Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Online Assessments

It was interesting today to see how the MTC is using technology to improve the learning of their missionaries and to generate data that can be used to make well-informed decisions.  

I agree with all of the advantages that were mentioned in class today--accessability, collection of data, conserving of resources, etc.  Some disadvantages that I would cite are the possibility for oversampling (because it is easy to build online assessments we are more likely to use (or abuse) them) as well as the creation of assessments in a rushed, unthoughtful way (again, because we can hammer out a survey on survey monkey in a few minutes we may not be as thoughful as we build the assessment).  

As far as my work goes, online assessments are very useful (but also susceptible to the tendencies I mentioned above).  I coordinate new student programs on campus (e.g. new student orientation, freshman seminar courses, etc.) and we use surveys quite often.  One thing that I would like to improve upon is the use of assessments that also provide feedback or promote learning for the student.  We have started to do that with our assessments, but it is something that I would like to keep working on.  One assessment instrument that I have just started to explore is Qualtrics which is a 360 degree survey tool that can lead to a lot of learning and improvement for those that are surveyed or assessed.  It is used heavily in corporate settings, but is also employed by a number of universities including some big names like Harvard and Carnegie Mellon.  BYU has just started to use it a little bit (it was actually created by a BYU faculty member and we are able to use if for free!).  It looks like it will give us the ability to improve our assessments tremendously.  I'm excited to learn more about it and use it in the future.

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