At various stages during their learning, students may need or want to be tested on their ability in the English language. If they arrive at a school and need to be put in a class at an appropriate level, they may do a placement test. This often takes the form of a number of indirect items, coupled with an oral interview and perhaps a longer piece of writing. The purpose of the test is to find out not only what students know, but also what they do not know. As a result, they can be placed in an appropriate class. At various stages during a term or semester, teachers may give students progress tests. At the end of a term, semester or year, teachers may want to do a final achievement test to see how well students have learnt everything. All these types of tests used to be, until very recently, and still are, in certain cases, paper-based, teacher-controlled test. However, student assessment has changed in the new millennium – especially in the context of the recent pandemic. Though there is something to be said for old-fashioned paper and pencil methods, new technologies are evolving daily to assist teachers with this task. There have been designed a paraphernalia of tools, all meant to make assessment easier and also more efficient. Among these, we can include online quizzes, open-ended/essay questions, drag-and-drop activities, online interviews, dialogue simulations, online polls, game-type activities, peer evaluation and review and forum posts.
Quizzes are a traditional assessment tool. Plus, when paired with technology, they are an excellent way to engage student learning. Quiz questions can take a number of forms, such as multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blanks, and hotspots. One benefit of quizzes is that they are short and easy to assess. Another is that question order and options can be randomized, so each student’s quiz is unique. Online quizzes are ideal for measuring learning results across a wide audience. Since each student takes the same test, teachers can compare and contrast results across different classes, schools, or communities. A non-graded online quiz can be given prior to the start of a lesson to gain a baseline measurement of a student’s existing knowledge. Teachers can also embed a knowledge check test into a module to reinforce concepts taught in the lesson, or make a final graded test at the end of the course to evaluate students’ overall performance. Online quizzes can be easily created using an eLearning authoring toolkit such as Google forms. This toolkit includes a quiz maker tool that offers several question types. teachers simply need to choose the appropriate templates to put together a quiz for their students quickly and easily. They can enhance their test by providing detailed answer feedback, adding info slides, and creating individual learning paths, depending on how well each student is performing on the quiz.
Open-ended or essay-type questions are one of the most popular qualitative assessment methods. They prompt learners to explore their thoughts, feelings, and opinions, while testing their overall comprehension of a topic. This type of question encourages critical thinking and is best suited for evaluating higher-level learning. Essay questions require a longer time for students to think, organize, and compose their answers.
Drag-and-drops are a type of assessment that show a learner’s ability to link information and apply knowledge to solve a practical problem. Teachers can incorporate both images and text in a drag-and-drop activity, giving it a real-world feel that is both challenging and engaging. It is essential to use this assessment type when you want learners to be able to apply knowledge in a real-life situation.
Teachers can also incorporate a video conference within their online teaching to give learning a more personal touch. During brief online interviews, students can demonstrate their proficiency in language, where mastery of specific skills is an important requirement. Sometimes it may be beneficial to conduct group interviews – for building self-confidence.
Interviews can also include a mentoring component enabling students to get immediate feedback from instructors and help them feel more responsible about their studies. Teachers can share online interviews with the help of web conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Meet. For best results, they should take the time to plan out their interview before it begins, to prepare their questions in advance and schedule a time for the meeting to occur. Online learners should be provided with feedback or a way to interact with the interviewers.
A dialogue simulation is a way to train learners for real-life conversations with customers, colleagues, and others. When creating a conversation activity based on a situation that a student may face on the job, teachers should let them know what to expect and provide a safe place to practice their reactions and responses.
Polls allow one to capture feedback directly from one’s audience about their learning experience. They can be used to measure anything from learning satisfaction to why a student made a particular choice during a lesson. Online surveys are highly engaging for learners because they allow them to share their opinions, make themselves heard, and are quick to complete. There are some specialized online platforms like SurveyMonkey that allow one to create, send, and analyze surveys.
Game-type activities turn a series of test questions into a game. For example, a trivia game might ask learners to answer a certain number of questions within a period of time and award points based on the number of correct answers. Game-based assessments are considered fun, and not “tests”, so they are generally a good indicator of true skills and knowledge. Besides, they have been shown to enhance learning by promoting the development of non-cognitive skills, such as discipline, risk-taking, collaboration, and problem solving. Teachers add game-type activities when they want to engage and challenge their students in a non-traditional way. Quizlet and Kahoot are two popular applications that teachers can use to create fast-paced interactive learning games. Quizlet allows one to create a study set of online flashcards for learning terms and definitions, while with Kahoot, one can build engaging quizzes and let their students score points by answering quickly and correctly.
Peer evaluation turns the tables to put learners into the instructor’s seat and allow students to review and edit each other’s work. Such activities give each participant a chance to reflect on their knowledge and then communicate their feedback in a consistent and structured way. Third-party platforms, such as TurnItIn’s Feedback Studio, enable students to read, review, and evaluate one or more papers submitted by their classmates using rubrics or prescribed assessment questions. Teachers are able to log in and track individual participation in the activity and monitor comments or peer evaluation feedback. As a best practice, the instructor should map out and clearly explain the steps of a peer review and evaluation process prior to launch. Be sure to provide a rubric or set of guidelines for each participant to follow to ensure that evaluations are conducted in a consistent manner.
Last but not least, a forum is an online discussion board organized around a topic. Asking students to contribute to a forum post is an excellent way to gauge their understanding, pique their interest, and support their learning. In this activity, students are given a critical thinking question based on a lesson or a reading, and are asked to reflect on both. Their answers are posted to a forum and their peers are given the chance to respond. This method should be used when teachers want learners to interact, communicate, and collaborate as part of the learning process, while checking their comprehension of the topic. Such a forum can be started by creating an online message board exclusively for one’s class in their LMS or some external platform like ActiveBoard. Teachers identify common topics or themes that they can align messages to, they set participation goals and guidelines that explain acceptable standards for posting (be respectful of others, avoid foul language or personal criticism). The facilitator should review postings on a regular basis and provide constructive feedback or guidance to participants.
Online assessments are a critical part of eLearning and should be undertaken with the same level of care and rigor that should be put into creating the learning content. The multitude of software tools that allow one to generate engaging tasks provide instructors with invaluable support in achieving their goals.

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