Assessment-centered learning for Anderson “provides many opportunities” that have the potential to “exploit the influence and expertise of peers and external experts”. It is from these statements that I find this learning module very attractive for teachers who embrace technology as a means of assessment. Learning Management platforms like Blackboard, Moodle and Vista come to mind as 21st century assessment opportunities that provide teachers the ability to provide powerful interactive questions, feedback, self and peer assessments. All of these LMS’s provide the teacher with the ability to be very creative with formative and summative assessments. For instance, teachers can use formative assessment for learning in Moodle to:
– find out student’s knowledge of a topic before they start a unit.
– identify strengths and weaknesses while there is time to correct any problems.
– discover common misconceptions students have on a topic.
For some teachers who have lots of experience and knowledge on topics, translating that knowledge for a novice and ensuring that they grasp it can be a challenge. One way of making this task easier is to find out where your students are starting from. You can do this at the beginning of a subject as well as at several crucial points throughout a unit by using a data-gathering quiz found in most LMS’s.
For instance, in Moodle you can create a series of small mini-quizzes which will give you a flexible system for gauging performance and keeping students engaged (ie: quizzes that interrogate the students understanding of particular reading assignments for the course). By using the quiz feature in Moodle you have the opportunity to find out what they understood and what they may need to spend more time on. You can also set the data-gathering quiz for a limited time (eg. a day or two and ideally before the next time that your class meets) and only allow students to take this kind of quiz once, but display any feedback immediately. This type of assessment serves to engage learners and personalize their experience while at the same time providing the teacher with critical information on student’s knowledge of a topic.
Another important assessment and collaborative feature found in Moodle is the Category feature. Quizzes allow teachers to design and set quizzes consisting of a large variety of Question types which are kept in the course Question bank and can be shared with other teachers on a site wide basis in a single Moodle installation. Making effective use of the categorization of Moodle Quiz questions allows for a strategic design of rich re-useable collaborative quizzes. Using this feature at my school with my colleagues has been very helpful and useful throughout this school year. One tip that I would recommend is the following:
Instead of trying to build a single quiz, think about the kinds of questions that you wish to ask and what categories those might fall into. If you teach in languages, for example, you might wish to construct questions on grammar, punctuation, verb endings or word order. Or, if you teach in Nursing, for example, you might wish to construct questions on drug calculations, conversions, hypertension, midwifery and so on. Creating these categories and assigning your questions to the appropriate category with an identifiable system will ensure that you are able to build up a sustainable number of questions in your Moodle site. Once there are a reasonable number of categories to choose from, colleagues can collaboratively use and add to both the categories and the questions found in the Moodle Quiz engine.