Online assessment is the use of information technology to evaluate tests. It is also known as electronic assessment, e-assessment, digital assessment, or computer-based assessment. It covers a wide array of activities such as on-screen testing and word processor assignments.
Online assessment can take the form of an assignment, test, quiz, survey, or questionnaire. Special online assessments can also be in the form of electronic submission forms, computerized adaptive testing (a computer-based test that adapts to a learner’s skill), and computerized classification testing (testing administered by computer for examinee classification purposes).
Online assessment is one of the most common elearning topics. Visit this page for information on other popular elearning topics, including online assessments for LMS's.
Online assessment features e-marking (electronic marking), a process that expedites the marking of examinations. E-marking, also known as on-screen marking, is the use of education technology to mark learner assessment scripts.
Electronic marking is an instructor-led activity but is closely-related to learner-led activities such as elearning. It allows an examiner to mark scanned scripts and online responses through a computer instead of marking on a paper.
E-marking can accommodate written, multiple-choice, and video submission types of examinations. It is facilitated by e-marking software that can be sold to educational institutions by recognized examination bodies.
Examples of high stake examinations that have used e-marking for evaluation include the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams in the UK and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in the US. To add, e-marking can be combined with traditional methods of marking where examination scripts are evaluated manually by examiners.
Types of Online Assessment
Online assessment is used to evaluate cognitive abilities. It demonstrates what has been learned after an event such as the completion of a unit or lesson. When assessing practical abilities, an e-portfolio is used.
An e-portfolio is a collection of electronic evidence collected and managed by a user over the internet. Such evidence includes text, images, hyperlinks, and multimedia.
Assessment is usually the first element that must be prepared when developing an online course. It is used to determine if learning is taking place, to what extent, and if there are modifications to be made to the training.
Independent assessments and group work are the two broad categories of online assessment.
These types of tests are handled individually by learners. Independent assessments are used to motivate students to complete their assignments. Whether the assessment is graded or not, the instructor should provide appropriate feedback to the learners.
Learners are placed in groups to handle different tests. In this type of online assessment, new assessment strategies are employed. Learners can also be evaluated using cooperative and collaborative learning models. Using these models, the learners take control of most of the activities. However, an instructor is involved when making decisions.
Other General Types of Online Assessment
Formative assessment: It is also referred to as ‘assessment for learning.’ In this type of assessment, digital tools are used by professional associations and educational institutions to measure learner knowledge and skill levels.
Formative assessment is used to provide feedback during the learning process. Objective questions are posed and feedback is given to the learner during or after the assessment. Also, interventions and action plans can be used to improve learning.
Summative assessment: It is also described as ‘assessment of learning.’ It is used to provide quantitative grades at the end of training to determine if learning objectives were met.
Pre-testing: This is a test given to a learner to determine their level of knowledge prior to taking an online course. It helps to provide a baseline, such that when a post-test or summative test is given, quantitative evidence will prove whether learning took place.
Practice testing: Practice tests are issued to give students an edge. They can be given multiple times to learners to familiarize them with the type of content and format to expect in other assessments.
Performance testing: This test shows the learner what they know and can do. It is used to demonstrate mathematical skills, reading comprehension, and technological proficiency. It is also used to identify learning gaps.
Evaluations: This type of test allows examiners to collect data and feedback. This happens in situations where a learning course needs justification or enhancement.
Surveys: These are used by instructors to collect data and feedback regarding learner attitudes, perception, and other information that can improve the online learning experience.
Applications of Online Assessment
Online assessment can be used in the following situations:
- Student recruitment: This is usually handled via an LMS platform. It is used to assess the skills of learners who want to enroll in various courses. The results of the tests are used to determine if a learner is capable of enrolling for a course or not.
- Workforce recruitment: It is conducted by corporates to hire entry-level employees. In this case, an online assessment is used to manage huge numbers of applicants by providing a means of first-level screening. Once the exercise is conducted, an organization is left with a reasonable number of candidates that can be invited for interviews.
- Walk-ins: When organizations post vacant positions, huge numbers of applicants express their interest in joining these companies. Online assessments are used to provide a quick way of identifying candidates with preferred sets of skills.
- Workforce development: Online assessments are used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of workforces in organizations. Consequently, Learning and Development (L&D) personnel can create better training to close these gaps.
