Welcome to the Red Group Toolbox
We're sharing the insight we've gained as a group into different methods of
assessment. We are also sharing several Web 2.0 tools in which these can
be used, and examples and resources in which to find more information.
Please enjoy the walk through our toolbox and feel free to offer your own
Web 2.0 tools are valuable assets to the instructor who is looking for ways to
create a community of motivated learners who are immersed in their own
learning. However, instructors must take care in selecting and using only the
tools that support their learning outcomes. Selecting a Web 2.0 tool to use in
a course is almost like selecting the perfect outfit to wear for a job interview.
The frilly red and white polka dot dress may look fabulous (and you may be
remembered for wearing it), but does it help you accomplish the goal of
landing the job?
A wiki is a very versatile and engaging tool that lends itself well to a variety
of methods of assessment. Wikis are good, easy to use tools for group
projects, collaborative writing, and collaborative problem solving such as a
case study. A wiki is a software program that allows more than one user to
create and/or edit web pages using any web browser. It allows participants
to create, coordinate and organize information/content easily. Anyone with
permission to use the wiki can contribute, make changes and corrections.
Any digital file (text, image, sound or video) can be uploaded to a wiki page.
Software is embedded into Blackboard allowing instructors free and easy
access; however, there are thousands of programs, both free and for sale,
which can be used for creating and storing wikis.
The wiki encourages collaboration and social learning and is appealing to a
variety of learning styles and special educational needs; thus increasing the
engagement of all students. The shy or silent student has an equal
opportunity to contribute, as well as the “expert.” One benefit, but also a
challenge, is that students may not have developed the skills needed for
collaboration. Using a wiki offers an opportunity to build teamwork skills.
Other benefits include:
Promoting flexibility as students learn to accept the ideas of others
Supporting development of writing skills as students learn to write for
an audience, participate in editing, experience the benefits of revision,
and gain pride in seeing themselves as authors
Increasing interpersonal and communication skills as the student’s
focus becomes the product
providing opportunities for students to practice higher level thinking
skills such as evaluating and synthesizing while working on a wiki
All contributions and changes are tracked, so it is easy to see who has
participated, making students accountable. The tracking also makes it
possible to view all previous versions making it impossible for anyone to
delete the entire wiki.
As mentioned above, some students may not be accustomed to collaborative
work. They may also be reluctant to revise or change someone else’s work,
and there may be some frustration with what might be considered “tricky”
A benefit, but also a challenge is that a wiki needs to have a clear purpose or
contribute to a goal. This requires careful planning for the structure of the
wiki. Creating a meaningful and useful wiki will require time and effort on
the part of the instructor, but then the benefit is that students will control
the process and the outcome. Another challenge for the instructor is
monitoring the wiki. Since anyone can add, edit, or delete, the instructor will
want to take the time to monitor the wiki for correct and appropriate
The wiki has limitless possibilities for teaching and learning. Wikis can be
used for a variety of purposes from very simple to very complex: signing up
for a chat time, selecting a topic for a paper, or compiling information that
could be used to develop a glossary or other shared resources, a case study,
create an article or presentation. Some colleges are experimenting with
using wikis as e-portfolios.
Learning outcome example
In an introductory early childhood education class, learners are expected to
integrate strategies that support diversity and anti-bias perspectives. By
using typical situations in an early childhood classrooms, students will link
the behavior of children, parents and teachers to their cultural
orientation/pattern. The constructive alignment statement could be as
Given a typical situation in an early childhood classroom, the learner will link
the behavior of children, parents and teachers to a cultural
orientation/pattern by contributing to a wiki according to assignment
A wiki is one of the easiest and most efficient collaboration tools and has
been described as a composition system, a discussion medium, a repository,
and mail system. (Educause, 2005) It is versatile, interactive, and invites
participation at a variety of levels. It can be used in creating learning
activities and to support many assessment techniques.
Flash Card Machine is one of many web applications that enables users to
create interactive web-based study flash cards and share them with others.
There are other websites that will also do the same thing. The idea is for
students or teachers to create flash cards which are then used for the
purpose of studying a specific subject matter.
Flashcards remain one of the best tools for memorizing information. The
most common way to create flashcards is to use index cards. Students can
simply write the question on one side and the answer on the opposite side
and test themselves repeatedly. However, there are several ways to modify
this process to enhance the learning experience.
Flash cards can make learning fun by seeming more like a game than a
One of the benefits of using flash cards on the internet is that it allows not
only the student to access the flash cards whenever they would like to use
for studying but the instructor can save them on-line and have the
student(s) access them at their convenience. You can either create
completely new flash cards any time you like. No more printing out on
paper, laminating them, filing, etc.
There are actually four good reasons for using flashcards:
1) Using flashcards allows the student to learn in “small chunks” of
relevant information at a time. When you are first learning a new subject
sometimes it is overwhelming if you look at the overall big picture. By
taking your subject matter and allowing the learner to learn little bits at a
time it allows the learner to go over relevant information one at a time.
