The specific characteristics of virtual classrooms require active online tutors. Therefore, to maintain a good learning pace, you have to prepare different activities. Moreover, they need to be suitable for your audience. Assessments in the virtual classroom take many forms, but it is very important that as an online tutor you select the right ones.
The main principles of assessments
The point of all assessments is to change the way that online students usually think when completing a task. However, selecting assessments is a complex process. By varying the way an online tutor offers an assessment, the students have the chance to show their knowledge. You know that there are different e-learning styles. Therefore, different tasks will challenge the students in unexpected ways. For example, you can create courses with three or more forms of assessments. Then you change them on the go, depending on the learning material.
Assessments may take place during an online class
For example, in the form of answering questions after watching or reading some material. This is among the most popular and widely-used activities in the virtual classroom. As a successful online tutor you can go one step further and give a similar task as an assessment to your students. The first step is to provide appropriate material to read or watch. Additionally, it would be good to connect it with the subject that you are teaching. Second, create a deadline and give the students a clear task that they have to complete after finishing the material. This could be a single task or a number of questions, or you can divide the audience into groups and start a discussion.
Assessments may take place at the end of a course
For example, in the form of exams. This is another popular assessment tool. Usually, it takes place after a lesson or a course is completed and varies in form. The specifics of the virtual classroom require strict rules when implementing this type of assessment in order to avoid possible cheating. Moreover, you need to tell your students that the rules are there to be followed.
Assessments can also start during the course and finish at the end of a course
For example, case-based assessments. This kind of assessment is more successfully implemented on certain kinds of subject matter. They consist of a real-life (or close to real-life) situation in which all of the necessary details and information is given to the students. Then you pose a problem to your students. This assessment type challenges your students to do research and to gather different facts. Moreover, it gives them the opportunity to develop their analytical skills. The idea is to come up with a solution and to support it with facts.
Home activities to better understand a concept or to reinforce previously acquired knowledge
One fantastic example of this is blogging. Blogs are extremely useful for many reasons. They may help students reflect upon what they have done successfully so far in their lives. Keeping a blog will help to maintain dialogue in the virtual classroom. It could also serve as a live track record for ideas or projects. Another version of blogs are journals. Their purpose is to allow for continued contact between students and online tutors through a particular task – summer books to read, creative projects, ideas, questions, or online school materials.
Most importantly, online tutors should be aware of the teaching context and create an assessment that will respond to the students’ knowledge and educational needs. Therefore, they should create deep and engaging assessments that serve a specific educational goal.
Here are some guidelines to follow when selecting assessments for your virtual classroom:
Match them with the goals of the course
Assessments conducted in the virtual classroom are not just an extra activity for the online students. They also aim to:
- upgrade particular skills
- show where you need to put more of your tutoring efforts
- extract valuable feedback for yourself as a tutor in the virtual classroom
Collect performance feedback
Your work doesn’t stop at the end of the assessment. On the contrary, the process of collecting useful data has just begun. Assessments are great when you want to examine student understanding and performance, as well as your own tutoring success. It might be a good idea to develop a method to work on the assessments and to plan your next goal in the classroom accordingly.
Adaptive e-learning is a rising trend in the virtual classroom. It gives the students the opportunity to learn at their own pace. Through the use of adaptive assessments, students are not tied to a structured plan, nor do they have to follow what the rest of the online group is doing. Usually, there is a set of questions that a student needs to answer after watching a video or reading some type of material. There is no fixed tempo. Furthermore, the knowledge taught and the approach used are totally customized.
Different assessments for different subjects
When choosing which assessments to use for your online course, make sure that they are connected to the subject you are teaching. For example, find activities that are specially developed for math, science, or biology.
The assessments below are suitable for a philosophy course. However, they can still be adapted to meet the form or content of other subjects.
- Different Perspective
This online assessment asks each member of the audience to pick an issue that they have a strong position on. The task is to imagine that this belief is actually wrong. This change in perspective will train the student to seek facts to support different theses.
- Agree to Disagree
In this online assessment, online students need to think about a commonly held view in business or economics and then disagree with this point of view. Like the different perspective task above, students are then asked to formulate the arguments for their disagreement.
- The Interview
In this online assessment, online students have to answer various logic and creative thinking questions such as: “If you could remove any of the 50 states, which one would it be and why?” and “How would you make a tuna fish sandwich?”. These kinds of assessments train their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Some of the best examples of these types of questions can be found in the job interviews conducted by companies like Google, Apple, etc.
- The Socratic Dialogue
The Socratic dialogue is a formal method in which a small group (5-15 people), guided by a facilitator, finds a precise answer to a universal question like: What is happiness?, What is the meaning of life?, etc. It helps the group discover what something is, as opposed to what it isn’t. This method involves group decision-making by consensus. Since there are no winners or losers, every objection, doubt, or insight is put on the table until everyone is satisfied by the final decision .