At the ACODE (Australasian Council for Open and Distance Education) business meeting on Friday 13 March 2020, discussion focused on e-exams and alternate assessments. Members have distilled and articulated some key points from the discussions. The following are a first draft of some recommendations for institutions for consideration for any teaching that is moving online.
Run alternate assessment meeting the same learning outcomes, of smaller multiple stakes assessments, to meet the same ends. For example, where they might be a 60% exam these could become 3 assessments of 20% each run over successive weeks.
Randomise and tightly time questions in the LMS quiz tool (in FLO), limiting the opportunity for students to refer to other students or to resources. One would need to be realistic in the timings and warn students beforehand.
The use of proctoring tools is problematic at scale for both the service itself and for the University. We recommend caution. As many universities will be moving to this option over the next few weeks, it would be unlikely that proctoring solutions will be able to meet demand globally.
Alternate assessments for work integrated learning (WIL) could consider freely available simulation labs that can be downloaded and run from their own sites or through the LMS (FLO). Asking students to reflect on the activities in these simulations could provide an adequate approach in the short term.
Another approach to this could be to ask students to reflect on the situation they (we) now find themselves in, that is, having to work remotely. For example, if a student was to do a work placement in an accountancy firm, they could reflect on how they might, as an accountant, have to work remotely and provide potential solutions to this scenario.
All students have mobile devices, where they may not all have laptops with cameras in them. A possible solution to this is to use the audio capability of their mobile devices, in relation to assessment. For example, students could be asked to respond to long-form answers via an audio or video recording that could then be submitted through the institution's LMS (FLO).
With many professional bodies relaxing their strict requirements for proctored exams, take-home or open-book exams could be considered. If this is the case, it would be suggested that instead of providing just one scenario, multiple scenarios could be deployed.
Where nothing can transfer, then we need to consider the possible deferment of assessment; however, this should only be necessary in a minority of cases. This will most likely be planned, invigilated paper-based exams where alternatives are unrealistic.
Practical assessments or practicums could be bundled into a supplementary unit which can be offered in the following semester.
Instead of in-person exams, or employing expensive proctoring software solutions you could use the quiz tool in the LMS (FLO) in conjunction with Collaborate, so tutors/teachers can at least watch the faces of students undertaking these quizzes. Realistically, this could be done with classes of up to 16, or if multiple staff were watching, up to 30 at one time. Please be aware that not all students will have webcams, so this will need to be considered.
ACODE will establish, over the next week, discipline-focused CoPs for more nuanced discussion that will provide more discipline-based examples of alternate assessment practice.
Ideally where changes to assessment like the above are proposed to be used, it would be suggested to gain some institutional agreement across the faculties or academic groups.