‘Good’ online assessments could bring much-needed credibility to MOOCs

online-assessments-MOOCAs K-12 schools and higher education institutions across the country begin to implement online learning, issues of low retention rates and lack of credibility are some of the main reasons why skeptics hesitate in supporting online learning—specifically MOOCs.

The answer to increasing retention rates, as well as giving more credibility to many less traditional forms of online learning, is in good assessments, say supporters.

“Assessments are the lynchpins of MOOCs,” said David Smetters, CEO of Respondus, a Windows exam creation tool. “If you go to a college campus and sit in the back of a lecture hall, it’s certainly possible to learn things. But when you actually register for the course and take the assessments designed for it, you can demonstrate mastery of the content. An instructor then feels comfortable providing a grade, and likewise the institution is comfortable granting a certificate, a degree or some type of badge.”

“Assessments are the engine of this credibility cycle,” he continued.

Smetters also argues that if students are effectively assessed during a MOOC, the credibility of MOOCs goes up.

“And as the credibility increases, so will the retention rates for MOOCs,” he said.

Of course, now the question becomes, ‘What makes a good online assessment?’

(Next page: The must-haves of an online assessment)

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