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TEL Assessments That Worked, and Some That Didn't

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    James Kerr

    From experiences as an instructor and as a doctoral student, I have experiences some assessment methods that were well-received, and some not so well-received.

    In a Computer Science course I instructed, we were working in the unit on Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) and the history and evolution of GUIs.  Rather than merely showing screenshots of different interfaces over the years, we showed side-by-side morphing GUI changes to illustrate the similarities and differences over the years, controlled by a slider that moved forward and back in time.  Later in the module, students were asked to identify which GUI was being displayed by visual identification, but also by interacting with limited “shells” of the particular GUI, brought to life through the magic of Flash.  Finally, they were able to design their own GUI using pre-built elements, and provide a description and rationalization for why they used the elements and their locations in their custom GUI; What did you use, why did you use it, and why did you put it there?

    Activities such as those brought to life what most would have considered a dry and boring section; computer history is not terribly interesting to most people.  Evolution of cursors does not pique most interests, but students had a more interactive, and even enjoyable experience with the help of TEL.

    In a different course on instructional design, we worked in small groups to design a complete instructional project; a course, with needs analysis, justification, and completed course components.  Each team then had 15 minutes to present their project utilizing virtual classroom/webinar application (such as Elluminate or Adobe Connect), demonstrate the course, and follow with Q&A from the class.  We then were tasked with evaluating not only all the other projects, but with each peer’s performance in the presentation.  While the online environment worked fairly well for the presentations, it needed some additional prep/rehearsal time, as several groups had some difficulty with loading files, and using the webinar features.  The part of the assessment that really was challenging was the peer evaluation part.  It was extremely difficult to assess each individual person’s contribution to their project based solely on their portion of the presentation.  The activity worked well; the chosen assessment product did not.

    Finally, a similar situation in a research class.  We each had 5 slides and 10 minutes to present to our peers our research project proposals.  Four slides had to frame specific areas of the research; the fifth was our “free” slide to use however we chose to.  The timing was strictly adhered to, in order to get through everyone’s presentation in the allotted time.  This was also done in a virtual room/webinar application such as Elluminate or Adobe Connect.  It was challenging to stay on script for ten minutes without sounding like we were literally reading from a page and not stray from our prepared content.  We did not have to evaluate each other, the evaluation of the project, the research paper, and the presentation was all done by the instructor.

    Sometimes the TEL assessment techniques’ shortcomings are the parts that aren’t necessarily the TEL components.  Quality design of assessment activities shows no matter how it is conducted or presented, with technology or without, and it is critical that the type of assessment activity as well as the technology tools utilized be aligned with the content and course activities.


    I like the timed presentation aspect.  This reminds me of pecha kucha – we use this with our final years to outline their major project proposal to the class – a visual rationale

    Found this recently too


    “The part of the assessment that really was challenging was the peer evaluation part.  It was extremely difficult to assess each individual person’s contribution to their project based solely on their portion of the presentation.” I agree with this and for this reason think its best to allocate group presentations group marks, although the feedback on individual performance in the presentation can be individualised.  if an individual mark is required then I find it works if you add a separate but related, assessment activity. Ive described an example here:

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