Published:  12:58 AM, 04 June 2020 Last Update: 01:09 AM, 04 June 2020

The adaptation of assessing online classes in Covid-19 pandemic

The clutch of the coronavirus pandemic is gradually diminishing all over the world. The reason might be one of the epitomes of human history- "if winter comes, can spring be far behind?" So, we can expect to seespring again in our life! However, until the spring appears inour life, we are advised to stay home and stay safe, and students are no exception.

In the coming days, the Covid-19 situation may be changed but the impact of it on the teaching-learning process will be continued as suggested by several reports. Recently, a report of CNN has confirmed that even though the Covid-19 situation becomes stable,several universities in the USA have decided to consider the possibility that in-person classes may not resume until 2021.

Researchers also suggest that we may have to maintain social distancing measures even after the Covid-19-phase, probably until 2022, such as stay-at-home, attending public functions following WHO hygiene guidelines, and school closures. Therefore, the classes are more likely to be held remotely through the upcoming semesters.Similarly, an increasing number of educational institutes intend to do the same all around the globe.

In Bangladesh, a number of eminent academics have suggested continuing online classesdue to the suspension of face-to-face classes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

They also reinforced to the closure of schools until the Covid-19 transmission is controlled. The ministry has recently urgedall universities to continue academic activities online, including exams and admissions in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has also permitted the private universities to hold online exams until the Covid-19 crisis ends. So, most of the educational institutions across the country are resorting to online classes following its closure for an indefinite period to keep academic activities at a brisk pace.

As a result, online teaching bandwagon has started to roll in the country. However, it seems a nascent problem for a large number of teachers. One of the reasons is a modicum of the recipe for doing online assessments. It further raises a host of challenges related to the practicality issue of the assessment. One of the challenges is the teachers' unfamiliarity with the process of an online assessment.

Online teaching-learning outcomes require a 'new and extended skills set' for an assessment. Many teachers do not have these required skills. So, assessing online classes and marking accordingly seems a pesky problem for many teachers. This pesky problem again seems to be one of the reasons for the absence of students' weekly online assessments although they are having online classes.

As far as the online teaching-learning process is concerned, the challenges of assessment are increased. I intend to propose some thoughts to start the wheels of the online assessment process. These thoughts will help teachers to expand their repertoire of assessing online teaching outcomes. At present, as we all are in the same boat of online teaching, we cannot ignore the online assessment process but to learn it.

Regarding the online assessment process, I can suggestsome potential possibilities of usingsome effective application tools to do online assessments. We know that the assessment experts have named mainly two types of assessments ? summative and formative. Summative assessment is used at the end of a term or a year and formative assessment are used to monitor the students' progress during a course.

Whatever the type of assessment is chosen, the main purpose of assessments is to determine whether the proficiency of the given learning objectives is achieved.In a balanced assessment system, both summative and formative assessments are an integral part of the assessment process.

So, I would like to suggest both to measure online teaching-learning outcomes as they are complementary to each other. There is amyriad of options to administer both summative and formative assessments. I have tailoreda few options to effectively integrate into the online assessment process.

The first option is to ask students for a written report/essay to be done online. This is the most common and one of the best ways to assess course-related written responses in detail. One of the major advantages of doing it online in real-time is that a teacher can measure the critical thinking skills of students based on widely known Bloom's Taxonomy.

A teacher can do it by checking whether the written words are actually students' own words or they have copied unethically.  In this regard, Google Docs is one of the best web-based software to give immediate feedback and marking online. 

The second option is to assess a topic or lesson-based online presentations of the students. It is a great way to engage all the students in a course. This option gives a good opportunity to a teacher to assess the students more authentically. The assessment through online presentations demonstrates whether the students have mastered the actual learning goals of the lesson/topic.

The students make the presentation slides on PowerPoint and explain the slides using Zoom or similar type of video-sharing apps. Apart from the PowerPoint presentation program, there are some cool presentation tools for the students such as Prezi and Padlet.

Besides, there isa form of assessment based on an objectivetest which consists of multiple-choice completion items. This form of assessment may also include true/false or short questions.A teacher can customise the test items and allocate the time. To make a defense against cheating, teachers need to select the quiz option given on Prezi. A teacher can set the time limits for the students to finishan objective test.

Typically, one minute per multiple items is sufficient for students who have actually studied for the test. A teacher should use test items that require higher-order thinking skills so that the answers are not found on the page of a textbook or in students' notes.

Another option to assess students online is ePortfolios. An ePortfolio is a collection of work (evidence) in an electronic format that showcases learning over time.In portfolios, students are asked to place their assignments throughout the course into an organised format using a website. AnePortfoliois often assessed at the end of a term or a course.

Being directed by a teacher, students can create an ePortfolio using Google Docs. It is super easy to create, embed, and shareePortfoliosinto Google Docs Document!In this regard, I suggest making a grading rubric available in advance before giving the students their assessment.

So, it is important to make sure that they know what it is to be covered and how it will be graded. For this reason, a teacher needs to provide students with a grading rubric and criteria in advance to ensure that they understand how each section of the assignments will be analysed.

No matter what form of assessments a teacher prefers to administer, s/he always has to cater to learners' level of competence and capacity of understanding.

It is only then that the teachers, students, and institutions will be benefited from the use of a well-designed online assessment process. I realize that it is difficult for a large number of teachers in our country to figure out how to effectively assess students' online learning. However, the teachers have no option but to deal with online assessment in this Covid-19 situation.

The writer is a PhD Researcher on language education and policy at the University of Canterbury,
New Zealand

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