Assessment & Feedback for Online Learning

Online learning assessment and feedback strategies are essential for successful learning outcomes. Assessments fall into three categories: 1. Assessment for learning – such as designing learning outcomes based on student knowledge, 2. Assessment as learning – the stage when students are engaging and active with the learning process and pulling from previous knowledge to build new knowledge and finally 3. Assessment of learning – a summative process that confirms what students have come to know and or do, and where they stand in relation to others by the end of the course.

Instructors and students can measure the learning progress and outcomes by monitoring, surveying and communicating. There are various methods of assessment used for formative (while learning) and summative (concluding) such as performance-based assessment (a real life task), that can overlap both areas. Feedback travels between peers and also between peer and instructor so that both learner and instructor can improve upon the quality of learning. For instance, a survey could capture the learner feedback about their mid way or final feedback in regards to their experience, and where improvements can be made.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) offer a variety of assessment tools such as multiple choice quizzes that are best used when testing static or technical information. LMS support the learners needs to interact with peers in forums, often provides a journal system, and social tools for sharing group and independent feedback. Effective feedback needs to follow principles that are descriptive, focused, limited, timely and peer contributed. Both peer and self assessment are effective factors for learning and are the backbone of a students learning outcomes.

Within the LMS instruction, ensure to incorporate 7 principles of assessment: 1. Support students with various needs, 2. match the learning curriculum and learning goals to match that of the interests and learning styles of all the students, 3. communication of important points are indicated at the start and throughout, 4. provide various types of assessment, 5. provided over time through multiple opportunities to reflect a full range of learning, 6. provide ongoing description feedback that is clear and timely for the means of meeting the final achievement, 7. foster students to self-assess their own learning, goals and next stages of learning (Government of Ontario, 2010).

References

Government of Ontario. (n.d.). Facilitator’s guide  – assessment for learning. http://www.edugains.ca/resourcesDI/D.I.%20Enhancement%20Package/Assessment%20for%20Learning/DI_Assessment_Gde_2009.pdf

 

The Building Blocks of Online Learning Design & Development

The following are items to be considered when designing and developing an online course for adult learners. Andragogy, founded by Malcolm Knowles, discovered the 5 assumptions of adult learners: self-concept, learner experience, readiness to learn, oriented to learning, motivated to learn. There is a lot that goes into online course development, it is not as simple as assembling information. From an academic perspective, it is a very thorough process that can involve an expert team to fulfill all the demands. I have synthesized a brief overview of what is involved when designing and developing online learning for adults. This is my best practices check list (is subject to change and grow) to ensure that key elements are present while also keeping future clients informed on decision making.

The below items can be blended and augmented however I feel the principles need strong attention. I have compiled this to simplify the academic standards for the outsider who will not know what is involved and why it is used. When choosing to design and develop a course, it’s important to begin with who the learner is and what approach to use – Andragogy (adult) or Pedagogy (child) as the two involve very different approaches. My work centres around adult learning.

Theories – understand the learner

  • Behaviouralist – learning through behavioural patterns by linking stimuli and response
  • Cognitivism – learning is internal and a result of processing and organizing new information
  • Connectivism – learning influenced through digital age technology based on accurately sourcing and accessing of information
  • Constructivist – knowledge is constructed by adapting new information based on previous experience
  • Experiential – learning through life experience, through observation and conceptualization
  • Transformative – learning through change which happens reflectively and holistically

Models – process of development

  • ADDIE – analyze, design, develop, implement, evaluate. A non-linear comprehensive model used by large organizations for company training
  • Backwards Design – setting goals first consisting of 3 stages: identify desired results, determine acceptable evidence, plan learning experiences and instruction. Good for story telling learning contexts and ESL learners
  • SAM – successive approximation model is designed for quick turn around focusing on progress over perfection, has 3 phases: preparation, iterative design, interactive development. Often used for training in IT sectors
  • 9 Events of Instruction – a linear model that predates the digital age but applies to current learning standards. Can be organized into 3 larger chunks: before, during and after the learning. See example here. Suitable for eclectic learning contexts

Principles – design enriched learning

  • Accessibility – universal design standards, cultural, ESL
  • Adult learning – involvement, experience, relevance, problem-centered
  • Assessment – performance-based, diagnostic, formative, summative
  • Content – chunked, clear, mini-module, flexible, varied media
  • Engagement – peer to content, peer to peer, peer to instructor
  • Learning Styles – individual, social, auditory, visual, concrete, abstract, logical, sensual
  • Motivation – self-directed, independent, intrinsic (personal), extrinsic (professional)

References

Bowen, R. (2017). Understanding by design. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/understanding-by-design/#template

Fairbanks, B. ( 2021, September 09). 5 educational learning theories and how to apply them. Phoenix Blog. https://www.phoenix.edu/blog/educational-learning-theories.html

Gore, E. (2022, January 4). The SAM (successive approximation model) approach to eLearning. https://elmlearning.com/blog/sam-successive-approximation-model-approach/

