sharpened)
1 package of 24 crayons
2 fine tip black markers (for example Sharpies)
2 highlighter markers (2 colors preferably)
4 white erasers
4 large glue sticks
1 pair good quality scissors
1 basic calculator
1 plastic 180 degree standard protractor (please do not buy a full math set)
1 clear 30cm ruler
1 pack of inexpensive playing cards (for math)
1 jump drive/memory stick – this will be kept by students but will need to come to school daily
$6 for a school agenda
$2 for a Composition Notebook - For Writer’s Notebooks
$5 for a recorder – Music (if student does not have one) 
Please make cheque payable to Seaside Elementary School
GYM – Indoor Running Shoes (non-marking soles) to be left in school
*** Please note that large hold-all binders are NOT required and do not fit in student desks.
*** It is essential that students come to school on the FIRST DAY with their supplies as this is when we spend time organizing the supplies.
Donations of Kleenex are appreciated but not required.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

I've not forgotten you...

Hello fellow learners!

I just wanted to pop by and let you know that I've not forgotten you nor have I stopped writing.  I've just temporarily stopped writing here.

Some time ago I was asked to blog over at  Since then I've started taking a course in gamification at OpenLearning and I am blogging each week at  I will provide the links below for each week that I have done thus far.

Week 1 Introduction

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” ~ The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
 “He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it–namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.” ~ The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Week 2 Strategic Use of Games

Week 3 Application to Education

I hope you find them as interesting or amusing as you did the posts from #BlendKit2014! 


Friday, 30 May 2014

A final review on #BlendKit2014...a thank you and comments on our Learning Culture

Hello and Welcome Back!

This is my very last post on #BlendKit2014 - as I am not submitting a portfolio, I'm now done the course - but I'm not done learning.  Not by a long shot!

I will be continuing to take MOOCs and continuing to write about them - although not always here.  I will share links to my blogs as they are posted just in case you want to keep up with me :)

I'm starting a course on Gamification from OpenLearning - I expect to start posting about it in a week or two...You will get the details here as soon as I can release them!  If you've read my blog before, you know that Gamification and E-Portfolios really sparked my fire!

In the meantime, I have been reflecting on my MOOC experience in #BlendKit2014 (specifically, although Intro to Marketing on Coursera has been similar in experience).  The community we've built.  The shared experience. I've come to realize something.

Universities have it all wrong.  When they say MOOCs can't replace the school culture, the classroom experience and the one-on-one interactions with the professors, I have to ask, "What dream world do they live in??".

When I attend Saint Mary's University, I was lucky.  In the grand scheme of things it's a small school, although in Canada we would probably consider it a medium school.  I knew who my profs were.  They might know my name...but generally I was "Oh right, the one who wrote about...".  I didn't have many convos with the profs, the classes weren't filled with debate, I didn't know half of my class.

Which was ridiculous.  Some classes had 30 people in it.  Some upper level courses had 12.  I didn't know them.  They didn't know me.  We had a "sage on stage" most times with limited discussion.  We didn't try to help each other to understand the material or the context.  We were not a community as such.

Now again, I was kind of lucky.  I was on the executive of the English Society.  I arranged to have profs come in for symposiums to share their latest research (we made for a great group to tell you where you ideas had room for improvement!!) and often a beer or two after.  I had office hours and spent some time debating concepts, imagery, context, symbolism, etc with a few students - generally not those in my class though.  I didn't ever feel like my understanding was important to anyone else. I was alone in making my education count.  And...that led to me maybe not working quite as hard as I should have...

I worked ridiculous hours while in school - one year I did 52 hours a week for an entire semester, went to school full time and still had a social life.  Crazy? Yes! Did I do homework?  Barely.  Did I put forth nearly as much effort as I do now?  Nope.  Not by a long shot!!

