5 Tips for Delivering Assessments During Covid-19

The following is a guest post by Jaclyn Gulinello, an instructional design intern at Touro College. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

While assessments are an essential component of education – they’re not one size fits all! It’s important to deliver online exams that best suit the type of learning that took place for your students. In the online space, you have a wide variety of assessment techniques available. This assortment can enable you as an instructor to deliver the most efficient and effective exams to assess your students’ progress.  Here are 5 tips for delivering assessments in an online environment.

1.Prioritize Informal Assessments

Informal assessments are often used in the traditional classroom by a simple means of asking questions to students. With distance learning, informal assessments can occur just as simply in the form of online discussions boards, quizzes, essays, and asking questions through synchronous Zoom meetings. You can use many online learning tools for informal assessments that engage your students and check for understanding.

2. Use Turnitin for Written Assignments and Essays

Written assignments such as essays and research papers are a great method of determining student comprehension.  Turnitin is a plagiarism detection software system that helps to maintain academic integrity standards, so that you can ensure there is no misuse of information or plagiarism. Simply have your students submit their papers through the system, to take the guess work out of plagiarism!

3. Use Respondus Products for High Stakes Assessments

While it is recommended that high stakes tests are not administered at this time, we do understand that a midterm or a final exam will still need to be delivered. Respondus Lockdown Browser® is a customized browser that increases the security of test delivery while students access an exam. It prevents their ability to print, copy, go out on the web, or access other applications. Respondus Monitor enables use of a webcam and flags suspicious activity while a student is taking an exam.  When using these tools, it is important to administer a practice test using the browser before the actual exam. There are other products on the market that may also assist with test security.

4. Be Mindful of Timed Exams

Often times, faculty may end up providing students with timed exam to deter cheating. However, timed exams can potentially create unnecessary stress for students as their focus may be on speed rather than knowledge. Should you need to deliver a timed exam, it is best to consider providing students with the same time allotment as you would in your traditional classroom space.

5. Check in Frequently With Your Students

With all of us going through a tough time at the moment, it’s important for instructors to remain informed on students current situations as certain situation will directly impact their academic standing.  Student value the opportunity to interact and hear from you. Let your students know that they are not alone by sending an announcement, or email to check-in.

This transition to online learning has forced many of us to think differently about the way we teach. While we are all doing our best to adapt accordingly, it is important to keep in mind that many of us are stressed and/or facing difficult situations. Doing you best to keep students on track, while empathizing with the current state of the things will improve communication and sense of community among you and your students. 

Author’s Bio: Jaclyn Gulinello is currently attending the graduate school of technology at Touro College, and is pursuing a degree in Educational Technology. While Jaclyn is currently on the corporate track, she also has a background in education and obtained a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in speech communications. Jaclyn would like to apply her knowledge of teaching methods, creativity skills and her interest in emerging technologies to eventually become an instructional designer. She is currently working on various projects as an Instructional Design Intern at Touro College, and will go on to become an ID upon her graduation in June 2020 from the Touro Graduate School of Technology.

Utilizing Technology to Stay Happy and Healthy: A Personal Account

The following is a guest post by Jaclyn Gulinello, an instructional design intern at Touro College. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

The Pandemic of 2020 is what they will call it. When we are older, we will tell our children and grandchildren the stories of long grocery lines, the great toilet paper shortage, the quarantine, and how we came together as a country, and even on a global scale to help each other get through a very difficult time. I hope that after this is all over, we have realized what is truly important to us, and can find some positivity in all the negative that has transpired.

It’s been over a month of quarantine for me as I sit to write this. Everyone else has been in their homes for about 2 weeks, but it’s been a lot longer for me as I’ve been struggling with illnesses since February. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, which is something I never had the time to do before. I was so busy with work, school, etc., that I simply could not even muster the energy at the end of the day to reflect on my life. Something I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to. I often felt overwhelmed, lost, and anxious. Again, something I’m sure many of you can relate to.

This time home has left me with much time for reflection and even prayer. What I’ve come to realize is that this is a time for healing for us all. Maybe this is exactly what we needed. Those of us who needed to spend more time with their families, or mend broken relationships, or even to spend more time with ourselves to cultivate self-growth.

Personally, this has been an eye-opening experience. I’ve felt the anxiety of the unknown, been sicker than I have in a very long time, and I’ve been forced to slow down. I’ve been forced to address my anxieties and deal with them in a healthy way. I’ve been forced to see my strength and to trust my body. I’ve been forced to put myself and my health first. I’ve also found something, or many things, to be grateful for every single day. Something that I had struggled with at times in the past. I’ve used this opportunity to speak with people in my life that I was too busy to talk to in the past, and to find ways to keep in touch through video chat and Facetime. I’ve learned patience, which is something I never thought I would ever be able to conquer.

Technology has become something I’m very grateful for during this quarantine. Technology has gotten a bad rap over the years, particularly in the realm of Education, but it is technology that is allowing many people to continue to work, and keeping people connected in this time of isolation. It’s allowing students like me to not only keep their jobs, but continue to attend classes so that I can earn my Graduate degree. It’s keeping people sane and connected in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in the past.

