د/ايمان زغلول قاسم

استاذ تكنولوجيا التعليم المساعد بكلية التربية بالزلفي

Online Assessment

Collaborating for change
The COLA project
Background
The COLEG Online Assessment project (COLA) is run
by Scotland’s Colleges Open Learning Exchange Group
(COLEG) – an association of further education colleges in
Scotland formed to develop and share learning resources,
including e-learning content.
With funding from the Scottish Further Education Funding
Council and subsequently the Scottish Funding Council, the
aim of COLA has been to create a bank of online formative
assessments across a wide range of courses and levels in
support of SQA qualifications. COLA assessments are
objective tests containing up to 20 questions available in 17
subject areas from Access to HND level, or Scottish Credit
and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) levels 1-8.
Technologies, systems and policies
The project generated online assessments for use in the
four VLEs used in Scottish colleges – Blackboard®, Moodle™,
Serco (Teknical) Virtual Campus™ and WebCT® – with the
assistance of subject specialists from the colleges. To
ensure that question writers had a good understanding of
objective testing and online delivery, they attended
workshops to develop best practice techniques.
This ambitious project has not been without problems,
however. The final databank was delivered in IMS Question
and Test Interoperability (QTI) standard compliant form,
but none of the VLEs complied with the IMS QTI standard
satisfactorily. The solution was that the databank should
hold only the QTI version of each question but that certain
conversion tools for different platforms (for example,
Respondus®) should be provided alongside.
At the outset it was decided to restrict the question types
to multiple choice, multiple response, true or false, and
match and fill-the-blank questions, but because of
difficulties in rendering the fill-the-blank questions,
these were excluded from the item bank. There were
also problems with user tracking in certain VLEs and
with the way in which some VLEs handled the scoring.
The accessibility of the questions could also be affected
by the way in which the individual VLE rendered them.
Rethinking assessment practice
Solutions to many of the initial problems have been
found, although the way that VLEs handle scoring is
still an issue. The experience of COLA has also
influenced some colleges to upgrade or change
their VLE.
In time, the value of the online formative tests will
outweigh the cost of resolving these issues. Already,
around 500 online formative tests have been written and
shared since 2005 and practitioners and learners have
found use of the assessments beneficial. Notably, the
project has raised the profile of e-learning in Scotland.
It has also highlighted the value of a nationally funded
drive for innovation and focused attention on the urgent
need for interoperability between systems.

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