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Play with Me
As teachers we want students to learn. We also must measure how much students have learned, and many of us are accountable to state standards or standardized tests that claim to do just that. Thus, we test students using multiple choice questions, true/false, and fill-in-the blanks. Some even go so far as to assign the occasional essay question. While this will give some indication of student knowledge, it is not the only way to determine what a student has learned.
Contrary to popular belief, you can tell a lot about what a student understands by playing games with him/her.
Game playing is inherintly interesting to students. Drag and drop games, race against the clock games, and others are engaging. Students enjoy them and they are less intimidating than regular tests. Incorporate and use games in your online class as an informal mode of online assessment. One site, Quia, is a great resource for designing games and learning activities for your online classroom.
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Talk to Me
Group projects and group discussions are another way to assess your students. One benefit of the online world is that you can keep tabs on how much work each student is doing. For example, as part of group work, require students to have an online chat about their work. Students must then submit a transcript (cut and paste) of their conversation, which will count toward their grade.
Students have a variety of ways to network with one another, so have them make use of chat rooms, instant messaging, email, and discussion boards and turn them into online assessments.
Provide structure to your discussions so that students know they are expected (and graded) on making a certain number of posts per week. You can require these posts to be replies to other students, commentary on reading or video, or general thoughts about a subject.
Whatever assessment methods you choose, be clear about your expectations, timeline and grading policies. Rubrics are a wonderful way to convey your expectations. I have used RubiStar to create many rubrics and it is a fabulous tool.