Learning about Blended Learning meant I did probably 6+hrs/wk of work to understand the content and context of the work.  Researching, piecing things together, and reflecting in this least 6 hours/week.  Just for this course.  I have been taking 8-10 more at any time.  But I had help.  I had a community of people who would talk about concepts on twitter, Google+ or my blog.  Or the discussion forums.  Or LinkedIn.  I had a personal learning network.  I made connections that I want to stay connected with.

People shared their ideas, their understandings, their successes and failures (real or perceived).  They invested in each other - showing their work at various stages, looking for feedback and advice - which they got!  Our shared goal was to have a deeper understanding.  That we all have a deeper understanding.

MOOCs can drive the Learning Culture.  It's driven by the participants, not the university and not the professors.  Each may take part, but it is the students who take the lead, help each other, look for deeper meaning, share, support, and ensure no one who wants to get ahead is willingly left behind.   We drive the Learning Culture.

We did.  Us.  I'm so glad to have had the chance to take this course with each of you.  We came in from many different walks of life, experiences, and understandings.  We finish this course with a shared experience, a shared understanding, a shared desire to help our connections find a deeper learning.

Time for some Confidential Information...

I was very intimidated at the beginning of this course - I realized that I was one of the few who didn't teach in a school or - even scarier - in a university.  I thought about dropping out a dozen times in the first week even though I loved it, was learning and having fun.  Seeing so many people with PhD or EdD after their names or job titles that were followed by at X University...Yikes!  I only had a little ol' BA...and I seldom talk about it!  And I have been working in retail (and retail training)...Double Yikes!  But this community (thankfully) quickly grew and made me feel like it was OK to come in from a different angle.  That my experiences could add value and occasionally a different viewpoint.

Had I taken this course at a brick and mortar institution, I would have withdrawn and run for the hills by Week 2.  I'm glad I didn't.

I've written a slightly more defined version of what I am emotionally trying to explain here over on  The culture we created is just as relevant as the culture at any brick & mortar school - and possibly more valuable!  What we created was something I was never able to find at any university (even though the schools all say they have it).

Thank you Dr Kelvin Thompson and Dr Linda Futch for creating this fantastic program and providing the forum for a Learning Culture to be built.  Your feedback and participation in Social Media played a great part in our community development.  Your in course emails provided great feedback and support to a gal who felt like a fish out of water but was loving to learn about Blended Learning.  Should you ever run this course again from a corporate training perspective, let me know!  I'm totally in!!

To my fellow coursemates, I look forward to staying in touch via twitter, each others blogs, Google+ and the LinkedIn group.  I hope to see you again in another course and wish you great learning, great understanding, great happiness and great success!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Week 5, Chapter 5: Quality Assurance in Blended Learning

Well, we're coming to an end of #BlendKit2014.  This is the last chapter to read, the last reading blog to write.  It's leaving me a little sad to be quite honest.  That said, I will still be writing about MOOCs once this course is done.  I still have topics to explore. I'm still taking courses and I am still interested in designing and developing blended and online courses.  As I have previously mentioned, I will be moving on to developing a program for adults with varying abilities which I am quite excited about.

Moving on...

Chapter 5 asks us to think about how we will know if our course is sound before teaching it. How will we know if it was effective once taught? How do we define quality? Success?

It's a little scary.  Because we can't. Not by our typical methods.

To start we have to define blended learning and what the best combination of online and F2F learning experiences happen to this point in time, it seems impossible to do.  What works in one course with one teacher and one group may not work the same if one of those factors changed.  We know those factors change regularly - even within one course (as a side note, I am taking one 9 week class that has been divided into 3 - 3 week sections, each taught by a different prof) - and that can change the dynamics and what "works".

If only creating a blended learning course was as simple as creating a blended beverage!

Various researchers have identified some things that can help construct an effective blended learning course:

  • Rigorous Learning Assessment (Riley et al, 2014)
  • Responsiveness to Learner Characteristics (Skibba, 2014 and Dziuban, Hartman, and Mehaffy, 2014)
  • Student Engagement (Vaughn et al, 2014 and Dringus and Seagull, 2014)
  • High Quality Faculty Development (Dziuban, Hartman, and Mehaffy, 2014)

So you design a course that includes rigorous learning assessment, etc.  How do you know if your course is good or bad?

