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Traditional testing relies on multiple choice, true/false, and written response type questions. In authentic assessments, students apply concepts to real world situations by completing meaningful task-based assessments. This type of assessment engages a variety of skills and effectively measures higher levels of learning than traditional assessment.

Authentic assessments are widely viewed as pedagogically superior, yet multiple-choice assessments are often preferable to instructors and students alike.

In an Inside Higher Ed opinion piece, Eric Loepp challenges instructors to rethink the premise that multiple-choice questions cannot meet the standards of authentic assessment. He argues that there are situations where higher-order multiple-choice questions can be used for assessment. If this has piqued your interest, you can read more in his “The Benefits of Higher-Order Multiple-Choice Tests” opinion piece for more information.

Image credit: Exam by Alberto G. licensed under CC BY 2.0

student with hands on laptop keyboard receiving instruction from another individual

In a recent Inside Higher Ed blog post, Steven Mintz discusses lessons learned from the pandemic about effective teaching. His lessons learned are:

  • Teaching online is tough work.
  • It’s easy for online students to disengage, self-isolate and fall off track.
  • Social and emotional issues are as important as course content.
  • Coverage and pacing pose a big challenge.

Steven goes on to list eight ethical issues around online learning that will persist after the pandemic. Those ethical issues are:

  1. Equity: How to ensure that every student has an equal opportunity to learn and to fully participate in our online courses.
  2. Learner diversity: How to address the special challenges that e-learning poses.
  3. Support: How to ensure that students have the ready access to the academic, technological, mental health and other supports that they need to succeed.
  4. Feedback and responsiveness: Making sure that students receive the guidance and feedback they need to succeed academically.
  5. Privacy: How to ensure that students’ right to privacy is protected.
  6. Netiquette: How to ensure that all participants in the class behave in a civil, respectful manner.
  7. Assessment: How to maintain academic integrity in an online environment.
  8. Intellectual property: What rules should govern respect for copyright in online classes.

If you are interested in Steven’s strategies for addressing these ethical issues, read his What the Pandemic Should Have Taught Us about Effective Teaching blog post.

Image credit: #WOCinTech Chat / CC BY 2.0

clipart of laptop screen with online assessment document

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

laptop screen with image of Zoom meeting with gallery view window open

Many faculty are teaching remotely as a result of the pandemic. One topic related to teaching remotely that comes up often is student engagement during Zoom class meetings. Instructors who meet their students synchronously through Zoom want to know that the students are paying attention and are engaged during the class session. Some instructors feel that for student engagement in a synchronous class they should force the students to turn their cameras on during the class meetings. This article by Karen Costa, a Faculty Development Facilitator, explains why it is a really bad idea to force students to turn their cameras on from a trauma-awareness and equity perspective.

Are you looking for ideas for student engagement in Zoom sessions that do not require you to force your students to turn their cameras on? In an article posted on LinkedIn, Karen Costa provides some practical strategies that can help you to engage your students in a Zoom session. A few of her strategies are:

  • Encourage students to use non-verbal feedback including raise/lower virtual hand, answer yes/no to questions, speed up/slow down, and emoji reactions (clapping hands, thumbs up).
  • Ask informal questions throughout the session and encourage students to use the chat to engage with you and their peers.
  • Use formal and/or informal polls.
  • Embrace the pause. Pause during the class session to give students time to think and answer.
  • Invite students to share out via audio and or audio/video in addition to answering in the chat.
  • Teach students how to be on-camera in a Zoom session (e.g., lighting, background, virtual background, mute/unmute microphone).
  • Normalize the fear of being on-camera.
  • Try using breakout rooms.
  • Make the chat the heart of your session.
  • Set the tone for engagement from moment one.

If this has piqued your interest, you can read more about these strategies in Karen’s Making Shapes in Zoom article.

Also, we have Zoom how-to resources on our CAT FooD blog. You can find links for the Zoom how-to resources here:

Photo credit: “Zoom call” by Compare Fibre from Unsplash

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How & Why to Humanize Your Online Class

cookies with hot chocolate in a peppermint mug

Last year the University of Glasgow's Digital Education Unit identified 12 apps they felt would be useful in teaching and learning for online and distance education.

In the spirit of Christmas, I offer their list of apps for you to explore. Here's the list:

Hopefully this will give you some ideas for ways you may be able to use these apps in your teaching and learning. Remember don't use technology for technology's sake. Use technology with intention. The quickest way to become overwhelmed and/or discouraged is to try too many new technologies at one time. I suggest you start small. Find one or two apps that are of interest to you and try using them. Once you master those apps, then try another one. The goal is for the app to help you to work smarter not harder.