2) You can review the same information over and over again using
flashcards and then later use them to review learned material. As we’ve
learned previously, all students do not learn in the same way (Right brain
vs. Left brain)…. So for some students this may be the way that they best
learn – by repetition. Also, by using smaller chunks and adding to them
you are not overwhelming the students with lots of information all at once.
This is the same information just taught by repetition which stastically a
highly effective way of communicating new information.
3) Flashcards “actively” involve you in the process of learning. As a
student if you don’t participate, you are more than likely to find the learning
process dull and that you aren’t getting anything out of it. Many of my
students dislike my Powerpoint presentations and prefer the hands-on
learning much better. Also, if the student isn’t actively engaged they have a
tendency to let their minds wander or worse yet, start e-mailing all their
friends, sending text messages, etc. while you are trying to teach.
Flashcards are known to be an excellent tool to encourage highly “active”
learning. They encourage a student to see the information, use it hands on
straight away and then recall the information later. They are also self
checking so that it gives your students the confidence they need when
learning information. Best of all students find that they’re FUN!
4) Flashcards provide you with Immediate Feedback on results.
Flashcards enable the instructor to know immediately what information the
student knows or doesn’t know plus it’s a lot like a pre-exam. As an
instructor it can help in instructing you what the student(s) know and what
they need more help on.
Allows students to “study” as often as they like
Gives the instructor some insight as to what area may need more instruction
Can be thought of more of a game than a tedious learning activity
Students must access the website, the flash cards and take the time to work
with the flash cards
I’m not sure how you could verify that your students actually went on-line
and used these websites, however, you could create your own and use them
on your blackboard website. Many of the teaching aid websites I looked at
had flashcards already made up, it’s just a matter of incorporating them into
the blackboard shell
The flash cards can be grouped however the instructor wishes. You can
organize them into specific units, topics, assignments, upcoming tests, etc.
You can save them for reuse over and over again.
Learning Objectives Example
Students learn by repetition but this can be tedious and boring. However, in
using a method such as flash cards, a known useful teaching aid, this
method can make learning fun and something that the students may
actually enjoy doing.
Flash cards and other similar websites, are useful tools for instructors to use
when a student needs to memorize facts. There are other ways of learning
as described below:
Chunking: Break content into smaller "chunks"
Repetition: Repeat the practice steps
Mnemonic: Incorporate memory aids such as “Flash Cards”
Prompting: Prompt learner to respond
The presentation, when used as an assessment tool, is a method in which
the student must gather material, analyze it and then present it to the other
students in the class. This lends itself well to individual presentations or
group presentations, face-to-face classes or on-line classes. The
presentation can take many forms, from Power Point to podcast to simple
lecture. A web 2.0 tool that is particularly useful to pull group presentations
together in a coherent format is SlideShare. Students make their own slides
or documents for their part of the presentation, and then combine their
efforts by sharing their work in a Slideshare presentation.
Students benefit by learning to pull together the material they are
presenting, putting it into accessible form for themselves and the other
students, and then practicing getting the material across in presentation
form. The web 2.0 tool also allows practice at collaboration. Also, once the
presentation is loaded into Slideshare, it is available to anyone in the class,
department or future classes. Slideshare also has a side benefit of being
used as a social and professional networking site.
The biggest challenge of this method of assessment is the student who is
insecure in his or her ability to do a presentation. Also, students who tend to
lag behind other students in completing work can bring the entire group
presentation to a halt. If a student is doing the presentation on his or her
own, the challenge is somewhat reduced. Also, students can use other
peoples’ slides which can present a plagiarism issue, depending on the
content. In most cases, though, content requirements would be specific
enough to avoid this issue.
This method of assessment works extremely well in the courses in which a
student can teach a hands-on skill. It is possible to sync slides with audio to
create webinars and slidecasts.
Learning Objectives Example
Learning outcome: Demonstrate oral, written, and non-verbal
communication skills in an organized and coherent manner
“Learner will be responsible for a presentation to the class, will be able to
demonstrate a working knowledge of their topic, will use various professional
presentation methods, and will be able to give valid answers to fellow
The presentation method of assessment is not a panacea, but in many
cases, it gives students the chance to show what they can do. By
demonstrating skills learned, a student can reflect on whether they actually
have the skill or need to do more work to attain success with the skill. Also,
in most professional situations in our industry, there will be opportunity and
need for professional presentations. This activity not only assesses the skill
being presented or the mastery of the subject matter, but also the ability to
make a professional presentation.
the Cutting Edge, Carlton College
Assessment in the Biological Sciences, Australian Learning and Teaching
http://www.slideshare.net/ SlideShare website
Threaded Discussion and Bb Discussion Boards
Using the Blackboard (Bb) Discussion boards, students learn by
understanding and application, able to make reaction comments about
lesson material, share information with class, teach one another by
assessing other learners’ examples, and clarify their own material without
being in a face-to-face environment. Students can actively engage in
discussions and conversations about the material.
