You may have heard colleagues, friends or students talking lately about using Twitter. Perhaps you caught Paul Reynolds discussing it on breakfast television last week or maybe you're already Tweeting yourself. But just in case you aren't aware of it Twitter could be likened to Instant-messaging for the web. It's a service that supports small plain-text posts to a personal channel that you can make publicly available or if you prefer only accessible to those you authorise. The content of tweets varies from the trivial to the profound, some personal some public, some original, some re-tweeted or inspired, a simple stream of thoughts, opinions or obeservations from a single person.
October 2008 Archives
Two Scottish Regional Support Centres (RSCs) and the UK JISC TechDis group have gathered together nearly 50 tools to help with accessibility. These will all run from a USB stick and so can be used on most Windows based computers. The tools are open source or freeware so there is no cost involved to use them. Users can download the whole suite or just choose what they need.
Many of the tools will be useful for any user, whether they are looking for assistive technology or not. This is a good initiative to make assistive technology more accessible without requiring special installs and dedicated machines.
On Friday 3rd October, Professor Geoff Crisp, the Director of the Centre for Learning and Professional Development at the University of Adelaide gave a presentation and workshop here on using interactive eAssessment.
While we as educators might be using various tools in eLearning and making that part active for our students, there is generally resistance to transferring this over to the assessment side of learning. Biggs talks about aligning learning, teaching and assessment and Geoff pointed out that we lose that alignment when our students learn through using interactive media and then are assessed by using an essay, for instance.
Geoff started with a review of assessment types and terminology, referring to diagnostic, formative and summative assessments and noting that the terms ‘Assessment for learning’ and Assessment of learning’ can also be used. (See also Jisc InfoNet for a further description of this terminology.)
eAssessment involves assessment mediated through ICT, for instance quizzes, online texts, etc. Geoff’s focus was on the use of Interactive eAssessment and he highlighted the opportunities to create divergent responses i.e. based on opinion or analysis, as opposed to convergent responses where only one correct answer is expected. Interactive eAssessment also allows students to demonstrate their advanced skills, to role-play and to construct responses developed through social interactions.
Geoff has examples of interactive eAssessments from a wide range of disciplines. An issue that he has found when talking about eAssessment is that many people are unable to see the opportunities within their own subject areas.
The table above lists several sites that give access to simulations for the listed areas and many more can be found by searching. That’s not to say that other areas, especially around the social sciences, are left out! Geoff talked about role plays where students can be assessed on their decision making and interaction with the topic. Although role-plays or scenario based learning can be organised face to face, these can also be well managed in an online environment.
Virtual worlds (or immersive environments) are one of the major emerging tools in education. Second Life is probably the best known of these although there are many others. They offer many opportunities to explore learning and assessment that would not be feasible or possible in real life. Since Second Life allows interactions between people with its own social structure and economy, educators have been using it to explore ethics, business models and communication skills. Second Life has a full physics engine behind it and its own scripting language allowing the creation of physical and life science simulations as well as the creation of Machinima - videos made from computer games.
Remembering that assessment can be diagnostic, Geoff talked about the use of Student Response Systems or Clickers in the lecture hall. In Australia the Votapedia project allows lecturers to utilise students mobile phones for the same purpose. This is set so that it is free for the students, they use technology that most carry about in their pockets and it allows the teacher to evaluate how well the class is coping with the subject being taught.
Geoff was kind enough to give us access to the Adelaide Moodle site supporting Interactive eAssessment, where there are many examples of Interactive eAssessments across most subjects. You will need to create an account on the site (not your Waikato account) to be able to try out many of the items that are there. If you run into any difficulties, or if you want to talk about how best to incorporate some of these items either as activities or assessments in your courses, then please get in touch with Nigel or Derek by emailing Waikato Centre for eLearning.
Welcome to the Waikato Centre for eLearning blog. This is an area that we will use for occasional communications. A lot of things might just be relevant to elearning users here at the University although some will be of interest more widely.
If anyone has anything that they would like us to post on, then please get in touch.
The WCEL Team