I’m sure that you are all familiar with Zoom by now and are using it to attend your classes online. If you’re like me, the thought of putting on makeup to look presentable at this point is just way too much effort. Well there’s a zoom hack that can help with that. It’s called “Touch up my Appearance” in your Zoom settings. Click on the link below to read more about how to use Zoom. There is also Google Chat that you can use to chat with family and friends, and if you’re tired of watching TV alone you can Netflix and chill with a friend through NetflixParty. It’s only available through Chrome so you will need that extension.

Another amazing thing happening with regards to technology right now is that many companies are offering free access to their sites and tools during the pandemic. Right now, you can go online and take a free exercise class, learn ballet, meditate, or attend a museum right from the comfort of your own home. The other night I joined a live webcam and watched the northern lights light up the night sky over Canada. Today, I sent my friend a link to a virtual Harry Potter escape room for her son. There are amazing resources that are available to students, parents, and educators right now, and you should be taking advantage of them. (Click below for a list of links to some of these resources.)

So, to conclude, while yes this is a scary time for everyone, you can still find the positive in the negative. Be that person. Work on yourself, meditate, pray, exercise, call that person you’ve been wanting to talk to and have coffee over video chat. Play that game with your kids and focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have right now. I’m sure you will find that you have more than you thought. At the very least what we need to have is hope. Hope that we will all get through this a little wiser, a little kinder, a little closer, and a little better than we were before.

Resources for Video Chat:

https://www.zoom.us/

https://meet.google.com/

https://houseparty.com/

https://www.netflixparty.com/

Free Apps and other Resources :

https://www.duolingo.com/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2020/03/18/these-historic-sites-attractions-are-offering-virtual-tours-during-coronavirus-pandemic/

https://www.metopera.org/

Free Apps for Kids:

https://elearningindustry.com/10-top-educational-apps-for-kids

Free Exercise Videos:

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/21/free-online-workouts-available-during-the-coronavirus-quarantine.html

Author’s Bio: Jaclyn Gulinello is currently attending the graduate school of technology at Touro College, and is pursuing a degree in Educational Technology. While Jaclyn is currently on the corporate track, she also has a background in education and obtained a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in speech communications. Jaclyn would like to apply her knowledge of teaching methods, creativity skills and her interest in emerging technologies to eventually become an instructional designer. She is currently working on various projects as an Instructional Design Intern at Touro College, and will go on to become an ID upon her graduation in June 2020 from the Touro Graduate School of Technology.

7 Tips for Going Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the closure of schools around the world, online learning has become the viable modality of maintaining instructional continuity through enabling students to continue learning outside of the confines of the in-person classroom. The following tips offer starting points for transitioning your classroom online.

1. Maintain Clear Communication – Especially in times of uncertainty, it is important to maintain consistent contact with your students. Let them know how they can get in touch with you, how often they can expect to receive course updates, and where they can go to find course info. A sample email or announcement may look like this- Sample Announcement

2. Make Your Course Engaging  – Online learning presents a vastly different learning environment than a physical classroom, and this presents an opportunity for you to get creative with your instruction. Digital technologies such as Padlet (a visual discussion board tool), Flipgrid (a pre-recorded video response tool), and Quizlet (a flashcard system with live team game settings) all have free options that can easily be incorporated into your online course.

Padlet
Flipgrid

3. Use New Technologies to Stay on Schedule – Now is a the time to brush up on those technical skills. As an instructor you have the opportunity to expand your reach to students by mastering new digital learning tools. Use Zoom to present content and share related information. Upload your course materials to the institution’s learning management system (LMS), such as Blackboard and Canvas, so that students can access them. Communicate with your students digitally through the use of  LMS features, such as Announcements or email. Use technology to stay in touch and on schedule during this critical time. Contact your local IT for support or assistance with gaining access and using these technologies.

4. Group Activities Promote a Sense of Community – Although your class may have shifted online, the social aspect of learning still remains vital to your student’s academic success. Use LMS and other technology tool features to encourage interaction among you and your students.

Examples include:

  • Discussion boards – be sure to be an active participant yourself, and encourage your students to post thoughtful and nuanced answers to other students responses.
  • Zoom- Zoom breakout rooms, which allow you to split your Zoom meeting into separate rooms, each with different participants.
  • The groups function in your LMS, which enables you to assign students to different groups to work on an assignment.
Image result for zoom break out rooms
Zoom Breakout Rooms

5. Be Flexible – Think objectively about the assignments you have planned for this semester, and decide which ones can most effectively be translated to online learning. If an assignment or assessment does not easily translate online, perhaps it should be replaced with an alternative. For example, an in-person test might be replaced with a semester long project or essay assignment. A live lecture might become a pre-recorded asynchronous lecture using a screencasting technology. Consider how learning can best be accomplished with the tools and resources available to you and your students.


6. Remain Positive and Supportive – You probably were not planning to teach online this semester, but that does not mean you won’t learn something new from this experience. Be open-minded and willingly to adapt to this new way of learning in a challenging time. Remain positive and supportive of your students and be sure to make time for you own self-care.

7. Ask for Support and Collaborate – Remember to ask for support when you need it. Your institution’s local IT, online education department is ready to support you during this time of need. Reach out to them, attend trainings, and be cognizant of your own wellness in making this transition to online. Also reach out and collaborate with your fellow faculty members, they are going through a similar situation and may be able to share insight about what they are doing to make this transition successful. 

Got any tips to share for faculty members transitioning classes online? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.