Photo Credit: image by TerriC from Pixabay

Thanksgiving is practically upon us, and a lot of people are asking themselves:

How long will it take?

No, I'm not talking about Donald Trump conceding defeat! Okay, I confess I do wonder about that, but I'm thinking about something entirely different.

As faculty plan for the next semester, recording video lectures seems like a natural, especially since we now have that Camtasia license (details). Only there's that daunting question.

How long will it take?

I made this video in response.

Please don't take anything I say here too seriously. It's just a silly proof-of-concept, intended to get you thinking. Further pointers on using Camtasia can be found on our wiki. Remember, we're here to help.

NDLW logo

November 9 – 13, 2020 is National Distance Learning Week (NDLW). In association with NDLW, the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is offering free webinars on a variety of topics related to online teaching and learning. A few other organizations are offering free webinars during NDLW as well.

For more information on the activities and to register for the webinars visit NDLW 2020.

gears with silhouette of two heads facing each other

A common assignment given in an online class is for students to participate in a discussion forum. Many online discussions forums are setup so that students are asked to respond to a prompt and reply to posts from their classmates. The discussions are likely to be underwhelming if the discussion forum is not setup to encourage substantive discussions.

When planning and facilitating quality online discussions, you should provide:

  • Discussion prompts that encourage student engagement
  • Clear/specific instructions and expectations
  • Specific/descriptive grading criteria
  • Strategic feedback

The Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) developed a set of resources to help instructors teach effectively, whether in an on-campus classroom or in a virtual learning environment. Online Teaching Toolkit has resources and recommendations that can be immediately put to use by instructors, to benefit both faculty and their students. ACUE’s Plan and Facilitate Effective Discussions resource, which is a part of the toolkit, has recommendations for a general rubric for discussion forums, reflection activity, and discussion feedback that you may find helpful.

In a recent Quality Matters (QM) Success Story Webinar, Lisa Kidder and Mark Cooper shared a resource that has suggestions for Alternative Discussion Structures. The resource includes specific learner instructions and grading criteria for each alternative discussion format. Some of the alternative discussion formats in the resource are reflections, case studies, timeline collaborations, student facilitation, small group/share, video analysis, in the news, and debates. The resource explains where the connection to QM Specific Review Standards and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines for the discussion formats are.

If you are new to using discussions in Brightspace, you can find how-to resources for discussion forums on our blog.

Image credit: image by geralt from Pixabay

laptop screen with image of Zoom window with camera screen on

Many faculty find themselves teaching remotely because of the pandemic. One topic related to remote teaching that comes up often is student engagement during Zoom class meetings. Instructors who meet their students synchronously through Zoom want to know that the students are paying attention and are engaged during the class session. Some instructors feel that for student engagement in a synchronous class they should force the students to turn their cameras on during the class meetings. This article by Karen Costa, a Faculty Development Facilitator, explains why it is a really bad idea to force students to turn their cameras on from a trauma-awareness and equity perspective.

Are you looking for ideas for student engagement in Zoom sessions that do not require you to force your students to turn their cameras on? In an article posted on LinkedIn, Karen Costa provides some practical strategies that can help you to engage your students in a Zoom session. A few of her strategies are:

  • Encourage students to use non-verbal feedback including raise/lower virtual hand, answer yes/no to questions, speed up/slow down, and emoji reactions (clapping hands, thumbs up).
  • Ask informal questions throughout the session and encourage students to use the chat to engage with you and their peers.
  • Use formal and/or informal polls.
  • Embrace the pause. Pause during the class session to give students time to think and answer.
  • Invite students to share out via audio and or audio/video in addition to answering in the chat.
  • Teach students how to be on-camera in a Zoom session (e.g., lighting, background, virtual background, mute/unmute microphone).
  • Normalize the fear of being on-camera.
  • Try using breakout rooms.
  • Make the chat the heart of your session.
  • Set the tone for engagement from moment one.

If this has piqued your interest, you can read more about these strategies in Karen’s Making Shapes in Zoom article.

Also, we have Zoom how-to resources on our CAT FooD blog. You can find links for the Zoom how-to resources here:

Photo credit: “Zoom call with coffee” by Chris Montgomery from Unsplash