Online Assessment

As a teacher I am concerned that the participants in my classes understand the materials I teach. As I look at the facial expressions of the students in a class I am gauging if they are understanding the presentation but to know if they are understanding the materials assessment is required. For some years a change has been taking place in education from traditional pen and paper examination tools; multiple choice, short answer, and essay formats, to computer based assessments. Generally, I see the state of most computer assessment as the paper model presented on a computer. There are several other models of computer assessment that can be utilized.

Computer Adaptive Assessment can be utilized in Computer Based Training (CBT) where materials are presented in a computer tutorial format and then quizzes are presented at the end of a module. If a student correctly answers all questions they proceed to the next module. If the student gets a question or two wrong, they are pre-presented the materials is a modified form and then quizzed again with different questions. The computer program is the teacher and the evaluator and is directed to mastery learning for the student (

I personally think there are useful advantages to this type of learning. That the course materials could be delivered via distance education and allow students to communicate through email or a web conference with an instructor would support learning in a time efficient manner. A blend of CBT and instructor led teaching would motivate students and be convenient for the time commitments of both the students and the instructor. My concern is the amount of time required to develop the training materials. Adobe Authorware software was not easy to use and new alternative software programs requires a time commitment for teachers ( The impact of this technology would support web-based learning and online assessment.

Another very interesting way to conduct online assessment is utilizing online games. People of all ages like games and games can be constructed to create simulations, representations of real-world situations, to facilitate learning. When instruction is fun and feedback is occurring immediately, learning is more likely to occur. Formative assessment occurs as the student is playing the game and summative assessment is defined by completing the game. Myers, 2016, considers game playing relative to the three main learning styles; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic in adult education. Beaudin and Sivak, 2017, suggests that new teachers should become knowledgeable in the use of digital video games in the K-12 classroom.

Myers, 2016.

Beaudin, L. & Sivak, T. (2017). Digital Games and Student Learning. In P. Resta & S. Smith (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1443-1447).

Web 2.0 and Online Learning

The idea of the World Wide Web is credited to Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee while working at MIT in March 1989. The original web focused of evolving volumes of information stored in simple hypertext markup language (HTML) that could be accessed through hyperlinking in web browsing software such as Mosaic. One of the initial attractions to the Web technology was the ability to support multimedia content, as opposed to the older Gopher databases of information.

A concern with the original Web was the information flowed one-way. Websites were unable to get information back from visitors except through cookies. With the addition of JavaScript, and the evolution of HTML, websites were able to be interactive with visitors. The newer world of the web is called “Web 2.0”. Web 2.0 is not a technically different web but a different philosophy.

Web 2.0 has:

  • Visitor driven content (For example; Wikipedia)
  • Social element (For example; Twitter)
  • Genuine interactivity, sharing (For example; You Tube – filtering, rating & voting)

Of interest for online learning, Web 2.0 features “collective intelligence”. Of concern with volumes of information added to sites like Wikipedia is the validity of information. To protect against misinformation many websites are moderated to help keep information as accurate as possible relative to the state of knowledge at a particular point in time. Our “common sense” guides us to be somewhat skeptical as we search for information and to consider the source of the information.

The social element of Web 2.0 has pro’s and con’s as a function of how the technology is used. For online learning, being able to virtually interact with other people interested is similar topics, is useful. Interaction may be between students, between students and teachers, and teachers can interact with other teachers. Web 2.0 has many tools and apps to support these various forms of interaction. Because there are so many tools and apps (, it was suggested by Dr. Lorraine Beaudin to find tools by subject area.

Utilizing Web 2.0 for Online Learning in distance education was described in two examples by Feldmann, 2014 (Two Decades of e-learning in Distance Teaching – From Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 at the University of Hagen). Most people would agree that the Internet and the World Wide Web has changed the way we live. This is true in education, and how we learn as well. The opportunity to access information is quicker and easier than it was just ten years ago. The task for educators is to find the Web 2.0 tools and apps that work best for their classes and then support and develop those tools. As internet access is faster being able to utilize web-conferencing where video and audio are relayed is an example of Web 2.0 interactivity (

Feldmann, 2014.


Primary Considerations Building Websites

Determine the chief purpose of the website. Building and maintaining a website that clearly reflects what the website is for, as seen through the visitor’s eyes, is the first consideration. When a visitor comes to your site they need to know very quickly that there is a good chance there is information they may want on your site and then they stay and keep exploring further. (

A second consideration is to develop the website with pleasing esthetics. All aspects of the site, from background colors and images, to text font family and colors, to graphic images, to video and animations need used relative to possible connotations of visitors. Site navigation should be simple, conventional, and obvious dividing pages into logical sections, for most websites. (

Write focused page content. The primary purpose of the World Wide Web sites is to provide information. The content of websites should be useful and well written. Writing for web pages and sites is different that writing for the paper world ( In the age of “Web 2.0” a part of writing web content also includes incorporating visitor communication systems often through allows easy links to social media associated with the purpose of the website.