Development takes place within the Bb classroom that is set up by the
instructor. Discussion topics can be stored in a template and copied over to
the class that you are teaching. This is accessed with secured login. The Bb
site can be accessed only by students and instructor who are enrolled in that
section of the class. This is a tool that is already incorporated into the online
BLACKBOARD DISCUSSION BOARD
The Discussion tool (Bb) allows you to create structured, asynchronous
dialogues with the members of your site. The tool works similarly to
message boards from other web sites, (OWL-Space Guide).
Bb Discussion boards are an easy to use tool that the instructor have the
ability to choose among a variety of colors, text styles, and can prepare the
heading topics ahead of time. This allows the students know where to post
their online discussion assignment. The topics can be placed under the
correct unit/module and allow student access at time of availability.
BLACKBOARD DISCUSSION BOARD
Other benefits of a threaded discussion:
Student-centered; all students MUST participate (you may not get in a face-
More of a democratic exchange; no dominant personalities to rule the
discussion like a face-to-face classroom
Promotes professional communication and hear form a different perspective
Ability to take “attendance”; know who is participating
Less intimidating for students; if embarrassed to “talk” in face-to-face class
Allows students to compose thoughts before reflecting on material before
Asynchronous; students do not have to be online at the same time to
participate which allows more convenience to the student
Opportunity to impact student learning; assessment, redirection,
Community sharing of other resources that the student finds
BLACKBOARD DISCUSSION BOARD
An online threaded discussion does have its challenges that affect the
learning of the student.
Learning to post your messages in the proper place
Communication is only via writing; there is a lot of tone that can be
interpreted wrong by others
Students need to understand “Netiquette” for responding to other students
Creating “due” dates for posting original content and dates to reply to other
Only completing the required number of responses; there is more to learn in
a discussion than a one time, post-response. Discussions usually are not
just one exchange from each participant.
No one may respond to a person’s original posting
BLACKBOARD DISCUSSION BOARD
The Bb Discussion tool can be “organized into Categories, Topics, and
Replies. Categories are broad containers, consisting only of a title, and
holding zero or more topics. Topics are placed within a Category. Topics
consist of a title and some text content. They are the seeds of your
discussion. Replies hang off of a topic. They are responses to the topic
idea. You can also reply to a reply…” (OWL-Space Guide).
The instructor may have them reflect on a topic and post their
opinions/reactions to the material and then comment on 2-3 other students’
BLACKBOARD DISCUSSION BOARD
Learning Objectives Example
As in the case of an Introductory Psychology class, one of the topics is the
central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral
nervous system (PNS) is the part of our body that controls both our
voluntary and involuntary body movements
The polygraph test measures some of the involuntary movements. Students
would review the literature and videos of the parts of the PNS and then
follow up with research on the polygraph test and how it is used to measure
the parts of the autonomic system. This gives a real world example of how
it may be important to the student in a real-world example and not just, “it
controls our breathing.”
Students can then post on the discussion board their thoughts (based on
facts in the readings) if they believe polygraph results should or should not
be admissible in courts.
BLACKBOARD DISCUSSION BOARD
There is lots of research available that show benefits of student interaction
(threaded discussion) and using deep, effortful processing for learning
material. A discussion board provides the opportunity for a safe
environment (if ground rules are in place) for students to share their
knowledge and comment on other peoples’ assessments.
Cavanaugh, Drs., (2006). Benefits of a Discussion Forum. Retrieved
07/22/09, from DrsCavanaugh Educational Technology, Website:
Discussion Tool. (2006). The OWL-Space Guide. Retrieved 07/22/09, from
Williams, Jeremy B., (2004). The Asynchronous Discussion Board As An
Assessment Tool: A Critical Appraisal. Retrieved 07/22/09, from Website:
NoteMesh is a tool for note taking and working with your classmates to
develop comprehensive notes for your class. Users can post their own
lecture notes or contribute to existing lecture notes. Registered users can
only access/create course notes for their school, not other schools. It is a
Wiki-style application that is free, but only available in the United States.
Easily Web accessible
Easy to set up and learn how to use
Pleasant, modern Web prescence
To register, users must have an email address that ends in ".edu".
Can only work with notes/classmates from their school
Available only in the United States
Users may have difficulty with group dynamics
May raise concerns about managing e-safety and copyright
May have a problem with class matching
Basically, NoteMesh is a customized Wiki for educational use. The "starter"
page revolves around a class, it is not a "generic" page. Users can invite
other users to input and view class notes and merge their knowledge into a
base for that class. Users need to be very careful in getting a class match
otherwise they won't be able to find each other's notes for that class.
Learning Outcome Example
In an internship experience, students are faced with real, on-the-job
situations in which learners are required to demonstrate professional
behaviors in the workplace. By using NoteMesh, students will be given a
case study to read and respond to using scoring guide criteria. The learning
outcome would be:
Learners demonstrate professional behaviors in the workplace by given a
case study, they read and appropriately problem solve the case using the
scoring guide criteria.
Using NoteMesh students are able to view and collaborate with each other
their solutions to each case study. It also enables the instructor to give
feedback as to the correct response for each case.