I’ve been stuck on how to improve our current assessment approach – we offer a five week open online course, based on the ISW (instructional skills workshop) model. We focus on reflective practice, encouraging personal reflection on learning, and participants are asked to provide constructive feedback to peers on shared learning and on the facilitation of a mini-session (each week features a mini-session activity on a specific topic ranging from adult learners online to facilitating teams effectively online).
We’ve had some problems with persistence, consistent participation, and we’ve received some feedback from participants that suggests we should integrate a learning contract, put more time into clarifying the expectations of performance (especially as your lack of participation can so greatly affect your peers) and offer grades as a motivation to participate more consistently. The weakness of the openness of our approach (the 5 week course is free to BC educators and there are no prerequisites) and the depth of learning and practice we try to offer and support, is that participants may not fully commit to completion.
I fully understand as I’ve found it challenging to keep up my commitment to this OOC because it doesn’t directly relate to my paid work currently and because, to do it well, requires a fairly significant investment of my time (not because the Storyboarding OOC is really demanding – but the analysis and contemplation required to fully engage with our course, while simultaneously trying to provide some useful feedback to other participants, is often challenging).
So, my proposed assessment plan – only a couple of amendments to the current approach –
1. Our primary purpose (I believe) is to enable learners to experience the online learning environment from different perspectives (playing different roles) and to couple that experience with readings, advice from experienced and successful online instructors (through videos or writings) to develop and improve their ability to successfully facilitate online learning for adult learners. So we need to help them develop a framework to guide their ongoing development and improve their self-assessment of their practice.
2. How do participants currently assess their practice?
Reflective Practice: Each participant is asked to set up a journal to collect their thoughts insights and challenges each week (5 weeks). They are also asked to review some sample rubrics used to assess student participation in online learning and to construct a rubric to help them assess their own participation against criteria and standards they establish (and can modify) as they progress through the course.
Each week, participants will share “nuggets” from their journals (and, if they choose, from their self-evaluation using their rubric). They review and discuss in an online forum with their peers to encourage re-evaluation and, potentially, new insights.
Participants take turns working in pairs or small groups to facilitate a mini-session on a pre-established topic that must be completed within five days (some flexibility). Constructive feedback from peers is shared in a discussion forum and the facilitators for each week complete a detailed survey to draw out their perceptions of their performance and to identify area they liked or would like to improve. Targeted feedback is provided by the course facilitators (private to each individual). No structured assessment is provided.
3. My proposed changes/additions to this formative assessment approach:
– Ask participants to share their goals for participation and learning at the beginning of the course (not necessarily their personal rubrics but the general goals). The summary activity in Week 5 called “Looking Back, Looking Forward” should include meaningful reflection on their participation and learning goals and the identification of selected area for application of learning or future areas of growth. They will be encouraged to consider the relationship between their self-assessment of their participation and what it means – not only to their future work with online learners but to their own progress towards the achievement of their learning goals in the course.
– emphasize the development of online facilitation skills in general ways throughout the course and then include a final activity to encourage participants to develop their own personal rubric to self-assess and continue to develop their online facilitation skills and their ability to facilitate group work or team work online.
I’m going to propose we award some badges for performance (as we can’t award grades) – participants could select the level they believe they have achieved and explain why they chose a particular level for each badge? Minimum criteria would be active participation throughout the course??
Community Building Online
I’ve still got to get feedback from my co-facilitator but I’ll put it on our GoogleSheet for open discussion and post a link to this blog post in the discussion forum.
On to the next challenge!