Is it good or bad??

First, you have to stop looking at the terms "good" or "bad".  It's a cheap cop out to giving quality, constructive feedback.  It can't just be based on whether it met "sufficient enrollment, adequate retention, academic rigor, student success, student satisfaction) at rates comparable to face-to-face courses (as if meeting face-to-face is, itself, a mark of excellence) or to the level of satisfaction of an accrediting agency."  There are no universal standards for blended learning course quality.  If such a standard existed it would be hard to create a tool to measure it by - and even if you made a tool, it would be too time consuming to effectively use.

Using for-profit companies to host an online courses has led to their developing specific standards for online courses. Most groups have a checklist or rubric  and give a "summative, ordinal rating". Once  a course has been reviewed with the form, there is a punch list of things to improve before going live next time. 

It's very important to survey your learners at multiple stages of your course to give you a chance to adapt to their needs.

There has to be evaluations completed at multiple stages by the various stakeholders - students and peers who may be auditing the course.  We must remember that it isn't the design of the site or even the specific content (we know it will change and develop as the course develops) but truly the lived experience that allows one to review the quality of course.  It becomes imperative to ask a cohort to audit your online or blended course - someone who can provide insight and feedback that will help you better develop your course in future iterations.  Someone who saw what went right or wrong in real time (like having someone sit in on a lecture to give you a review to improve student engagement). Always close the course with a survey to determine effectiveness, perceived quality of content and teaching methods, usefulness of assignments or quizzes, how frequently they used the forums, etc.

Make sure your surveys can be completed anonymously for useful and honest feedback...

Teaching Effectively

How can you teach effectively in a blended course?  
  • By being organized in your class and in your LMS.  
  • Knowing the material (no different than in a F2F class).  
  • Clear communication (you cannot over communicate - especially online, explain and over can't go wrong!).  
  • Provide timely feedback in the forums.  
  • Return graded assignments in a fair timeframe.  
  • Admit your technological know how up front (people are more forgiving if they know you are not a tech expert) but make friends with people who can help you out if you run into difficulties.
  • Use the feedback that you are given by past classes.  Use it to change the material, format or your teaching style to suit the class.

To help in a diary...keep a word document on your laptop...whatever to store your reflections.  What did you do?  Did it work?  What would make it work better? Did you achieve a goal?  Did you fall short?  Why? Why not? Did you get assignments graded within your self imposed time frame?

We tell students to reflect on what they have learned.  We should follow our own advice and reflect.

Back to the beginning...

How do we know how "good" our course is?  Well...we don't know exactly.  That measurement will only truly be known by the participants.  And that will change from person to person, class to class, course to course.  All we can do is survey and ask for their feedback.  Then we must react to that feedback and adjust for the next time. And survey, react and adjust. Wet, lather, rinse and repeat.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Week 4, Chapter 4 - Blended Content and Assignments

First, I'd like to start by saying Thank You to all of you who have been reading my blog.  I hadn't expected so many people from so many places to read my reflections - but I do truly appreciate it!  I love to write - and when life gets busy, writing always seems to be the first thing that disappears.  You may have noticed that I don't write "professional" blogs...this is on purpose.  I could.  But I don't on purpose.  My intention is to give you, the reader, true insight into how my (the student taking a MOOC on creating MOOCs) works, responds, reacts, analyzes and incorporates the subject into my life.

One of the things I am working on in "real life" (like there is anything but real life...) is a project to create a face to face daytime program for adults with special needs. This program will consist of a variety of activities that will develop life and employment skills and a healthy lifestyle. 

So what does that have to do with #BlendKit2014?!?!? Everything and nothing!!!

#BlendKit2014 is allowing me to (in a very safe environment) experiment with creating and designing a program.  It is giving me an opportunity to adapt a program to suit many different learners.  I am getting the chance to figure out what works better face to face or online.  I am learning different ways of developing my own personal learning network (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc) - and that each different platform gives me a different connection and result.

