According to Dan Lips of the Heritage Foundation:
“The online learning revolution is already underway in the US. As many as 1 million children (roughly 2 percent of K-12 students) are participating in some form of online learning. Today, 27 states offer statewide virtual schools that allow students to take a class online, and 24 states and DC offer students the opportunity to attend a virtual school full-time (2010).
Technology alone has revolutionized learning. Since the advent of the internet and later with social media, the technological world has increasingly engaged humanity. With each new technical development, there is an increase to educate not only this present generation but to stimulate future ones in becoming experts in this rapid growth (Taylor and McNair, 2018). Parents are enabling their young children with devices as they learn how to use apps even before beginning to walk. Many parents are convinced that technology is stimulating to the child’s mind and that learning occurs soon after birth (Benavides-Varela and Gervain, 2017).
So, what are the challenges? Although technology has enhanced learning, the question that is being raised–are students learning it well and responsibly? The only way to determine this would be to assess the student. This has created a monumental challenge. Humanity is prone to a sinful nature; therefore, the temptation to cheat on a traditional assessment is not any different from that of an online one. In fact, the probability is higher given that the internet and other applications have made this virtually easy to do (Scafidi, 2016).
The effectiveness of current online and mobile assessments depends on whether they are formal or informal. A variety of assessments are found online or as an application. For example, there is the ever-popular multiple-choice assessment (Horton, 2011, pp. 228-229). Questions and answers must be easily understood, and time limits enforced. Its effectiveness depends on how often this type of assessment is updated to prevent unethical conduct. Next, there are applications where students can share what they know either by submitting samples of work whether written or in video form (Rotsaert, Panadero, and Schellens, 2018). Again, effectiveness depends on the detailed explanation of what is expected from the student and the ethics behind their work. Lastly, assessments can be collaborated between online and live teachers with interactive projects. Students perform a stated task and upload the results in either a video, written, or a combination of both and verified by the collaborating instructor. This takes a bit of work, but it is beneficial for the student to learn and accomplish the concept correctly.
Though I somewhat ally myself with the behaviorism theory of learning, I stand on Proverbs 22:6 (English Standard Version) where a child should be trained in the way that he should go, so that when he is old he will not depart from his learning. With each group of students that I encounter, I must teach step by step so that they will understand yet reinforcing my expectations in the learning process as the goal. This is the premise of Proverbs 22:6.
Based on the learning theory and in conjunction with online/mobile assessments, it is known that technology was created to make life easier. Yet like in all things it takes constant work and careful observation. This is the congruency based on literature Nothing was never meant to be easy. We must test all things and be discerning in what we want future generations to learn. The tests that accompany each concept, whether it is learning a skill, a science, or even dealing with relationships—the result is to assess what has been learned and use its results in making something better.
In summary, there is a growing need to train educators to plan successful online lessons and even better assessments. In a traditional educational model, a teacher will create a lesson and reuse the same assessment. But educators must always be thinking ahead in terms of what a student should know, how will they learn it, and can they accomplish the goal. In this way, teachers mold the learning process for the sake of their students. Some things work for one group, others do not. This is the art of education. It is a refinement process. It is understandable that we want things to be easy, but it is when we let our guard down as educators, that is when the learning becomes mundane. Yet, learning and assessment will always remain a refining process.
Benavides-Varela, S., & Gervain, J. (2017). Learning word order at birth: A NIRS study. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 25(C), 198-208. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2017.03.003
Horton, W. (2011). E-learning by design (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer. ISBN: 9780470900024
Lips, D. (2010, January 12). How Online Learning Is Revolutionizing K-12 Education and Benefiting Students. Retrieved February 7, 2019, from https://www.heritage.org/technology/report/how-online-learning-revolutionizing-k-12-education-and-benefiting-students#_ftn1
Rotsaert, T., Panadero, E., & Schellens, T. (2018). Anonymity as an instructional scaffold in peer assessment: Its effects on peer feedback quality and evolution in students’ perceptions about peer assessment skills. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 33(1), 75-99. doi:10.1007/s10212-017-0339-8
Scafidi, B. (2016). The dismal productivity trend for K-12 public schools and how to improve it. The Cato Journal, 36(1), 121.
Taylor, B. D., & McNair, D. E. (2018). Virtual school startups: Founder processes in American K-12 public virtual schools. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(1) doi:10.19173/irrodl.v19i1.3205