V-L-Easy! Day 8 – Weblearn Tools for learning and assessment

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As part of the countdown to the festive season, the VLE team and CPED are sharing their ideas for simple tools or techniques that can make life easier for lecturers and their students. So far, we have explored CollaborateAlly, Student Preview,  Grade Centre Smart ViewsNureva SpanCourse Sites and Weblearn Groups.
Today, we explore a feature which may be a crucial part of your assessment design, but is also a quick and simple way to manage your assessment, marking and communication with students.

Weblearn Tools for learning and assessment

Essays, presentations and tests are not the only way for your students to communicate what they have learned. Weblearn has several alternative tools that student can use to document or construct their knowledge: blogs, journals, discussion boards, wikis, and portfolios. These are perfectly suited to continuous assessment, and can be used for either formative or summative assessment.

Diagram matching Weblearn tools to types of thinking

For each type of intellectual activity, there is a corresponding tool in Weblearn.

Journals are great platforms for gauging the extent to which assessment criteria are understood, how feedback is being exploited, and issues surrounding professional practice and employability. Blogs can be used as a tool for working together on reflective learning, leading to greater evidence of empathy and supportive learning.  Wikis enable students to construct subject knowledge together, whereas Discussion Boards enable students to express, corroborate and refine their developing ideas and values, and Portfolios showcase how skills and knowledge have been applied.

The table below explains the key features of each of the tools.

Tool Purpose Visibility Relevant to level     Intellectual
activity
Blog recording individual or group experience, knowledge or evaluation Public/Group Levels 3,4,5,6,7 Knowledge, Evaluation
Journal recording individual experience, knowledge or evaluation Private 3,4,5,6,7 Knowledge, Evaluation
Wiki collaborative generation of a glossary of subject-specific terms Public/Group 3,4 Knowledge, Understanding
Discussion Board discussion and debate about contentious or challenging subject-specific issues Public/Group 5,& Analysis, Synthesis
Portfolio Collating evidence/ showcasing application of skills Public/Private 3,4,6 Application, Synthesis

Unlike other types of assessment, many of the tools above involve minimal initial preparation by the lecturer. Each of the tools can originate with some simple instructions or parameters. After this, the onus is on the students to do the work and to be the active agents in their own learning.

As the module progresses, it will be necessary to monitor the entries or updates to each tool, and feedback can be provided continuously in a series of small, constructive statements or questions. Admittedly, the tools require your willingness to regularly check on work-in-progress; however, the benefit is that you will have continuous insights into student engagement. We recommend that for each of these tools deployed, you commit to a regular weekly time-slot for monitoring students’ progress, and for leaving simple feedback comments. Although this may seem inefficient, your invested time may result in less time responding to assessment queries, reviewing draft essays, or devising resit assessments.

If you would like more information on how to create and get the most out of journals, blogs, discussion boards wikis or other tools in Weblearn, please contact vletraining@londonmet.ac.uk .

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