Some of the participants may work better knowing what we will be doing (like a syllabus). Some may want to read the instructions for a project at home before coming to the group.  Some may want a safe area to socialize (discussion group online in addition to face to face conversations).  All will want to feel safe, included, important and respected (tribal rules or protocols).

These are all things I will be applying to the development of this program.  I am grateful for the chance to take this course and to be able to apply the learnings to a real life program for some of the most special people in the world.

Onto Chapter 4

Recently, I realized that I had to chuck out my original course outline and start it over from scratch.  As I was working on it last night, it occurred to me that in order to validate the online learning, a move has to be made from multiple choice tests to assignments to truly find out what the student is learning.

Additionally, by reducing the number and value of the testing, there is hope that cheating will be reduced.  Although, how much cheating needs to happen in an open book, unlimited time, multiple try, multiple choice test, I don't know.

If we move the value to assignments, we have the opportunity to really see what the student is learning. A few favourite (and recent) assignments I've had:
  • Blogging your Personal Reflections on the recently covered material
  • Respond to the topic on social media (with #hashtags of course!)
  • Take part in the discussion group (0.5pts per post up to 10 points!)
  • Watch a video, craft a response and post to Padlet
  • Create a topic starter and provide 2 follow up questions to have a conversation in your classroom

These are just a few examples taken from 4 or 5 different MOOCs I am currently taking.  Some were assigned a grade just for taking part, others involved a rubric. Some involved just the presenter grading, others required peer review and comments.

When are assignments completed?

That depends on when and how content is presented.  In my course outline, there will be required reading and activities to do online, but in the F2F environment, we will review, provide context and do group assignments (some will be roleplays and some will be group discussion/activity based).  

The course I am designing for the class is based on developing selling skills in order to sell a category of merchandise in a retail location.  You can not properly develop selling skills by sitting at a desk, falling asleep in a lecture (not that I was EVER that kid in your 8:30AM economics class dozing!!  ZZZZZZ).  You need to interact with people.  Get hands on.  Try it out.  Participation is key!

In fact, in my grading scheme, Roleplays will be worth 55 points. I realize that is a lot for people who don't like to roleplay BUT I can tell you a few important things:
  1. Roleplaying sucks BUT makes us better
  2. I've not met anyone who truly likes to roleplay, but most are better than they think at it
  3. Practice makes perfect!
  4. If you don't like roleplaying, but you do like making money, it is imperative that one gets over themselves!
  5. Roleplaying takes the scariness out of the real encounter with the customer!
I would never trust an electrician who hadn't installed a plug in class or a plumber who hadn't fixed a leaking toilet in an apprentice program. Why would I trust a salesperson who wouldn't try to sell something to someone in a practice environment? How would they ever work out their sales pitch??? 

That said, I've made 35 points available to in class and online assignments AND am offering an additional 2 bonus points for personal reflections...those assignments will include:

  • Group discussions and project
  • Commenting on reviewed material via social media
  • Commenting in discussion group on reviewed material
  • Personal Reflections


As mentioned, I plan on presenting the majority of the content online, allowing for F2F time to be spent answering questions, digging deeper and group activities. I want the information studied on the computer prior to the F2F class so that everyone can have at least a basic knowledge and be able to participate in discussions and most importantly, in the roleplays. Online content will be presented in multiple formats - video lectures, articles, specifications from suppliers, etc.  In class will be mini lectures, guest speakers, group discussions, and information packets.

Learning Activities

During most F2F classes there will be a group activity.  These activities will explore many topics:

  • developing casual and merchandising greets specific to the products the customer appears to be showing interest.
  • developing qualifying questions to determine a customers needs.
  • creating their own list of related add ons to offer customers when making a purchase.
  • exploring the details of components of the products (i.e. What is MAPP testing in relation to toilets? How can it help someone make a decision? How can it determine which is a better toilet, etc)
  • roleplaying.  Tying the product knowledge and the selling skills together.  Wet, lather, rinse, repeat!!