There are many resources for web authoring but to see a list of common and popular authoring sites visit:


When I think of a great website, one site comes to mind:

This site is great because:

  1. Visitors immediately know that the purpose of the site is to search the World Wide Web
  2. The site has pleasing esthetics in that it is clean and simple and easy to figure out what to do
  3. When a search is performed the content provides links to results, a reference to the source site, and a basic description of the site contents

The utility of the world Wide Web is relative to the user. What people want to look for is largely individualistic. What website is great is relative to what an individual wants to look for. What makes “the web” not wonderful is all the volumes of poor content and misleading information. The original purpose and history of the web is delineated and evolving (

Self-Directed Learning and Web Digital Literacy

As education utilizes web-based learning as a method in the delivery of instruction, the issues of self-directed learning and participant digital literacy become concerns to make the technology effective.

Self-directed online learning is useful in Adult Education as the information being presented can be designed to accommodate the life style of adults. Adults can work on materials as it fits their schedule, review materials if needed, materials can be constructed and bite sized chunks as opposed to lengthy sets of information, and materials can be organized based on levels of skills. Song and Hill (2007), summarize existing research into adult self-directed learning in online environments. Research indicates that self-directed learning is a process that is unique to different individuals. As such, online materials need to be developed to accommodate various learning styles and levels of background knowledge.

While there are many resources to facilitate digital literacy in Adult Education (10 digital literacy resources for teachers) an instructor may need to survey their class to determine the digital literacy skills of the participants and be prepared to customize materials for a particular class. This can be a concern in that instructors often assume that students are digital literate but that may not be the case. The question then becomes who will teach the digital literacy skills required to learn the course materials (Burrell, 2016).

It is important for instructors to consider teaching through taking advantage of digital technologies as ways of presenting educational materials. This requires the instructor to be knowledgeable in building digital content and the means of sharing it. The other task is for instructors to realize that the course is for the students and to be able to determine the student skills and support self-directed learners. Developing an assessment tool that would identify a student’s digital literacy skills early in a course would provide the instructor both an index of what type of materials would be best received as well as if the students are able to utilize the materials.

Song & Hill, 2007

10 Digital Literacy

Burrell, 2016:

MOOC’s and Online Learning

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs’) have grown in popularity in the past couple of years. Free online courses have existed since early in the evolution of the Internet but the recent interest in free learning courses has grown dramatically (Lewin, 2012). Many educational institutions are exploring where MOOC courses are appropriate for their institutions. Both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary (Alharbi and Jacobsen, 2015) have become involved in offering MOOC courses. Of interest is the opportunity to utilize MOOC’s for faculty professional development.

Being able to accommodate unlimited participation at no charge, through the Internet, and providing course materials such as print documents, videos, and problems to assess learning, is certainly of interest to educators. In many cases students have the opportunity to communicate and interact with instructors.

A distinction not clearly defined between a MOOC and topic-based materials freely available on the Internet is reflected in our discussion about Khan Academy materials. I personally have studied materials in biology, chemistry, and mathematics at the Khan Academy site and I am very impressed and grateful for the most part. Sites like can Academy may be viewed as a supplement to learning specific materials as opposed to a course on a subject and in this respect not considered a “MOOC proper”.

The question of how MOOC’s are funded may directly affect their quality, popularity, and longevity. If MOOC’s are funded by venture capital may be just a matter of time until “free” disappears from the way materials are available (MOOC Lab UC Berkley).

Lewin, 2012 (

Alharbi and Jacobsen, 2015  (

MOOC Lab UC Berkley  (


Online Communication

Changes in technology have dramatically changed the way education is conducted for both teachers and students. Better microcomputers, new software, and the Internet bridging the technology provides many opportunities to both present and receive educational materials. A primary consideration in utilizing technology in education is the amount of time involved in developing online materials and the time required by the students to work with the materials.

Online communication can basically be divided into communication technology and various software programs used for the presentation of materials. In many cases the two work together through a network.

Sharing of materials can be conducted at a distance and within a lab. Popular distance education software such as Skype, WebEx, and Zoom make it easy to videoconference where both video and audio interaction provides an almost live experience. These technologies also require educators to be cognizant of freedom of information and privacy (FOIP) concerns. As the host of a web-conferencing meeting or having network administrator rights in a computer lab, comes the responsibility of having access to personal information.  From seeing other people’s screens to controlling what they can and can’t do on a computer, educators need to take into account ethical considerations. Transparency and disclosure of how the technology works should be considered and discussed with all people involved (FOIP).

We now have a generation of people who have grown up with television and expect and desire information in a video or animated with audio format. Software to generate and edit video is common and has become an expensive. To present information in a flipped classroom model, teachers can develop lessons, post them to shared drives such as Dropbox, Google drive, or Microsoft one drive where students can then easily watch and study the materials before the class time. In class the instructor can deal with student questions and/or arrange environments where students can work on the materials in groups (University of Washington).

