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Effective assessment methods in eLearning

Assessment methods to adapt to business changes

Have you ever thought of that time back in school or college when you were so stressed about the multitude of tests or exams you had to pass? These aren't great memories, are they? Well, the former students have turned into the present workforce, with a series of new things to stress about and the tests are still here, in one form of another.

We are all aware of the necessity of training in today's working environment, a necessity determined by the requirement of being up-to-date with the new information and the new skills that are constantly required in order to be able to fulfil the tasks.

The difference between the school and the job environment is the fact that while the school tests were so focused on checking theoretical knowledge, the corporate trainings should focus more on acquiring practical knowledge, easy to turn into skills.

Basically, the main issue with the traditional assessment methods is that they do not test the in-depth understanding of the course and the practical appliance of it, but rather a superficial overview of the information. Moreover, they discourage the learners because they create the feeling that they do not develop the student's self-improvement and they do not encourage the inquiry based learning, which is so valuable.

Thus, qualitative eLearning assessment methods should be used in the process of having an overview on the learners' progress, methods which should deliver a valuable outcome in terms of applying knowledge and which should focus on long-term results, rather than a short-term retention of information.

Basically, we're talking about the benefits of eLearning and, taking into consideration this context, here is a variety of eLearning assessment methods and tools nowadays which can create personalised eLearning experiences and which can motivate the online students to strive more in order to get the results they want in terms of their own professional and personal development, not only some standardised results required by the trainer or by the company.

Let's analyse three of the eLearning assessment methods which could be involved in your corporate training process.

Branching scenarios in eLearning

Scenario-based assessments used in the eLearning approach provide learners with the opportunity to practically apply the knowledge they get in a realistic environment, which would offer them insights into how to deal with particular situations that may occur in their day-to-day job.

The branching scenarios should focus on a particular issue which is highly expected to happen in real life situations, giving the learners multiple decision points from which to choose the most appropriate one.

The scenario can be either skill-based, offering the learner a context in which to test a variety of skills or problem-based which forces the student to find solutions, highlighting skills such as critical thinking and logical reasoning.

Moreover, the branching scenario assessment may involve the usage of gaming which implies a great experiential tool and which is also highly engaging, motivating the learners to give their best. Also, the usage of games creates a more suitable learning environment. Anyway, never forget that this is an assessment method, so it must be linked with clear objectives and a defined learning process.

Check out more info on the branching scenario method here.

Case studies

Among the assessment methods, the case studies choice is really efficient because it focuses more on the thinking process than on the final outcome, which challenges the learners to employ a variety of skills and knowledge into solving it. Basically, the students research a particular situation and they provide their own perspective on it, based on a critical analysis and on the appliance of some theoretical concepts. This approach provides learners with a context to simulate problematic situations and solutions to get out of them, preparing them for real issues in their working environment.

Open-ended questions

This is one of the most simple eLearning assessment methods, but it is still valuable because it gives the learners a context to answer in their own way and with as many details as they want. Moreover, they encourage learners' self-expression and creativity in finding solutions to some issues.

Nonetheless, the closed questions are not to be totally excluded because there are some cases in which they might be an appropriate assessment method, mainly when you want a more detailed and specific analysis on the learners' progress.

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Some (final) thoughts

There are many eLearning assessment methods and none of them can be considered the best. The choice of the method depends on the outcome you expect from a corporate training and for the learners and you can always employ a mix of methods in testing their knowledge.

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