Patricia Comeaux, University of North Carolina - Wilmington
Essays on Teaching Excellence, Towards the Best in the Academy. Volume 17, Number 3, 2005-06
An interesting and simple read about yet again an emphasis on constructivist approaches to online learning, this essay lists a few interesting ideas around practices and strategies that have proven effective, in the context of higher education.
The focus of the article is around effective assessment and communication, which in online environment must remain consistent, timely and relevant as much as possible. A key statement from the article includes a quote from Huba and Freed (2000):
"Instructors should develop a deep understanding of what students know, understand and can do with their knowledge as a result of their educational experiences"Interesting to notice that these elements apply to any type of learning. However, one concept that is definitely a more likely possibility in online learning environments is the idea of allowing learners to chose their learning path (the discovery, practice and production mode) as well as their earning assessment path. Depending on the selections that learner make this could be a potential idea to embed in the design of the learning online, which may have fewer restrictions when it comes to time and space.
Additional benefits of online assessment hilighted in the article include:
- efficiency in management, collection and transfer of data (monitoring is also facilitated)
- multiple communication tools and ways to exchange feedback
- collection of records in print or recorded sessions facilitates accurate final grading
The value of authentic tasks is also another element considered in the article, and this can directly relate to the fact that, any language learning for workplace and social settings will include technology-based tasks that will give students the ability to practice and be ready for future career expectations.
Additionally, the use of checklists and rubrics and self-assessment tools is suggested as an effective practice for online learning environments. These will guide learners and also supplement support that may not be given as instantaneously as in F2F settings.
Key words repeatedly considered in the article are: provide CONSISTENT, FREQUENT AND AMPLE feedback.