Students also have the ability to collaborate through a variety of freely available technologies such as Microsoft Teams and OneNote. Institutions also set up ways to share materials through services like Moodle and network shared drives. Collaboration on some projects may create excitement by having students get involved in the applied side of science and promoting their projects through crowdsourcing sites in an attempt to generate revenue for their projects. The popularity of TV shows like Dragons Den and Shark Tank demonstrates the interest in entrepreneurship (Piggybackr).

I am reminded of a professor friend of mine who told me at one time he would handwrite his research, give it to an administrative assistant, who would type it up. Technology evolved and he learned to do word processing and type his own manuscripts. He took my course on video and audio editing and commented to me that instead of requesting others produce and edit his videos he thought the technology had evolved so he was now expected make his own videos.

In addition to teachers knowing Microsoft Office based products (Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint), teachers today need to have a working knowledge of Adobe products such as Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere and Audition. I think teachers should be versatile in their web communication tools but have one, such as Zoom, that is their favorite and they are very knowledgeable in. In my experience knowing the industry standard software is the best practice.

Digital Badges in Education

Participants in many activities are graded as to their accomplishments. In traditional education (K-12) courses and post-secondary education, students are assigned grades on assignments and examinations which ends with a final grade in the course. Most students are somewhat motivated to achieve a positive final grade but it seems to be a private reward between the student and instructor.

Digital badges can be utilized to offer a more public way to show accomplishment and can be used to motivate students to work towards a goal, the badge, and attain recognition for their work. I have seen putting stars on a chart motivate young students. I myself was motivated to attain proficiency badges in Cubs and Boy Scouts, and Certificates of Recognition in industry based specialized training in technology courses.

In adult education digital badges can be used to show what an individual has learned and badges can be awarded to define specific skills (Finkelstein, 2013). The Open Badge project (Mozilla Foundation), describes the history and popularity of digital badges worldwide. That people as social beings and desire recognition for their achievements was recognized by Freud in his study of human behavior. Digital badges can be posted to a variety of social media sites from a service like Credly.

Some examples badges for proficiency in using spreadsheets for adult education students:

What if analysis is seen as representing a basic understand of spreadsheet tools and use
Knowing how to make charts and graphs in a format that is readable is a specialized skill
Spreadsheets can be used as a database and being able to search the database requires some practice

Web Conferencing Accounts to Follow on Twitter

Web Conferencing in Education

Account One:

Reimagine Education has articles about innovative ways to teach using technology


Tweet One:

Jenny shares information about education and technology references very interesting ideas nicely related by Julia ( ).

Tweet Two:

Brittany provides links to ways to stop technology being distracting to helping in education


Account Two:

Google For Education provides product information for educators about technology


Tweet One:

Evolution of Google Drive features that support on-line collaboration

Tweet Two:

Rania launched an on-line learning platform that has over 1.5 million adult learners


Account Three:

In exploring the evolving world of web-conferencing tools there is discussion on Twitter that Zoom is worth looking at


Tweet One:

Nathan got high quality images using Zoom for web-conference

Tweet Two:

Dave found Zoom more user friendly than Skype4Business or WebEx/GoToMeeting


Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy knowledge should include information about major historical events in the evolution of digital technology. I think Digital Literacy includes knowledge of hardware as well as software and applications. Literate people should have general knowledge of the various companies in the computer world. To be literate people should know how programming works to understand what digital technology can and can’t do (Rushkoff, 2010). I also think, to be literate, people need to know more than just the basics but use the digital tools at a more intermediate level.

Today most people think of Digital Literacy as related to the use of the Internet, and portable technologies like cell phones. As an educator I was impressed by the description of Digital Literacy by Dowd, 2017, Skills for Today: Digital Literacy & The Importance of the 4Cs in a Global Context. Dowd discusses the 4-C’s of Digital Literacy: Thinking Critically about information found on the World Wide Web, utilizing web tools creatively, communicating in productive ways and collaborating with a sense of social conscience.

Rushkoff, D. (2010). Program or be programmed: Ten commands for a digital age. New York: OR Books.>

Social Bookmarking in Adult Education

The idea of having a class jointly share and contribute to bookmarking sites of interest for a course does seem to be appealing. That the information is moderated, as provided by the curation features, is of value to keep the amount of material manageable and the focus on task. It seems that many web-based services come-and-go or become commercialized and that is a concern. As such, a plugin for a WordPress class blog would be more under the control of the instructor.

A solution that appeals to me is a plug-in for WordPress, Mycurator, which would allow the kind of curation I would see of value in adult education social bookmarking.

An overview of the Mycurator plugin and evaluation:

Social bookmarking with Mycurator review:

Social bookmarking by the participants in an adult education class on Small Business Entrepreneurship can be useful in allowing sharing information from knowledge and research done by the participants in the class. For example, topics like marketing and small business management are presented by the instructor based on their knowledge. Participants in the class have life experiences, read books, and have found information on these topics through their own experiences and research which can be shared through a class blog with the Mycurator plugin. In addition, assignments to the class to research traditional marketing as opposed to modern marketing can be shared through the class blog. Similarly, there are traditional management ideas and modern management ideas which can be researched and shared.