A portfolio approach
The Graduate Certificate in Flexible Delivery, at Swinburne University TAFE Division in Victoria, included a fully online assessment approach using portfolios and workplace based tasks. Here is an edited interview with Lilian Austin the course developer and co-ordinator.
I have been responsible for the entire process of developing the online assessment for two of the modules in the Graduate Certificate in Flexible Delivery. These modules, Instructional Design and Teaching and Learning Online are delivered entirely online and all assessment tasks are submitted via the WebCT.
The approach I have taken is to develop assessment tasks which are authentic for the learner group of VET teachers and to give them the experience of submitting an online portfolio to demonstrate competence.
My major challenge has been to find a range of strategies which challenge learners sufficiently but which are not too arduous for newcomers to the online learning field. In particular I have struggled with the issue of how to assess contributions to discussion boards.
I think I have had success with this form of delivery because I have tried to be very proactive in providing support for my learners at all steps of the learning and assessment process. Prior to the commencement of the course I have tried to pre-empt all the issues which may raise concern for the learners. I have provided lots of clear assessment information in my web materials as learners may not always have me on hand to answer all questions. During the delivery I am constantly responding to learners via email, chat and discussion boards. Finally, I try to have a quick turn around time for assessing their online tasks and giving them feedback via the WebCT system.
In hindsight I have had lots of difficulties assessing learners contributions to the discussion boards. My plans for future delivery are to have a rubric which I distribute to the learners in the induction pack which clearly outlines the criteria I will be using to assess them. This has been a bit hit and miss in the past and I think this has created some confusion and anxiety.