Thousands of institutions of higher education have transitioned abruptly to digital modalities in order to sustain instruction and student engagement through the coronavirus pandemic; however, great concern has been expressed throughout the academy about the quality of online instruction and the assessment techniques used to evaluate student learning. Various tactics have been introduced nationally to support targeted and constructive exchanges among professionals dedicated to successful student learning. Yet, few venues are currently available to educators who seek to exchange information about new assessment challenges and emerging best practices.
“Next-Gen Assessment,” an ongoing series of blog posts complemented by brief video discussions, is designed to help meet this need. Designed to explore promising responses to emerging challenges during this extraordinary time, the series provides a platform for assessment specialists, educators, and other professionals to discuss timely topics, identify best practices, and share new approaches to digital delivery.
Faculty members at the center of the current shift in educational delivery are charged with developing protocols for providing instruction during this historic time and for establishing reliable assessment practices. While the remote delivery of instruction appears to be less problematic, assessment of student learning is clearly a concern that demands immediate attention. How can we create inclusive learning environments online, for example? How can we determine whether students are engaged and whether they are learning? Recognizing that technology is a tool used for instruction, teachers understand that ensuring the reliability of digital curricular delivery and evaluation of student learning will require considerable oversight and new conventions yet to be defined. Therefore, faculty must enlarge their approach to teaching and learning and foster conditions where distance learning can engage students while also growing and maturing.
How can the academy enhance online learning environments that are no longer outliers but now represent the norm? One way is to collaborate with departmental and campus colleagues and others across the country to share data, viewpoints, and initiatives aimed at finding ways to make distance learning as effective as traditional in-person learning. We must not forget, however, that we in the academy know our disciplines best and understand best how to satisfy the learning needs of our students. Consequently, we must consider together how distance teaching can work effectively to ensure student learning in a safe environment.
In these times, the most productive way to make progress in distance learning is to create and sustain dialogue among professionals. We invite your participation in this new multimedia series. Join the discourse on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or by writing to Ben Dedman at [email protected], and add your thoughts to the conversation! Respond with your ideas through writing, a graphic, or a video or introduce new topics related to digital assessment.
This multimedia series is hosted by M. David Miller (University of Florida), Tammie Cumming (Brooklyn College, CUNY), Gladys Palma de Schrynemaker (CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies), and Terrel Rhodes (AAC&U).