Gulbahar, Y., Alper, A. (2011). Learning preferences and learning styles of online adult learners. Education in A Technological World: Communicating Current and Emerging Research and Technological Efforts. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266592841_Learning_Preferences_and_Learning_Styles_of_Online_Adult_Learners

Lin, J. (2020, July 5). Quickly implement eLearning from what you have: ADDIE model in practice. eLearning Industry. https://elearningindustry.com/implement-elearning-how-use-addie-instructional-design-model

Loveless, B. (2022, March 29). 15 Learning theories in education (a complete summary). Education Corner. https://www.educationcorner.com/learning-theories-in-education/

Pappas, C. (2013, May 9). The adult learning theory – andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles. eLearning Industry. https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles

University of Colorado Boulder. (n.d.). Office of the undergraduate education – backward design. https://www.colorado.edu/office-undergraduate-education/backward-design

YouTube Academy & Tips

YouTube Academy is 100% worth the time and energy if you are serious about your YouTube channel. I’m constantly amazed at how YouTube continues to grow into what I think is the most powerful platform on the Internet and it promotes a place of creativity, independence and excitement. There is also a reward in all of this, getting paid. Although getting paid is a huge benefit in running a channel, it shouldn’t be what brought you there to begin with. It starts with your passion and if you’re really tied into it, then the rest will follow. In order to become monetized you need to meet certain criteria first and it’s become harder as of recently. So ultimately it’s really best that you’re driven by your passion and not the money. As YouTube emphasizes over and over in their courses, just keep at it!

My tips for starting out:

  1. Understand your niche(s)
  2. Come up with a branding
  3. Create videos you are passionate about and be yourself
  4. Don’t produce offensive content (stick to community guidelines)
  5. Use proper meta data (titles, keywords, descriptions & thumbnails)
  6. Don’t mislead or spam viewers (including in meta data)
  7. Engage your viewers & ask them to subscribe
  8. Create an upload schedule, let your viewers know about it and stick to it
  9. Understand analytics and utilize it to steer your channel
  10. Use tools such as cards, playlists and sections to group content

Check out YouTube Academy here: https://creatoracademy.youtube.com/page/education

Online Learning Design & Development

I have finally decided to make the commitment and go back to school for a short time, to shape my services into a new area for me and become certified in Online Learning Design & Development through Algonquin College. I have a ton of scholastic background and digital technology experience so I don’t need to commit to a long and heavy program, just one that I feel will set me off on the right track as I have a few goals in mind for next year, 2022. As a lifelong and often self-directed learner, I feel very strongly about learning and helping others to learn to use platforms and the necessary tools to shape their material. One of my favourite platforms is WordPress along with a couple of other tools for content creation, that I will introduce once I have completed the program.

Many people were forced to work online because of the pandemic, and I know that it’s only going to become more imperative to adapt to learning in this environment. I got a glimpse of the struggle that some faced this past year when they were thrown into immediate roles they had no experience in – and I was called in to help them out. I now know this is a space I need to further expand on.

The areas of my study will include: online learning theories, developing online course content, online course delivery and evaluation essentials. I will begin in January and will finish by the end of April. I have for some time, wanted to focus more on this endeavour however I got busy with other projects. This new learning will marry well with my previous Masters in Communication and Technology through the University of Alberta and my training and career experience in digital design. All I need is the training to shape my andragogical (adult learning) knowledge into the learning endeavour – to assist others with their projects, to create my own self-directed learning for self-healing in reflexology and to provide a full package of tools that cover the gamut in content creation.

Additionally, I have a specific interest in assisting in the design and development of elearning for those who experience learning challenges. I grew up with this experience, had problems concentrating, comprehending, was placed in special education classes and even in a cardboard box in front of the class, next to the teachers desk. As an adult, it takes me longer to read material as words jump around the page. Sometimes I can miss spelling errors even after reading and rereading my writing. I can experience dyslexia, and can find myself experiencing jumbled words when reading out loud. Even though learning has been more challenging for me, it’s something I absolutely enjoy and feel strongly about. I have studied a little about best practices for absorbing information (no more than 2 hour sessions with breaks after 20-30 mins of information intake) and what kinds of patterns work best for learning and memorization. Some of us are visual learners, while others need to write down information.

Another aspect of experiencing a learning disorder, is being made fun of by peers, even friends and family who misunderstand the disorder as lazy, stupid or silly. I remember vividly being made fun of by a classmate in high school when she found part of my essay to be the most hysterical thing she’d ever read, and decided to read it out loud to the class inspiring an outburst of laughter (cue the Disaster Artist). I feel it’s very important to shed a light on the fact that everyone learns differently and just because some of us are more prone to making errors or taking longer to complete a task, does not make us unintelligent.

So please stay tuned. Although Careful Crafters may seem inactive, it’s been the backbone for several of my other projects, that are now built, so it’s time to embark upon this path.