- Succession planning: An employee can use an online assessment to plan their career progression.
- Brand promotion: Online assessments are quick, therefore, they create a better experience for potential learners. This helps to promote an organization’s brand. In turn, companies attract more learners/workforce which strengthens their positions in their respective industries.
Academic dishonesty, also known as exam fraud or cheating, happens when students use deceptive ways to answer exam questions. For instance, they can prepare hidden notes to use in an exam room. It can also happen when a learner looks at another student’s exam paper, when a student copies homework from another, or when a learner copies exam answers from a book, article, or other media without citing the proper source.
Dishonesty happens due to poor time management skills, the quest for better grades, and the lack of understanding of concepts such as plagiarism.
The online environment is no exception for academic dishonesty. In fact, hacking provides additional ways for students to access exam questions and answers. Nonetheless, proper assignment types, projects, and meetings can be used to curb cheating in an online setup.
There are two types of academic dishonesty in online assessment; plagiarism and identity theft.
Plagiarism happens when a learner misrepresents another person’s work. It can take the form of information copied and pasted from the internet or information retyped directly from another source.
Plagiarism in the online environment can be addressed by using plagiarism checkers which provide detailed reports of plagiarized information such as the percentage of plagiarized content.
Identity fraud happens when a learner assumes the names of another student. It can take place when, for instance, a learner hires another knowledgeable learner to take a test for them.
In the online environment, identity fraud takes place due to the lack of proctored exams. However, the following are some of the ways that identity fraud can be prevented in an online class:
- Learners can be requested to take their exams at designated centers where there is supervision.
- Correspondence through video and telephone to allow instructors to be familiar with the voices and appearances of their students.
- Personalizing assignments and exams to the learners’ backgrounds and activities.
- Instructors may give out less-weighted exams so that students do not feel pressured.
Benefits of Online Assessment
The advantages of online assessment are welcomed both by organizations and their learners. The most evident benefit is that the company will save costs and resources associated with organizing and running exams.
Below are other benefits that online assessment offers:
- Quicker marking and issuing of results: Online assessments offer auto-scorable questions whose results are posted for learners as soon as they are done with an exam.
- Students are used to digital tools: Today, learners are familiar with a computer or other digital device as opposed to a pen and paper. Computer tools and functionalities such as spreadsheets and copying and pasting make work a lot easier.
- Automated test assembly: Automated tools can be used to create automatic and random papers from an online question bank.
- Collaborative authoring: Authoring questions can be done collaboratively by instructors. This helps to create clear workflows for the review and approval of questions before they can be uploaded to a question bank.
- Environmentally-friendly: Online assessment saves paper and other resources that pollute the environment.
- On-screen marking tools: The marking of online assessments is standardized and managed centrally.
- Global reach: Online assessments can be administered to learners in any part of the world without any geographical restrictions.
- Security: All exam papers, learner details, marks, and results are digitally stored. Only instructors who have access to the storage systems can access exam information.
- Cost-effective: Online assessments are cost-effective since they reduce administrative costs, cut down on exam creation times, and also save time on the delivery and tracking of examinations.
- Assessment reporting: They offer detailed reports of learner results and progress. Such information helps the learner to know how they are performing and identify areas where they are strong and those which require attention.
- Accessibility: Online assessments can be adapted for candidates who have disabilities. Accessibility entails the use of technology to create learning content that is accessible to all learners, regardless of whether they are disabled or not.
Online Assessments and your LMS
Today’s learning management systems come with assessment and exam marking features. They offer different ways of quizzing your learners by leveraging a range of question formats and logic rules.
You can create true/false, multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, fill in the blank, and mark the words questions. You can also set your platform to provide feedback in the form of answers and other additional information either during the assessment or after the completion of a test.
Your LMS may also come with advanced tracking and reporting features that may provide detailed reports not just for your assessments, but for the whole learning experience. Ensure to check out these features when choosing a good LMS platform.
Online assessments utilize the powerful features of online tools to quickly create, deliver, mark, and analyze learner exams. They are a welcome strategy that helps to bridge the gaps associated with traditional pen and paper assessments.
Importantly, ensure that your learning management system (LMS) comes with an inbuilt quizzes and assessments functionality to make work easy for you. This way, you can create courses and assessments all from the same platform.