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A common question in online learning is “How do we keep students from cheating in online exams?” A shift from traditional means of assessment (quizzes, tests, exams) to authentic and alternative assessments is critical in virtual settings.

If faculty try to assess their students the same way they did in a face-to-face setting, they will most likely find themselves frustrated, as well as frustrating their students.

In a recent Faculty Focus article, Laura McLaughlin, EdD, and Joanne Ricevuto, EdD, provided some recommendations to improve the use of assessments in virtual environments and decrease concerns regarding cheating. Their recommendations are:

  1. Allow choice in assessments: Let students decide how they will demonstrate their learning.
  2. Authentic and stackable assessments: Students should be told why they are assigned a particular assessment, and why it is relevant to their learning.
  3. Trust students: Provide alternative assessments (not quizzes and tests) where the concern of cheating is off the table.
  4. Frequent feedback and communication: Provide feedback that helps learners improve their learning.

Teaching in a virtual environment creates an opportunity to rethink your practices, try something new, and embrace deeper and more engaging ways of assessing students without using lockdown browsers or worrying about students cheating.

If this has piqued your interest, you can read more in this Assessments in a Virtual Environment: You Won’t need that Lockdown Browser! article.

Did you miss our (Re)Thinking Exams workshop? If you want to learn about ways you can challenge your students to demonstrate what they've learned while teaching in an online environment, watch this (Re)Thinking Exams workshop recording. In this workshop, Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer and Dr. Jay Todd discussed and demonstrated ways that focused active learning activities can be used in place of more traditional methods of assessment like quizzes and tests.

The sudden shift to remote learning has led to concerns about new opportunities for students to engage in unauthorized shortcuts. Last spring, three academic integrity and STEM professionals from the University of Maryland Global Campus, a primarily online institution, shared research on academic integrity in online courses, strategies for promoting integrity in remote learning environments, and examples of how content learning is achieved in any setting designed for online education. ICYMI, here's a link to the Proactive Approaches for Academic Integrity in Remote and Online Learning workshop recording.

Image credit: image by mohamed_hassan from Pixabay

by Karen Nichols

In my previous blogpost, I presented the benefits of vertically centering oneself by taking a long deep breath. This brief exercise can be used for face to face scenarios but also as one is preparing for a virtual meeting or even to record/video oneself for students. So, the deep breath has been taken and we're ready for ... what exactly?  How do we go about creating a virtual presence?

I like this definition of virtual presence:

Ariel Group at Pearson CITE

This definition by the Ariel Group (referenced in the previous blogpost as well) sets the stage for showing how they have adapted their PRES (being present) model to the virtual world. The vPRES (virtual presence) model is outlined in their presentation at Pearson's CITE 2015 conference.  Here's a quick overview from their presentation:

virtually--Choose technology that supports your goals.

PRESENT--Focus on the now. Be aware of what’s happening in the virtual space; be flexible and adaptable.

REACHING OUT--Ask questions, use polling to obtain opinions.  Reaching out is a great relationship builder.

EXPRESSIVE--Alignment of message and physical appearance. Communicate with energy & passion.

SELF-KNOWING--Be self-confident. Be prepared & ready for virtual interactions. Be specific in your communication.  Use concise and clear language in spoken or written communications.

Can you see how keeping these suggestions in mind will help you during video conferences, webinars, virtual office hours and classes with your students and even when recording yourself for your students?