Checklists for online assessment tasks

When applying summative assessment to the online environment, there are a range of considerations to check off to get the most benefit from the activity.  Some consider the assessment from your perspective as a lecturer, and others from the student side of the equation. 

A key to the success of any assessment task is the scaffolding underpinning the student preparation for the task – if you want something performed, you have to embed the performance training into your course.  For example, online video assessment should be supported by instructional materials on how to record, edit and create online video presentations.  If you avoid assuming prior knowledge of skills, you also get the opportunity to layer in formative tasks, and expectation framing of specific to your course conditions, content and rubrics.

Assessment Technical Considerations

Online assessment practice requires consideration of the following elements

  • Does the learning outcome have any real time activity requirements that would suit Teams/Skype/Zoom or similar platforms?
    • Live/real time assessment will also need to factor in time zones, capacity for audiences (required/desired/avoid) and bandwidth considerations for the presenting party.
    • Group based presentations can be achieved in Zoom and Teams. 
    • Video screensharing can be managed within Zoom
  • Given the documentation by default nature of text-based activity, prerecorded video presentations, and digital assets, what value and weighting of the task can be achieved in the new conditions?
    • Recorded live oral presentations may be weighted higher with potential for appeals and regrades
    • Prerecorded video content from students can be held to higher standards of performance since multiple takes and editing are permissable
    • Formative video exercises through practice, rehearsals and/or peer reviews can support the development of a larger weight summative video task.
    • Group based written tasks may supplemented by more detailed digital artifacts indicating group contributions and performances.
  • What are the technical requirements of my formative and summative assessment tasks?
    • What do my students need in terms of hardware, software, and expertise in order to create and deliver the assessment item?
      • What can I do to aid in developing expertise and providing access to software?
      • What policies govern your institution with regard to setting hardware requirements for student tasks?
      • Will the assessment task require the use of a third-party host?
        • Can we avoid that due firewall limits around the world?
        • Is that a feature of the realism of the task?
        • Is it a risk that a student may draw unwanted attention through performance of a compulsory assessment task in a public forum?
    • What do I need on my side to mark the assessment and provide feedback?
      • Can I view the assessment task as it is submitted to me?
      • Will I need to download or edit the files outside of the LMS?
      • What formats of file will I accept?
    • Does the assessment task suit a Synchronous Assessment event or an Asynchronous submission?
      • Offline assessment tasks are divided into asynchronous tasks, such as assignments, and synchronous tasks such as presentations and participation. This is an SAMR substitute event.
      • Where a task needs to be delivered in a synchronous environment, it may also require synchronous marking, which places technical requirements on tutors, lecturers and other marking staff.  This includes having a back up plan in place if your internet connection fails, the tutor is offline or the student has bandwidth challenges.
      • Asynchronous marking of synchronous events is common practice for exams and may be an option for events that can be recorded and graded later, or which have a mixed component of real time events (participation in zoom tutorials) and delayed time events (forum discussions).
      • Neither has a superior position by default.

Scale and scalability

No discussion of assessment can avoid the question of scalability. Asynchronous events are bounded by class sizes – the larger the class, the more likely it will be that real time events go beyond the available capacity of staff to mark in real time.  People read faster than they view, and text is superior to video for scaling marking events.

Assignment groups can be managed through a range of tools and functions, including the Microsoft Teams, and students can make use of shared/collaborative editing functions in Office365 and Google Docs.  All group assessment tasks need to have some form of recognition of individual contributions, and with online-by-design, we can establish file repositories, shared documents, workload and workflow management tools, and online documentation. 

Engineering and Computer Science subjects routinely use third party industry tools such as Slack and Github (  Office 365 offers access to OneDrive for document storage, One Note for shared annotation, Sharepoint / Teams for group, and Tasks/To Do/Planner for organisation.  Resources exist for documentation of group projects, although as with any other requirement of an assessment task, training for the tools to be used must be factored into early semester formative assessment tasks.