It is the deciding factor of how we’re currently doing business and gives a snapshot of what the future holds – Adaptability.
Headlines of the “Coronavirus Pandemic”, lead off each morning throughout the world. We continue to have tragic stories of how rapidly the virus has spread and governments angst to monitor and provide solutions to flatten the curve. In the past, “frontline workers”, would be relegated to Healthcare, Police and Firemen, but Educators have been put into the rewarding, yet dubious category.
The impact has been profound and we must answer the bell by providing the learning community with adaptable strategies that will focus on accountability, fairness and transparency. Meanwhile, schools have closed and trickling announcements of extended school closures could reach the next school year and possibly beyond. This isn’t something we can control, but embracing adaptability will benefit those who are more accepting to change. This unexpected (for lack of better term) “gut kick” of extended school closures arrived just as teachers, students and parents were finding a little normalcy to their unexpected routines of Distance Learning. School districts had under a week to prepare teachers, students and parents to step outside of their comfort zones of what we now see as traditional classroom settings, to begin using Distance Learning platforms and digital resources to deliver curriculum and instruction. Schools around the world experiencing this sudden shift to Distance Learning in an effort to slow the spread of the disease have gone through weeks of tough patches, but educational leaders are seeing resilience, as well as, students and teachers thriving.
Although we have seen success with the Distance Learning, many educators are facing challenges with online classroom settings. One major challenge in particular are problems with conducting online assessments that are valid and completed with honesty amongst students’. Cheating seems to be slowly matriculating throughout the student body in some Distance Learning environments, as students and teachers evolve through this current method of teaching, learning and assessing. Educational leaders are tasked with considering inventive methods and/or processes to sure up assessments are yielding valid and trustworthy data to make informed decisions.
Many educational leaders are turning to innovative methods using multiple web-based platforms to prevent opportunities to cheat. There are a number of assessment types that can be conducted online that would assist with maintaining the validity of the assessment that complaint platform usage. Reports and project presentations are effective types of assessments, but plagiarism can occur. Utilizing a web-based resource like Britannica Schools can help lower the chances of plagiarism because it offers up to date curated resources and a citation tool to assist students with properly citing their work. Turnitin is another digital platform resource that provides plagiarism prevention services that checks students writing citation mistakes and inappropriate copying prior to submission.
According to Watson and Sottile (2010), it’s not clear whether online students do, in fact, cheat more than face-to-face students, the problem is it is difficult to determine who’s taking a test and how they’re taking it. Educators must become savvy creators of assessment deliveries. Oral examinations is an assessment method that can easily be conducted online in 1-on-1 sessions via web-conferencing platforms, such as Zoom. Utilizing a web-based platforms like MasteryConnect to create multiple forms of assessments that assess the mastery level of the same skill is another effective strategy. It serves the same purpose as shuffling questions around on different test formats of a class taking a test seated in the same room. Conducting timed open-book assessments online can be effective. This would definitely require a live session, whereas the teacher and possible the classroom assistant serves as proctors. The open-book questions should include rigorous requirements, such as short-answer or essay questions that require students to apply text facts.
The use of rubrics for scoring of individual or group projects can be of value. Including a peer-review component to the rubric can help motivate students’ to put their best foot forward and bring about a sense of accountability.
Performance assessments online can easily be conducted and scored by the teacher and peers. Students’ can do demonstrations, deliver speeches or have student-led discussions live via Zoom, or using Screencast-o-matic, which allows students’ to capture their voice delivery over a presentation.
These are just a few strategies that educational leaders and teachers can put into motion to combat cheating and uphold test validity during Distance Learning as the world awaits the Covid-19 curve to flatten. These strategies are not difficult, but may require a little extra step or two during planning, but once in practice ease comes, and the comfort of knowing the data from assessments is reliable.
Watson, G. & Sottile, J. (2010). Cheating in the Digital Age: Do Students Cheat More in Online Courses? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume XIII, Number 1 from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring131/watson131.html
Web-based Platforms Referenced:
Britannica School https://school.eb.com/levels
Dr Juanita Muhaimin Daunoy is a transformational leader with 21-years of note-worthy experiences. As a Principal, she led school-improvement initiatives in both the US and UAE, resulting in positive student performance and growth. As Curriculum-Manager, Dr Juanita is leading three K-12 private schools through reviews of curriculum, senior-leadership training and onboarding digital-platforms to ensure improvements in curriculum delivery.