Overview[edit | edit source]

Assessment in online courses - in principle - is similar to offline courses. You want the participants to complete tasks in order to demonstrate competency in some aspect of knowledge or skills. Skills are difficult to assess in online courses, which leaves knowledge. We know how to assess knowledge, especially recall of facts, since we've had a lot of experience doing these kinds of assessment. However, the kinds of assessment activities and tasks we want partiticipants to complete in order to develop more complex attributes, is a new kind of challenge.


Consider the following list of comptencies that open online courses have been used to develop:

  • The ability to design research questions, conduct searches, aggregate results, synthesize and summarise findings, and re-share in new formats
  • The ability to connect with others in meaningful ways (what does meaningful mean in this context?)
  • The ability to deal with, and negotiate, uncertainty and diversity
  • The ability to navigate complex topics and online spaces with minimal structured pathways
  • The development of digital and critical literacies that are essential to 21st century learning
  • Self-directed and lifelong learning skills
  • Critical thinking

What will you assess? How will you assess it? What were the tasks you had students complete? What do they have to do to demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes? Are you going to look at their interactions? Their mastery of content? Writing style? This will, in large part be determined by the objectives you set at the beginning, so bear the assessment in mind when you design learning outcomes.

Activity[edit | edit source]

Discuss some of the options available for assessment in your courses, taking into account the following:

  • What are the learning outcomes for your course? Should they be assessed? Can they be assessed?
  • Is the course for credit? Are participants required to take the course? What purpose does the assessment serve?
  • Will you provide feedback to participants during the course? How much time do you have available for feedback?
  • What participant activities will you use as indicators of competence?
  • Scalability of the assessment. Will you use peer assessment? How else could you scale the assessment of larger groups of particpants.

Add the notes from your discussion to the online workspace.

Resources[edit | edit source]