Online assessments have made big waves in the learning industry throughout the last decade—and for good reason. They’re efficient, they remove the need for physical resources, and they give learners the freedom to decide where and when they’ll complete their assessments.
It makes sense to implement online assessments over traditional ones wherever possible in your syllabus, but what are the factors you should consider when moving to online assessments—and in what situations is it entirely impractical?
Firstly, online assessments require a certain level of digital literacy from both author and undertaker. It’s essential to determine whether your learners possess these skills before making the switch to online assessment.
You also need to consider digital infrastructure and accessibility. Online assessments require learners to have access to both a device for completing the material and a sufficient internet connection to access it. In these circumstances, optimisation is a key focus in delivering small and efficient assessments that your students can access quickly. It’s important to consider what moving to online-only assessments may mean for a learning audience who suffers from below-standard internet access.
All the advantages of having an online assessment system come at a price. The cost for setting up such an environment can easily exceed several thousand dollars, with fees into the tens of thousands for larger organisations.
These initial costs are typically accompanied by ongoing fees, regardless of whether these systems are being utilised or not. For most, this initial investment will almost always be worth it—increased efficiency and reduced manpower is sure to guarantee long-term savings.
While online assessment is constantly increasing its scope of possibility, many platforms still operate with restrictive assessment formats that affect the final experience for the learner.
For many online assessment authoring tools, a recent focus has been on student feedback. Previously, students undertaking online assessments were only able to view if their answer was correct or not. There was no way to give feedback about why a particular answer was right or wrong, or provide any further comments.
This is still a concern for learning disciplines where online platforms can’t always provide the same level of contextual feedback that a teacher could provide in the same situation. And while computer-graded assessments are a great time-saver, they allow little room for showcasing a student’s complex understanding of course concepts.
Although there are some drawbacks when it comes to online assessments, for many RTOs the benefits far outweigh the cons. Every learning environment is different and requires its own solutions, but as it stands the weaknesses of online assessment will likely shrink as the technology is further developed. Widespread adoption of online platforms will save time and money for countless RTOs, and encourage improvements until online becomes the exclusive form of assessment.
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