Back to Basics: Technology Tools
by Susan Chiaramonte
in Assessing Outcomes
In today’s educational culture — amid buzzwords of “flipped classroom”, “gainful employment”, and “MOOCs” — the basics of online and distance education can get lost in the mix. Sometimes getting back to the basics can help refocus a school’s vision on their established mission, goals, and objectives. One of the basics in reviewing course/learning objectives is to re-evaluate how assessments are used to measure outcomes. Although fundamental and easily overlooked, it is important that student performance and course assessments are reviewed at regular intervals to ensure the consistent delivery of quality education.
The type of assessment(s) incorporated into an online course should match the intended learning outcomes being measured. Assessment is an ongoing review of a school’s overall progress and performance which result in improvements made for students’ benefit. MaxKnowledge’s course, EL 106: Evaluating Student Learning in Online Courses, states that
Assessment is an action performed for students, not to student,
Assessment is completed to improve student learning, and
Assessments provide information relative to the objectives.
There is a difference between assessment and evaluation and at times the two can be confused. Evaluation occurs when a grade is assigned to an activity, but assessment provides insight into the quality and level of learning achieved by students which can then be measured against stated objectives.
This information may not seem particularly new or original, but after years of meeting and complying with various new standards, rules, and regulations, it is easy to forget the basics and lose focus on outcomes assessment. The EL 106: Evaluating Student Learning Online Course features a discussion of technology tools, presented with their definitions, and the specific aspect of student learning they assess. These ideas and assessment methods can then be applied to each institution’s programs and individual courses.
The technology tools and assessment methods mentioned throughout the course are likely already built into the online platforms used by various educational institutions, but have not been converted into a useful format designed to assess outcomes. Once the information has been gathered and analyzed as part of a custom designed outcomes assessment program, it is now in a format which can provide important feedback. Not every idea or assessment presented will be useful for every school, but they can be a starting point in reevaluating and enhancing current courses.
Course assessments are conducted with the focus on ensuring students are achieving the stated objectives and outcomes. Sometimes overly specific or overly complex assessments can prohibit student creativity and the development of new insights. Students should be challenged and allowed enough room to exceed expectations and integrate their own personal learning outcomes and goals. Sometimes getting back to basics, and using tools already available, allows institutions the opportunity to refocus assessment activities, and reevaluate their course, program, and overall institutional performance, in a way that honors students and values their contributions toward institutional improvement efforts.
Susan Chiaramonte is President and Chief Executive Officer of EduCred Services, an accreditation consulting firm offering a student-focused approach to initial and ongoing accreditation and compliance needs for small to medium schools. Prior to founding EduCred Services, Susan served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Harrison Middleton University. She has twelve years of higher education administrative and management experience within distance education. Susan can be reached via email at email@example.com.
MaxKnowledge is the chosen training provider for more than 1,300 career colleges and universities representing both traditional and online institutions, as well as more than 25 educational associations that have partnered with MaxKnowledge to provide online training services to member schools. With a decade of experience and more than 100 online courses, MaxKnowledge has become the leading provider of professional development and continuing education opportunities for career college personnel. For more information about the tutorials available to DETC institutions, please visit the DETC Online Training Center.
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