Large-scale, fully online BYOD final exams: Not your parents’ multiple choice

The schools integrating web testing into their curriculums are reaping benefits campuswide

The blended classroom is no longer the exception, with the majority of universities integrating online learning into nearly every department. Despite the whirlwind innovations in online pedagogy, there has been a much slower race to online assessment.

But the schools integrating web testing into their curriculums are reaping benefits campuswide, according to Rob Peregoodoff, director of learning services at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. Peregoodoff will present a session at UBTech 2014 called, “Large-scale, fully online BYOD final exams: Not your parents’ multiple choice.

When Peregoodoff arrived at the University of British Columbia in 2009, he says he faced a broken testing system. “As educators, we’ve spent 15 years coming to grips with the internet. The web helps students learn for three months. Then comes the time for assessment, and we take it away,” Peregoodoff says. “This is a pedagogically flawed model.”

At the Sauder School of Business, faculty are learning to take advantage of the online testing model. Exams become 3D experiences as students watch videos, use Java applets and manipulate charts to answer questions.

Transforming pen-and-paper exams into multi-faceted, dynamic online experiences came (expectedly) with challenges. Building the faculty’s confidence in internet assessment took time, Peregoodoff says, as did shifting the pedagogy to what works in the new model.

“Faculty would present their paper final exam as-is for conversion. My team would do try to do a translation, and the system often couldn’t translate the paper formats. I would then have to present numerous alternative testing options for faculty, going through the pros and cons of each option,” he says. “Now, faculty understand this isn’t about running the same multiple choice exams they always have.”

One mode to avoid in online assessment? Restricting the web as a resource for students during testing. “This is the prison model of online exams. We don’t do any locked down web testing,” says Peregoodoff. “Our best exams are when our faculty tell students to use the tools available to them on the internet. More and more faculty are starting to understand this concept.”

The benefits of the online conversion are apparent at the University of British Columbia, both on budget sheets and in student learning. “The university and business school are focusing on operational effectiveness. Our financial officers are excited by the cost savings,” says Peregoodoff.

The Sauder Business School converted time traditionally spent on grading papers into 15 to 30 minute blocks during which students and teaching assistants or faculty discuss test results. “You’re not paying [graders] to sit with a red pen for hours. In this way, we are redeploying assessments into learning experiences,” says Peregoodoff.

Click to learn more about the UBTech Conference session “Large-scale, fully online BYOD final exams: Not your parents’ multiple choice.”


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