I have to admit, this is the one area that has me more than a little nervous.  I've not set up a Learning Management System before, so it will be a first for me.  I've tried to select tools that are easily accessible:

  • an internet connection
  • access to Twitter (it's free)
  • access to a blogging platform (potentially for reflections) - Blogger and Wordpress are free
By using free, accessible and public tools, I don't have to worry about many technological issues.  Yay! One less thing to worry about. Beyond that, there would be a certain comfort for many students in using a tool they commonly use on their own time. This might help bridge concerns they have over blending online and F2F learning.  

At the end of the day, it is all about creating a great learning experience for the student - one that they feel was worth their time, was high quality and interactive.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Week 3, Chapter 3 - Blended Assessments of Learning

Welcome Back!

This week's chapter was all about assessing what students are learning.  Formally or Informally?  Should it be online or in class? Are you assessing fact recall? Or do you want to assess analysis, synthesis or evaluation?

While I will provide some information from the lesson, I am going to talk a little more about my own MOOC experiences.  I want to relate what has been done in those classes and my impressions as a student.  This may allow someone who is designing a course a different perspective.

I have taken about a gazillionty courses (no, not an official number, but it has been a lot). So many that I don't think I have added all of them to my or LinkedIn profile.  Some have been great.  Some have been awful.

The biggest difference was in the testing.

Anyone can provide content.  Videos of lectures, articles to read.  They are necessary. They give you what you need to know. But if I wasn't being tested, how much did I actually take in?

See, I can turn on a lecture on one tab, and continue on another checking Facebook or LinkedIn.  I can read another set of notes.  The lecture is going on, I might hear some of it, but how much is anyone's guess. Unless you are testing me, you won't know.

One of the best courses I am taking is "An Introduction to Marketing" by Professors Bell, Fader and Kahn from Wharton University of Pennsylvania.  There are generally 6 videos a week to watch (not just listen to) and throughout the video at least once, and sometimes a couple of times, it pauses for you to answer a question. It's quizzing me throughout.  If I were to get an answer wrong, I would go back and replay that section of the lecture, jump over to the discussion group to ask a question, or do a quick Google search for more information in the moment to clarify.  I know I don't get it.  They may know they I didn't get it (I don't know if they collect the information or not). But I don't worry because this is an informal quiz.  It doesn't count towards my grade.  These questions are usually fact based multiple choice questions (following Bloom's Taxonomy, fairly low level evaluations of knowledge and maybe understanding).  But these questions prepared me well for my first "big" quiz. 
Yes, some of the questions on the quiz were fact based "Which of the following explains X".  But as the quiz went on, I had to read, analyse, evaluate. I actually had to think.  And apply.  I was sick to my stomach (hey, aren't MOOCs supposed to be easy???).  As it was multiple choice, I had the results back in seconds (thank goodness!  I couldn't handle the suspense!).  I did very well.   
Of course I did.  I had had 18-36 informal questions tossed at me over three weeks.  I had invested my time asking questions and answering others in the discussion groups (that are facilitated by Community TAs who have MBAs and Doctorates who correct us or redirect us if we are on the wrong path).  I had taken notes, printed off a set of notes offered by the course that included the slides and definitions (and I wrote all over those as I listened to the lectures).  I had investigated anything I didn't understand completely.  Most of all, I had applied what I was learning to my experiences in retail.  I could relate what I was learning to what I had done.  Now I could see the "Why" to the "What".

BTW, I got 100% on that quiz.  The study by Walker et all (2014) that was mentioned on the chapter that "found that non-credit, online practice exams can actually benefit student performance on in-class, graded exams" should probably be applied also to online, graded exams.  I love when my reality matches an academic research study.

Now, let's review a few (ok, more like 15) key points from the chapter...

