First off, I hope you are surviving as best you can during a global pandemic that has, among other things, shut down most of the planet’s educational systems.
Like many of you, I have kids who are about to take part in history’s greatest unplanned experiment in online learning, as well as friends and colleagues teaching in K-12 schools and universities struggling to rapidly move their courses online.
As I started pulling together resources that could help the schools my kids attend deal with this rapid and massive transition, I realized that much of what is currently available focuses on using conferencing tools like Zoom to broadcast and record lectures, or manage remote classroom discussion. While this is vital information, courses – including online ones – must also give students the opportunity to put their learning to work through assignments and assessments designed to let them demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge or development of skills.
In order to help teachers navigate that part of the online learning process, I’ve created a short video course – dubbed Up2Speed and available free on YouTube – on how to create effective assessments and assignments for online courses.
Creating Effective Assessments and Assignments for Online Courses
The course draws from a series of seminars I created several years ago to help developers of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), including some of the world’s best-known universities, create effective assessments for their online courses. Schools that participated in the MOOC experiment faced many of the same challenges teachers and professors are facing today: coming up with ways to evaluate student learning when space, time and the availability of teacher-student interaction have moved from knowns to variables.
The solution I came up with involved teaching them aspects of the professional test-development process that can be applied to creating assessments and assignments for academic courses. The new online mini-course distills this material into a short (less than one hour) sequence of video lessons that can help teachers design assessments and assignments that meet course goals systematically and effectively without compromising creativity and rigor.
The course is subtitled, available for anyone for free, and Creative Commons attribution licensed, so everyone is free to use the material, share it, or incorporate it into any other resource being created to support the nation’s (scratch that, the world’s) teaching force.
As you might guess, the videos in the course were produced fairly quickly, with a Khan-like look and feel that I hope makes them familiar to many educators. If anyone out there wants to help me improve these lessons, get the word out about them, or make contributions to what I hope will be an expanding library of teacher-support content, please reach out to me so we can collaborate.
I’ve also added a page to the Degree of Freedom web site in which I’ll be curating this material alongside third-party resources that provide teachers support and advice.
If you think the new course is valuable and know some teachers who it could benefit, here is a short note you can send them:
I wanted to bring a resource to your attention that might help you as you move your courses online this spring. While many teachers are focusing first on how to use remote conferencing tools to broadcast and record lectures and discussion originally planned for the classroom, you should also consider how to make the assessments and assignments that students will have to complete in your classes as effective as possible.
This resource is a short (less than one hour) mini course on how to create effective assessments and assignments in online courses. It is available free on YouTube. The course was developed by someone with years of professional experience in assessment and is based on a series of seminars he created to help Harvard and other universities apply professional test-design principles when building assessments and assignments for online courses.
I hope you find it useful and, if you do, please pass it along to anyone else you think it could help.