  1. It is imperative that assessment is provided to check the depth of students' learning. (Frequent assessment helped me see what I was and was not learning).
  2. If learning is not transferred from the place of learning to practical application, there can be no positive return on investment.  Lessons need to have tangible meaning, applicable in real life.  Show the students where and how they will use it in real life.(Remember how I said I could now see the "Why" to the "What"?)
  3. Scaffolding must be put in place to ensure students understand HOW to use the tool used for testing. If someone doesn't "get" how to maneuver their way through an online exam, you will not get a clear understanding of their knowledge levels. (One class I took had a quiz on the Orientation component, it didn't count for the marks but gave us a chance to work through issues in a "safe" environment).
  4. Online multiple choice tests are easy to grade, but questions have to be written in a way to test more than knowledge and understanding.  It must evoke application, analyse, and evaluation. (I was asked to analyse and determine target audiences, positioning statements, etc)
  5. Informal online quizzes lead to better results and performance on formal examinations. (Multiple quizzes per lecture led to a 100% test)
  6. Formal assessments contribute to the students final mark and indicate the students mastery of a topic. (Again, refer to 100% on test)
  7. Informal assessments allow the instructor to get an idea of their students comprehension without assigning grades.  This is also an opportunity for the instructor to evaluate their methods and content and perhaps revamp or offer more/different material on a topic to invoke more understanding by the students. (Material is released on a weekly basis, the opportunity is there for review by evaluators, although it is generally taken to the discussion forum as a topic introduced by the TA)
  8. Multiple Choice tests assess a students ability to recall and recognize content. To be effective, more questions than needed should be create and randomized so questions (or at least options in answers) are not identical.  To minimize academic dishonesty, having a pool of 2x the number of questions needed and the quizzes being randomly generated by the program allow for individual quizzes. (I've not run into multiple sets of questions, but answers have been randomized in their positions)
  9. Proctoring on-line exams is possible but not practical.  Who does it?  Who pays for it? What is needed to validate that the person is who they say? (Thankfully that has not been required thus far although several courses seem to run a "verified" track that requires the student to submit a copy of their ID and a payment.  I'm always concerned with having to share my identification with anyone, thus I've not done this to date)
  10. Essays and essay questions require more resources to grade.  In a MOOC, it could be difficult to grade everyone's essays in a timely fashion (especially courses with 1000's of students). However, they allow you to gauge how well a student can apply what they have learned. Alternatives to the formal essay exam question might be to watch the discussion groups and forums.  (Coursera courses have community TAs who follow the conversations and pop in to correct or re-direct as needed.  It's a great feature!.  This allows students to problem solve amongst themselves, to use high levels of understanding and in teaching another, greater understanding to the responder.)
  11. Online assessments don't have to be "just" tests.  They can include other things like reflections (blogs are a great example), videos (upload a video of a presentation, design a commercial ad for a product, create a short film called "Mr X and the Shadow of Doom"), creating a presentation, using code to design a webpage or app, etc.  If the course requires hands on work, having the "master" observe the "apprentice" and log notes about their techniques and abilities.  These type of assessments are great for e-portfolios.
  12. Clear expectations must be defined.  Checklists or rubics need to be developed either by the evaluator and shared with the group OR by the evaluator AND the group together.  Either way, the students need to know on what and how they will be evaluated.  Clearly stated due dates, processes, group participation, and learning objectives will only help the students understand your expectations.
  13. Informal assessments only enhance a course.  They increase participation, engagement and understanding.  They allow a student a response (You scored 80%, and which question they got wrong and what the correct answer is) via the program of their understanding.  They can use that to better prepare for the formal examination.
  14. One sentence summaries to get a quick glance at a students comprehension.  They answer 7 questions separately and combine those answers into one sentence.  Great for discussion groups which allow for peer review.
  15. Requesting student generated questions that might be used on a test lets the evaluator know what the students think is important. Also might give you some GREAT questions to use ;)
This really was a great chapter.  Whether assessments are done online or face to face, having some form of informal assessments really allow the student to better succeed.  It also allows the evaluator an opportunity to review and reevalute their own work and content (if a large group got a question from a lecture online wrong, it could be discussed F2F for example).  If used properly, it will only create a better course!